Coffee lovers know many ways to make an excellent cup of coffee and some have tried them all. Pour-overs, French presses, and expensive espresso machines are all top of mind, but one of the most humble yet quality coffee pots is the stovetop espresso maker known as the Moka pot.

Here’s a super practical, detailed guide to Moka pots and how to choose the perfect one for your morning coffee-making routine.

How to Choose a Stovetop Espresso Maker

Before we tell you how to choose a top-notch stovetop espresso maker, let’s dive into what Moka pots are, where they originated, and qualities to look for when purchasing one.

Technically, stovetop “espresso” makers do not make espresso like a classic espresso machine, but Moka pots will yield a strong, concentrated cup of great coffee. Moka pots produce coffee that is two to three times as strong as drip coffee. If a fancy espresso machine isn’t on your radar at the moment, then a stovetop espresso maker is a good second choice option.

In 1933, Italian inventor Luigi De Ponti created a patent for Alfonso Bialetti. Bialetti is a household name in Italy to this day and the company still uses the same basic design from 1933. The Moka pot is humble, sturdy, and reliable. They are easy to use, require minimal cleanup, and they are very low-maintenance.

Find Out Where It’s Made

It’s no wonder that many stovetop espresso makers are made in Italy. Moka pots that are made in Italy are a sure bet because they are high-quality with long-lasting durability. If you find a Moka pot that is made in China, be wary of the quality and research the brand. Some stovetop espresso makers made in China have been known for lower quality and even toxicity.

How Many Cups Can It Make?

Moka pots are designed to brew small amounts of very strong coffee. There are many small Moka pots designed to brew one shot-glass-sized cup of espresso, which may be perfect for one coffee lover but certainly not for a crowd. If there are several coffee drinkers in the household, look for a stovetop espresso maker that brews multiple servings, because brewing coffee several times is cumbersome.

Is It Compatible With Your Stove?

Before you buy, see which kind of Moka pot works best with your stovetop. Some work better with gas stoves, and some do just fine with electric or induction stoves. If you have a glass-top electric stove, most Moka pots will be very compatible.

Material: Aluminum vs. Stainless Steel

Most Moka pots are either made of stainless steel or aluminum, but which one reigns supreme? Stainless steel is a bit more expensive, but it is likely to last longer than aluminum. Stainless steel makes a fine looking Moka pot, but it also heats quickly, so watch your hands.

Aluminum is a cheaper metal, and while it might look less attractive than a stainless steel coffee pot, this also means it costs less. Aluminum does not conduct heat as fast, so you are less likely to burn yourself.

Overall, stainless steel may serve you best. Moka pots are inexpensive as it is, so investing in a stronger, higher quality metal is worth it.

How to Use a Stovetop Espresso Maker

The brewing process for making “espresso” shots with a Moka pot is simple and straightforward. Here’s how it’s done.

Step 1: Grind about 20 grams of coffee (for a 6-cup Moka pot) to a fine setting, as you would grind coffee beans for espresso.

Step 2: Boil filtered water and add hot water to the lower chamber.

Step 3: Fill the filter basket with ground coffee and place the basket into the lower chamber.

Step 4: Screw on the upper chamber of the Moka pot. Be aware that the lower chamber will be hot.

Step 5: Place on the stovetop at medium heat. As the hot water in the lower chamber heats up and the water boils, steam will force coffee into the upper chamber. After the coffee has been hissing and bubbling for awhile, the coffee is done.

How to Clean a Stovetop Espresso Maker

Although Moka pots are known for their sturdy, built-to-last design, they need to be gently cleaned. There are two things to keep in mind when cleaning a stovetop espresso maker: the pot’s finish, and the future flavor of your coffee (more on this below). However, the cleanup is easy and low-maintenance.

Never put a Moka pot in the dishwasher, as it will destroy the finish. To clean, simply disassemble the Moka pot, wash and rinse it with warm water, and let it dry. No soap is necessary or advisable, since soap can actually alter the flavor of coffee.

Avoid using abrasive scrub brushes or sponges, because they may take off some of the pot’s finish. After some time, the coffee’s oils will begin to “season” the Moka pot by leaving a thin film in the pot. The film isn’t a bad thing, and it actually makes your coffee taste better, so don’t scrub it away.

If you’ve had your stovetop coffee maker for a long time (they can really last decades if well cared for), check the wear on the safety valve on the side of the lower chamber. For safety reasons, this screw should be tightened and not too worn. Remember, these coffee makers use pressurized steam, so a worn safety valve could be dangerous.

Best Stovetop Espresso Makers

Ready to add the Moka pot to your coffee-making arsenal? Here are our favorites.

Best Overall: Bialetti Moka Stove Top Coffee MakerStovetop espresso maker: Bialetti express

The Bialetti Moka Stove Top Coffee Maker is a tried and true favorite since 1933. This classic, Italian-made Moka pot (or macchinetta del caffè, as it’s called in Italy) is a dependable little coffee-making gadget. It’s known for making a fine cup of coffee.

This machine is a 6-cup stovetop espresso maker, which, to be clear, is 9.2 ounces of strong coffee if used to capacity. Bialetti makes a range of coffee pots that brew anywhere from 1 to 12 cups. This Bialetti is made from high-quality aluminum and has a patented safety valve.

Price: $29.30

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Best High-End: Cuisinox Roma Six-Cup Stainless Steel Stovetop Moka Espresso Maker

Stovetop espresso maker: Cuisinox

The Cuisinox Roma is pricier than most Moka pots, but it comes with a hefty 25-year warranty, making it a safe bet. This coffee maker is stylish, stainless steel, and comes with an extra gasket. The outside of the pot is polished and shiny, making it an attractive piece of kitchenware.

Like all stovetop espresso makers, it’s easy to clean, but this one is also dishwasher-safe. Many Moka pots can’t be washed in the dishwasher, but this pot can handle it as long as it’s washed sparingly. Cuisinox stovetop coffee makers come in 6-cup and 10-cup pots, too.

Price: $92.99

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Best for Gas Stoves: GROSCHE Milano Stovetop Espresso MakerStovetop espresso maker: Grosche

The GROSCHE Milano coffee pot has an extended, heavy-duty handle that won’t melt on gas stoves. While it seems like a no-brainer that makers of Moka pots would also ensure handles don’t melt, it does happen with cheaply made plastic handles. Not so with this coffee pot, because the handle is extended outwards and away from the heat of the stove.

GROSCHE is a more modern company that was founded in 2006. For every product sold, the company provides more than 50 days of clean drinking water to those in need. This stovetop espresso maker is aluminum and it comes in 3-, 6-, or 9-cup models.

Price: $29.99

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Best Value: Bialetti Kitty Espresso Coffee Maker

Stovetop espresso maker: Bialetti Kitty

If you want a stainless steel Moka pot that doesn’t break the bank, the Bialetti Kitty is a top pick. This coffee pot is made with high-quality stainless steel, making it both attractive and sturdy. This Bialetti is elegant and sleek compared to the octagon-shaped Moka pots.

The handle is wide and extended away from the pot, making it more heat resistant, so all stovetops are compatible. This model brews six espresso cups (or 12 ounces) worth of strong, excellent coffee.

Price: $45.99

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Best Electric Moka Pot: De’Longhi EMK6 Alicia Electric Moka Espresso Coffee Maker

Stovetop espresso maker: De Longhi

The De’Longhi EMK6 Alicia Electric Moka pot provides the stovetop coffee maker taste without the stove. This electric Moka pot is great for an office, dorm room, or anywhere that stoveless coffee lovers need to thrive.

Never worry about burnt coffee or overflow, because this coffee maker has an automatic shut-off feature. A warming function keeps coffee hot for 30 minutes after brewing. This Moka pot contains an adapter to brew either 3 or 6 cups of espresso.

Price: $49.99

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The Single Most Important Element of Moka Pot Brewing

Atlas Coffee Club Coffee Culture Collection 2

Choosing a Moka pot for your coffee brewing needs is a matter of preference. The options for stovetop compatibility, the volume of coffee, and the material are all characteristics that will help you purchase the best Moka pot for your needs so you can start brewing strong, delicious coffee of (almost) espresso at home.

One thing that cannot be compromised is the quality of the coffee you use to fill your Moka pot. Test your new Moka pot with the highest quality, freshly roasted coffee beans that you can’t find anywhere at the supermarket. Atlas coffee subscriptions feature coffee roasted to order, to your preference, along with tasting notes, a postcard, and brewing tips. The world of coffee delivered fresh to your door⁠ — each month, a new country!

About The Author

Michael Shewmake

An entrepreneur and musician, Michael quit his full-time job in the corporate world to assemble a band of fellow storytellers, travelers, and coffee-lovers as enthusiastic as himself to share the unique stories and coffee from around the world.