We’ve started to take coffee drinking a lot more serious since moving to Europe. Even before that, though, we were fascinated by the idea of Italian coffee and how to make the perfect pot at home, just like we drink when traveling in Italy. In this Moka Pot Coffee Maker buying guide, I share our top tips on how to purchase the best stovetop coffee maker for your home
Best Moka Pot Coffee Maker Buying Guide
Stovetop coffee makers are easy to use, make great espresso-style coffee, and last for a really long time. It is common to find these nifty, traditional coffee makers in most kitchens in Italy. In this post, we share everything you need to know to make the perfect cup at home. And, the most important thing is to purchase the right pot from the start. One that will last for years and years.
Stovetop Coffee Maker Reviews For 2019
We cover a lot of ground in this Coffee Blog Post. We share our recommendations for the best stovetop coffee maker to buy this year. We offer full reviews of each brand. But, we also want to educate coffee aficionados like us on everything you need to know before purchasing a Moka Pot, including how to use it and how to take care of it.
*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER.
Time needed: 20 minutes.
What You Will Learn In This Coffee Blog And Buying Guide
- What you should consider when purchasing a stovetop espresso pot
- How to use and care for your Italian-style coffee maker
- Is Bialetti the best of the Italian coffee maker brands
Stovetop Espresso Maker Reviews For 2019
As to where to buy a Moka Pot, we recommend Amazon for a few reasons. It offers the best selection, with comprehensive reviews. And, if you are an Amazon Prime member, you can receive free quick and easy shipment on most products. Almost every stove top espresso machine we review is available for Prime shipping options.
We review each of our recommended Italian espresso makers fully below. But if you are short on time, feel free to use the table below to see our recommendations for the best stovetop espresso makers on Amazon. One thing to note. Most of our recommendations include multiple size options. Just be sure to select the right size for you,
Our History With Italian Stovetop Espresso Makers
I will never forget the first time I learned how to use a stovetop Italian espresso machine. It was in 2009. We were staying with friends in Lucca, Italy, a stunning old walled city. Our friend taught me how to make a proper Italian tiramisu, using fresh Italian coffee instead of a liquor. I think I was more impressed by how she worked the Italian espresso coffee machine than how to make the actual tiramisu.
Since that time, we’ve purchased and owned several of these famous Italian coffee machines. We purchased one that weekend in Lucca, carried it with us for the last few months of our round-the-world-trip and used it regularly when we lived in Washington, D.C. We owned another rather large stovetop coffee pot when we lived in Bali. Eric made a pot for us each morning and delivered it to me in bed. I know, I am a lucky wife.
After heading out on the road once again, we scaled down our possessions and left our coffee maker at home. It was too large to travel with. We quickly learned our mistake. At the start of a month-long trip to Emilia Romagna, Italy, we checked into an Airbnb, in Italy, which didn’t have a coffee maker! We immediately visited the closest Bialetti Moka Pots shop in Ravenna, Italy, and bought a relatively small, orange-colored Bialetti coffee maker. We still have it in our apartment in Girona, and yes, sometimes it even travels with us. It was the best purchase we ever made.
Our Top Pick: The Bialetti Espresso Maker
We recommend Bialetti for a few reasons. It’s high-quality. It comes in a variety of sizes. According to the experts, one of the benefits of a Bialetti is the octagonal shape, which allows the heat to distribute, making more consistent coffee. It comes in one, three, six, nine, and 12 cup options. We include a more thorough review below.
What Is A Moka Pot
A macchinetta del caffe, or small coffee machine, is an Italian coffee percolator, a classic machine used to make espresso-style coffee. They make coffee similarly to an espresso machine, but at lower pressures than an electric espresso maker. Italian percolators have been around since the 1930s. They work off of steam pressure where boiling water moves through the ground coffee. This is a classic and traditional way to make coffee, with no real bells and whistles. But, it’s also effective, particularly if you are looking for a classic Italian espresso at home.
A high-quality Moka Pot used with the right technique can consistently create a great cup of coffee. A Moka Pot heats water in the bottom chamber. The hot water forces steam through the coffee, which is located in a strainer above. What results is a strong shot of coffee, more similar to an espresso than a traditional American cup of coffee.
Why Use a Moka Pot
At its most basic, a Moka Pot is a great alternative to a high-quality, expensive electric espresso machine. According to coffee experts, they produce stronger, thicker coffee. There’s also a solid crema, which is the tan-colored foam on the top of a cup of espresso. They are best when used with dark roast coffees.
How To Use A Moka Pot
Using a Moka Pot can be intimidating for first-timers. And, I will admit that when we use the Moka pot for coffee at home, I am using the royal “we.” Eric is the one that makes all of our coffee. There is definitely something about making espresso on the stove top that still intimidates me. More than anything, I just like when Eric makes me coffee in the morning. Regardless, I know how a Moka Pot works, and I will share Eric’s expertise with you.
Steps To Use A Moka Pot
To make coffee in an Italian Moka coffee pot, unscrew the bottom of the pot. Fill the base of the coffee maker with water, up to the water line. Add ground coffee into the filter basket. Add about 20 grams of coffee for each cup. The coffee should be level, but not too tightly packed.
Twist the top of the coffee maker closed. If using a gas stovetop, place the coffee maker on a low to medium flame. Using a flame that is too high can actually burn the handle. After a few moments, you will hear the coffee brewing and will start to smell the tasty coffee. The steam-pressurized hot water will pass through the coffee grounds, up through the spout.
When using a Moka Pot for the first time, it is best to watch the coffee brew rather than walking away from it. This is in case you need to turn the heat up or town, or to just make sure you are using the maker correctly.
Some people recommend pre-heating the water in a kettle. This keeps the pot from getting too hot and overcooking the coffee. We’ve never taken this step, but I can see the benefits. If using hot water to start, just be careful when screwing the top and bottom together to avoid contact with the hot water.
Check out this video that explains how to use a Moka Pot
How To Clean A Moka Pot
Cleaning a Moka Pot is super easy. But there are a few dos and don’ts to keep the coffee maker working as it should and to help it last longer. Aluminum coffee makers should not be put in a dishwasher. It is possible to put a stainless steel Moka Pot in the dishwasher, but I don’t recommend it. Some say it shortens the life-span. It’s best to hand wash any stovetop coffee maker and to avoid placing it in a dishwasher.
What Is The Best Coffee For A Moka Pot
When making any coffee at home, freshly ground beans are the key to releasing the aromas and flavors of great coffee beans. Although any beans can be used, dark roast coffee is the best for a Moka pot. Around 18-20 grams of coffee for each cup is about the right amount. If you are ever in doubt, choose an Italian coffee brand. Try illy dark roast coffee beans or Lavazza dark roast coffee blend. Both brands produce great coffee and are worth the investment.
Best Coffee Grinder For A Moka Pot
The best coffee grind for a Moka Pot is a fine grind. You want to use the same coffee grind size as you would for an espresso machine, or just slightly more coarse. You can either use an electric coffee grinder or a handheld, manual coffee grinder. The coffee grinds are best when they are as fine as table salt. Although a good manual coffee grinder can produce a fine grind, an electric grinder, like this one from Krups, would produce a more consistent, more fine grind for the Moka Pot.
Alternatives To A Stovetop Espresso Coffee Maker
Once a coffee drinker decides to look for an alternative to a drip coffee machine, there are a few different options to consider. A stove top espresso maker is the best alternative to an electric espresso machine. This is in part because it does the best job in getting the most flavor from dark roast coffee beans, which can be too oily to be used in an electric coffee maker. We love our Moka Pot, but you can also consider purchasing an Aeropress, a French Press, or even a Bialetti electric Moka Pot.
AeroPress vs Moka Pot
An AeroPress Coffee Maker is one where the coffee is steeped and then forced through a filter using a plunger. The filters can be either paper filters or thin metal filters. The coffee is steeped between 20 and 60 seconds in water that must be boiled ahead of time.
Generally, an AeroPress can make between one and three cups of coffee at a time, whereas the Moka Pot can be purchased as large as 12 cups. The AeroPress is a little cheaper. Overall, the Moka Express is actually easier to use mostly because if you do one thing wrong on the AeroPress you can make a big mess.
French Press vs Moka Pot
A French Press coffee maker is a classic way to make a good cup of coffee, which uses pressure and a plunger to run the coffee grinds through the water. It’s also interesting to know that although this manual coffee maker has been around for over 100 years, it was actually patented by an Italian, not a Frenchman! Both a French Press and a Moka Pot will make a great cup of coffee, and it comes down to personal preference. I think a French Press tends to make a good cup of coffee whereas the Moka Pot makes a good cup of espresso if that is a big difference.
Electric Moka Pot vs. A Stovetop Coffee Maker
An alternative to a traditional stovetop Italian coffee pot is an electric Italian coffee maker. There is a bit of a learning curve when using a stovetop espresso maker while learning how to control the temperature. An electric Moka espresso coffee machine is easier to use. They plug into an outlet and control the temperature for you.
There is a price difference between electric and traditional Moka Pots. Sometimes the price for an electric machine is more than double. That said, it is still less than purchasing a quality electric espresso maker for your home.
Here is one option I would recommend. This Delonghi EMK6 Alicia Electric Moka Espresso Coffee Maker has its own heating element. It works super quick and works anywhere. One benefit is that it keeps the coffee hotter longer than a stovetop version. The coffee maker keeps espresso hot for about 30 minutes, but there’s also an automatic shut-off. The coffee pot detaches from its electric base, so you can easily bring it to the table for serving. It’s also pretty lightweight, meaning it can work as a travel coffee maker too.
Things To Consider When Purchasing A Stovetop Coffee Maker
There are a few things to take into consideration when purchasing your stovetop coffee machine to make sure it is the right one for you.
What Kind Of Stovetop Do You Have
There are a few different types of stovetops in people’s kitchens. Most common is gas, electric, or induction. Most Moka Pots will say whether they are electric or induction friendly. We learned how to use a Moka on a gas stove, and this is the most traditional way to use one. Most stovetop espresso pots will work on electric stoves. That’s how we use ours at home in Girona.
An induction stove is a different story. Generally, special pots and pans are needed for an induction stove. Minimally, you need to have something with a little bit of heft. When we had our Bialetti espresso machine at an apartment rental with an induction stove it was not heavy enough to work. In this case, choose a larger, or heavier pot, or maybe consider an electric version. This is particularly true for aluminum Moka pots, which are lightweight. They should have some bells and whistles built into the base to make them useable on an induction stove. In this case, it’s easier to just purchase a stainless steel model.
Where Was The Moka Pot Produced
There’s a reason why a lot of people search for the best Italian coffee machine, stovetop or not. Italians take their coffee seriously and have for generations. Finding a maker that is made in Italy does generally denote quality, but it is not necessary. I might be a little more skeptical of coffee machines made in Asia, particularly China. For us, I like that our maker is an authentic Italian stovetop espresso maker. I like even more that we bought it in Italy, but I recognize that is not an option for everyone.
Material Used To Make The Coffee Maker
Most coffee makers are made of stainless steel or aluminum, although ceramic is also an option. Here, I cover the difference between stainless steel and aluminum stovetop coffee makers.
Aluminum Moka Espresso Makers
Traditionally, Moka Pots were aluminum. Aluminum is a porous metal, which means that over time coffee bits and oils might get caught in the aluminum, reducing the quality of the coffee produced over time. Aluminum coffee makers should not be put in a dishwasher nor should you use abrasive sponges or cleaning products on them. This means that you have a coffee maker made with a porous material that should not be put in a dishwasher. Another issue with aluminum coffee makers is that they can actually rust.
All of these issues, like rust or built-up coffee particles won’t happen for most people for years, or even decades. And, because aluminum Moka Pots are often cheaper, they can still be a good value. Our Bialetti coffee pot is made of high-quality polished aluminum, and we’ve been really happy with it.
Stainless Steel Moka Espresso Makers
Stainless steel is non-porous, making it a good alternative to aluminum. It also means it is easier to clean. It’s non-corrosive as well, meaning it won’t rust. Stainless steel is also less malleable, meaning it is more sturdy and holds up to wear and tear over the years. Stainless steel heats quickly, meaning it takes less time to make a pot of coffee on the stovetop. It is possible to put a stainless steel Moka Pot in the dishwasher, but I don’t recommend it. Some say it shortens the life-span.
As much as aluminum stovetop coffee makers can be less expensive, it’s important to look for quality. Cheaper, aluminum stovetop coffee machines can be toxic. This is where it is best to avoid the bargain-basement Chinese manufactured products.
The Size Of The Moka Coffee Pot
This comes to personal preference. You can buy personal, one cup machines, or large ones to use for a large Italian family. Of course, there is also every size in between. A smaller pot might be helpful if you intend to travel with it. Also, when determining cup size, these are really espresso cup sizes and not American cup sizes. If you enjoy a double, go for one that is a little larger. As a general rule, a 6 cup espresso maker will make two regular sized cups coffee by American standards.
Stovetop Coffee Maker Reviews – 2019
In this section, I review each of the recommended stovetop coffee makers. I included the electric Moka Pot, above.
Bialetti Stovetop Coffee Maker Review
The Original Bialetti Moka Express is the most classic Italian coffee maker out there and it has been since 1933. It comes in many size options, and even at the larger cup size, the price is hard-to-beat. It works on both gas and electric stoves and its unique octagon shape means heat distributes evenly.
Although the Bialetti coffee makers are made from aluminum, they are made of high-quality aluminum and are non-toxic. That does mean it is not dishwasher friendly, but that has never been an issue for us. We generally just rinse and dry. It’s also made in Italy, so it is the best way to own a classic bit of Italian coffee heritage right at home. We also travel on occasion with our Bialetti.
Bialetti Kitty Stainless Steel Stovetop Coffee Maker
Bialetti Kitty Espresso Coffee Maker is the next step up from the Original Bialetti. This version is stainless steel as opposed to aluminum. The Kitty is compatible with both gas, electric, and ceramic stoves. It also has a more contemporary rather than a classic design, which comes in even cup sizes ranging between two and 10 cups. The Bialetti Kitty is technically dishwasher safe, but again, I don’t really see a need for washing the stovetop coffee makers. One thing to note, this coffee maker is made in China rather than Italy, but it is still manufactured by a reputable company.
Cuisinox Roma Stainless Steel Stovetop Coffee Maker
The Cuisinox Roma Stainless Steel Stovetop Moka Espresso Maker is a premium stovetop coffee maker that is made of high-quality 18/10 stainless steel. It can be used on an induction stovetop as well as gas and electric. The coffee maker is made with a stainless steel handle, which means it won’t melt like cheaper models. This does mean that the handle gets hot. It’s probably best to use a pot holder to hold the pot. They also recommend only washing the coffee maker by hand, even though it is made with stainless steel.
It comes in four, six, and 10 cup options, but there’s a special feature in the Cuisinox that is not available in a lot of other coffee makers. This coffee maker actually comes with a reducer. If you want to make less coffee, fill the base of the coffee maker halfway. Place the funnel filter into the base. Then, add the reducer that comes with the coffee maker into the funnel, which reduces the capacity for the coffee grinds by half. It’s a pretty nifty feature. Plus, this stovetop espresso maker is just stunning and works great for entertaining.
GROSCHE Milano Moka Stovetop Espresso Maker
GROSCHE Milano Moka Stovetop Espresso Coffee Maker is a great alternative to the classic Bialetti. It’s made of high-quality aluminum and is made in Italy. The GROSCHE available in three, six, and nine cup options, and also comes in a few different and stylish colors including black, white, red, and silver. Although it works on gas, electric, and induction stoves, it takes longer to heat on an induction stovetop because it is not magnetic. One benefit is that they have a large, soft-touch handle, with a burn guard making it easier to manage than other stovetop coffee makers.
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new Food and Drink Destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.