The Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Maker has been around since 1933, and it is still the best stovetop espresso maker you can buy to make strong, delicious coffee right at home. Learn more on the BestPatrols website.
True coffee lovers know there's more than one way to make a cuppa, and they've tried them all: French press, drip coffee, cold brew, fancy espresso machines, and so on. One of the most humble and effective machines for making a strong cup of coffee is the stovetop espresso maker also known as the moka pot.
The moka pot, or macchinetta del cafe which literally translates to "small coffee machine," is a stovetop machine that moves boiling water, pressurized by steam, through ground coffee to make a delicious brew.
Back in 1933, an Italian inventor named Luigi De Ponti patented the design for Alfonso Bialetti, and the company is still making stovetop espresso makers with the same basic design. Bialetti's classic moka pot is so reliable, that it remains the best stovetop espresso maker you can buy. Before we get into our top picks, here are some key facts you need to know about stovetop espresso makers.
Moka pot vs. fancy espresso maker
Although moka pots don't technically make espresso - because they use lower pressures of 1 to 2 bar and real espresso machines use 9 bar of pressure - the coffee you get is very rich and strong. Some machines will even produce a bit of crema just like high-end espresso machines. If you're using this to make cappuccinos or lattes at home, you'll be more than satisfied, but if you want shots of thick, creamy espresso, you need a real espresso machine.
How many cups do you need?
Most moka pots come in a few different sizes: 1-cup, 3-cup, 6-cup, 9/10-cup, and 12-cup. Keep in mind that the cups in question are small espresso shots - not full cups of coffee as Americans think of them. The 6-cup size is best for couples or people who want to drink two normal cups of coffee with milk on top. The 9/10/12-cup machines are good for families or when you have guests over. I personally own both a 6-cup and a 12-cup Bialetti Moka Express.
Will it work with a gas or electric stove?
Some stovetop espresso makers only work on gas stoves, while others can handle either gas or electric stovetops. We've noted which of our picks work with both kinds of stoves.
Aluminum vs. Stainless steel
Stovetop espresso makers come in either aluminum or stainless steel varieties. Stainless steel models are more fancy, durable, and typically easier to clean. Aluminum machines are typically just as good, provided you buy one from real Italian companies like Bialetti and Alessi. If you buy a cheap aluminum one for $5 at a kitchen store, you may not get the same quality coffee out of it. That's why we recommend you stick to our top pick, the Bialetti Moka Express.
Care and maintenance
It's easy to keep your stovetop espresso maker in good working order. All you have to do is rinse it out after each use and make sure all the ground are out of the filter. No soap or scrubbing is needed. The best moka pots are the ones that have been loved well and the ones that have aged.
Moka pots can last years - decades, even - so long as you don't burn the handle or otherwise harm it. The only thing you'll need to replace periodically is the rubber gasket and filter that prevent the grounds from infiltrating your coffee.