The Moka Pot is an excellent solution for people who want to make affordable, espresso-style coffee at home. In this article, we will discuss this coffee brewer, its history and look into different types of Moka Pots. If you decide the Moka Pot is the right fit for your home brewing routine, you can find out more about the right Moka Pot for you at the end of this article.
This guide shows you how to buy the best moka pot for your needs. We also reviewed the best stovetop espresso makers on the market for various categories.
What is a Moka Pot?
The Moka Pot is a type of stovetop coffee maker that was invented by Alfonso Bialetti in 1933. The Bialetti company marketed their Moka Pot under the name ‘Moka Express’. The Moka Express is still successfully sold today, nearly 100 years later. This stovetop coffee maker brews coffee by passing water through finely-ground coffee using pressure from steam. In this way, it is similar to espresso coffee.
History of the Stove Top Coffee Maker
If we think about it, stovetop coffee makers are the original coffee brewers that have been used since our ancestors discovered that coffee beans could be brewed and drunk. Our stovetop is just a heat source for brewing the coffee. Before stovetops, we brewed coffee in a pot over a fire. We can technically prepare our Moka Pot coffee on an open fire today if the Moka Pot is the right material. But more on that later.
Up until the 18th century and even for some of the 19th century, coffee lovers still boiled it over a gas fire or stove. There was no science or measurements; they simmered the mix until it smelled right.
Then coffee was introduced to France, where they revolutionized the brewing process. They realized that coffee shouldn’t be boiled directly for optimum results.
So they came up with the idea of vacuum brewing, which didn’t burn the coffee in the same way as boiling. The early version of a vacuum brewer was the Siphon. The next coffee maker to replace the Siphon was the Percolator. The Percolator was the most popular method for brewing coffee until the invention of the Moka Pot in the early 20th century. To this day, it is a popular method of brewing coffee.
How does a Moka Pot Work?
The Moka Pot is made up of three parts. The bottom part is the boiler. Water (preheated if you want a quicker brew) is added to the boiler up to the safety valve. Some companies include a water level mark for ease of use.
The second piece, the funnel, is then inserted into the boiler and finely ground coffee is added into the funnel.
The upper part is then screwed onto the base, and the Moka Pot is added to a heat source, i.e. a stovetop. As the water boils, the steam pushes the water upwards. It then passes through the coffee and is collected in the upper chamber.
Stove Top vs Moka Pot
The Moka Pot is commonly referred to just as a stovetop coffee maker. However, there are other types of stovetop coffee makers, such as the classic percolators; Moka pot is the most popular stovetop today.
You can actually get a Moka Pot that is not a stovetop. I’ll talk about that more in a bit.
Why Choose the Moka Pot?
The Moka Pot is a great domestic coffee solution for lots of people. The main advantage is that it produces a coffee with a stronger and thicker quality similar to espresso coffee. If you prefer espresso to filter coffee, the Moka Pot could be a good option for you.
The Moka Pot is also very inexpensive compared to home espresso makers and is a good way of making espresso type coffee cheaply at home.
Finally, the Moka Pot requires no electricity. This makes it an excellent solution for campers or people without access to electricity.
Moka Pot coffee vs espresso
Although similar, Moka Pot coffee isn’t exactly the same as espresso. Both methods use pressurized steam. Moka Pot coffee uses much less pressure than espresso, however. The industry standard for espresso is 9 bar pressure, and the Moka Pot only uses 1 or 2 bars of pressure.
The coffee is also ground much finer for the Moka Pot than for espresso coffee. The Moka Pot filter is much bigger than an espresso machine portafilter. This results in less resistance for the water, hence less pressure. The finer grind provides that resistance.
The Moka Pot cannot develop the 9 bar of pressure because of the design.
How Does the Moka Pot Coffee Taste
Moka Pot coffee has a lot of the dark, oily qualities of espresso coffee without being quite as strong to taste. It is somewhere in between filter coffee and espresso coffee if we were to approximate a taste profile.
How to choose the best Moka Pot
How many cups can your Moka Pot brew?
Moka Pots come in various sizes. If you are just making coffee for yourself, the classic 1 to 2 cup Moka Pot will do nicely. If you are making coffee regularly for family or guests, the larger Moka Pots are going to be a better choice.
Just a quick disclaimer - Moka Pot cup measurements, in traditional Italian style, are small. A ‘cup’ is generally 50 ml, which is similar to an espresso serving. Bear this in mind and choose your size accordingly!
Material - Stainless Steel vs Aluminium
And so we come to the materials. The original Moka Pot, the Moka Express, is made of aluminium. It is cheap to buy, resilient to heat and a good heat conductor. Having said that it is not resilient to all heat, and so, stainless steel Moka Pots were invented.
Stainless steel is even more resilient to heat than aluminium. Stainless steel Moka Pots are also dishwasher safe. The downside is that they are more expensive.
Make sure to check out what type of stove you have before you buy your Moka Pot. If you have a stovetop that operates at an extremely high temperature, such as an induction cooker, you will need a stainless steel Moka Pot.
A summary of the best Moka Pot Coffee Makers
Bialetti Moka Express
The Moka Express is the original Moka Pot. It stood the test of time and for a good reason. It is made from aluminium so it is cheap, versatile and these days comes in all sorts of sizes and styles. Sizes start at the 1 or 2 cups, priced at a little over $10, and go all the way up to the 18 cup brewer, which retails at around $60.
If you close your eyes and imagine a Moka Pot, you are probably imagining the Moka Express. It has been featured in pop culture and movies countless times, and it is just a classic really.
Cuisinox Roma Coffeemaker
If you are in the market for a bigger Moka Pot though, we recommend you go for the Cuisine Roma Coffee Maker.
It is made of stainless steel, so it is more durable and induction safe. The design is sleek, simple and resembles a steel French Press or traditional coffee pot. A 4 cup brewer will cost around $100.
Bialetti Elegance Venus
The stainless steel option from Bialetti is also a great investment if your priority is the material and not the size. This coffee maker is probably the safest option to go for if you have an induction cooker. It comes in smaller sizes and so is considerably cheaper than the Cuisinox Roma, starting at $25. Also, as the name suggests, this Moka Pot is, well, elegant. The design is lovely and makes a great addition to your kitchen.
DeLonghi EMK6 Alicia
This coffee maker is an electric Moka Pot coffee maker. It comes with its own hot plate that the Moka Pot fits onto. You just need to plug it into an outlet, and it is good to go - no stovetop required, just electricity.
If you don’t have a stove top, or have a small stove top with one or two rings, the DeLonghi EMK6 Alicia is a great option.
bonVIVO Intenca Stovetop Espresso Maker
bonVIVO Intenca is another fun option to check out. The main feature of this Moka Pot is its design.
It looks classically Italian and has a copper chrome finish, which I must say does look lovely. It is stainless steel, brews 4-6 cups and retails at around $50.
It’s Decision Time!
So, we’ve talked about the properties of Moka Pot coffee, its design and our picks of the current Moka Pots out there.
The Moka Pot is an excellent option for home coffee brewing. If you like espresso-style coffee but don’t want the hassle or the price of an espresso machine, this is definitely the right way to go.
If you’ve decided to give the Moka Pot a try, have a look at some of the options above and find the one that is perfect for you. We would love to know how you get on!