Oh, what trouble we coffee lovers go through in pursuit of a decent cup of coffee!
When we’re not concocting coffee recipes, we’re switching through different brewers like the French press, espresso machines, and of course, the timeless Moka pot.
The Moka pot, popularly known as a stovetop espresso maker, can brew a very bold cup when used correctly.
While they may not be as fast or convenient as modern brewers, moka pots have been around for decades, in large part due to their reputation for making a strong cup of coffee (as it should be).
So, what's the deal with the Moka pot? Most importantly, what brands can be relied on for a good brew?
We’ll cover that, but first, let’s go over the basics of using a stovetop espresso maker.
As you’ve probably heard before, the secret behind great coffee comes down to three main things: extraction, pressure, and temperature. The brewing process of a stovetop espresso maker checks the box on all three of these.
The three main sections of a moka pot include the water chamber (where your water is stored), the filter basket (where the coffee grounds sit), and the collection chamber.
When the water in the water chamber heats up, pressure builds up pushing the water through the filter basket (where the grounds are) and into the collection chamber.
Ah yes, the million dollar question! Most people get this little brewer expecting to make some type of espresso. Sorry to burst your bubble, but this is no espresso machine! At least not entirely.
The Moka pot got the alternate name “stovetop espresso maker” due to its similarity in the brewing technique of an espresso machine, where both use high pressure and temperature to achieve fast extraction.
Espresso machines are much more sophisticated and use a high pressure of about 9 bars. The Moka pot's 1.5 bars of pressure pales in comparison.
So, if you were hoping to produce some of that ‘crema’ we all know and love, sorry to tell you that you won’t see any of that when brewing coffee with a moka pot. But you will be able to make a bold cup of coffee!
While maintaining and cleaning your Moka pot is pretty simple, it has a big impact on the quality of your coffee.
Some people new to moka pots report occasionally encountering a slightly metallic taste in their coffee. This is quite common if your moka pot is brand new.
To avoid the metallic taste in your coffee, we recommend performing a couple of ‘dry runs.’
Also, it goes without saying that when cleaning your moka pot, you should avoiding using harsh detergents that will erode the inside of the pot.
As simple as a moka pot might be, there are some features you ought to keep an eye out for when getting the right one for your needs.
Stovetop espresso makers come in different sizes which are often in multiples of three like; 1 cup, 3 cups, 6 cups, 9 cups and 12 cups.
Keep in mind that “cups”, in this case, refer to small espresso shot sizes as opposed to normal mug sizes.
A 6-cup moka pot will serve a mug of coffee, so if you plan on entertaining guests, 9 and 12 cup sizes are probably your best bet.
We prefer stainless steel over aluminum in terms of design and aesthetics. But be prepared to pay a little extra for stainless steel Moka pots.
While aluminium may not be our first choice for kitchenware, we can cut it some slack if it is anodized. Bialetti is known around the world for their excellent moka pots, and they use anodized aluminium.
You’d be amazed how many people overlook this, so we’re going to make a public service announcement:
Not all stovetop espresso makers work on electric stoves.
...so please, make sure you read a little bit about the stovetop espresso maker you’re considering buying.
There are a growing number stovetop moka pots out there capable of providing a decent cup of coffee. However, the 5 below manage to do it with minimal hiccups.
Made from one of the homes of true coffee lovers (Italy), this Moka pot delivers an excellent brew. It is made of 18/10 stainless steel which is not only safe but great at conducting heat. It also adds to the design and aesthetic appeal of this brewer.
Attached to the beautiful steel body is an insulated handle that comes in handy when the brewer is piping hot. It is also quite portable and detachable, so you can take it with you on an extended trip.
The best thing about Bialetti’s Elegance Venus is that it can handle any type of heating system including induction hobs. It comes in 4 and 6 cup sizes, which is just enough for regular coffee users.
This is yet another great Moka pot from the Bialetti family, and as usual, it comes with some excellent features. For one, it features a unique octagonal shape that helps with even heat distribution, which is crucial for proper extraction.
Maintenance and cleanup are also easy, as it can quickly detach. The Moka Express comes with a well-insulated handle for carrying when hot, and the design is also quite classy thanks to the polished aluminum body.
Speaking of design, you can get it in various colors and sizes ranging from 1 to 9 cups.
This stovetop espresso maker comes with a hefty price tag, but for good reason. Other than it's classy design and look, it comes with high quality 18/10 food grade stainless steel.
With a size of 6 cups, those of you who add milk to your coffee should easily be able to make 9 or 10 cups. It also works well on both a stove and an electric burner.
Don't let the small compact design fool you. This moka pot is capable of making between 2 to 9 cups.
It's heavy gauge stainless steel body not only makes it durable but also gives it an appealing look. Speaking of, it comes with a top glass lid so you can watch your coffee as it brews.
Its compact nature and the size also makes it an excellent coffee maker for camping.
If you are looking to switch things up a little by veering off the conventional stovetop espresso maker, an electric one should do the trick.
The Delonghi Alicia is an electric moka pot that combines the delicate art of coffee extraction using electricity.
It comes with automatic shut off that ensures the coffee brew never burns or overflows. You can choose between 3 and 6 cup sizes, which makes it convenient for both frequent coffee users and those who prefer a coffee only once in a while.
The transparent collection chamber gives it a unique design and also allows you to view the brewing process.
Although stovetop espresso makers cannot exactly brew espresso, they can certainly allow you to start your day with a nice, strong cup.
It wasn’t easy to pick the best one from the lot, but if I had to go with just one stovetop espresso maker, I would bet on the Bialetti Moka Express.
The Moka Express offers a number of excellent features like its octagon shape, large enough cup size, and smooth brewing process. Its sleek design paired with easy-to-use functionality make it stand out among its competitors.
The Cuisinox Roma is also a fabulous choice, but it was beat out by the Bialetti primarily due to affordability.