The time to buy a coffee maker has come. But should you buy a Moka pot or an Espresso machine? Espresso machines can be very expensive and hard to maintain. On the other hand, Moka pots are cheaper and simpler to handle, but they might require some practice to nail down the perfect java flavor. Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Where do espresso and Moka come from?
Espresso, as you know, is as Italian as coffee gets. You might think that it comes from a sort of coffee bean but actually, it is more about the process of preparing it. It was first invented in Italy in the late 19th century. Even though you might think that its name comes from the Italian word for fast, it is its second meaning - pressed out. The original espresso machine was patented in 1903 by Luigi Bezzera and sold to Milan-based La Pavoni in 1905.
Moka’s origin is a little more international. You will probably agree when I say that the word “Moka” sounds a bit oriental. The reason for this is that the city of Mocha used to be a major port in Yemen. The Middle Eastern country was in the heart of the world’s coffee trade between the 15th and 18th centuries. The arabica coffee, that you probably know, actually comes from Yemen.
In the 1930s, Italian engineers Luigi De Ponti and Alfonso Bialetti developed and started selling the Moka pot we know today. How the name evolved from the Italian “macchinetta del caffé” (small coffee machine) to Moka is a bit uncertain, but it is probably a blend between the Yemeni city and a rough translation from Italian.
How does the Moka pot work?
The Moka pot is known for its quaint and vintage-looking design. Its simple, yet ingenious way of extracting caffeine is what made it the day-to-day coffee maker for many.
The pot is made of three chambers. One is for the water, one for the ground coffee, and one for your brew. In the bottom chamber, the water is heated and then the steam forces its way from the bottom chamber up to the top one. On the way, it passes through the coffee chamber and this is where the magic happens. Once it’s hot enough, it trickles down into the upper chamber. After this process takes place what you’re left with is your personally made brew.
Everything that’s needed for the whole process is a bit of water, some heat, and of course coffee.
How does the espresso machine work?
The inside of an espresso machine is a jungle of metal, wires, and steam. While most machines do the same thing as forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee, one can also find copper tubes that provide pressure to make a true Italian cappuccino or latte.
Inside the espresso maker, you will also see stainless steel boilers for steaming milk at precise temperatures before it's forced upwards into your cup. That is done by impellers built for making frothier and more luxurious foam which can be impressive for such small devices!
Just like for the Moka pot, for the espresso machine, you will need hot water combined with ground beans from various origins; some models use a pressure pump, others use steam.
The espresso machine is made up of three parts: the espresso boiler (where water boils and turns into steam), an espresso group head with valves, and finally, the portafilter where the coffee grind is set. It has one main function which is to force hot water through finely-ground espresso beans at high pressures to achieve that perfect crema on top while extracting all their flavors.
When you're looking for a pick-me-up, the Moka pot is one of those things that can really wake someone up. The brew coming out of it tends to be 2-3 times more concentrated than regular drip coffee and has an intense flavor with a heavy body.
Moka pot coffee is a great way to start your day. It's easy, quick, and makes you feel ready for anything! Moka pots give off the rich aroma of espresso while remaining true to that all-day drink we know as "coffee." The result: an intensely flavorful brew with exceptional body and richness reminiscent of espresso but just a little thicker and deeper - just what every morning needs!
But brewing this isn't easy. In fact, when done incorrectly, there's more chance that your drink will come out bitter instead, which may completely ruin its taste! However, once you get it right, it is worth the hassle - brewing yourself some homemade deliciousness just like any Italian grandma used to make.
If you burn your coffee, it will be very bitter, and that’s not what most people like. Of course, there are ways to make it sweet and smooth, and for a great Moka pot coffee recipe, read till the end.
Espresso shots are often five to eight times as concentrated as the regular drip coffee. Espresso is also very intense, full-bodied, and flavorful. You will find that they have a little more caffeine than the Moka pot coffee fan, which some can't stand for fear of over caffeinating themselves too much during their morning routine.
Another major difference between the two flavors is in crema (the foam layer on top). Some of you probably love your crema, and Italians also take it very seriously, but it might actually be getting in the way. Experts tend to agree that scraping it off might be best because it’s just a bitter dry substance that only ruins your cup. However, others argue that if you love it, then, by all means, don’t scrape! When brewing espresso, the pressure used is around 5 times as much as the one used for Moka pot which, in general, leads to a more intense and flavorful drinking experience.
A big advantage for you to choose an espresso machine over a Moka pot would be the ability to make a kiwi or lemon-flavored coffee. Also, higher-tier espresso makers can make you a latte or any other kind of coffee.
To sum up, both espresso and Moka pot made coffee have a significantly higher caffeine percentage than drip coffee, and both share a great flavor. The Moka coffee is easy to make but easy to mess up too. A good tip is to make sure it tastes great is to make sure there isn’t any old coffee left on the bottom or the sides of the pot.
What to expect with the first brew?
When you buy your first Moka pot, the first brew can be a little underwhelming if you don’t follow some recipes.
Before you try it for the second time, the first step is to do your research. You find out how much coffee you need, how much water and how warm. Then, after a good wash of the Moka pot, you try again. This time you keep the lid open so you can see the coffee coming out. You pour it into a cup, and it’s amazing, just the right amount of intensity of flavor. The best part about it is that you made it yourself. You didn’t use a single piece of complicated machinery (other than the hot plate of course).
Moka pot vs espresso maker
Both the Moka pot and the espresso maker have their strong and weak sides. Like a lot of things in life, which one is best for you, depends on you.
To start the pros off, the Moka pot has an aluminum body that helps retain the heat. What this means is once you’ve made the first cup, the second is going to take less time. This can be very useful as with the classic Moka pot you can only make one cup at a time. Another advantage is that it is very easy to clean. There are almost no complicated parts. It’s very easy to take apart and all parts of it are easy to reach.
Another great advantage to brewing in a Moka pot is that it is a lot more personal. You preheat and pour in the water yourself, you grind your coffee and you put it in yourself. It is a bit like film photography, where it’s more of an art than just using a fancy piece of technology.
You get to experience everything and be a part of it.
The Moka pot is also very portable and you can take it with you everywhere you go. You just put it in your suitcase, and you hit the road. The best part is that even if it gets lost on the way, Moka pots are a lot cheaper than espresso machines so you can simply go and buy a replacement.
There are also some disadvantages to it. The Moka pot can be a bit more demanding towards the coffee. It requires well-ground coffee beans to make sure you get the right amount of thickness of your brew. Another con is that it can be hard to make sure you get the same brew quality each time. This is because just a small part of the process is automated and a lot of it is in your hands.
If you like thick crema, then probably a Moka pot is not for you. It simply doesn’t provide the pressure needed to create the authentic crema espresso.
Just like the Moka pot, the espresso maker has its good and bad sides. For starters, it extracts an even more concentrated brew with loads of crema and even complex flavors.
The espresso machine can make multiple drinks quickly and you don’t have to repeat the whole process from scratch. These drinks can even include steamed milk drinks as the water boilers also build up enough pressure for it.
There are four main cons about it too. The first one is that, just like the Moka pot, it requires some training and preparation to keep the taste consistent from drink to drink. Once you know your stuff, you need to make sure that you have a good grinder, a scale, and a tamper because most espresso makers can be quite temperamental. The biggest deal-breaker for most, though, is the price. It varies between $300 and $1000+ and some would rather save the money.
While the Moka pot is easy to clean, the espresso machine can be a total mess. As it has a lot of parts, it can take a while to clean and put back together.
So, which is the best coffee maker?
Well, there is no simple answer to this question. It depends on you. Before making a purchase, you need to make sure you’re familiar with all the pros and cons of each coffee maker. They can both make great coffee but there’s a learning curve to both.
At first, your coffee is probably going to be a bit underwhelming, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll love it.
Espresso or Moka?
The simplicity of the Moka pots can be appealing. The ability to participate to such a high extent in the preparation of your brew could feel really personal.
If you’re into tech, then you might appreciate the espresso machine. It would be perfect for you if you don’t have the time to prepare your Moka coffee in the morning, and you love your crema.
Moka Coffee Recipe
What you need:
- Freshly roasted coffee
- Moka pot
- Hot Water
- Burr Coffee Grinder (only if you grind your own coffee)
- Cold Towel
What you should do:
1) Grind enough coffee, to medium-fine, to fill the coffee chamber. Once in the basket, level it with a knife
2) Fill the water chamber with boiling water to the release valve. DO NOT cover it.
3) Assemble the Moka pot and make sure there are no grounds on the ridges as they will prevent a full seal.
4) Put it on a hot burner for 5-10 minutes
5) Take off the stove once the brew chamber is around 80% full.
Both Moka pot coffee and espresso can be delicious at home. They both also have this rich taste of Italian brew that most of us love.
The Moka pots give you the experience of being a big part of the brewing process and are very easy to take everywhere with you. The espresso machine is a fancier piece of tech and has more variety in the coffee it makes, coming at a heftier price.
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