What is a Moka Pot anyways?
Basically, a Moka Pot is an appliance in which it uses pressure (similar to how pressure cookers work) to brew coffee.
Traditionally moka pots are made from aluminum due to aluminum’s ability to easily distribute heat evenly and because it’s so much more affordable.
These days it’s easy to find many different aluminum pots as demonstrated above but there are more expensive stainless steel pots which are touted as being more durable, safer, and better tasting by many home baristas.
Popular SS models, which are reasonably priced, include:
But are the stainless steel versions really worth their higher price tag?
The best selling moka pot is still made from aluminum and even though aluminum pots can change the taste of the coffee they produce they are much easier to care for and sealing the aluminum is dead simple.
So What’s Different Between Aluminum and Stainless Steel Moka Pots
For starters both types of espresso makers are built the same. The pot itself has three distinct chambers and the filtration and safety valve are exactly the same.
- The first chamber is located at the bottom and is filled with water. The pressure built up in this chamber allows the water to rise and flow through the second chamber.
- The second chamber is funnel shaped wherein the ground coffee is placed here. The reason it is funnel shaped is because the water, when boiling, rises through the funnel to reach and brew the ground coffee in the middle chamber. Of course, this middle chamber has small holes to prevent the ground coffee from falling into the first chamber as well as to allow the water to go through the second chamber.
- The third chamber is where the brewed coffee is collected. Now, the shape of the third and top chamber is a sort of reverse funnel wherein there is a tall funnel in the center from which the brewed coffee flows.
As a result, the brewed coffee is much hotter than when brewed in a standard pot, due to the superheated water resulting from the use of pressure. See this post for more on the difference between stovetop espresso and real espresso.
Because stainless steel doesn’t conduct heat as efficiently as aluminum you are far more likely to get uneven extraction in a stainles steel pot and the gaskets in your steel pots will probably be more likely to need replaceing more often.
Even in a top of the line stainless pot like the Vev Vigano Carioca the steel base must be perfectly situated on a burner to help distribute the heat around the pot evenly. If one side gets hotter than the other then this will negatively impact your brew… if you leave the pot on the burner to long then one side of the gasket may burn while the other side remains in good shape.
So What is the Difference Between the Two?
Stainless steel is a more durable metal. It’s going to hold up better over time while aluminum can be banged up a little bit easier.
Stainless steel wont conduct heat as efficiently as we’ve already noted but it will be a tiny bit safer to use on the health-front as aluminum can impart extremely small amounts of trace metals into your coffee if the pot is not well seasoned.
Aluminum pots are a lot lighter and cheaper than steel so they are easier to handle and afford… and even though they are made from aluminum better pots are still quite durable.
Because aluminum distributes heat better coffee is easier to brew in an aluminum pot and when seasoned cleaning them is as easy as rinsing water through the pots after use.
In fact most of our favorite small stovetop espresso makers are all aluminum!
One other perk of aluminum pots is that the pieces of aluminum pots are far easier to find when it comes time to replace a part. Simple replacement gaskets and filter screens can easily be found for even cheap aluminum pots from brands like Primula where as you would find it much harder to find an acceptable replacement gasket for a pricey Alessi moka pot.
Do Stainless Steel Moka Pots Taste Batter?
One significant aspect of aluminum pots many people don’t like is that at high heat aluminum imparts some metallic “tastes” into the coffee produced. It’s clear the aluminum levels that leech out of the moka pot is safe for human consumption but the flavor is impacted negatively. Stainless steel will not do that.
To combat the flavor distortion common practice is to never fully wash your aluminum moka pot with abrasives and soap. Instead immediate rinsing of the moka pot under hot water and non-abrasive cloths are best because this removes the coffee and grind from the pot but leaves the coffee oils on the metal surface to seal the pot.
It is not uncommon to see Bialetti’s all over the world that all look a bit grungy. The metal is sealed and this makes the coffee taste better.
So Why Not Use Steel Over Aluminum?
You wouldn’t want to do this because steel causes hot spots due to uneven heat distribution. The aluminum models simply work better on an incremental level… you just have to get over the idea that they need to be scrubbed down with soap after every use.
Of course this is something not everyone can stomach which is why we are happy to advise some of our customers to buy a good stainless steel moka pot instead even though they cost a bit more.
Are Stainless Moka Pots Safer Than Aluminum
All Moka Pots are equipped with gaskets that ensure that there is a safe build-up of pressure in the lower chamber. Since the Moka Pot separates into three, the gaskets are there to hold the chambers together while also keeping pressure from escaping through the separations.
Moka Pots are also equipped with safety valves. These valves are another avenue from which steam escapes. Of course, Steam can only escape through these safety valves in the case of intense build-up or in other words, too much steam is accumulated in the lower chamber. The Moka Express has it’s own special patented valve making it one of the safest pot on the market.
You can see our full review of the Bialetti here.
On the other hand, a clean filter in the second chamber will prevent unnecessary steam build-up since this is the main pathway where steam will pass through. This will also ensure that the coffee is finely brewed.
In addition, some recipes state how much water to use per amount of coffee bean. This ratio is very important is this plays a huge role in the outcome of the flavor of coffee. Knowing to use how much water also serves another purpose. This keeps the pot from generating too much pressure which worsens the quality of the coffee and poses possible damage to the pot.
Coffee Characteristics of the Moka Brew – Is the Flavor Different?
You may now be wondering how different coffee tastes when brewed using a standard pot or coffee maker as compared to using the Moka pot. For starters, the taste and flavor of coffee generated by a Moka pot greatly rely on several factors such as the type of coffee bean, roast level, how fine the grind is and as mentioned, the amount of temperature in the pot.
The design of the Moka pot, in which it uses superheated water and pressure to brew coffee, results in a stronger flavor as compared to the standard pot and drip brewing. This is because there is more caffeine present in the brew of Moka pots. Moka pots also generate more crema or foam as compared to other brewing mechanisms (aside from true espresso of course).
Due to the extraction rate of the Moka pot, meaning the amount of coffee brewed, most people commonly mistake the Moka pot as a variation of an Espresso machine. This is not the case since Moka pots generate a PSI of 29 as compared to 130 of Espresso machines. Thus, Moka brews are not classified as Espresso and should be considered as distinct type of coffee brew in itself.
Because all stovetop espresso makers are generally well priced and affordable to the masses we always advise our customers to buy a good model and avoid the super cheap models.
Here is a list of our favorite large stovetop espresso makers, each of which is perfect for making moka for 2-4 people every morning.
Aluminum vs. Stainless Steel
Moka pots were traditionally made of aluminium due to its malleability, making the crafting process of complex shapes and features much easier compared to when using thicker metals such as steel. There are still Moka pots available out there on the market but manufacturers such as Alessi, Serafino Zani, Vev Vigano and Bellman have now designed Moka pots made of stainless steel apart from their aluminium offerings.
The pots practically offer the same features and functionality but do both materials actually contribute to users in terms of taste and safety?
This question can be answered through the comparison of four benchmarks discussed below.
The Four Benchmarks
- Corrosion – Stainless steel possesses a certain element called chromium which provides corrosion resistance. Also, stainless steel is non-porous which means that its surface does not have even the smallest holes. This characteristic only increases its corrosion resistant capability. Aluminum on the other hand is prone to corrosion especially when experiencing oxidization, brought upon by acidity. Since we are talking about coffee here, yes, coffee is acidic and thus corrodes aluminium at a much faster rate. This chemical reaction of oxidization leads to rusting.
Winner: Stainless steel
- Heat transfer – Aluminum, due to its more basic composition (less layers as compared to stainless steel), means it is a better conductor of heat. This means that it takes aluminium made Moka pots less time to brew coffee compared to stainless steel ones.
- Strength – Stainless steel is stronger than aluminium based on the fact that its malleability is less compared to the other metal (same reason why Moka pots started as being made of aluminium). Stainless steel is also sturdier than aluminium and as a result, is more durable given that both metals experience the same amount of pressure.
Winner: Stainless steel
- Convenience – No doubt this goes to stainless steel. Its chrome property makes it much easier to wash and wipe the coffee gunk off the chambers. Some extra wiping maybe necessary for aluminium pots
Winner: Stainless steel
- Cost – Aluminum is the cheaper to acquire and manufacture between the two.
Based on the breakdown above, one should definitely opt for a stainless steel pot. The health scares are primarily rooted in corrosion in which stainless steel is more resistant. Also, due to stainless steel’s durability, it is more likely to withstand the intense pressure generated by the lower chamber.
Taste-wise, both pots go either way. As mentioned above, the flavor generated by a Moka pot really depends on the aforementioned factors and thus, the characteristics of aluminium and stainless steel pots have no room in the discussion.
If one is looking for a more traditional tasting Moka brew, one should then opt for aluminium pots since traditional Moka pots were made of aluminium. Of course, one should always keep in mind that hazards that go along with it.
The Differences Between Aluminum and Stainless Steel Moka Pots
Are you familiar with moka pots? Of course you are, who isn’t? And the fact that you’re here reading this article goes to show that you’re also familiar with the fact that there are both aluminum and stainless steel moka pots available for sale on the market.
However, you must also be wondering which one is better. You’ve come to the right place to find the answer- Gamble Bay Coffee brings to you the main differences between the aluminum and the stainless steel moka pots, so that you can judge them perfectly in order to go for the one that’s the right one for you.
Aluminum Moka Pots: Facts and Features
Aluminum moka pots go back a long way. In fact, the first moka pot was actually made of aluminum. The Aluminum moka pot began its journey in the 1930s and looks like it is going to stay.
Naturally, since it is one of the main choices that are available out there, it is important to know about the main features that aluminum offers you with:
- Aluminum is a metal that will gain and lose heat quickly. This was one of the main reasons why it was used for the first moka pot. So, naturally, pots of this type heat quickly, but also cool quickly.
- The aluminum moka pot is also a much cheaper option. Since aluminum, as a material, is really cheap, the aluminum moka pots are actually much more affordable than their steel counterparts.
- But, in this case, affordability comes at the price of durability. By this, I mean to say that these models, while not likely to shatter, are not as durable as the steel types available in the market.
- Finally, most of the people who have had the chance to check out the models say that aluminum models generally tend to have a really nice construction. They have a classy look that many love and helps give your kitchen a better look, overall. So, if you’re looking for aesthetics and functionality, then you might want to check out the great looking aluminum models.
Stainless Steel Moka Pots: Facts and Features
Just because the first moka pot was made of aluminum doesn’t mean that aluminum is the best and only option. At the moment, one of the main challengers that we can find is the stainless steel moka pot. Given the fact that it’s one of the main types that the aluminum ones have to compete with, we must take a look at its features as well so that we are able to compare them closely in order to find the best one for ourselves.
- Stainless steel does not gain or lose heat quickly. As such, it remains hot for a while once you’ve heated it up.
- Stainless steel moka pots are actually pretty expensive. In fact, the upper range models available in the market are almost all made from stainless steel.
- The reason why the price may be justified lies in the factor of durability. These models are high quality models and they boast of an equally high level of durability. In fact, people say that the pots pay for themselves in the long run because of this factor of durability.
- While these models might not look exactly as you hoped, they still provide you with plenty of attractive options that beautify your kitchen, anyway.
What are the main differences between the two?
After taking a look at the main features of the two, the differences can easily be understood. However, just to make it simpler for you, we’ve summed them up so that you can have a clear idea.
- First of all, as their names suggest, the aluminum moka pots are made of aluminum, while the stainless steel moka pots are made of stainless steel.
- The aluminum moka pots heat up quickly, while the stainless steel moka pots retain heat for a longer time.
- The aluminum moka pots are much more affordable than the stainless steel moka pots. However, the stainless steel ones are much more durable, so you may end up spending less over your lifetime with a stainless steel option.
- Finally, while both of them have fairly nice looking models, and despite the fact that tastes vary on an individual basis, most people seem to agree that the aluminum moka pots are usually the more beautiful models.
Gamble Bay Coffee is here for you!
Once again, we hope that you could learn at least something new from today’s topic of discussion that will help you on your quest to find the right model. Keep in mind that the best model for yourself is the model that serves all your needs at the most reasonable price. Sadly, we have, once again, come to the end of today’s article, but there’s no need to worry- Gamble Bay Coffee is always here for you and we will always be here to solve any confusion that you might have. We promise to try our best in solving any problem that you might come to us with.
So, we encourage you to approach us in case of any query or confusion, and, once again, we assure you that we will try our best to help you in any way we can. It was really great having you here for today’s article! We hope that you actually got to learn something new from it and we look forward to your next visit. Thank you so much for coming by!
Stainless Steel vs Aluminum Moka Pots: What’s The Difference and Which is Best?
Moka pots or stovetop took over the percolator as the most sought after coffee brewing machine in the common household. The principle behind the moka pot is similar to the percolator, but it takes a step up when it comes to design and output.
The moka pot hails from Italy. After all, Italians know their coffee well and creating a machine that will yield good coffee is arguably second nature to them.
In 1933, Luigi di Ponti invented the moka pot and commissioned a metal machinist, Alfonso Bialetti. Bialetti’s creation, known as the “Moka Express” rose to popularity and became one of the favorite brewers of the world.
The moka pot is essentially a percolating device, but Bialetti noted that this machine causes boiling water to rise up, pass through the coffee grounds and out on the tube. There are no filters inside. The coffee grounds stay at the bottom of the pot.
The construction of the aluminum moka pot set the standard in modern kitchens. What followed was the prominence of aluminum kitchen equipment that offered durability and convenience.
To date, there are so many choices for moka pots. How can you choose the right one?
5 Things to remember when buying a moka pot
Experts rounded up a handy checklist to use when choosing a stovetop espresso maker.
- Check the manufacturer.
As mentioned, Italians designed the first moka pot. Therefore, an Italian brand will come as a first choice. In fact, the Bialetti moka pots still reign as one of the best, if not the best, moka pot maker in the world today. Moka pots are known as a great alternative for espresso machine. This is hard not to believe since Italians love espresso. Choosing an espresso maker made from Italy will give you an idea that you can have quality espresso style coffee every time. If you choose otherwise, at least you have been warned.
- Check the volume of coffee that the stovetop can yield.
Some models can make single serving, which is good enough if you are leaving alone or you are the only person in the house who loves coffee and espresso. But if you have a partner, entertaining guests frequently or a medium-sized family, get a stovetop maker that can accommodate at least 4 cups of coffee. This will be good enough for a small group. There are larger size stovetop espresso makers when really needed.
- Heat source requirement.
Some stovetop makers require electric or induction stove. Always check this because it will be frustrating to take home a stovetop maker that will never work on your stove.
- Material used for the kettle body.
Do you prefer aluminum or stainless steel? Aluminum is not as shiny and elegant as stainless steel, but it is more affordable and slower conductor of heat. Stainless steel is eye-catching but conducts heat fast so be careful when touching the handle.
- Know what others say.
If you really want honest to goodness feedback, read reviews of the product you want and check praises and complaints about the stovetop espresso maker you are planning to buy.
Aluminum vs stainless steel: which is better?
There are no hard and fast rules between aluminum and stainless steel. Both are durable, sturdy and convenient to use. However, there are some differences that make people choose one over the other. Let’s take into consideration these factors.
Weight to strength ratio
While both metal are durable and sturdy, aluminum is not as strong as stainless steel. However, stainless is heavier than aluminum. This is why airplanes are made from aluminum and not from stainless steel. This only means that stainless can be more durable than aluminum but expect that it is heavier.
The component of stainless steel includes iron, chromium, nickel, manganese and copper. Chromium is a non-corroding agent that’s why stainless remain shiny and corrosion-free for years. Aluminum is subject to corrosion, especially when exposed to acidic environment. Coffee has natural acids, in time, this can affect the quality of aluminum moka pots.
No doubt, aluminum heats faster than stainless. That’s why most of kitchen equipment are made from aluminum.
Aluminum is cheaper than stainless steel.
Aluminum is fairly soft and easier to cut and form. That’s why moka pots made from aluminum have different designs. On the other hand, stainless steel is harder. You will notice that most moka pots made from stainless have straightforward and round design.
Look and feel
Aluminum moka pots tend to look old and worn out after several use. But stainless steel can remain sleek and elegant, when handled and taken care of well. Stainless is scratch and abrasion resistant so you can have your moka pots still looking new even if you have owned it for years.
Effect on foods
Stainless steel is less reactive with foods. On the other hand, aluminum can react to foods quickly and often affects the color and taste of food and drinks.
Which will you buy?
Aluminum and stainless moka pots have their pros and cons.
Aluminum moka pots
- It is cheaper and more affordable
- It requires less heat
- It is lightweight
- There are more design options
- It can corrode quickly
- It can easily look worn out due to scratches
- It can affect taste and flavor of coffee
Stainless steel moka pots
- It is scratch-free and corrosion free
- It is very sturdy and durable
- It is less reactive to food
- It is more expensive
- It can be heavy
To help you decide better here are some examples of aluminum and stainless steel moka pots available in the market:
Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Maker
- Made from aluminum
- Comes in different sizes – 1, 3, 6 and 9 cups
- Authentic Italian made moka pot
- Trusted brand
- Makes coffee in as fast as 4 minutes
Cuisinox Roma Coffeemaker
- Elegance and functionality combined in one model
- Screen filter to control the number of coffee cups
- Easy to clean
- Has a spare gasket for repair and replacement
Bialetti Kitty Coffee Maker
- Made from stainless steel
- Heat resistant and sleek, ergonomic design
- Can be used on gas, electric and ceramic stoves
- Makes 4 cups
Choosing between aluminum and steel will boil down to your preferences. At the end of the day, you need to decide which one will work best for you.
If you are looking affordability, the obvious choice is an aluminum moka pot. It is really cheap. But if you are after value for money, you can safely invest in a nice stainless steel moka pot and use it for a longer period of time.
If you are after for durability, go for a stainless moka pot. It is more durable and sturdy than aluminum. It can withstand corrosion and hard falls.
If you are after food safety, stick to the stainless steel. Aluminum is known to corrode and if unnoticed, these particles can end up in your drink or food. There are studies showing that excessive ingestion of aluminum can pose health problems in the kidney, central nervous system and blood-related issues.
According to H.J. Gitelman’s “Aluminum and Health: A Critical Review”, excessive consumption of aluminum has been linked to problems in the nervous system, causing listlessness and severe trembling.
In another report, aluminum ingestion was linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. While these are not conclusive, it sounds off alarm and health warning to people.
However, other studies suggest that it may not always be the case since most aluminum-made equipment have protective layering.
Ultimately, the choice is yours.
There’s a lot more to learn about moka pots. Check out one of the following articles on brewing stovetop moka or espresso right now!
► How To Use A Moka Pot To Brew Coffee
► The Best Stovetop Espresso Makers
► Stainless Steel Moka Pots
► How Long Does It Take To Brew Moka
► How Moka Pots Work
► 1-Cup Stovetop Espresso Makers
► 2-Cup Stovetop Espresso Makers
► Overview & Review of the Bialetti Moka Express
► Moka Pot Cleaning Instructions