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The Moka Pot is better known as the Stovetop Espresso maker and can brew an excellent cup of strong coffee if it’s used correctly. It might not be as convenient as drip coffee machine, but it makes a stronger and more flavorful coffee. Sometimes called a geyser coffee maker, this nifty little device is one of the most used coffee makers in the world.
Maybe it’s not right to compare Moka pot it to a drip coffee maker. But it’s not fair to compare it to an espresso machine either.
The reasons why so many people prefer to use a Stovetop Espresso maker over an espresso machine are the size, convenience, and the price. They require almost no maintenance and can be easily traveled with, since the pot is so small.
This buyer guide compares the best stovetop espresso makers. Learn how Moka pot is different from an espresso maker and compare Bialetti, DeLonghi and Cuisinox. Plus a surprise - A real espresso maker.
Here is our selection of the best stovetop espresso makers you can buy:
What is the Difference between the Moka Pot and an Espresso machine?
A Moka pot is an electric or stove-top coffee maker that brews coffee by passing boiling water through grounded coffee.
An Espresso machine brews coffee by forcing pressurized water that’s near boiling point through a puck of grounded coffee and a filter to produce thick concentrated coffee called espresso.
To make an espresso, you need to have a pressure of 9 bars, which is the pressure that’s created by an Espresso machine.
A Moka Pot only reaches a pressure of 2 to 3 bars. This is the reason why it can be assumed that a Moka Pot doesn’t technically make an espresso.
Espresso makers take only around 10-30 seconds to make a shot of espresso, but this doesn’t include heating-up the machine which can take around 5 minutes.
One thing to mention here, is that we did not include percolators on our list. The reason is that percolators are technically stovetop coffee makers and not espresso makers. There is no pressure in the brewing process, hence coffee extraction is slightly different from the units we present here.
Moka Pots take about 10 minutes to complete the process from the beginning until the end depending on your experience.
A Moka pot can make from 1 to 12 cups (2oz) of coffee while the Espresso machine can only make 1-2 shots at a time.
When talking about the cost, a Moka Pot is the cheaper option as the price only range between $30-$100, while the Espresso machines price range between $100-$1200. Most machines cheaper than $100 are not worth the money. But to be fair, we found a few inexpensive espresso machines that pull great shots.
Lastly, the taste difference between the Moka Pot and the Espresso machine. The Moka Pot deserve the name Stovetop Espresso Maker because the flavor is the closest to an espresso. However, note that the Moka Pot brew a heartier and robust flavor. The espresso machine brews a shot that tastes bittersweet, dark and smooth. Although it is possible to get some crema with a moka pot, it’s not the same consistency and taste as a cream from a pump espresso maker.
There are some ways to reduce the bitterness of the Moka pot coffee and we show those in our comprehensive Moka Pot Brewing Tutorial, we highly recommend you to read it, even if you used a Moka pot before.
Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Maker
The Bialetti Moka Express originates from Italy and is the highest-rated stovetop espresso maker of all times. Bialetti Moka Express is the original Moka pot, that was invented in 1933 by Italian engineer Alfonso Bialetti.
Moka Express is the most popular coffee maker in Italy, and is extremely popular in many European countries.
It is the oldest brand on the market, and its simplicity and high quality materials make it the top coffee brewer in its class.
The safety valve is one of the improvements the company made to the original
The pot comes in 5 sizes ranging from 1 cup to 16 cups, you can definitely choose the perfect size for your needs.
The pot comes with a 2-year warranty, but people just use them forever. Change the gasket from time to time, and use it for years to come.
The only downsides I see are that it can’t be used on an induction stovetop and it is not dishwasher safe. This shouldn’t be a deal-breaker as it’s really easy to clean by hand. The heat of an induction stovetop is very inconsistent, so it's not recommended to use it for moka pots.
Stovetop Espresso Makers Comparison
Not all stove top espresso makers are the same. If we compare the basic ones, there is not much difference, indeed. There are not too many variables to consider. At this level, reliability and quality construction are the most important. On the second place is the aesthetics.
The next step up are stovetop espresso makers that can brew real espresso. This category include expensive coffee makers that can create the necessary pressure to pull an espresso. The two coffee stovetop espresso makers in this category are Bacchi and 9 Barista. We will talk about them later on in the page.
Bellemain 6-Cup Moka Pot
Bellemain is very similar to the Bialetti Moka Express. for the untrained eye they look identical. Once we look closely we discover that some of the details such as the knob and the handle are different. Also the aluminium finish is darker for Bellemain.
This is probably the cheapest Moka pot I have ever seen, under $20. For someone who just starts with stovetop espresso and doesn't want to invest, Bellemain is the perfect product. Although, Bialetti's pot is around $25, so the difference is really, not that big.
If you are prepared for some minor QA slips for 5 bucks, Bellemain is a great choice.
How To Choose a Moka Pot
The Moka Pot makes a great cup of coffee, but buying the perfect pot for your needs will contribute to coffee perfection. You will have to make a few decisions such as material, size, will depend on your preferences and need.
What Material do You Need?
Some of the other things to keep in mind before buying a stovetop coffee maker is that most units are made of either stainless steel or aluminum. Stainless steel is heavier and heats up slower than an aluminum one, but it has other advantages. Stainless steel is more durable than aluminium, it looks better, and it's not porous like the aluminium.
The pores in aluminium retain coffee and it's not easy to clean them perfectly. Most people do not care about this, but if you do, keep that in mind.
Some people might be concerned with the aluminium leaching in the beverage. If that's you, that stainless steel pot is your perfect choice.
Finally, stainless steel drives the cost up, so if you are looking for an inexpensive brewing device, an aluminium stove top espresso maker is the best choice.
Decide on the Size
Stovetop coffee makers range from 1 cup pots too 16 cups. The size you pick will depend on your needs. Remember, If you buy a 16 cup Moka pot, you can't make 1 cup only. This is because the funnel filter needs to be full for perfect brewing. You can probably start to play with the grind size to increase pressure, but I personally do not advise that.
One thing to note is that the Moka pot cup is 2 fluid ounces, and not a US cup. The coffee is very strong, similar to espresso and you can dilute it with hot water into an Americano, if the drink is too strong for you. But just have in mind that a 1 cup Moka pot gives you about 2 ounces of coffee, or a little less.
Stove-Top or Electric?
A manual Moka pot is less prone to break. An electrical Moka pot, on the other hand, does not depend on a stove top. You just need an electrical outlet. Most electrical stoves have large burners. The smallest one is still too large compared to a Moka pot. So from this perspective, an electric Moka pot is perfect.
On the other hand, the electric coffee makers though are easier to break, and when they do, you need a new one.
Delonghi EMK6 Alicia Moka Espresso Maker
The Delonghi EMK6 is perfect for those looking for convenience.
Alicia is a different from your conventional stovetop Espresso maker since it’s electric and it goes anywhere you can plug it in.
Alicia allows you to observe the brewing process as it has a transparent top made of resistant plastic instead of aluminum.
A very interesting feature is that the brewed coffee can never overflow or over-extract because of the built-in automatic shut off.
The Delonghi EMK6 Alicia Moka Espresso maker can make between 3 to 6 cup sizes, and on the other hand, it keeps the coffee warm for up to 30-minutes.
The only downside of this model is that it needs an electrical outlet since it isn’t made to be used on a stovetop. However, Alicia is made particularly for those who need independence from a stovetop.
Cuisinox Roma Stainless Steel Coffee Maker
Cuisinox Roma brews the best tasting coffee in just 4-5 minutes. However, the most notable feature is its stainless steel design. This design makes very durable, with a 25-year limited warranty. This shows the confidence the manufacturer has in the product. With a market dominated by aluminium pots, Cuisinox Roma is an exception for those who need to avoid aluminium leaching in their cup.
Depending on the model, it can brew up to 4, 6, or 10 cups at a time. However, you can decide to brew less if you want.
The flat bottom fits on induction, gas, radiant, halogen, ceramic and electric cooktops. The only thing you need to keep in mind is that the burner shouldn’t be bigger than the Roma.
This model has just one downside, the handle isn’t made of plastic and thus conduct heat. The expensive material also drives the price up, and this Moka pot is a few times more expensive than the average.
Can a Moka Pot Make Espresso?
At the end of the day we call it stovetop espresso maker, so it has to. The answer is not that simple, we can't give a simple yes or no.
As a general definition, espresso is prepared by forcing water through a puck of finely ground coffee. Here is Wikipedia's definition, and here our definition of espresso. From this perspective, any coffee maker that can create pressure during brewing qualifies as an espresso maker. For many coffee lovers, coffee that comes out of an AeroPress, or Moka pot is as good as any shot pulled from an expensive espresso machine.
However, for espresso aficionados, the real espresso is pulled at 9 bar pressure. The 8-9 bar are what makes an espresso shot special. Anything lower than 6 bar is just not enough to extract properly, and coffee will have a different flavor profile.
9 Barista Stove-Top Espresso Maker - 9 bar Pressure
The 9 Barista is the perfect stove-top espresso maker. In fact is one of the few espresso makers that can create the 9 bar pressure needed for a real espresso. (See our discussion above.)
The unit is very expensive compared to a Moka pot but it is not one. In fact it is expensive even compared to many entry level espresso machines, but in my opinion, it's better.
9 Barista is designed and made in Britain by William Playford who spent 5 years perfecting this little technology wonder.
9 Barista re-invents the stove-top espresso maker with a twin-boiler system, one to creates the high pressure needed for espresso, and one to regulate the brew temperature to about 200 °Fahrenheit.
Why I think this innovative system is better than similarly priced pump operated espresso machines? Firstly, the unit makes real espresso with a thick crema, and without the extra bitterness that you would expect from a stove-top. But equally important, there are no moving parts and no electronic parts. This makes 9 Barista extremely simple and reliable.
This unique system allows the machine to produce incredibly accurate pressures and temperatures which ensure the ideal extraction for the perfect espresso.
Like any other Moka pots, 9 Barista is very portable, is only 7 inches tall and it weighs about 3 lbs. Additionally, you can use it on any stove-top, even on camping stoves.
It might seem a little expensive for a stove-top espresso machine but it is not. The project on Kickstarter was fully funded in 30 days.
The stove-top espresso maker is wide category that includes various units like the inexpensive Moka pot around 25$. At the other end of the spectrum we find stainless steel Moka pots around 100$ and sophisticated espresso makers that are more expensive than the entry level pump espresso machines.
The Moka pot can make great coffee that you can drink neat, as an espresso alternative, or use for your favorite milk and espresso drink. Moka pots brew the best espresso alternative for preparing a cappuccino, or a latte. In fact they are the choice of the Italians for preparing the morning cappuccino.
In the end, when deciding what works best for you, you need to consider budget, beverage quality, aesthetics, maintenance and particular needs.