The Best Stovetop Espresso Makers of 2018
Whether you are just starting out in coffee or a seasoned pro, a moka pot (AKA a stovetop espresso maker) is an interesting and unique brewing method to add to your arsenal.
Brewing coffee that is somewhere between espresso and an Americano, the best stovetop espresso makers offer serious coffee without a lot of the downsides of the true espresso.
The pot is a tenth of the size of a proper espresso machine, and the price is even less.
Of course, you don’t quite get the same crema as with the traditional espresso, but then again, crema isn’t really important for taste.
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There are a number of advantages of using a moka pot instead of a proper espresso machine. Here are the most important ones.
Because of the simple mechanism of the moka pot, even someone brain-dead from a full night’s sleep should be able to brew a proper cup.
There is almost no maintenance whatsoever outside of rinsing out the aluminum or stainless steel chambers out with water after each use.
Best of all, the moka pot is small and travel-friendly. You can take it camping, across the world, or over to someone else’s house. Try lugging an espresso machine into your car!
DOES A MOKA POT MAKE REAL ESPRESSO?
The coffee that comes out of a moka pot is not espresso per se since it does not quite have the body or richness of espresso. It also does not create the thick, desirable crema that proper espresso would have.
However, the moka pot is also not quite regular old plain-Jane coffee either, being much stronger and more bitter than your standard.
The mechanism for brewing relies on water pressure, which is why moka pots are referred to as stovetop espresso makers. Regular espresso, however, is brewed around 9 bars. The stovetop version only produces 1.5 bar.
The bottom chamber of the moka pot is filled with water. On top of this, a filtered chamber of coffee grounds is lain. Upon boiling, this water pushes through the coffee grounds into the upper chamber, creating a coffee that resembles espresso.
How to Use a Moka pot: Hacks for a smoother cup
Although the coffee that comes out of a stovetop percolator can sometimes lack a bit of depth and flavor, it can be improved by following these small hacks:
- Filling the bottom chamber with preheated water can shorten the brewing time, which prevents the coffee flavor from degrading from being on the stove for a long time and being exposed to heat.
- It is also important to remove the moka pot from the heat as soon as your brew is completed.
- Another method for improving your cup might be to opt for a lighter roast. Traditionally, this kind of Italian coffee maker has been used with very dark roasts, which can produce a somewhat bitter cup. This can be lessened with a full city (medium) roast that is 100% arabica.
It should go without saying, that you should always use a scale to accurately measure coffee and water! Only that way can you improve or tweak your brew in the right direction.
the best stovetop espresso maker in 2018 – Imho
Bialetti Moka Express Espresso
The brand Bialetti and moka pots are essentially synonymous at this point. Bialetti is by far the most famous company producing moka pots today, and for good reason. They make the most basic, classic moka pot with the octagonal design that has been copied by about every other moka pot manufacturer.
This moka pot comes in sizes ranging from 1 cup to 16 cups, suiting just about every user, though the 6-cup version seems to be the most popular. The construction of the moka pot itself is excellent. The body is made of high quality aluminum that should last long enough to pass down to your grandchildren.
- Classic design: The octagonal chamber is so classic that it has become standard in moka pots.
- Excellent coffee: The Bialetti brews as well as any other moka pot.
- This moka pot is extremely affordable since it is a basic, no-frills pot.
Alessi Pulcina Italian Coffee Maker
The Alessi Pulcina stovetop espresso maker is the modern version of the Bialetti.
Designed by Michele De Lucchi, this moka pot has a distinct style to it that is as modern as the Bialetti is classic.
This moka pot is also made from aluminum and does not skimp on construction. Although it sells at a higher price point that the Bialetti, it appears to be built to last even longer.
- Beautiful, modern design. This thing is sleek!
- The coffee made with this is every bit as good as that made from the Bialetti.
- Sturdy and built to last. Although it is a bit more expensive, it seems to be built to last longer than the Bialetti.
Our third moka pot is also a Bialetti (I told you they were known for these!). The Venus is their newer, sleeker model that is slightly more expensive but built from stainless steel instead of aluminum.
Despite its new design, this moka pot does not lose any of its ability to produce high quality coffee, brewing an espresso-like beverage that is every bit as good as the original Bialetti moka pot.
- Updated design of the classic Bialetti
- Brews coffee just as well as the classic moka pot. Which means really well!
- Stainless steel build ensure longevity
Alessi 9090 Espresso Pot
If the classic Bialetti is the workhorse of moka pots, the Alessi Espresso Maker 9090 is the king.
This moka pot has a minimalistic, modern design and is built from stainless steel. The design is so famous that is has been enshrined in the Museum of Modern Art! This moka pot makes 6 full espresso cups of coffee at a time.
Owing to its superior construction and stronger seal against its edges with a snapping, locking mechanism that a twisting one, this moka pot produces a much cleaner, richer cup of coffee than does any of the previously discussed moka pots.
The superior stainless steel construction also ensures that the body will never rust or corrode like its aluminum counterpart
- Designed by Richard Sapper, this moka pot is beautiful enough for both brewing and serving
- This moka pot produces coffee that best resembles actual espresso.
- Longevity: Its full stainless steel body ensures that this moka pot will last for years, and even possibly decade
Other thing to consider when buying A stovetop coffee maker?
Although stovetop espresso makers have been around almost as long as coffee has been drunk, there have been quite a few improvements to look out for when choosing one today. Here are some factors to consider when trying to choose the best stovetop espresso makers – sometimes also referred to as Cuban coffee makers.
Most stovetop espresso makers are either aluminum or stainless steel. Aluminum is lighter and heats up more quickly whereas stainless steel is heavier, sturdier, and heats up more slowly. Choosing between the two is up to your preference, although some people swear that a stainless steel moka pot brews a better cup.
Moka pots range in size from tiny 1-cup pots to massive pots over 16 cups. Again, the size of your moka pot depends on your needs. Will this moka pot be used on a daily basis for a single drinker or once in a while for parties of 10 people? Smaller moka pots tend to brew better coffee, since your coffee still brew more quickly, spending less time on the heat, which can warp flavors in your brew. Therefore, if you are the only coffee drinker in your house, you may want to err toward a smaller size.
Further Reading: The 5 Best Gooseneck Kettles for Coffee