Licensed Q Arabica Grader, M.A. Journalism
- January 5, 2021
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.
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!
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.
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:
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.
|Bialetti Express Moka Pot, 6…|
|Alessi MDL02/6 B”Pulcina”…|
|Bialetti Venus Induction 4 Cup…|
|Alessi Espresso Maker 9090 by…|
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.
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.
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.
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
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 a few point to take into consideration when you are trying to select 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. Some people swear that a stainless steel moka pot brews a better cup, but selecting between both of them will always depend on your preference and liking.
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