One of the easiest ways to make a great cup of coffee at home is with the stovetop espresso maker or moka pot. Originally introduced in Italy as an easy home solution to the espresso machine, stovetop espresso makers remain popular in many homes.In this article we look at stovetop espresso makers in detail, including how they actually work and what to look for when buying one. We also offer some tips on how the get the best brew from an espresso maker as well as reviewing a selection of the best stovetop espresso makers and percolator pots.
The Coletti ‘Bozeman’ percolator pot is our dishwasher safe best pick as an all-purpose percolator pot for use indoors or out.
The Bialetti Moka Express is our budget pick as the original stovetop espresso maker with its cool touch handle and patented safety valve.
Table of Contents
- Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Stovetop Espresso Maker
- 1. Coletti"Bozeman" Percolator Coffee Pot
- 2. The Original Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Coffee Maker
- 3. IMUSA USA B120-42V Aluminum Espresso Stovetop Coffeemaker
- 4. bonVIVO Intenca Stovetop Espresso Maker
- 5. TOPS 55704 Rapid Brew Stainless Steel Stovetop Coffee Percolator
- 6. GROSCHE Milano Stovetop Espresso Maker
- 7. Bialetti 06969 venus Stovetop espresso coffee maker
- 8. Cuisinox Roma Stovetop Espresso Maker
- 9. Godmorn Stovetop Espresso Maker
- 10. Alessi Pulcina Espresso Maker
- Things to Consider Before Buying A Stovetop Espresso Maker
Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Stovetop Espresso Maker
1. Coletti"Bozeman" Percolator Coffee Pot
Ideal for camping or on stovetops, the Coletti ‘Bozeman’ percolator pot is available as nine cup or 12 cup. Constructed from 18/8 stainless steel and free from any plastic or aluminum, it has a tempered glass top and a rosewood handle to prevent burns. It is also dishwasher safe. The manufacturer of this pot is a veteran-owned small business which passes its profits to charity.This comes with a pack of 20 filters for brewing, although you can use this without a filter, it just means there is more risk of finer grounds passing through the basket in the percolator. The filters are custom manufactured for this maker, so you will have to buy them from the manufacturer. Some buyers have also found that these coffee makers can lack some quality control before being sent out and there can be a small risk of receiving a faulty pot.
2. The Original Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Coffee Maker
Available in a range of sizes, the Bialetti Moka Express is the original Italian octagonal design. This stovetop espresso maker will take less than five minutes to brew and it has a patented safety valve and the black handle is cool touch. This is not dishwasher safe, it should only be cleaned by hand as it made from aluminum. This also means it cannot be used on induction stovetops. The odd buyer has found this has started to leak quite soon after buying and there has been the odd problem with the gasket fitting poorly.
3. IMUSA USA B120-42V Aluminum Espresso Stovetop Coffeemaker
The IMUSA coffee maker (B129-42V) is available in a range of sizes from one cup to nine cup and is suitable for brewing espresso in a few minutes. This can be used on all stovetops except induction and made from aluminum, it has a cool-touch knob and handle. Its flip top and side pour spout are also designed for easier pouring and it has a safety valve.As it is aluminum, it is only suitable for hand washing and some consider the quality of this to be poorer than similar stovetop makers. The handle is also prone to breaking with regular use.
4. bonVIVO Intenca Stovetop Espresso Maker
Available as 6.8 oz or 11.8 oz, the bonVIVO Intenca stovetop espresso maker is made from stainless steel with a chrome, copper or black finish and can also be used as a percolator coffee pot. This is suitable for all stovetops, including induction and although dishwasher safe, the manufacturer recommends that this be handwashed.Some buyers consider the quality of stainless steel to be lower as it can begin to rust quite soon after buying and over time, the metallic finish on the pot can begin to wear off.
5. TOPS 55704 Rapid Brew Stainless Steel Stovetop Coffee Percolator
The TOPS rapid brew stovetop coffee percolator is made from 18/8 stainless steel with a glass cover and a permawood handle. Available in six, nine and 12 cups, this stovetop maker also has permanent cup markings and an aluminum pump.The coffee basket is plastic with a fine polyester mesh and is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. Some buyers have been disappointed with the quality of this and some have received a pot on which the lid does not sit properly. The lid is also permanently fixed to the pot, which can make cleaning more difficult.
6. GROSCHE Milano Stovetop Espresso Maker
The GROSCHE Milano espresso maker is available in a range of colors and from three cup to 10 cup capacity. Made from food grade anodized aluminum, this stovetop espresso maker has a silicone easy replace gasket and a certified safety valve which is made in Italy. It also has a soft touch rubber finish handle with a burn guard. The manufacturer is a Social Enterprise and a B Corp which donates towards safe drinking water in overseas communities.The odd buyer has found that this can leak and when pouring out, it can run down the side of the pot. As some of these makers have a colored finish, using on a gas stove can also stain the finish.
7. Bialetti 06969 venus Stovetop espresso coffee maker
Made from stainless steel, the Bialetti Venus espresso maker (06969) is a six cup capacity stovetop maker. As this is steel, it is suitable for any type of stovetop including induction and has a black nylon handle which is heat resistant. This stovetop espresso maker is only suitable for hand washing and some buyers have found that it can show signs of rusting after a few months of use. Some buyers are also disappointed that this is no longer manufactured in Italy. The odd buyer has found this more awkward to use on an induction stovetop due to how the base is designed.
8. Cuisinox Roma Stovetop Espresso Maker
Available in four, six or 10 cup capacity, the Cuisinox Roma espresso maker is made from 18/10 stainless steel and is suitable for brewing on all stovetops including induction. With a polished chrome finish and safety valve, it also comes with a spare gasket and reducer.The odd buyer has experienced rusting with this pot and as the handle is also steel, it can get very hot during use. Some buyers have also commented that they consider this espresso maker to brew weaker espresso than other types of stovetop espresso makers.
9. Godmorn Stovetop Espresso Maker
The stovetop Godmorn espresso maker is suitable for all stovetops including induction. Made from premium stainless steel the handle is ergonomic and heat insulated. This has a polished chrome finish and a 10 oz or six cup capacity. This also contains a brass safety valve and comes with a satisfaction guarantee. The odd buyer has received this faulty and there is a small chance of rusting soon after purchase.
10. Alessi Pulcina Espresso Maker
The Alessi Pulcini espresso maker is a stovetop maker with a six cup capacity. This contemporary espresso maker is high performance and has been designed by Michele De Lucchi to optimize the shape of the maker to improve and enhance the brewing process. As this is aluminum cast, hand wash is recommended, and it is not suitable for use on induction stovetops. Available with black or red handles and knob, this also has a ‘v’ shaped spout to minimize leaks when pouring.Some buyers have found it more difficult to open the pot due to its design, and those with smaller hands may struggle even more.
Things to Consider Before Buying A Stovetop Espresso Maker
The stovetop espresso maker, also known as moka pot or Bialetti has been around since the 1930s. The pot was designed to mimic espresso coffee at home and at one time, as many of 90% of Italian households owned one of these pots.
The moka pot, or to give it its full name, the macchinetta del caffè (translating to ‘small coffee machine’) was invented by an Italian called Luigi De Ponti who then patented the design for Alfonso Bialetti of the Bialetti Company.
Folklore says that De Ponti came up with the idea of the stovetop espresso maker while watching his wife do the laundry in a primitive washing machine that involved a bucket over the fire and a tube containing soapy water! Even today, this classic moka pot (the Moka Express) is still one of the bestselling stovetop espresso makers available.
Technically, a stovetop espresso maker or moka pot does not make espresso. This is because a stovetop espresso maker operates at between one and three bars– usually one to one and a half – of pressure, while a true espresso machine uses nine bars or more of pressure to brew espresso. It is this higher pressure that produces espresso shots with more of an aerated crema.
Although a stovetop espresso pot cannot produce a brew with the depth of texture and flavor than an espresso machine can, it will still produce a thick and strong coffee though with a half decent crema. It also costs much less than an espresso machine!
There is more of a risk of under- or over-extracting coffee when using a stovetop espresso machine though, so you will need to be prepared to experiment and practice to get the grind and brewing technique right.
Some coffee aficionados will only buy a stovetop espresso maker that has been made in Italy, but it can be harder nowadays to source pots made in Italy as many are outsourced and manufactured elsewhere.
Cup Capacity of Stovetop Espresso Makers
It is important to know that a stovetop espresso maker measures its capacity in espresso rather than regular cups. This means that a two cup pot will brew two ‘shots’ of espresso. If you just want to brew for yourself, then a smaller espresso maker – two to three cup - should be fine, but if you regularly need to brew for more then consider a larger pot such as a six cup capacity.
A stovetop percolator will usually measure in ‘regular’ cups though, so it is worth double checking what the capacity is in fluid ounces as well as cups.
Aluminum and Stainless Steel Stovetop Espresso Makers
Espresso makers are often made from aluminum as it is lightweight, a good heat conductor and will not rust. The original Moka Express stovetop pot was made from aluminum as when the fascist regime was in place in 1930s Italy, aluminum was easily manufactured as Italy was a good source of the bauxite ore needed to make aluminum. At this time there were also strict controls imposed on imports of materials such as other metals into Italy.
Aluminum will work best on a gas stove, and if you do have an electric stove, then always double check to see if the aluminum model you are considering will be suitable. As aluminum is a softer metal it is more prone to denting and cosmetic damage than a steel model.
As there are a number of health concerns around the use of aluminum in cookware, some manufacturers have responded to these by now making stainless steel models which are also non-corrosive. Another advantage of stainless steel is that it can usually be used on any type of stovetop, including induction.
Some stainless steel is also dishwasher safe but if you do place it in the dishwasher, it should always be dried thoroughly after washing to minimize the risk of rusting. Aluminum stovetop espresso makers should never be placed in the dishwasher as they will soon dull and start to pit from the salts in the dishwasher detergent.
As stainless steel is usually much longer lasting than aluminum, stovetop espresso makers made from stainless steel will usually cost more than aluminum.
How a Stovetop Espresso Maker Works
A stovetop espresso maker contains three chambers. The bottom chamber is the cold water reservoir, the middle chamber is the cradle and filter for the fresh coffee and the top chamber contains the spout and is where the finished coffee is poured from.
When using, the bottom chamber is half filled with water (never above the level of the safety valve) and then the ground coffee is placed in the cradle or middle chamber which screws in between the top and bottom chambers.
Once the espresso maker is placed on the stovetop, the water at the bottom begins to heat and as this causes pressure in the form of steam to build up in the chamber, the hot water is forced up into a funnel that ends at the base of the cradle which contains the coffee. As more hot water enters this middle chamber through the funnel, the ground coffee absorbs the water and expands – building up pressure.
Once the coffee grounds have been fully saturated, the hot water (now coffee) passes up through a filter to prevent the grounds from passing through and into another funnel in the top chamber. Once you hear the characteristic sputtering noise, this tells you that all of the water has now passed through the coffee and into the top chamber and the espresso is now ready to pour.
Using a Stovetop Espresso Maker
Before drinking espresso from a new stovetop espresso maker, you should always discard the first two or three brews, rinse well and then you can use it.
To make the most of a stovetop espresso maker, you should grind your coffee at home. Aim for a grind that is slightly coarser than that for an espresso machine and a little finer than what you would use for drip coffee.
When you add your grounds to the cradle/filter, always fill it right up to the top, but never over the top - even if you do not want to brew that much. Also wipe around the lip of the filter with your finger to remove any loose grinds and ensure a better seal. There is much debate around whether to tamp or not, but on today’s pots, tamping can increase the risk of bitter coffee as well as causing too much pressure to build up inside the pot.
As with brewing any coffee, filtered water is always better and depending on the type of pot, you can add hotter filtered water to the reservoir (carefully!) instead of cold as this will knock a few minutes off the brewing time.
Never fill above the safety or pressure release valve on the side as this needs to be able to allow excess pressure to escape if the espresso maker is not brewing properly on the stovetop. If steam does release from the safety valve when using, remove the espresso maker from the heat immediately. Check the grind is not too fine; otherwise next time you use it, try it on a lower heat setting.
When you replace the top chamber, onto the coffee cradle, avoid the temptation to screw it on too tightly – just firmly tighten it.
Once you place the stovetop espresso maker on the stovetop, turn it so the safety valve is pointing away from you and once the burner is on, hang around to make sure the heat is not damaging the handle or there is too much pressure building up inside the pot. An espresso maker should always be on the smallest burner possible and when using a gas stove, do not allow the flames to burn up the side. The best temperature to brew at is between 194°F and 205°F (below boiling point) with the burner set on low or medium low.
If coffee starts sputtering out of the top of the espresso maker before brewing is complete, this is often a sign that the heat is too high.
Once the stovetop espresso maker makes its distinctive gurgle it needs to come straight off the heat as otherwise the coffee will overheat and develop a burnt taste. If you are able to remove it from the heat slightly earlier than the gurgle, you can actually eliminate extraction of the last portion which is always the most bitter part of the coffee.
You can either use your finished espresso brew in espresso-based drinks such as lattes. If you want to make a latte, just add your frothed warm milk to the espresso. Otherwise, you can mix it half and half with water to make an Americano-style drink which is not as strong as drinking it straight from the pot.
Caring for Your Stovetop Espresso Maker
After every use, give it a good rinse under the tap and ensure that all of the grounds are cleared from the filter. It should then be dried properly. Don’t forget that you can add waste coffee grounds to your compost pile as they are a rich nitrogen source!
The gasket and the filter that prevent grounds from entering the brewed coffee will need replacing occasionally, so when choosing a stovetop espresso maker, look for one which you know you can easily find replacement parts for.
If a stainless steel pot is stained, you can use some cold water and baking soda to clean off the stains or brew it up with a solution of two parts cold water and one part white vinegar. After letting the pot sit for 15 minutes, you can drain the solution and rinse it thoroughly before re-using for coffee.
When cleaning an aluminum stovetop espresso maker, it can just be washed in warm water, the use of stronger detergents may taint the aluminum and therefore the coffee. Avoid using anything abrasive to clean the pot with as this can damage or discolor the aluminum. If a white deposit forms in the base this is natural oxidization of the aluminum – often caused by it not being dried properly after use. You can use warm water and white vinegar with a gentle dish scrubber to remove these stains.
If you have fully dismantled your aluminum or stainless steel stovetop espresso maker for a deep clean, then always make sure it is properly dry before re-assembling and if you will not be using it for a time it is always better to store it dismantled.
In this article we have taken a look at the origins of the stovetop espresso maker and just what it has that makes it so ideal for brewing stronger coffee at home. Although a stovetop espresso make does not brew a ‘true’ espresso, as it cannot force water through at high enough pressure, it is still ideal for brewing strong coffee at a fraction of the cost of an espresso machine.We hope you have enjoyed reading our article on stovetop espresso makers and that you have picked up a few handy hints for getting the best out of your pot. We also hope that our reviews of some of the best stovetop espresso makers have been useful and will help you in your choice of new stovetop espresso maker.