Brewing with a Moka Pot is a time-tried and venerable brewing style that has become part of the morning routine of millions of coffee lovers around the world. The Moka pot or stovetop espresso maker is relatively straightforward to use, easy to clean, and most importantly, able to produces a robust and enjoyable morning cup of coffee.
The durability and general hardiness also make them a popular brewing method among hikers and travelers. This article will first walk through the distinctives of this brewing method before reviewing our picks for the best Moka pot.
What Sets The Moka Pot Apart?
The Moka pot is the younger brother of the espresso machine in both brewing method and flavor profile. In fact, when it was first created in Italy by Alfonso Bialetti in 1933, it was marketed as “an espresso in the home just like one in the bar.”
A stovetop espresso maker uses pressure to force the water through the finally ground coffee like an espresso machine. As water is heated up in the bottom chamber, it produces steam, which provides the pressure to push the water through the coffee grinds in the filter basket.
This extracts the flavor from the coffee grounds and then pours the brewed coffee into the top chamber. However, where an espresso machine ideally uses 9 bars of pressure, a stovetop coffee maker only uses 1.5 bars.
Taste and Texture
Because a Moka Pot uses pressure to extract the coffee, moka pot coffee is very concentrated and espresso-like brew. It does produce bitter coffee that comes with a punch.
Given the smaller amount of pressure used, a Moka Pot can’t truly produce espresso coffee or the rich layer of crema which sets it apart. Despite this, the flavor profile of moka pot coffee is similar with a strong and heavy shot of coffee, and if brewed correctly, it can even achieve a thin layer of crema.
Many people have come to love this brewing method because it produces a very strong mug of coffee that is richer and heavier than some other methods like pour-over. It can also brew dark roasted beans and a more bitter brew than other methods, which many coffee lovers appreciate. All this makes for a great way to start that cold winter morning with a strong Moka coffee at minimal effort!
Ease of Use
This leads to another advantage of the Moka pot. While there is a learning curve involved, it is relatively easy to produce a delicious and consistent cup of Moka Pot coffee.
The steps for brewing are as simple as filling the bottom chamber with pre-boiled water, adding the filter basket with ground coffee, constructing the Moka pot, and then placing it over a low heat until the coffee has finished brewing.
The most significant factor in producing the perfect moka pot coffee is not technique (i.e., tamp pressure in espresso coffee or pouring technique in pour-over), but tweaking the water to coffee ratio and the other parameters such as brew time and fineness of the coffee grounds. making sure the coffee beans are fine enough is vital for getting that bitter taste that Moka Pot enthusiasts are all about.
All this makes it a very user-friendly brewing method that can produce very consistent and enjoyable results (which may be the reason that reportedly, more than 90% of Italian homes own one of these brewers!).
Here is a beneficial video on brewing with a Moka pot by James Hoffman- one of our favorite coffee commentators! His use of cold water at the end is particularly noteworthy.
Best Moka Pot
Bialetti Moka Pot
Best Moka Pot
The Bialetti Moka Express is the father of Moka pots, and its unique octagonal shape was designed by Alfonso Bialetti in 1933! This Italian company (Bialetti) has without a doubt the most significant market share of Moka pots in the world, and this particular model is their signature model, convinced yet? And the Bialetti Express Moka Pot is more than just a pretty face.
These coffee makers are made of high-quality aluminum in Italy (which does count for something!) and retain the classic octagonal shape, allowing for optimal heat distribution. Because they are made of aluminum, they tend to brew quicker than stainless steel, resulting in a great cup of brew quickly. And this model has a good track record for precisely that, a great cup of brew which highlights everything that the Moka pot is known and loved for.
However, it is worth noting that many customers have found the hard way that heating too hot or too long can damage this model, as can putting it through the dishwasher. The Bialetti Express Moka Pot also comes in various sizes and colors, although most people go for the 6 cup model (which is actually 1-2 cups). Finally, it really is just cheap as chips for the quality you get, a quality that has been almost a century in the making!
The Bialetti Venus is effectively the modernized and ‘elegant’ version of the Moka express. Where the aesthetic appeal of the Moka Express was in its rugged design, the Bialetti Venus is all about refined elegance and soft curves.
This version of the Bialetti Moka Pots shares in an excellent capacity for high-quality coffee and some great new features. These features include a high-quality stainless steel body, the ability to be used on any stovetop (including induction!), an insulated handle, and a wide bottom for stability.
The Venus comes in both 4 and 6 cup sizes (which is really 1 or 2 cups), is highly durable, and simply beautiful. This is an excellent option for those who love the idea of the Moka Express but are put off by some of its limitations. Or for those who simply love good coffee, love quality, and love elegance!
Cuisinox Roma Stovetop Espresso Maker
Speaking of elegance, the Cuisinox Roma is like the queen of elegance and of just about everything for that matter! This is what could be classified as a high-end Moka pot or stovetop coffee maker. And you would jolly well hope so at almost twice the price of the Venus!
The Cuisinox is all about unquestionable quality and elegance to take your stovetop experience to the next level. Like the Venus, it is made of high-quality stainless steel, and the makers are so sure of its quality that it comes with a 25-year warranty! If that doesn’t convince you of the quality, then I don’t know what will.
It has an induction base which means it can be used on every type of stovetop and is ideally suited for brewing large batches of coffee with 4, 6, and 10 cup sizes available. We also feel that the mirror-like finish on this Moka Pot does simply look beautiful. This is the sort of coffee maker you invest in for the long term knowing that it may well be the last coffee maker you will ever need.
If we are being pedantic, the 9Barista is not technically a Moka Pot, despite its appearance. However, due to its similarities and its nature as a stovetop espresso machine, we have included it on this list.
The 9Barista is widely branded as being ‘the first jet engineered stovetop espresso machine.’ Unlike the Moka Pots above it not only produces strong coffee but actually produces genuine crema-rich espresso.
This is due to its ingenious design which manages to foster the correct temperature (93C) and pressure (9 bars) for authentic espresso. It is made up of three parts and exudes quality and excellence. Water is first overheated in the bottom compartment before being cooled in the middle component so that it passes through the coffee puck at the correct temperature and pressure.
Of course, this innovative design also means that it is significantly more expensive that any of the other stovetop coffee makers on this list.
This is a beautiful, elegant, and well made coffee maker that will produce high quality authentic espresso for those willing to pay the price.
De’Longhi Alicia Electric Moka Pot
The De’Longhi Alicia is a bit of an exception on this list as the only electric stovetop coffee maker. This makes it ideal for settings like traveling where there is no access to stovetops. All you need for a cup of brew with this model is a plug, and you are away laughing. While many traditionalists may find this very concept offensive, it does come with some significant advantages.
Perhaps the biggest of these is that it is the only model on this list that you can walk away from, do some errands or read that article, and come back without fear of bitter, over-extracted coffee everywhere. The De’Longhi Alicia has an automatic shutoff when the coffee is brewed and will even keep your coffee hot for up to 30 minutes after brewing time. This is an excellent option for those who love this brewing style but also love convenience.
However, while many users have bought and loved this coffee maker, there have also been some recurring criticisms. The top chamber where the brewed coffee comes out is made of plastic which, while fun to watch the coffee is an inferior material, and many customers have felt negatively impacts on the flavor of the coffee. Also, because it is an electric appliance, there are simply more things that can go wrong or malfunction.
Alessi Pulcina Italian Coffee Maker
In many ways, it feels like we have started with Italy of the past (Bialetti) and finished with Italy of the future. In fact, Alessi intentionally designed this futuristic-looking coffee maker as a ‘Moka pot for the new millennium,’ and they certainly met their brief!
As well as looking frankly incredible (thanks to professional designer Michele De Lucchi), the internal shape of the Alessi Pulcina was researched extensively to optimize brewing capacity. The most significant aspect of this optimization is that the Alessi Pulcina automatically stops filtering the coffee at the right moment, helping to decrease the possibility of over-extraction. As well as looking utterly sophisticated, it has the potential to make a very high-quality coffee.
The Alessi Pulcina is made of aluminum and takes its name from the spout, which looks similar to a chick’s beak (a chick’s beak in Italian is pulcino). This is a great Moka Pot for the highly cultured who love a good coffee or those who love pushing the boundaries of traditional brewing styles.
What To Look For In A Moka Pot?
While we believe any of the above stovetop coffee makers could be a worthwhile investment, it can be hard to know which is the right one for you. So here are a few considerations to help you find the brewer that will help you make the best moka pot coffee.
Aluminum Vs. Stainless Steel
One of the earliest decisions you will have to make is whether to go for stainless steel or aluminum. The long and the short of it is that aluminum heats more quickly and tends to be cheaper, but requires more maintenance, is more likely to rust, and is less durable. Stainless steel makes for a heavier Moka Pot that should last a lifetime and arguably brews better coffee.
However, the more important consideration is the quality and origin of a given material. For example, aluminum from Italy tends to be very high quality and better than cheap stainless steel from an unknown brand. So stainless steel Moka Pots are probably the better option but consequently will cost you more.
Also, a high-quality aluminum Moka Pot isn’t a cop-out but can still make high-quality coffee. If you decide to go with an aluminum Moka Pot, it is vital that you dry it extensively after hand-washing your brewer, as leftover water can lead to rust. regardless of which material you opt for it is vital that you keep for you soak post clean for optimal results.
Will it work on your Stovetop?
Another important consideration is what type of stovetop you intend to brew your coffee on. I can think of nothing more frustrating than getting a shiny new coffee maker only to discover that it won’t work on your stovetop! If you are using a gas stove, you will be okay with any Moka Pot, but if you use electric or especially induction, you will have to look carefully at which are compatible. The Bialetti Venus and the Cuisinox Roma are our recommendations for those cooking on induction cooktops.
How many cups of coffee can it make?
One of the classic mistakes buyers often make when purchasing Moka Pots is to mistake the advertised cup sizes for standard cup sizes. For example, the most common Moka Express is the 6 cup model, but 6 cups sounds huge right? Wrong. The six cups are espresso cups based on espresso shots and are approximately a quarter the size of a standard coffee cup. This means that a 6 cup model will typically make 1-2 cups of coffee.
The sizes of Moka Pots tend to come in multiples of 3, such as 1 cup, 3 cups, 6 cups, 9 cups, and 12 cups (depending on the model). So think carefully about where and when you will intend to use this. Is this going to be part of your morning routine just for you? Or will you be brewing for the whole family? And do you want to use it when those guests pop around? It is frustrating to have to make multiple brews back on back so choose carefully. However, there is something to be said for erring on the smaller size as these brew quicker and so, some think, have better extraction.
Finally, as with anything coffee, we believe it is essential to buy a Moka pot that you can come to love. So buy one that you love the look of, whether that is the rugged beauty of the Moka Express, the elegant beauty of the Roma, or the futuristic beauty of the Pulcina. Buy a Moka Pot (dependent on the price, of course) that you can be proud to showcase.
The Verdict- The Best Moka Pot?
We hope we have persuaded you that buying any of these Moka Pots is an investment in your coffee future. We recommend that the Bialetti Moka Express is the single best Moka Pot to go for. It has almost a century-long track record of quality, is made of high-quality aluminum, comes with an attractive price tag, and most importantly, brews a great cup of coffee.
Alternatively, if you are looking to spend a little more or will be brewing on an induction cooktop, we recommend either the Cuisinox Roma or Alessi Pulcina as excellent high-end options that can brew on any stovetop.