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Whether you’re new to the wide world of coffee or have been a cappuccino connoisseur for some time, a moka pot can be a great way to enjoy quality coffee for less.
Moka pots have been used for nearly a century, going back to 1930s Italy when they were the go-to coffee brewer for families from Florence to Bologna. The Bialetti brand has been a force in the moka pot world for nearly a century. These pots have the pedigree, and their Moka Express remains the best moka pot on the market today:
We’ll go over the Moka Express, as well as some of its strong competitors, in a moment. First, a little more about the moka pot…
How does a moka pot work?
A moka pot is a two-chambered coffee brewing device in which hot water from a lower chamber rises as steam through a bed of ground coffee before spilling into an upper chamber as liquid. The slightly pressurized brewing method produces a dense, strong cup of coffee somewhere between drip coffee and espresso.
Benefits of a moka pot
The moka pot is one of the easiest and fastest ways to brew strong coffee without having to go through the rigamarole that comes with a more complex espresso machine. A moka pot does its job right on your stove.
These stovetop coffee makers are not only simple, they’re affordable. Moka pots are less expensive than bean-to-cup units and other barista-quality coffee makers. Those other espresso makers can cost several hundreds or even thousands of dollars. By contrast, you can get a good moka pot for less than $100.
Moka pots produce zero waste. They require no filters or pods, and you can compost your coffee grounds immediately after brewing. A quick rinse with water and the device is good to go again.
And they’re very analog! If you have a gas stove and pre-ground coffee (or a manual grinder), you don’t need any electricity to brew with a moka pot. If the power goes out, you can wait it out with a cup of strong coffee.
Drawbacks of a moka pot
You’re going to need some practice. The most common complaint about this style of coffee is that it comes out too bitter, but this is the result of over-extraction and it can be overcome using the tips we describe in our instructions below.
Another drawback is that moka pots—even the big ones—don’t make a lot of coffee. The coffee is strong, though, so you can gain volume by diluting it with hot water. These pots also don’t give you much flexibility in terms of how much you make. You have to brew the full amount the pot is designed for, every time.
Finally, a consistent grind is quite important for this brewing method. If all you have is a blade grinder, you’ll likely get particles of varying size and they won’t produce ideal coffee. A quality burr grinder produces much better results.
Can you make espresso in a moka pot?
A moka pot does not make espresso. It’s sometimes called a “stovetop espresso maker,” but that’s misleading because espresso is brewed at a minimum nine bars of pressure and moka pots can’t match the pressure of an espresso machine. However, moka pot coffee is so dense that many North Americans weaned on drip coffee consider it espresso-like.
Step-by-step guide to brewing with a moka pot
Here’s a quick summary of how to brew using a moka pot. We also have a full post with more detailed instructions and pictures.
- Preheat water: Use a regular stovetop kettle to get your water near boiling. Preheating water shortens the brew time and helps with the over-extraction/bitterness problems discussed earlier.
- Grind coffee: If you aren’t grinding your own, coffee that’s pre-ground for a drip machine should work.
- Fill basket: The basket must be filled and then leveled at the top. Don’t be tempted to tamp or compress your grounds, as this will create more brewing pressure and possibly lead to over-extraction.
- Fill bottom chamber with water: Fill the bottom of your brewer with the preheated water, up to the level of the safety valve on the side.
- Insert basket: The basket should nestle into the top of the lower chamber with its tube pointing down into the water.
- Screw chambers together: Use a towel to protect your hand because the preheated bottom chamber will be hot.
- Heat water: Use medium-low heat and keep the lid open.
- Monitor: Pay attention as the pressure from the heated water eventually forces coffee to bubble out of the chimney and drip into the upper chamber. The chamber will fill and then the chimney will begin to spurt. Go no further.
- Remove and cool: Set the pot on a cool damp towel to settle everything down. Pour and enjoy.
Now that you have an idea how to brew with it, let’s take a look at what makes a good moka pot and introduce you to five of your potential tools.
5 best moka pots at a glance
|Bialetti Moka Express||More info|
|Bialetti Venus Elegance||More info|
|Bialetti Kitty||More info|
|Cuisinox Roma||More info|
|DELONGHI EMK6||More info|
What to look for in a moka pot
Moka pot sizes
One of your first considerations when buying any brewing device should be size. While size isn’t everything, it’s a big factor. Are you looking to brew for a whole family? For yourself? If you’re brewing coffee for family gatherings, you don’t want to wind up with just enough coffee for a few drops each.
When assessing for size, think about how many cups you want to make. Because moka pots make strong coffee and it’s often paired with milk or cream, small cups of 2-4 ounces are OK. You might get three of those out of a 10-ounce moka pot, or 8-10 out of a 25-ounce moka pot. Know how much you need and buy accordingly.
Compatibility with your stove
While moka pots are meant to be used with your stovetop, that doesn’t mean every model is compatible with every stovetop. A small moka pot on a large gas burner can easily end up with a melted handle. Make sure that the moka pot’s size and shape fits with the top of your stove.
Aluminum vs. stainless steel
Another important thing to consider is the classic debate between build materials for moka pots.
The following table shows the contrasting qualities of moka pots made from the top two materials:
|Less expensive||More expensive|
|Less durable||More durable|
|Conducts heat well||Conducts less heat|
|More susceptible to rust and corrosion||Non-corrosive|
|Require greater care to clean||Dishwasher-safe and easy to clean|
5 best moka pots in detail
OK, our list of the five best moka pots has been percolating for a while now. Let’s get into it.
Get used to seeing Bialetti on this list. As one of the most established moka pot manufacturers around, they make many of the best commercially-available moka pots.
Remember when we said moka pots first perked up into coffee notoriety in the 1930s? It was thanks to companies like Bialetti, and the ancestors of models like the Bialetti Moka Express.
If you’re looking for a moka pot that’s equal parts effective and retro chic, this is a great way to have your cup and drink it, too.
What do you actually get with this model? Quite a lot, starting with the classic aluminum design. This model gives you the upsides we discussed with aluminum pots above. It is lightweight and highly portable if you like to make coffee while camping. It’s highly affordable (as in less than $50), and conducts heat very well. Bialetti ticks all those boxes and then some.
While not all moka pots work with all stoves, this model is compatible with both electric and gas stoves. It comes in a wide range of sizes (between three and 12 cups), so if your stove has large burners, don’t pick one that’s too small.
The Moka Express brews fairly quickly—the 6-cup version turns your coffee grounds into a rich brew within five minutes.
And if classic aluminum isn’t the look you want, a number of colorful options are also available.
The Moka Express, like many aluminum models, can’t go in the dishwasher. And to be honest, as well-made as it is, an aluminum model will never match stainless steel in terms of durability.
But at this price point, Bialetti’s signature moka pot is an excellent gateway to the world of moka pots, and a great portable unit.
- Classic design
- Lightweight and highly portable
- Quick brew time
- Compatible with electric and gas stoves
- Not machine washable
- Somewhat less durable than steel models
Botticelli may have given the world The Birth of Venus, but Bialetti has given us The Moka of Venus.
There’s a lot to love about the Bialetti Venus, starting with its elegant curved shape and sleek minimalist design that lives up to its name.
Matching that style with substance, it produces a very clean, crisp brew. It’s made from stainless steel, making it a bit more durable than the Moka Express, and it works with many types of stoves.
The handle is heat-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally burning yourself when grabbing it. The model is dishwasher safe, which makes cleaning it very easy. In addition, the Venus does a good job of pouring smoothly and cleanly without dripping.
This version of the Venus makes about six small cups of coffee in a single brew. That’s a decent size, but if you’re looking for something that can make 12 cups (or larger cups), you may want to look at some of the other options on our list.
In short, this moka pot is truly a Italian masterpiece.
- Elegant design
- Sturdy stainless steel construction
- Anti-drip design
- Heat-resistant handle
- Limited capacity
- Slightly more expensive than budget models
Third time’s the charm? Yes, we have one more Bialetti model to introduce you to, another sleek stainless steel model. At 1.5 pounds the Bialetti Kitty is quite light, making it a good portable option—lightweight yet sturdy.
If you’re looking for a travel espresso maker but don’t like aluminum, this may well be the perfect option for you. Sure, you have to pay a bit more, but this unit is still well under $100 so it isn’t that expensive. That stainless steel also makes it dishwasher-safe, meaning you can clean this model a lot easier than most aluminum options.
In contrast to the retro chic of the Bialetti Moka Express and the sleek, curved elegance of the Venus, this model is more workmanlike. It emphasizes function over form. While it isn’t as much of a “looker,” it’s a good “cooker” for brewing coffee. The handle juts out further away from the pot than the handle on the Venus, so you won’t ever have to move your hand into uncomfortably hot territory above the burner when you’re grabbing it.
Its lid hinges quite freely, so it may not always stay shut as you’re pouring. You also have to open it with your thumb while holding the handle, which takes some dexterity and a little practice.
The Kitty is compatible with gas, electric, and ceramic stoves, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a moka pot that combines portability and durability as well as this one.
- Very lightweight and easily portable
- Handle position makes it easy to grab the unit safely
- Compatible with different types of stoves
- Not as stylish as other Bialetti models
- Challenging lid
We’ve left Italy now and we’re into a Québec brand with a model that’s made in China, but the Cuisinox Roma Coffeemaker is still nicely crafted with a sleek, minimalist design. Like the Bialetti Kitty (also made mostly in China) it is made from stainless steel, but it’s considerably more expensive at around $100.
What you get for that price is a model that’s built to last. It’s a good long-term investment. If you buy this espresso maker, you can expect it to still be brewing coffee years from now.
The Roma is compatible with both gas and electric stovetops. It can brew between one and 10 cups of coffee, which is certainly a nice wide range. Whether you’re looking to brew a quick cup just for you or a bit more to share, the Roma can do the job.
All in all, this is a highly durable model that will serve you well while you serve your guests.
- Minimalist design
- Compatible with electric and gas stoves
- Can brew up to 10 cups
- More expensive than other models on this list
- Less ‘authentically Italian’
Let’s return to the realm of made-in-Italy moka pots with another titan of the industry. De’Longhi has been making moka pots for decades, too, although the Alicia EMK6 eschews the stovetop element in favor of its own heating element. Simply plug it in and enjoy. This makes it a great choice for use at the office or other places where you might want strong coffee but don’t have a stove handy.
This moka pot incorporates a glass viewing component, so you can sit back and watch while it makes between three and six cups in a few minutes.
The Alicia EMK6 also has an indicator light and automatic shutoff, which prevents the unit from burning when the hot water is gone. That is a useful and welcome safety feature, and a huge plus for this model. On the other hand, some users have received units with rubber seals that weren’t as leak-proof as they had hoped.
Although this unit is a bit pricier, it is a worthy rival to Bialetti and an excellent entry here.
- Nice blend of classic and modern design features
- Safety features such as indicator light and automatic shutoff
- Relatively high price
- Rubber components inconsistent
Our choice for best moka pot, and runner up
If you forced us to pick one, we’d probably go with the Moka Express because it’s a bit cheaper and lighter, and we love its retro design. That said, it is aluminum, so if you absolutely must have stainless steel, the Venus is the supreme stovetop brewer.
The De’Longhi is an intriguing choice. It’s the only one that doesn’t require a stove, so if you want to just plug in and brew away, it’s a great way to experience authentic Italian coffee without a stove.
The Moka Express by Bialetti comes out on top, but under the right conditions, any of these stovetop coffee makers can provide the richest coffee experience this side of an espresso machine.