Following a decade-long career as a designer/art director in the fashion and beauty industry, I found my new calling in a coffee shop in Japan, where I met my husband who is a barista. We now run a coffee shop together in the countryside. My knowledge and passion for specialty coffee continues to grow, and I enjoy trying new beans and methods every day!
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Table of Contents
The first thing that comes to mind while choosing a moka pot is whether to go for a steel or aluminum one. Most stovetop espresso makers look similar. Any changes in the construction are found in the body and the material used.
Also, a stainless steel stovetop espresso maker is great if you have an electric or induction stove. Some aluminum moka pots have mixed materials at the base of the brewer, which would not register with these stoves. But stainless steel is compatible with all kitchens, modern or otherwise.
The biggest drawback to stainless steel moka pots, however, is the cost. A stainless steel espresso maker can easily be twice the price of the average aluminum moka pot. While the obvious trade-off is the stainless steel pot's durability, an aluminum espresso maker would best suit your needs if you're on a budget.
Most moka pots you see on the market are made of food-grade aluminum. However, aluminum can react with the brewing coffee and alter its taste and discolor the machine eventually due to its somewhat porous nature. Aluminum is also susceptible to corrosion, so it might not be a good choice for long-term use.
But they can be applauded for their heat conducting capability, which is higher than stainless steel. Anodized aluminum espresso makers are a more durable choice as they are more corrosion-resistant and durable than regular aluminum pots. They also don't alter the taste of the coffee you're brewing, as with non-anodized aluminum pots. Plus, they both tend to be cheaper than a stainless steel moka pot.
The issue of aluminum safety is a polarizing one, as there are many conflicting reports of the effects of using the material in cookware, especially under high temperatures.
Regardless of what side of the debate you are on, there is no question that an aluminum pot will react with and impact the taste of your coffee beans. So if you want more peace of mind in both the health and flavor departments, stainless steel might be a better option!
Keep in mind that the larger the pot, the heavier it will be and the longer it will take to heat up. And obviously, they will require more coffee grounds. A three-cup pot is generally a good place to start for an individual, whereas six-cup is suitable for a couple.
Any bigger than that might be overkill for just one or two people, as you can't "customize" the amount as you would with a dripper or machine.
Since the design of moka pots are so similar, all details matter. From the material of the handle to its warranty, a stovetop espresso maker's ease of use can drastically change depending on your lifestyle.
Since aluminum and stainless steel are good heat conductors, handles made of the same material can heat up fast and make it impossible to hold. Nylon, wood, and BPA-free plastic are good choices as handle materials as they are greatly heat-resistant. They remain significantly cool to the touch even when the coffee is brewing inside.
In addition, the handle should be ergonomically-placed and kept away from the body of the pot to avoid touching the hot surface accidentally. A sturdy handle, along with a well-made spout, makes pouring your coffee easy and safe.
If you have bigger hands, you may need a pot with a significantly wider handle. A smaller handle can make it difficult to hold on to while transferring or pouring the coffee. Likewise, those with smaller hands can find it hard to hold on to a bigger handle.
While most stovetop espresso makers recommend using cold water to fill the pot, using boiling hot water will actually make for a tastier cup; and by preheating the vessel, you’ll avoid burning your coffee.
The problem with this is that the pot will be too hot to touch, so a heat-resistant handle is ideal, as well as using a towel or potholder for extra safety measures.
As mentioned earlier, stainless steel espresso makers are easy to clean and maintain. In addition, most stainless steel models are dishwasher-safe. Aluminum espresso makers, on the other hand, need to be hand-washed.
However, this shouldn’t matter much unless your coffee got burnt inside the pot and it needs extensive cleaning in the dishwasher. But for those with time constraints, a dishwasher-safe espresso maker will be useful. Also, a larger sized espresso maker, such as a twelve cup pot, will take longer to clean than a smaller one, such as a three cup pot.
Even if it’s necessary to wash by hand, the pot should be easy to disassemble and clean under the tap. It’s recommended to hand wash polished espresso makers as tossing them in the dishwasher can mar the finish.
It’s important to clean your pot thoroughly after every use, as built-up residue and old coffee grounds will leave a bitter taste. However, there’s no need to use soap or detergent every time (or at all, with aluminum). Rinsing with hot water and wiping dry will suffice for daily cleaning.
While it’s a good idea to do a deep clean occasionally, using a soft brush and - if anything - just a drop of vinegar. Make sure to always dry your pot thoroughly before storing it!
Go with a tried-and-tested brand to ensure good quality products and services. A reputed manufacturer is less likely to make an inferior-quality espresso maker and honor the product's warranty.
The warranty is an assurance about the product's durability and longevity. Most reputed espresso makers come with a minimum two-year warranty. Bialetti, the brand that invented the moka pot, offers a two-year warranty. You can even find models that come with a 25-year warranty, such as offered by Cuisinox.
It's best to read reviews from the product owners to learn their opinion about the product and after-sales. Also, check if it's easy to procure replacement parts from the brand.
Since the Italians literally invented the stovetop espresso maker with the Bialetti, it’s hard to go wrong with any of the handful of models that are made in Italy. When in doubt, stick with the classics! And from a purely aesthetic standpoint; the minimal and beautiful art deco design continues to be timeless.
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This espresso maker is made of sturdy food-grade stainless steel. That will prevent any rusting or corrosion from occurring during the product's lifetime. The unique round base sets this moka pot apart from the rest as well, visually. The dispenser comes out easily, thanks to the spring mechanism it's attached to for easy removal. And it makes cleaning a breeze too!
Some users complained of the lid hinge breaking, but according to many users, the moka pot made great coffee every morning. Many attested to its quality and ease of use and would recommend it to others.
The iconic Bialetti Moka Express is made in Italy by the same company that invented moka pots themselves. It's made of aluminum, but espresso lovers know of its unique craftsmanship and sturdy build that can last for many years. The handle is designed for an easy hold, and the knob makes it easy to lift the lid and clean with ease. The moka pot is suitable for most stovetops except induction. It also comes with a two-year warranty.
Some users had concerns about it leaking while pouring. This may indicate the filter gasket needs replacement or isn't tightened well. A few reviewers thought they received knock-offs from Amazon, so we included the official link, too. Still, from how tasty the coffee comes out to how easy it is to clean it, the espresso maker received many compliments from users.
The stainless steel body makes this espresso maker suitable for all stovetops. It's available in two capacities: six cups and nine cups. The use of a brass valve on the lid is a plus, considering that it can resist corrosion. Or, you can easily open the lid by pressing down the lever to fill the cups faster.
There were some complaints about the material rusting and corroding after a few uses. Some felt that the material was of inferior quality. But from the coffee's taste and flavor to how fast it brews, there were many raving reviews for the espresso maker. It's easy to clean and makes coffee quickly.
The Prima Espresso Maker is a traditional stovetop espresso maker without the hefty price tag. The ergonomically-designed handle makes it easy to grip while you pour your favorite beverage into your coffee cups. Also, there's plenty of room between the handle and the body, relieving you from the worries of burning. Impressively, it uses silicone gaskets to prevent leaks and a stainless steel safety valve for the best performance.
There were a few user reports of the handle breaking, and some reported it melting while used on high flame (however, high-flame brewing isn't recommended for moka pots and can burn the coffee grounds). On the other hand, many users complimented it for making great-tasting coffee, especially Cuban coffee. Most users found that cleaning and maintaining it was a breeze.
This anodized aluminum moka pot is for those who are looking to brew strong and rich espresso on any surface. The body is coated in striking red enamel on the outside. The handle is kept far from the body and is also coated to keep it cool and soft to the touch. And if you're camping, this moka pot makes a perfect fit for your camping propane stove.
Most concerns were about it leaking while brewing. After trying and testing, a few users recommended tightening the pot well to prevent this from happening. And a few also reported the interior peeling. To prevent this, always brew on a low or medium flame. On the bright side, many users found it suitable for daily use. They loved making aromatic and tasty coffee, which was cheaper than what they get at a coffee shop.
VeoHome's stainless steel moka pot has a rounder, kettle-like appearance. It uses double filter technology and a safety release valve to ensure that your coffee comes out perfectly. And if the pot doesn't satisfy, it comes with a two-year warranty to fix any kinks. It also comes with one replacement gasket.
The biggest user concern is that the bottom of the pot rusts easily. This can be avoided by wiping the bottom dry after cleaning. Some mention that the larger sizes can get quite heavy as well. But the users who enjoy the product note its elegant appearance and satisfying brew.
The cast aluminum body makes this moka pot resistant to corrosion and stains. The classic design is simple, yet it can brew great-tasting coffee on all stovetops besides induction. The lightweight moka pot is also easy to assemble, disassemble, and clean after use, too.
For some users, the handle melted during the brewing process. And some reported it leaking while pouring coffee. Set the stove to the low flame while brewing, as recommended by the manufacturer. This can prevent the handle from burning. Otherwise, most reviewers found it easy to use and would recommend it to other espresso enthusiasts.
The copper-chrome finish is what might draw your attention to this polished stainless steel moka pot, but it also has great features. The top chamber is long and sleek, so you can brew your espresso with the lid open. The ergonomic handle is far enough away to prevent scalding. The bottom chamber is wide enough to brew your coffee without losing its taste and flavor. It can double as a percolator as well.
Some users reported that the handle got hot during the brewing process. And for some others, the copper plating peeled off after a few uses, exposing the polished silver body. But there were many recommendations for this high-quality stainless steel espresso maker. The polished finish also made it easy to clean and maintain.
Looking for the perfect gift for your caffeine-loving friends? The Rainbean stovetop espresso maker is made of shiny, rust-resistant stainless steel. The handle is specially designed to be heat resistant as well, to make pouring into the two complementary six-ounce espresso cups easier. The spoon is perfect for portioning out coffee as well.
Some reviewers noted that they were only able to get three shots worth of espresso out of the pot, rather than the full six. Others weren't satisfied with the size of the handle as it felt too small and frail. But those who used the pot with the ceramic cups provided were satisfied with the rich and creamy brew that was produced.
How about getting to watch what's brewing inside? This moka pot from Geesta comes with a glass top chamber that lets you see while your coffee is brewing. With its matching lid and handle made of heat-resistant glass, it will give a timeless appeal to your kitchen. The body can also be taken completely apart for a thorough clean. Although it only comes in a six-cup capacity, it means there will always be enough coffee for you and your friends.
However, some users reported that the pot was fragile and cracked with use. Careful handling is essential. Some also disliked the metal ring attached to the lid that doesn't come out easily. But for most of those who loved the pot, the experience was a great one. Many users enjoyed seeing their coffee brew inside the glass pot. And many attested to the coffee tasting fresh and better.
Nicole says, "You’ll want to use coffee ground a few steps coarser than normal espresso–but still finer traditional pour-over coffee–for a cleaner, clearer cup. Fine grind is pretty standard if you’re going for store-bought coffee grounds, but if the powder is too small, it may leak into your cup. If grinding yourself, aim for a size a little finer than table salt."
Although stovetop espresso makers are common in many countries, many more countries have little common knowledge on how to use moka pots. But once you figure out how to use one, a moka pot can happily fulfill your caffeine needs for a lifetime.
Here are some recommendations from us to ease and improve your coffee brewing experience!
Depending on where you're from, it might be hard to find moka pots in stores. If you're struggling to find the best stovetop espresso for you, check out Amazon's best selling list for stovetop espresso and moka pots.
No. 1: LuxHaus ｜Stovetop Espresso Maker
No. 2: Bialetti｜Moka Express Export
No. 3: Godmorn ｜Stovetop Espresso Maker
No. 4: Primula｜6-Cups Aluminum Espresso Maker
No. 5: Grosche｜Milano Stovetop Espresso Maker
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