One of the most economical and yet intense ways to prepare authentic espresso is to brew the coffee on the stovetop, also sometimes called the Moka pot method. The device we know and love today was invented by Italian engineer Alfonso Bialetti in the 1930s.
One of the major advantages of this method is that you don’t require electricity, just a source of heat. We look at five of the best traditional stovetop espresso makers, taking into account the capacity, durability of materials, and design.
The Best Stove Top Espresso Makers Of 2020
What Is The Best Choice?
Our Winner: Bialetti Coffee Maker 06800 [star rating=”5″ numeric=”yes”]
We know how pressed for time so many of you are, so if you just want to find out which of the stovetop espresso makers gets our vote overall, we’ll not keep you in suspense any longer. The Bialetti 06800 is our overall choice, representing the best value overall.
If you’re wondering why we think that, well, it looks great, it’s easy to use, it’s excellent value for money, and most of all, it brews really fantastic-tasting coffee. And yes, we love the quirky little picture too – the Omino con i baffi mascot of the company. This aluminum Moka pot is in the traditional octagonal shape and is super-easy to take apart and clean.
- Bradshaw International
- Bialetti 6-Cup
- Moka Express
Cuisinox COF-8104 Amore
CoffeeGearSpy.com Rating: [star rating=”3.5″ numeric=”yes”]
The Cuisinox COF-8104 Amore Espresso mocha pot is made from heavy-gauge 18/10 stainless steel; the mirror finish makes it an especially attractive kitchen gadget. It’s a light item, weighing just 1.3 pounds with or without shipping, and makes consistently delicious espresso. The sizes are based on 1.5-ounce cups and the coffeemaker measures 5.5 by 3.9 by 8 inches high.
The manufacturer’s recommendations are to use the item on a low heat for the best results. The coffee maker will produce around 2 to 3 small cups of espresso or a single standard cup. The induction base has a diameter of 3.4 inches, so you can see you don’t need much heat to get the coffee percolating underway.
- 8.6 cm/ 3.4 inch base diameter
- Heavy gauge 18/10 Stainless Steel with mirror finish
- Induction base
- Sizes based on 1-1/2 ounce 'cups'
- Hand wash only
It’s an attractive and sturdy espresso pot, and is versatile and robust enough to cope with ceramic induction, electricity or gas heat sources. It’s available in three different capacities, allowing you to make 3, 6 or 9 cups of espresso at once. It’s towards the more expensive end of the scale for stovetop percolator style coffee machines but is arguably worth the outlay.
While the handle is insulated, you do need to pay attention when you’re picking up the hot coffee pot. The insulation doesn’t extend right to the end, so do beware of burns to your fingers. We do love the name too – after all, what’s not to like about naming a coffee pot after an Italian word for “Love”?
Pros & Cons
Bialetti Espresso Maker 06800
CoffeeGearSpy.com Rating: [star rating=”5″ numeric=”yes”]
This polished aluminum coffee maker called Bialetti 06800 allows you to brew up to 9.2 ounces, or 6 cups, of coffee at a time, in less than 5 minutes. The high-quality metal coffee maker is octagonal in shape, after the classic Bialetti design: this item is designed and made in Italy and comes with a 2-year warranty.
Most of all, the coffee produced in this way is rich, fragrant and intense in flavor. You’re likely to get the best results if you opt for a medium ground coffee, since too fine a grind can result in the pot clogging up, while too coarse can mean weak, even tasteless, coffee. Using filtered or bottled water can also improve the flavor of your drinks.
- Bradshaw International
- Bialetti 6-Cup
- Moka Express
The Bialetti 06800 measures 4 by 4 by 9 inches and weighs 1.54 pounds or 1.6 with shipping. It’s easy to clean, but abrasive cleaning cloths and products may damage the surface. Once disassembled, the coffeemaker should not be put back together until all component parts are thoroughly dry.
There is a safety valve built-in as standard, and this Moka pot is easy to take apart and clean. Italian coffee makers are known for their quality, and this is no exception.
Pros & Cons
CoffeeGearSpy.com Rating: [star rating=”4.5″ numeric=”yes”]
The Bialetti Kitty is a stainless steel coffeemaker that can be used with electricity, gas, or ceramic stove tops. It has a capacity of 20 fluid ounces, or around 10 cups of delicious espresso, and measures 5.98 by 4.96 by 9.49 inches. The traditional Bialetti safety valve makes it easy to disassemble and clean, and the handle, which is made from stainless steel, is heat-resistant.
This compact coffeemaker weighs 2.15 pounds, with or without shipping materials. You can make as few as 2 cups of espresso, or as many as 10. If you use the 10-cup option, that’s enough for around 2 “standard” cups of coffee, and the brewing time is around the same whether you brew 2 or 10 cups at a time.
- Stainless steel construction
- Suitable for use on gas, electric, and ceramic stove tops
- Heat-resistant handle
- The exclusive Bialetti safety valve for easy inspection and cleaning
- 10-cup capacity = 20oz
In terms of performance, the Bialetti Kitty Stainless Steel 10 Cup Italian coffee maker was our favorite. From a safety perspective, you know you’re in good hands: the exclusive safety valve from Bialetti makes this Italian coffee maker extremely easy to inspect and clean. We also love the characteristic Bialetti pictograph on the side. This was the most expensive of the stovetop espresso makers we investigated.
Pros & Cons
CoffeeGearSpy.com Rating: [star rating=”4″ numeric=”yes”]The DclobDop Stovetop Espresso Coffeemaker is available in several different sizes: 4 cups, 6 cups or 9 cups. If you choose the 9-cup version, you can brew around 15 fluid ounces of coffee at once. It weighs just under a pound, or around 15 ounces, and is beautifully compact, measuring 4.3 inches long by 4.3 inches wide and 9.4 inches high when assembled.
This attractive little device is simple to use, and suitable for gas or electric stove tops, or camping stoves. Three years of design have gone into making this stovetop espresso maker as effective and attractive as possible, and it shows in the sleek metal contours and finish.
This type of espresso maker is sometimes referred to as a moka pot, moka coffee maker, or cafeteria Cubano. You might even hear it referred to as a low-pressure stovetop espresso. It’s made of food-grade stainless steel, so considerably more durable and practical than the traditional aluminum version.
While it’s designed for coffee, specifically espresso, it can also be used to make specialty teas like chai or rose-petal or simply black tea. When you’re brewing espresso, you can brew more than one shot at a time, making it a versatile addition to your coffee brewing station. It usually ships with a set of measuring spoons.
Whether you call it a stovetop espresso maker, Moka pot, mocha pot, stovetop percolator or Cuban coffee maker, this type of coffee making device requires a little time and attention. We are sure, however, that once you’ve tried coffee made in this way, you’ll be hooked. This was our favorite budget option, representing exceptional value for money.
Pros & Cons
CoffeeGearSpy.com Rating: [star rating=”3.5″ numeric=”yes”]
This stainless steel coffee percolator produces consistently great-tasting coffee. The cover knob on the Tops 55702 coffee maker is made of glass, allowing you to observe the magic of the brewing process. The handle is made of permawood. The percolating process allows for strength control, and as the device does not require electricity, it’s ideal for camping and travel in general.
It’s a very compact gadget, weighing just over a pound and measuring just 3.75 by 6.5 by 6 inches and with a capacity of 2 to 3 cups at one time. The pump and basket are both metal and we especially like the fact that there are permanent cup size markings to help guide you. The lid is hinged.
- 3.75 x 6.5 x 6 inch
- Constructed of sparkling, high-luster heavy gauge 18/8 stainless steel
- Traditional perking process allows exact brew strength control, 2-3 cup capacity
- Features a glass cover knob, Permawood handle, & permanent cup markings
- Non-electric, perfect for camping; includes instruction insert
This is a durable coffee maker, but if you do require replacement glass components they are easily obtained. No filter is required, and we found we got the best results with a regular, medium grind. It took us around 6 or 7 minutes of percolating to get the coffee just how we liked it, but those who prefer stronger coffee could simply increase the brewing time.
From a price perspective, this stovetop espresso maker offers a mid-range option, not as expensive as the Bialetti Kitty but pricier than the DclobDop. This item usually ships with a fluted basket filter made of a polyester mesh inside a plastic frame.
Pros & Cons
Choosing The Best Stovetop Espresso Coffee Maker
Buying a Moka pot might seem simple on the surface, but there’s a little more to it once you start looking. To begin with, most Moka pots are made primarily from metal, so are you looking for aluminum or stainless steel? Aluminum has the advantage of being super-light and holding heat extremely well, so if that’s your metal of choice, your best option will be the Bialetti 06800. This coffee pot also polishes up to a truly beautiful sheen.
On the other hand, most stainless steel doesn’t dent quite as easily, and most stainless steel items will survive the average dishwashing cycle well, but these coffeemakers are a little heavier. If you don’t mind opting for a slightly heavier coffeemaker, try the Cuisinox COF-8104, Bialetti Kitty, DclobDop Stovetop Espresso Coffeemaker or the Tops 55702.
Then there’s the handle to consider. Many Moka pots have handles made of heat-resistant materials, insulated so that you can lift them off the heat source with your bare hands without having to worry about getting burned. Some, however, have metal handles, and some, like the Tops 55702 have permawood.
Price may also affect your decision, as well as whether there are parts such as glass lids, which can easily be replaced by the manufacturer should the worst happen. So do check the warranty – some manufacturers and suppliers offer a 25-year parts replacement policy.
How To Make The Best Stovetop Espresso
First of all, making a really good stovetop espresso is easier than it looks. One of the beauties of using a stovetop coffee maker is its simplicity. You don’t need to worry about having an electricity supply – any source of heat, gas, electric, or ceramic induction hob, will work fine. The important things to consider, as ever, are the quality of the beans, the freshness of the water, and how clean your equipment is when you begin. (More about cleaning your stovetop espresso pot later.)
It also helps if you know a little basic physics. (Don’t worry – you don’t need to be Einstein.) Moka pots use basic physics to produce that perfect, smooth, aromatic coffee. There are three chambers in a Moka pot: one contains the water, one the ground coffee, and the third contains the final blend.
A Watched Moka Pot Never Boils
Add the coffee and the water to the appropriate chambers, make sure the seal is tight, prepare the heat source, and then heat your water gently. If you’re using a source of heat that involves flames, make sure the flames don’t lick up the sides of the coffeemaker – you don’t want burnt tasting coffee. As the water heats, steam is produced. The pressure in the bottom chamber increases. Water is then pushed up through the coffee grounds and into the top chamber, where the gorgeous brew appears.
You’ll usually need around 7 to 8 minutes to get your coffee just right with this method – the trial and error is half the fun. The coffee you’ll produce with your Moka pot isn’t quite espresso: there’s no crema, for instance. It will, however, be smooth, rich and strong.
The intensity of flavor and the size of a typical Moka pot serving makes the coffee much closer in taste to an espresso than an Americano. You can use your brew as an excellent base for cappuccinos, lattes, and other specialty coffees.
Care And Maintenance Of Your Moka Pot
Most Moka pots are delightfully elegant in the simplicity of their design, with just a few components. Let’s just look at the different parts of a typical stovetop espresso maker.
Firstly, there’s the boiler, at the bottom of the device, with a built-in safety valve. Add your ground coffee to the funnel tank, and then insert this into the boiler. The filter plate, which sits on top of the funnel tank, keeps the coffee in place. A gasket sits beneath the filter plate and the kettle: this gasket is usually made of rubber, often silicon, and this can require replacement after prolonged use.
Finally, you have the all-important kettle, where the finished brew collects. This screws in place over the boiler. This is the part that includes the handle and, usually, a lid that is attached. We’ve mentioned already that Moka pots are pretty much made either of aluminum or stainless steel, with one or two hybrids out there. Don’t even think about dishwasher cycles if your device is aluminum. Just use a gentle detergent, soft soap suds, and a soft cloth: dry and buff with a soft, clean cloth.
Keeping Your Moka Pot Clean
If your Moka pot is made of stainless steel, check your manufacturer’s guidance to see whether you can expose it to the dishwasher. Strange as it may sound, we like to wash even the stainless steel coffeemakers by hand: it becomes the ritual. It’s not advisable to scrub the Moka pot with any abrasive cleaning pads or chemicals, and we suggest using warm water, not hot.
Wait until you’re sure the Moka pot is completely dry before storing it, and don’t reassemble it until you’re going to make more coffee. If it’s the first time you’ve used a new stovetop espresso maker, then the general advice is to make three rounds of coffee and throw them away. Think of it like a kind of seasoning process for the coffeemaker.
How To Maintain Your Moka Pot
We’d also suggest inspecting the filter holes periodically to make sure they’re not clogged as well as checking the gasket at least once a year. Oh, and just in case it isn’t obvious, wait for your Moka pot to cool before you start cleaning it.
If you live in a hard water area, you might want to think about decalcifying your coffeemaker at regular intervals. A warm water solution with white vinegar, left to soak for a short time, will usually remove any limescale; or use a mild descaling fluid. After this procedure, you’ll need to brew another three lots of coffee and dispose of them accordingly. (Yes, we know. It’s as tragic as most opera plots.)
What Is The Best Stovetop Espresso Maker?
Our Winner: Bialetti 06800 [star rating=”5″ numeric=”yes”]
We loved all five of the stove top espresso machines we looked at. They’re compact, quirky, and a very ecological way to enjoy coffee. The fact that they make truly gorgeous coffee goes without saying. We loved both of the Bialetti models for their personality, and overall the 06800 was our top choice , but we were also impressed with the performance of the Bialetti Kitty.
The DclobDop makes an excellent budget choice, and both the Cuisinox COF-8104 Amore and the Tops 55702 Rapid Brew represent excellent mid-range options. If you’d like to bring the ritual back to coffee making without breaking the bank, give a stovetop espresso maker a try. You won’t regret it.
Hi my name is Larry, a coffee aficionado from the US. I have already visited Colombia, Sumatra, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ethiopia and Jamaica in my pursuit of finding the best-tasting coffee beans. I currently write from Bali and enjoy the relaxed life that you can find only in Indonesia. Welcome to my coffee world!
Last update on 2020-11-27 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API.