Looking for a stovetop espresso experience and wondering where to start your journey? That’s understandable. The marketplace is rich with choice when it comes to stovetop espresso makers. And there are questions to be asked. Which brand is best? Aluminium vs steel? Electric vs stove? (stay tuned)
The stovetop espresso maker (also known as a Stovetop Moka Pot) is the quintessential component of an Italian coffee lover’s kitchen and has taken the world by storm. The steam based stovetop espresso maker was invented by Alfonso Bialetti in 1933. Since then, the Bialetti brand has become synonymous with making a shot of espresso coffee, part of the daily ritual of life.
The stovetop works by passing boiling water through the ground coffee using pressurized steam. Technically, stovetop espresso makers do not make real espresso. Only an espresso machine can produce the higher pressure steam (9 bar to be precise) required. But there’s no shortage of stovetop enthusiasts. For me, my day doesn’t stack up if my stove top hasn’t had a good work out!
I have a sweet spot for the Bialetti Moka Express, a classic and iconic stovetop that I call on to get me started. The ageing simplicity of the aluminium design is found in so many homes of today and is the memory play of many an Italian upbringing.
Having said that, it’s fair to say that in a competitive market all players need to bring their A game if they want to have a chance. So DeLonghi, Cuisinox, and newer brands have great stovetop espresso makers that have their own appeal for buyers.
The Bialetti Moka Express stacks up well in my book for the following reasons:
(Please note that the max. boiler capacity is slightly more than the final output since there is always a little water left in the boiler after brewing.)
Aluminium is the original material used for the early Bialetti models and is still used today. It’s light and is a good conductor of heat. Stainless steel takes a little longer to heat up and a little longer to cool down. Both require very little cleaning. The more the aluminium stovetop is used, the more the coffee oil coats the inside of the pot, enhancing the flavor of the coffee.
There is concern that aluminium may potentially be a health hazard. Whilst there’s no real proof of this, choosing a good quality aluminium stovetop will keep you on the safer side of the fence. Cheap and nasty versions will be more prone to erosion. That said, take good care of your Bialetti Moka Express.
Some also claim to sense a metallic taste in coffee brewed from an aluminium stovetop. Many dispute this claim (myself included). I’ve read about a few DIY experiments with findings that don’t support this claim either. Maybe it all boils down to an individual’s taste buds! I’m hooked on aluminium.
As I’m a hard core traditionalist, the site of the flames massaging the base of my much loved much used, aluminium Bialetti Moka Express can’t be traded for a plug and cord.
But that’s not to say the plug-in model deserves to be overlooked. On the contrary, the Bialetti 6-cup Easy Caffe is a worthy option and adapts the classic style of the Moka Express. Three things going for the Easy Caffé are convenience, ease of use (less human interaction required) and the coffee is kept warm for up to 25 minutes. If you don’t have a stove, then this is will suit you well.
More stove-top espresso makers on Amazon.
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