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Also known as a stovetop coffee maker, the moka pot is a simple home brewing method that is particularly popular in Europe and Latin America. Best moka pots require a heat source to generate steam and pressure. The result is not strictly espresso, but a stronger “moka coffee” brew that you can achieve through drip brewing methods.
If you would like to explore this way of brewing coffee at home, we’ve selected 5 stovetop moka pots to suit a range of budgets. In the end, you’ll also find a quick guide to using your moka pot…
Original Bialetti Moka Express Made in Italy Stovetop Espresso Maker
Sizes: 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12-cup options
List price: Between $25 and $60 (View this Amazon listing for details)
Our first choice comes courtesy of an Italian manufacturer that has been making its iconic 8-sided polished aluminum moka pot since the early 1950s (it was actually invented back in 1933). So, if you’re looking to bring a true Italian coffee experience into your kitchen, you couldn’t do much better than investing in a Bialetti. Aside from the manufacturer’s impressive history, the Moka Express benefits from a range of additional features. These include a flip-up top with an easy-grip knob, a stay-cool black plastic handle, and a side-pour spout.
As to brew time, the Bialetti can produce a 2oz espresso-size cup of coffee in around five minutes. Bialetti offers its moka pots in a wide choice of espresso cup sizes and bold color options, including the traditional silver, so they could make a great gift for the coffee lover in your life.
Especially good for? Those relaxed Sunday mornings when you want to enjoy a quality cup of coffee while reading the paper and pretending you’re on a sun-dappled square in Rome!
Alessi Pulcina Stove Top Espresso Coffee Maker
Sizes: 1, 3, and 6-cup options
List price: Between $80 and $120 (View this Amazon listing for details)
Our second choice takes us from the iconic to the futuristic! Choose the high-end Italian Alessi Pulcina and you will be buying both a quality moka pot coffee maker and a piece of modern art. At first glance, Michele de Lucchi’s layered aluminum design might seem purely aesthetic, but it is actually the result of research into the optimal way to brew coffee using the moka pot method. For example, the manufacturer claims this coffee maker stops filtering the coffee at exactly the right moment, eliminating some of the issues that can arise with the moka pot, such as a burnt and bitter brew (which can happen if the brew time is too long). There is also a ‘beak-like’ spout that promises to prevent drips. Available in 3 cup size options, the coffee maker comes in silver with a choice of black or red handle and knob. Note that the Alessi Pulcina does not work on induction stovetops.
Especially good for? A house-warming or wedding gift for coffee lovers with a sense of contemporary style.
Osaka Nijo Castle Stovetop Espresso Maker
Sizes: 3, 6, 9, and 12-cup options
List price: Between $25 and $40 (View this Amazon listing for details)
Our next choice, from Japanese manufacturer Osaka, is the extremely durable and stylish Nijo Castle. This moka pot made our list largely because it is a great mid-budget option that produces excellent quality coffee. Osaka has certainly put a lot of thought into the design and manufacture of the Nijo Castle range. There are 4 cup size options to choose from. Each pot is made from cast aluminum and features a polished interior with a handsome dark gray marbleized finish.
Additional features include a flame retardant handle that remains cool to the touch at all times and a safety valve for peace of mind while the pot is on the stovetop. The Nijo Castle also benefits from being dishwasher safe for easier cleaning.
Especially good for? Anytime you want to enjoy a quality cup of coffee (or two) at home.
Alpha Coffee Espresso Maker Stovetop Moka Pot
List price: Around $30 (View this Amazon listing for details)
Our next choice is another highly-durable coffee maker that is sold new with a lifetime money-back guarantee. You can’t get a more confident claim than guaranteeing a product will last indefinitely! The aluminum Alpha moka pot is a good option for anyone who wants to make multiple cups of coffee, rather than 1 or 2, at a time. Within minutes, you can enjoy 6 demitasse/espresso cups of strong coffee. The handle of the silver Alpha is plastic but designed to stick out from the pot to keep it away from the heat source. In addition, the lid stays open so you can see the coffee brewing and take the pot off the stove as soon as the process has finished. The Alpha is sold new with a spare rubber gasket (this is a small circular seal which is the only part of a moka pot that wears out over time and needs replacing).
Especially good for? Serving authentic Italian coffee at small dinner parties or when friends stop by unexpectedly.
Mixpresso Coffee Moka Pot Stovetop Espresso Maker
List price: Around $15 (View this Amazon listing for details)
Our final choice is also the cheapest on the list, which makes it a great option for taking your first steps into moka pot brewing without spending a lot of money. The one-size Mixpresso produces 3 (2oz) demitasse cups in around four minutes, a good compromise size for anyone requiring more than a tiny one-cup pot but not needing to brew large batches of coffee at a time. Made from durable aluminum, the Mixpresso features an easy-grip handle and the makers claim the pot will last a lifetime.
Overall, the Mixpresso is a good example of how brewing with a budget moka pot can produce great results at a really low cost. If you’re on the fence about moka, the Mixpresso might just tempt you to give it a try!
Especially good for? Anyone heading off to college who is looking for an effective and reliable way of making great coffee on a student budget.
So, What Exactly Is a Moka Pot and How Do You Use One?
This method of brewing can look at little daunting at first, but it is really quite simple. Whatever the design or cost, all moka pots essentially work in the same way.
Just like espresso, the key to producing coffee using the moka pot method is pressure. With espresso, the specified pressure is 9-bar; whereas the pressure generated by the moka pot is 1 to 2-bar. This means the coffee produced in the moka pot is not technically espresso but is still a strong brew that can have a nice layer of crema. Drink it as brewed, dilute with hot water, or use it as a base for lattes and cappuccinos etc.
You can use any type of coffee to brew using the moka pot, although a fine, dark ‘espresso’ grind is best (some retailers even sell ‘moka grind’ coffee). A rule of thumb is 20-22 grams of coffee for each 2oz espresso cup (or demitasse) of coffee.
A moka pot basically comprises:
- Base chamber
- Funnel-shaped filter basket
- Upper chamber
To brew, unscrew the bottom chamber and fill it with freshly boiled water. Place the ground coffee into the filter basket and insert the filter into the bottom chamber. Screw on the empty upper chamber. Put the pot on the stove and set a medium heat. As the water boils, the pressure generated pushes it upwards, through the coffee grounds. The brewed coffee collects in the upper chamber. When you hear a hissing, gurgling sound, carefully remove the pot from the heat. Pour out the brewed coffee and enjoy!
How to Maintain: Maintenance involves simply removing the spent coffee grounds and washing the separate parts of the moka pot in warm, soapy water.
“Not all moka pots are dishwasher safe, so be sure to check the manufacturer’s advice.”
As mentioned above, you will need to purchase a replacement rubber gasket from time to time (these costs a few dollars).
The Final Brew
If you want espresso-quality coffee without the cost or hassle of a fancy machine, the moka pot may be an alternative that’s worth considering. If you just love to make coffee at home, a moka pot is a great addition to your current brewing methods. Given the quality coffee, these simple little pots can produce, it may even become your preferred way to brew!