If you’re a committed coffee aficionado, chances are you enjoy a great espresso.
What can you do when you’re looking for a deep, rich coffee but you don’t have a machine to hand and you don’t fancy hitting the coffee shop?
The classic moka pot is one solution that will bring you coffee on a par with espresso without calling for any fanfare when you’re brewing.
Moka pots give you mouth-watering coffee in less than 5 minutes so what’s not to love?
Today, we’ll be highlighting the finest stovetop coffee makers so you can determine which makes the neatest fit for you and your family.
Before that, though, we’ll explore what moka pots and how they work so you know exactly what you’re dealing with.
I. Our Top 5 Picks for Moka Pots
|Products & Features||Image & Price|
Bialetti 6-Cup Moka Pot Our #1 Pick
|Runner-Up: Grosche Milano Stovetop 9-Cup Moka Pot|
|Also Great: bonVIVO Intenca Stovetop Espresso Maker|
|Bialetti Venus Stovetop Espresso Maker|
|Coletti Bozeman Percolator Coffee Pot|
- The 10 Best Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines
- Top 8 Best Italian Espresso Machines
- The 15 Best Espresso Machines
II. What Is a Moka Pot and How Does a Moka Pot Work?
You might also see a moka pot called a macchinetta del caffè (small coffee machine) but what is it?
A small stovetop unit, a moka pot moves boiling water highly pressurized by steam through coffee grounds to deliver a drink in the same vein as espresso.
The Bialetti company launched the first of these stovetop coffee makers back in the early 1930s and the firm is still an industry legend today.
Using a moka pot is straightforward:
How To Make Coffee in a Moka Pot
- Preheat your water by boiling kettle then removing from the heat. This stops your moka pot from getting too hot
- Grind your coffee finely to the consistency of table salt. For a 4-cup moka pot, you’ll need 15g to 17g of coffee grounds. Use a scale for best results
- Add some preheated water to the fill line in the bottom of your brewer
- Screw in the filter basket
- Add the coffee grounds so a mound forms. Level the surface using your finger
- Screw the moka pot together firmly
- Place your moka pot on the stovetop on medium heat with the lid open
- As the coffee starts coming out, you’ll hear a trademark hissing and puffing sound. Steam comes off and this becomes gradually lighter in color
- Remove from the heat source after 3 to 5 minutes and close the lid
- Run the bottom of the moka pot under cold water to stop over-extraction
- Pour and enjoy!
View here for more: How to Use a Moka Pot (Stovetop Espresso Maker)
While the exact method varies from moka pot to moka pot, this gives you an idea of how easy it is to grind your own beans and generate top-notch espresso-like coffee in 5 minutes flat.
So, we’ve mentioned espresso several times now. Does a moka pot make espresso or not?
III. Does a Moka Pot Make Good Espresso?
While a moka pot uses steam to force water over coffee grinds, you’ll only be generating perhaps 2 or 3 bars of pressure.
At least 9 bars of pressure are required for espresso.
This is one area where people become confused and seek out the highest pressure possible when they’re scoping out espresso machines. This is really not necessary and 9 bars is sufficient.
That said, you won’t get this from a moka pot. You’ll certainly get a nice strong shot and you could even notice a little crema. What you won’t get is classic espresso so make sure you’re clear about this before moving on.
Now, we’ll launch directly into our stovetop coffee maker reviews then we’ll tail off with some more handy hints to make your life easier.
IV. 8 Best Moka Pots
1. Our #1 Pick: Bialetti 6-Cup Moka Pot
If you fancy getting back to basics and enjoying your coffee in an espresso style but without needing to invest in a super-automatic espresso machine, why not consider a traditional moka pot?
You’ll get no frills just great tasting coffee in as little as 5 minutes using nothing but your stovetop.
All you need to do is add cold water to the lower chamber, add your fine coffee grounds then heat on the stovetop. The resultant pressure will give you the next best thing to espresso with half the fuss.
Rugged aluminum build also works well for heat conduction.
When it comes to clean up, you should disassemble and clean the moka pot by hand. Don’t risk putting in the dishwasher as all you need is a little soapy water and then you can towel dry and reassemble your new moka pot.
Brewed coffee doesn’t respond well when it’s left to be consumed later on. Sidestep that with this single-serve Bialetti.
2. Runner-Up: Grosche Milano Stovetop 9-Cup Moka Pot
This Grosche Milano 9-cup moka pot was a close runner-up when we considered all these stovetop coffee makers across a range of categories.
If you’re tired of the usual black and silver of most coffee paraphernalia, you’ll appreciate the bright splashes of color you could choose from these family-sized pots.
While you’re not going to generate bone fide espresso, you get a pretty close approximation with the Milano.
Ergonomic and safe to use, you’ll get aluminum build with cool-touch handles and a burn guard to streamline operation and keep you safe from harm.
This moka pot couldn’t be easier to use. As with all these classic pots, you just add cold water and coffee grounds then allow your pot to heat for 5 minutes. By gently heating your pot on a low to medium heat, you’ll benefit from a rich and flavorful extraction.
3. Also Great: bonVIVO Intenca Stovetop Espresso Maker
We’d like to give bonVIVO’s Intenca an honorable mention. While this muted and understated stovetop coffee maker isn’t cheap, you won’t regret the investment.
The larger capacity of this moka pot makes it a great fit if your whole family is clamoring for coffee in the morning. You can get up to 6 small cups from a single brew. This is over in as little as 5 minutes with absolutely no effort required on your part.
Whether in copper, chrome, or black, this stovetop espresso maker is a real conversation piece but then follows up with remarkably good coffee.
As with all coffee, instant set aside, grinding your beans directly before brewing is the key to the best and tastiest caffeine hit.
4. Bialetti Venus Stovetop Espresso Maker
If you need enough coffee for a large family in the mornings, the Venus from Bialetti packs a serious punch. While this is certainly not the cheapest solution, you’ll benefit from outstanding build quality with looks to match.
Although you can’t pop this pot in the dishwasher, it is safe to use on all types of cooking surfaces including induction. As with all moka pots, hand wash by disassembling the container and using some warm, soapy water. Carefully hand dry and you’ll be primed for more caffeine action.
When you’re cooking with gas, make sure the flame size doesn’t exceed the diameter of the bottom of the pot. Slowly and gently is the key with moka pots and you’ll have awesome coffee in no more than 5 minutes. What’s not to love?
Complementing the rugged stainless construction, you get a nylon handle so you won’t end up scorching your fingers in pursuit of a lip-smacking espresso-style drink.
5. Coletti Bozeman Percolator Coffee Pot
The Coletti Bozeman comes in a 9-cup version or an even beefier 12-cup model perfect for large groups all clamoring for a caffeine fix.
The percolating brew gives you a great deal of punch and body it’s tough to achieve using drip brewing.
The expanse of highly durable 18/8 stainless steel is offset with a classy wooden handle that’s mercifully cool to the touch. Sadly, this is overlooked in many cheaper moka pots rendering them borderline hazardous to use. There’s no aluminum or plastic in evidence.
As the strapline goes, the Bozeman is engineered for the outdoors. So, whether you’re looking to sidestep cowboy coffee when you’re camping or you want a moka pot for permanent use at home, this is a flexible and powerful solution.
6. DeLonghi Moka Pot
If you fancy the idea of replicating espresso without needing an Italian espresso machine, a moka pot makes a great alternative.
Flick between making a full pot of 6 cups or a smaller batch of 3 cups with this flexible brewer.
If you often find yourself leaving a moka pot only to return and find water and coffee grounds cascaded everywhere, DeLonghi has you covered. Auto shut-off puts an end to trashed kitchens and keeps you safe while keeping your kitchen spotless.
With a transparent container, you can keep a close eye on brewing without compromising the container.
When your espresso-style coffee is brewed, the cordless base means you can pour with ease without risking spillage. We should point out that several users have fed back about leaks from the bottom of this moka pot. As always when using this brewing method, proceed with care.
7. Cuisinox Roma 4-Cup Moka Pot
If you’ve got a more fluid budget and you don’t object to digging deeper for great coffee, why not treat yourself to the Cuisinox Roma?
The induction base makes a neat fit if you use this type of cooker. You can also use any other type of stovetop to generate your espresso-styled coffee without needing a machine.
You even get a replacement gasket and reducer chucked in boosting overall value even if it does nothing to reduce the stiff price tag. If you don’t mind paying a slight premium, you’ll be rewarded with a top-tier moka pot capable of making the richest coffee you’ll find outside your favorite coffee shop.
Always make sure you let your moka pot cool down properly before washing and cleaning. Subjecting it to radical extremes of temperature is not sound practice so be patient.
8. Bialetti Mini Espresso Maker
Rounding out with yet another Bialetti, the coffee stalwarts smash another home run with this mini espresso maker.
Not everyone wants to crank up a semi-automatic espresso machine when they’re looking for a short shot. This moka pot means you won’t need to do use a machine at all.
Simply insert your fine coffee grinds, add some cold water then heat gently for 3 to 5 minutes on the stovetop. While you won’t get an exact replica of espresso, you’ll be hard pressed to tell the difference.
If you like the idea of taking your time and making your coffee manually, you won’t be disappointed if you road test this compact Bialetti.
V. What Should You Look For When Buying a New Moka Pot?
Now, moka pots are inherently simple. Simplicity is one of the primary draws of the brewing method, in fact.
Despite this, you should still take the time to focus on the following areas if you want to maximize your chances of getting the right moka pot for your needs:
- Do You Want a Moka Pot or an Espresso Machine?
- Type of Stovetop
- Intended Use
- Care and Maintenance
Do You Want a Moka Pot or an Espresso Machine?
Before you even think about assembling a shortlist, ask yourself if you really want a moka pot or whether you’d prefer a full-bore espresso machine.
This is a question worth spending some time on.
If you’re insistent on traditional espresso made like the Italians take it, there’s no substitute for a semi-automatic espresso machine. This gives you the flexibility to dial in the shot without needing to put in too much effort. With a super-automatic espresso machine, on the other hand, you’ll get less freedom but bean-to-cup brewing at its finest.
Now, if you want to take this route and invest in an espresso machine, you’ll need a fluid budget. The best espresso machines don’t come cheap, and the cheaper ones are really not worth buying.
If you can’t stretch to a machine or you prefer the hands-on approach to stovetop brewing, ask yourself if you’ll be happy with the espresso-like coffee you will get. If so, read on…
Moka pots come in a broad spread of sizing from dinky single-serve pots through to generous carafes capable of making up to 12 cups of short, strong coffee.
You should spend plenty of time before committing to purchase thinking about which size would work best…
This type of coffee doesn’t respond well to sitting around. If you’re not going to drink it in a single sitting, it’s senseless brewing up more than you need.
Equally, you don’t want to sell yourself short and end up with a moka pot too small for your needs. While you only need to wait 5 minutes for brewing, you won’t want to be making multiple pots of coffee in the morning.
What else counts, then?
Aluminum moka pots are quite high maintenance. You won’t be able to put these in the dishwasher and you might not be able to use them on induction cookers so check closely before you buy. You also need to make certain the pot is completely dry after cleaning to avoid rust setting in.
Stainless steel is the most common material used for moka pots and arguably the best. Durability is outstanding and stainless steel is non-corrosive and non-porous. Stainless steel moka pots are dishwasher-friendly but this is not the recommended cleaning method. In return for these benefits, expect to pay more for a stainless steel moka pot.
Make sure all plastic components are BPA-free.
Check that the handles are cool-touch to make your life easier and safer when you’re brewing up.
Type of Stovetop
Are you using an electric or gas stovetop?
Do you have an induction cooker?
Make certain that the moka pot you’re considering is suitable for use on the stovetop you have in mind. Not all moka pots will work with induction cookers.
Are you looking to take your moka pot on a road trip or when you go camping? If so, buy something in line with this.
Care and Maintenance
You should clean your moka pot by hand even if the instructions suggest it’s dishwasher-safe. Use warm, soapy water and thoroughly dry the pot after use.
Look for any negative backlash about cleaning and maintenance in user reviews. Our experience is that if coffee equipment is a pain to clean, it tends to end up gathering dust in the cupboard. After all, making coffee should be a pleasure and not a chore.
So thinking about making coffee, what size grinds do you need when you’re brewing with a moka pot?
VI. What Size Coffee Grounds Do You Need for a Moka Pot?
You need a medium fine to fine grind for a moka pot. You should shoot for a consistency roughly in line with table salt.
You should avoid going for the extremely fine grind you need for straight-up espresso.
As with all brewing methods, you’ll get best results from your moka pot if you grind the beans directly before brewing.
We’ll finish up today with a collection of the most frequently asked questions about moka pots along with the all-important answers.
1) Does a moka pot make espresso?
No, but the results are not a million miles away from espresso. This simple but effective brewing methods sends pressurized steam over the coffee grinds. You’ll only manage pressure of 2 to 3 bar, though. For espresso, you want a minimum 9 bars of pressure.
2) Are moka pots dangerous?
Put it this way, you should stay in the kitchen while your moka pot is heating. If you leave the stovetop coffee maker unattended, it’s easy to lose track of time. Unless you want to return to kitchen walls splattered with water and coffee grinds, keep your eye on the moka pot! You could also look out for moka pots with auto shut-off. This is a particularly valuable feature with this brewing method.
3) How long do I need to leave my moka pot on the stovetop for when brewing?
As with all brewing methods, you should use guidelines to work from and then customize your brew to taste. Switch up one variable at a time until you have it dialed in. This allows you to make gradual changes until you have everything in place and ready to replicate. Most moka pots take 3 to 5 minutes for brewing. Adjust until you have things exactly to your taste.
4) Who invented the moka pot?
The moka pot was invented by Luigi de Ponti when he working for Alfonso Bialetti back in 1933. The moka pot quickly became extremely popular throughout Italy and by the 1950s started to penetrate Europe and the US.
5) Is moka pot coffee strong?
Yes, it is. The pressurized brewing technique turns out coffee that’s roughly twice as strong as regular brewed coffee. Whether you want to sip your shot like espresso, dilute it with hot water for a longer drink or use it as the foundation for a milky espresso-based drink, you’ll get a coffee that packs a serious punch.
6) I bought a large moka pot but want to half-fill it occasionally. Is this OK?
It’s not advisable. You should fill your moka pot to capacity for best results.
7) What grind size do I need for moka pot coffee?
Aim for somewhere from medium-fine to fine without going as fine as you would for a proper espresso. Go too fine and you risk clogging the filter and creating dangerously high pressure that’s unwanted.
8) Can I get away without using a scale?
Since the moka pot has a coffee basket it’s pretty easy to fill and level off with your finger, you could sidestep weighing your grinds with a scale. That said, you are always best advised to proceed with precision when you’re making coffee. If nothing else, exactitude allows you to replicate the process so you can enjoy coffee just the way you like it every time.
9) What removal parts can I expect to find in a moka pot?
You’ll get a reusable metal filter screen and a gasket. Beyond this, moka pots consist of a boiler, a collection chamber, and a filter basket.
10) Can I add milk to moka pot coffee?
Absolutely! Stovetop coffee tastes almost like espresso so you can sip it in a small shot and savor the rich, deep taste. Add some hot water to build out your shot into a longer Americano to last you through the morning. You can also, of course, use some steamed milk and your shot as the base for longer, creamier drinks. All in all, you get a highly versatile brewer when you invest in a moka pot.
We trust by now you know everything you need to about moka pots, starting with whether or not this makes the best fit for your lifestyle.
While it’s a manual method of making coffee, you won’t need to put in too much effort with a moka pot. If you have 5 minutes to wait and you fancy espresso without needing to invest in a dedicated machine, going the stovetop route is rewarding.
Here at La Mano Coffee, we can’t state often enough the importance of grinding fresh beans just before you brew up. Coffee beans degrade so quickly when exposed to the elements that you’re doing yourself a disservice if you buy pre-ground beans. If you’re taking the time and trouble of using a moka pot, do the job properly and grind before you brew.
Bookmark our site as your go-to coffee resource and come back soon. We’ve got a busy slate for February and plenty of great guides coming your way so see you next week.