Are Stovetop Espresso Makers Good? Is a Moka Pot Better than an Espresso Machine?

Do you know what is a stovetop espresso maker (also known as Moka pot)? Is the coffee that it makes as good as espresso? Are espresso machines that much more complicated? What’s for sure is that they both make delicious coffee. Which coffee maker would be best for you, though? Let’s find out.

Pros and Cons of a Moka Pot

  • The biggest reason so many people use Moka pots for their morning coffee is the brew's rich flavor. The great taste is acquired partly because of the high amount of caffeine. This is the compound that gives you the energy boost we all love coffee for.
  • A cup of Moka pot coffee is significantly stronger than the drip coffee that most Americans drink. This is because Moka pots produce around 1-3 bars of pressure, and for the same reason there’s more flavor extracted from the coffee grounds. Nevertheless not quite as much as espresso.
  • Another significant advantage a Moka pot has is its portability. If you travel a lot or are a digital nomad and want to make your coffee anywhere you go, a Moka pot would be a great solution for you.
  • A Moka pot is an ingenious piece of machinery that works in a very simple way using steam pressure. That’s why you can make coffee on any stove (if you have a stainless steel Moka pot) and don’t need any additional equipment.
  • As a Moka pot doesn't have many complicated parts, it is also effortless to clean. In fact it has only three main parts, and once you disassemble it, it usually only takes a quick rinse to be done with it. Check out our blog post on how to clean a Moka pot.

  • Another advantage of the Moka pot is that you have complete control over your brew. This means that you have the freedom to make your coffee exactly as strong as you like it. Then again, the downside to this is that when you are a beginner, this can be a bit of a challenge.
  • Last but not least, a high-quality Moka pot is only going to set you back around $40. When you compare this to the price of an Espresso machine, it is significantly less.

One of the most significant disadvantages of a Moka pot is that it doesn't produce the authentic crema (the foam on top) that some people love. Because of the lower pressure, there’s just a bit of crema on top but nowhere near the foamy goodness that you have on espresso.

 

Pros and Cons of an Espresso Machine

Just like the Moka pot, the espresso machine has its pros and cons.

  • Why most people prefer an espresso machine is that it extracts a very concentrated coffee flavor. As the produced pressure is significantly higher than in the Moka pot, you can expect lots of foam with your coffee.
  • Another reason why so many like espresso machines for their coffee is that the water boilers build enough pressure for steamed milk drinks. This means that you can use the espresso machine for a lot more than just espresso. This includes cappuccino, latte and latte macchiato.
  • If you like to have people over, you will enjoy an espresso machine. It can easily make multiple drinks at the same time without any additional input from you. Even though there are Moka pots that make up to twelve cups of coffee, if you’re using one of these bigger models you’ll need a lot more time to heat the water.

Again like Moka pots, espresso machines have some disadvantages:

  • There is a learning curve to mastering both a Moka pot and an espresso machine. Granted that, your first brew probably won’t be perfect. 
  • A major difference, though, is that a good espresso maker can cost you upwards of $1000. However, there are a lot of recipes and guides that you can find online that will help you improve your coffee.
  • If you want to make the perfect espresso, your costs don't end there. You will need a good grinder, a scale, and a tamper so you can make sure you extract the best flavor out of the coffee grounds.
  • While the Moka pot is very easy to take apart and clean, an espresso machine is a lot more complicated and can take you hours to wash thoroughly. Even though you won't have to do it often, when you do, it's a challenge.

What Are the Differences Between a Moka Pot and an Espresso Machine?

Moka pots and espresso machines have a lot in common. In either case you will have  strong Italian coffee made by releasing pressure. The Moka pot brews coffee by simply heating water till it starts boiling and turns into steam and then it finds its way up through the coffee in the filter basket.

An espresso machine, on the other hand, has special pumps and boilers which heat water faster and push it through the coffee at a much higher pressure. What you’re left with at the end is a puck of compressed coffee. If you’re using an espresso machine the coffee is going to be compressed much more tightly because of the higher pressure. While the espresso machine builds up a lot of pressure of around 9 bars, the Moka pot only produces about two to three.

The Moka Pot Is a Lot More Personal

Indeed, making the perfect cup of coffee in a Moka pot is something of an artistic process. First thing to remember is you get to choose the coffee grounds, how finely you will grind them, how hot the water you initially pour in is, and more. A Moka pot is all you and simple physics. The espresso machine is a very complicated piece of equipment that can be hard to use.

An espresso machine can make a variety of drinks. This means that it’s more complicated to understand, take apart and fix. In comparison, a Moka pot only has a few parts so it’s a lot easier to clean.

Espresso machines don’t need you to do a lot to work. In other words, you only need to make sure there is water and coffee inside and you are all set. Although, to make the perfect coffee for you, you will need to do some research and some experimenting. Once you get the hang of it, it will be worth it.

Espresso makers take a lot less time to make a cup of coffee. Depending on the machine and the coffee, the brew time can be as low as 10-30 seconds. On the other hand, a Moka pot is a lot simpler. In general it usually takes around 5 minutes to brew, which builds up to 10 for the whole process.

Does a Moka Pot Make Authentic Espresso?

The word espresso comes from the Italian word for "to press out". As a matter of fact, bothe Moka pots and espresso machines produce pressure that extracts the coffee out of the grounds. If you go by that definition, they both make espresso. 

Some people will disagree with this definition. It is commonly believed that a cup of real espresso should have crema. It is also known as being very strong. While the Moka coffee is significantly stronger than drip or instant coffee, it contains around half the caffeine espresso does. 

Which One Makes Better Espresso?

There is no simple answer to this. It depends on your preferences. Both coffee makers will make you a nice espresso if you know how to use them well.

The stovetop espresso maker coffee can be bitter if not made right, but if you know what you're doing, you'll have it just right. Don't expect any crema (foam), though. If foam is not something you’re into, then Moka is the way to go. If you're all about the crema, then you need to look into the espresso machines section.

What Other Coffee Makers Are There?

Coffee makers are not only limited to espresso machines and stovetop espresso makers. Even though these make the strongest coffee, there are many different variations. Of course they all have their pros and cons, and any one of them can be the right choice for you. 

Drip Coffee Maker

One of the most widely spread coffee makers in the US is the drip coffee maker. Similarly to the Moka pot it’s very affordable. Furthermore, drip coffee makers are preferred for their wide variety of different sizes and ease of use.

However, a deal-breaker could be the limited number of programmed settings for brewing. This is to say you won't have the freedom to brew in your own style. Also, if you leave it on for too long, the plate could potentially burn your coffee.

Single-Serve Capsule Coffee Maker

One of the easiest to use coffee makers. It can also make many different types of brew. Additionally, this coffee maker has relatively short brewing times.

The main disadvantages are the high price of the capsules, and that coffee can taste a little bland. 

Turkish Coffee Maker

This one makes the strongest brew on this list. It is small, inexpensive, and very versatile. You might find it hard that you need to be very precise with the brewing times and that the coffee leaves some sediment in the cup.

 

Pour-Over Coffee Maker

One of the simplest approaches to brewing coffee. It only requires a paper filter and hot water. If you want to get the best taste you’ll also need a pour over kettle. Additionally it only has one downside - it requires some time to understand and learn.

What Should You Consider When Buying a Moka Pot?

Choosing among the sea of stovetop espresso makers can be a daunting task. There are many things you should consider to make sure you've made the right choice. While all of them make coffee, here is some information on what makes the difference between a great and a regular stovetop espresso maker.

Aluminum or Stainless Steel?

A Moka pot can either be aluminum or stainless steel. The classic Bialetti Moka pot was made out of aluminum, but the stainless steel models developed a lot, and many consider them to be better. 

Aluminum Moka pots are lighter and conduct heat faster than stainless steel ones. This is both good and bad. You can use an aluminum Moka pot on any stove, and the brewing time will be shorter. Though, It will lose heat quicker, so if you're making more coffee, it might be better to reconsider.

The stainless steel stovetop espresso makers tend to be of higher quality and have a better design. They are a bit heavier but are more resistant to an open-fire stove. They come at a slightly higher price, though. 

Make sure you check out our catalog for high-quality Moka pots for 3 or 6 cups of coffee with a single brew. 

Is It Good for Your Type of Stove?

While both the stainless steel and the aluminum Moka pots are suitable for both an electric and a gas stove, the stainless steel is less likely to get stained by the open fire on the gas stove. 

If you use an induction stove for your cooking, you should only look into stainless steel Moka pots. As aluminum is not attracted by magnets, it won’t work with induction.

How Many Cups Does It Make?

Do you like having people over for coffee? If yes, then it's probably good to look into the models that can brew more than just one cup. If you plan to make more than one round, the brewing time should be kept low, so a stainless steel Moka pot is probably a good option.

Make Sure You Pick a High-Quality Model

It is always essential to use high-quality metals if you are going to use them to prepare food. When brewing your coffee in a low-quality, metal particles could chip off and get in your coffee. 

What to Expect With Your First Coffee?

Your first shots of stovetop espresso will probably not be perfect. As there is a learning curve to making Moka coffee your first brew will likely come out bitter. Don't be too hard on yourself if that happens.

You need to follow a guide on how to make the perfect cup with a Moka pot. Check out our post with some tips on making sure your next shots of coffee taste fantastic

So Is a Stovetop Espresso Maker Good?

It depends. As with most things in life, it is up to your taste and your expectations. A Moka pot doesn't exactly make espresso, but it makes excellent coffee. While there is a learning curve to using a Moka pot, the experience of brewing your Moka coffee is worth it.

Take a look at the high-quality stainless steel Moka pots that we offer and get yours now.