If you like espresso straight up, a perfectly balanced Americano, or if you like to make quality after dinner coffee drinks, then you need a good espresso maker.
Sure, you could spend a fortune on a fancy espresso/cappuccino machine but I would prefer you spend as little as possible on a simple item that will make you excellent espresso for decades.
Espresso makers for the stovetop are some of the oldest tools of the trade and one of the primary ways many people across the world make their espresso. In America we sometimes go crazy with fancy gadgets while overlooking the simple solution.
The Best Moka Pots Don’t Cost Very Much
Here are some of the best stove top espresso pots money can buy.
Please note than the most expensive of these listed below is still priced under $50, this is less than the cheapest counter-top espresso machine. Can you say bargain?
With that out of the way let’s learn a bit about moka pots and how they work and then briefly review some of the more popular models out there.
A Crash Course On Stove Top Espresso
The reason stovetop espresso is so simple (and tasty) is that it relies on boiling water to create the steam and pressure needed to make a good espresso equivalent.
Instead of a machine crating the pressure the burner creates the steam which rises through the grind. The processes is completely natural.
So long as you use grind that is slightly more coarse than traditional espresso ground coffee beans (and so long as you don’t pack the grind to tightly) the natural rise of steam through the grind will produce espresso just as good or better than any fancy machine you come across.
These little pots will often make better espresso than some local coffee bars.
These Coffee Makers Are Old-School
Stovetop espresso makers, or moka pots, are an uptake of the old-school brewing method.
Your grandmother may find it super fancy but the principles of basic coffee making remain the same.
Water is set to the boiling point to create pressure that will force the water up in a series of chambers and extract the liquid from fine ground coffee.
Espresso style coffee in just a few minutes.
Still, not all stovetop espresso makers are created equal so let’s learn a bit about what sets them all apart.
Factors to consider when buying a stovetop espresso maker
Scouting various experts I’ve rounded up a handy checklist to use when choosing a stovetop espresso maker.
- Check the manufacturer. European know their coffee well. And if you will make a background check, the Italians are the perfect litmus test for espresso machines. 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.
- Know the capacity. 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.
- Know Your 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.
- Materials 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.
- Reviews Matter. 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.
Beyond those basic rules to follow when shopping I’ve got a few notes to add.
-A Note on Pricing-
All of these espresso pots are quite inexpensive compared to counter-top machines. The lower end stove top units tend to be a little smaller. They produce less espresso than the bigger pots.
The cheaper units also tend to be a little less durable. In most cases the plastic gasket on the inside of the kettle will slowly wear down over time.
The more expensive moka pots will tend to have higher quality gaskets that hold up better over time and they are easier to replace if need be.
-A Note on Sizing-
The way stove top espresso pots work you can’t just make half a batch. You have to use a full pot of water for the espresso to come out good on the other side.
If you buy a 12-cup espresso pot thinking this will be big enough for parties even though you plan on only brewing 3-cups most mornings then your morning espresso will not turn out well.
A stove top espresso maker needs the water chamber full to create the pressure needed to brew properly.
Likewise it needs a full size dose of grind too.
It’s best to buy a stovetop espresso pot that is sized to the amount of espresso you are most frequently going to be making at a time.
If you need multiple sizes then consider buying two different size kettles instead of trying to make one size work for you.
A Few Brief Reviews of the Best Stovetop Espresso Makers
Here is a round up of the best stovetop espresso makers out there in my opinion. I’ve included brief reviews of each model for your benefit.
Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Maker
It’s top features:
- 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
The Bialetti brand is a worldwide favorite. Italians love using this coffee maker brand so you know you are buying a good one. This moka pot model serves espresso fast without sacrificing quality. The unique octagonal shape distributes heat evenly , making a perfect brew to perk up your morning. But not all is perfect. Some users say it does not work well with electric stoves. It prefers induction. It is made from aluminum.
Bialetti Elegance Venus Induction 6 Cup
- Portable design
- Compact, lightweight and sleek looking
- Very durable
- Makes great tasting coffee in an instant
This model is perfect if you love coffee in the outdoors. It has an indicator in the pot so you can regulate heat easily. The handle is made from heat resistant technology so you can use the unit without burning your hands. The caveat is that it can only make 6 cups of coffee. Just enough for a small group who has a fine taste for coffee.
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
This high-end unit takes pride in its beautiful design and ease of use. It can make up to 10 cups of coffee, perfect for a large family or a meeting with your colleagues. It has an indication base that can be used in any cooking area. Some users complain that the handle may heat up at times. Be careful when handling it. Also, it is on the pricey side of the spectrum.
Rapid Brew Stovetop Coffee Percolator
- Wood grain handle helps reduce heat
- Makes consistent coffee taste
- Easy to clean
- Sleek design
This coffee percolator can make up to 9 cups of coffee. It has a distinct flavor that is mixed with the coffee. Your mom and grandmother will love it elegant, traditional look.
There Are Also a Few Other Ways to Brew Super Strong Coffee at Home
The stovetop espresso maker is a favorite brewing method for most home users. It’s easy to use, easy to clean and requires minimal supervision. But there are other effective methods of brewing great coffee at home. I hope you’ll give these a try too!
- French press – This little device requires no stove. If you have a French press, brewing coffee is as easy as counting 1 to 3. With three easy steps, you can get your coffee in as fast as 3 minutes.
- Automatic drip machine – This is the most common home brewing method after stovetop. The beauty lies in the fact that you can just press the brew button, leave it, and when you get back, you have perfectly brewed coffee that remains warm, thanks to the hot plate where the carafe sits on.
- Pour over coffee – Chemex and Hario are known brands that make coffee aficionados fall in love with pour over.
- Cold brew – This process requires up to 24 hours of steeping in cold water. It highly caffeinated but sweet and light tasting.
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
► Stainless Steel Moka Pots
► How Long Does It Take To Brew Moka
► How Moka Pots Work
► Stainless Steel vs Aluminum Moka Pots
► 1-Cup Stovetop Espresso Makers
► 2-Cup Stovetop Espresso Makers
► Overview & Review of the Bialetti Moka Express
► Moka Pot Cleaning Instructions
The Best Stovetop Espresso Makers (aka Moka Pots)
Around here we love touting the benefits of stovetop espresso makers, also known as moka pots.
The best stovetop espresso makers cost so much less than espresso makers and although they don’t make true espresso the coffee they make is generally an acceptable alternative to espresso in most drinks.
Because moka pots are made from aluminum or stainless steel they are extremely durable and can be used to make coffee while camping over an open flame.
We tend to think aluminum pots are the best value for your money and popular models tend to be the easiest to maintain because of the ease of replacing old, aging parts like gaskets and filters.
For those looking to buy a moka pot we recommend you stick to one of the five best moka pots featured below or open any of the following pages further curating the list to something you are more specifically looking for (i.e. small, large, or stainless steel models).
Our Top Recommendations for People Looking to Buy a Moka Pot
Although stovetop espresso makers do not make true espresso they do make a really strong cup of coffee which is similar to espresso in many ways. These pots are frequently referred to as Italian espresso makers as they are quite common in households all over Italy.
Also known as a moka pot, a stovetop espresso maker will brew your coffee under pressure similar to a steam or pump driven espresso machine. Although the pressure will be substantially lower in the moka pot the resulting coffee will be similar to espresso. It will be lacking the intensity and volume of crema produced in a traditional espresso machine but only really keen palates will be able to taste the difference in flavor.
Even still we recommend stovetop moka pots to all our customers as they are a great (and affordable) way to make something very similar to espresso in the home. They also make excellent coffee makers for people going camping as they can brew over a fire just as easily as they can brew over a burner in your kitchen.
Below we’ve segmented our moka pots into various “baskets” of products.
Here are the main posts we have on this site on top stovetop espresso maker reviews:
Small Stovetop Espresso Makers
True moka is served in sizes roughly equivelant to standard shots of espresso. Three servings of Moka is roughly 4.5oz, whichis just a bit more than a double shot from your local barista. If you are making moka for one person at a time then these small stovetop espresso makers are perfect. Since you can’t make a half pot it’s not worth buying a larger moka pot because you’ll routinely have a lot of waste.
Large Stovetop Espresso Makers
For those people who really like to drink larger portion sizes then the smallest moka pots will not do. the largest moka pots tend to make between 10-12 servings per batch, roughly 15-20oz. This doesn’t sound like a lot but it’s very potent stuff and usually the large stovetop espresso makers are reserved for small gatherings. Even if you don’t anticipate making large batches of moka very often pots of this size can be big time savers.
Stainless Steel Stovetop Espresso Makers
Typically stovetop espresso maker are made from aluminum. This keeps the price down and improves the conduction of heat around the pot resulting in a brew that is more consistent. With stainless steel however you do get more durability and are better able to clean your pot.. also some people think it’s safer drinking coffee made from steel rather than aluminum. For our customers who are looking for a good stainless steel alternative moka pot these are the one’s we have selected.
Electric Moka Pots
For generations a moka pot was a simple and ingenious device that made something super close to espresso with only a heat source and no moving parts. These days however consumers have the option of brewing moka in an electric device that regulates the heat perfectly and shuts it off when brewing is completed. There is no doubt in our minds that this simplifies the brewing process and minimizes the risk of burning your coffee so we have given a close look at the best electric moka pots on the market today. Check these guys out – they are pretty tempting! 🙂
We have also reviewed the bestselling moka pot of them all – the Bialetti Moka Express. If you are buying one of these then you will be in large company, most buyers go for something super cheap or they turn to the Moka Express. Click through to see our Bialetti Moka Express review here.
Our Moka Pot Brewing Guides & FAQs
Since you are reading this I’m going to assume you know a bit about stovetop espresso and may want to buy one but if you are new to this brewing method then make sure to see the following articles which answer common questions people have about moka pots.
Should I Buy An Aluminum or Stainless Steel Moka Pot?
Traditionally moka pots have been made from cast aluminum making them strong yet lightweight and affordable. These days however stainless steel models have become quite popular as many people don’t like their food or drink touching aluminum. This article breaks down the debate to it’s core issues and answers the most common questions people have regarding aluminum moka pots compared to their stainless steel alternative.
When is a Moka Pot Finished?
Moka pots make coffee as fast as any other brewer but only if the heat is high enough. To tell if a stovetop espresso maker is done requires you to be close enough to it to hear the last bit of steam gurgle out of the pot or to take a peek under then lid every so often. In this artuicle we help you understand how the moka pot works and know when it’s done making coffee.
Does a Moka Pot Produce Crema?
The hallmark of good espresso worldwide is the visually appealing layer of crema that forms on the surface immediately after extraction. The crema is the source of all latte art and helps provide texture and aerate the coffee. As you know moka coffee is kind of like espresso but it is brewed under far less pressure. Some people swear they can get small amounts of crema from a moka pot while others say this is a myth. These are our thoughts on the matter.
The Main Causes and Solutions to a Moka Pot Not Working
A moka pot works due to simple physics. If it stops working then chances are there is a blockage somewhere that must be cleaned out or repaired or a break in a seal. Because there are no moving parts fixing a malfunctioning moka pot shouldn’t be all that difficult.
What’s the Best Kind of Coffee For a Moka Pot
Moka pots make a super strong cup of coffee that is more similar to espresso than it is to standard drip, pour over, or French press. Because of it’s unique strength it’s worth using only the best types of coffee for making it and of course brewing with the correct grind size.
Comparisons of Best Selling Moka Pots
There are a lot of different moka pots for sale on any given day and they are sold under many different brand and model names. The trouble is that it’s hard to tell the difference between one device and another. It’s even harder to tell which ones are made to last, which ones make the best coffee, and which ones are cheap knockoffs.
Here are our head-to-head comparison articles on the site.
The Difference Between Bialetti Moka Express, Kitty, & Venus Moka Pots
Bialetti probably sells more moka pots than any other brand. They have a huge market share and they are one of the most well known brand names in the space. Within their product line however are three bestselling moka pots that are all very similar. Here’s our comparison of the three Bialetti moka pots.
A Full Review of the Bialetti Moka Express
Here is our full review of the 3-cup Moka Express, the best selling stovetop espresso maker of them all.
Top Alternatives to Buying a Stovetop Espresso Maker
Lastly, we believe no one brewing method is truly better than another; they are all different and each method has their own pros and cons.
We have published a number of articles on this site directly comparing stovetop espresso (aka Moka) to other styles of coffee. You can find the list of the comparison articles listed below.
- Stovetop Espresso vs Aeropress Coffee
- Stovetop Moka vs Traditional Espresso
- Stovetop Espresso vs Regular Drip Coffee
- Stovetop Espresso vs Pour-Over Coffee
- Stovetop Espresso vs Chemex Coffee
- Stovetop Espresso vs Percolated Coffee
- Stovetop Espresso vs French Press Coffee
Here’s a link to our coffee brewing methods article.
Lastly, If you are looking for a moka pot that looks a little different than the normal Bialetti then make sure to look at brands like Alessi or Primula. They make great moka pots that make great coffee and look awesome too – like decorations for your kitchen or coffee bar.