Monday, November 29, 2021

    The best stovetop espresso makers and moka pots

    The best stovetop espresso makers and moka pots

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    • Stovetop espresso makers are easy to use, make excellent strong espresso-like coffee, and last for decades.
    • The Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Maker has been around since 1933 and is still the best stovetop espresso maker to make strong, delicious coffee right at home.

    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 caffè, 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.

    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. 

    We tested and researched several stovetop espresso makers over the years to see what else comes close; the following list includes the best ones you can buy. And if you want to learn more about how stovetop espresso machines work, jump ahead to our explainer

    Here are the best stovetop espresso makers and Moka pots of 2021

    The best espresso maker overall

    Bialetti stovetop espresso maker


    The Italian Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Maker is top-of-the-line for making Italian-inspired espresso because of its eight-sided base that quickly diffuses heat.

    Pros : Affordable, quick diffusion of heat because of the eight-sided base, comes in a wide variety of sizes, makes great coffee, easy to clean , made in Italy, two-year warranty

    Cons : Handle melts off quickly if you leave it unattended (which, of course, one should never do), but you can buy a replacement .

    Bialetti made the first stovetop espresso maker back in 1933, and it’s still the very best after all these years. Unlike the cheap imitations you’ll find in kitchen stores, the Bialetti is made right in Italy with craftsmanship and care. Although it’s made of aluminum and not stainless steel, it’s a sturdy, durable little machine that will last you a lifetime. I’ve had mine for seven years, and it works like new after daily use.

    The aluminum pot has an eight-sided base that diffuses heat equally, resulting in evenly brewed coffee with a deliciously rich flavor. To make coffee, you simply fill the base up to the water line, spoon medium ground coffee into the funnel, and twist the top closed securely over the grounds and water.

    Be sure to put the gas burner on low so the flame doesn’t go outside of the pot’s base and burn the handle. You can also use it on an electric stove, just be careful to place the handle well away from the heating element. Bialetti offers a two -year manufacturing warranty , too, if any defects become noticeable.

    You can get the Bialetti Moka Express in a variety of sizes from 3 cups to 12 cups. The 6- cup machine is best for most people, but if you like to entertain or you have a big family, the 12-cup machine will be just right. I actually own both the 6-cup and 12-cup machines , so that I always make the perfect amount of coffee for every situation.

    The best for gas stoves



    Featuring a heavy-duty, heat-resistant handle, the GROSCHE’s Milano Stovetop Espresso Maker won’t melt on gas stoves.

    Pros: Heat-resistant handle, socially responsible company

    Cons: None to speak of

    While Bialetti is a tried-and-true favorite, GROSCHE is a close contender because of its heat-resistant handle for safety. Nobody wants their coffee pot’s handle burning and,  after a third Bialetti handle melted on me this year (it’s admittedly more a reflection on me and my ilk than Bialetti, which I still hold dearly), I decided to try the GROSCHE pot as an alternative. 

    The handle is farther from the unit and your stove burner, so it doesn’t sit directly over the heat. It’s also made of a soft, rubber-coated, heat-resistant plastic. So, in case you do make the ill-advised decision to step away from the burner, you won’t be out an espresso pot and $20 to replace it.

    The pot comes in 3-, 6-, and 9-cup models, is made out of aluminum, and through the Safe Water Project, GROSCHE pledges to provide 50 days of safe drinking water for people in need for every product they sell. Owen Burke, Home & Kitchen Reporter

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    The best stainless steel splurge

    Cuisinox Roma Espreso

    Cuisinox/Max Pixrl/Business Insider

    The Cuisinox Roma 6-cup Stainless Steel Stovetop Espresso Maker lasts a lifetime and brews delicious, strong coffee.

    Pros: Stainless steel design, comes in multiple sizes, easy to clean, affordable compared to high-end machines, it works on gas or electric stoves, and it has a 25-year warranty

    Cons: None to speak of

    If Bialetti’s Moka Express is too old-fashioned and quaint, you’ll love the slick modern look of the Cuisinox Roma Stainless Steel Stovetop Espresso Maker. It’s a high-end, sophisticated Moka pot made from stainless steel instead of aluminum. You will pay a premium for it — it’s nearly five times more than the Bialetti — but it has a 25-year warranty and top-notch reviews.

    The stainless steel design means it’s not only more slick, shiny, and curvy than the traditional 8-sided aluminum Bialetti Moka pot, but it’s more durable too. Since it doesn’t have corners, the insides are easier to clean. However, just like with the other Moka pots in this guide, you really don’t need to scrub it like crazy.

    The process of making coffee in the Roma is the same, too. Simply fill the base up to the water line, spoon Moka ground coffee into the funnel, and twist the top closed securely over the grounds and water. Then, put a gas burner on low so the flame doesn’t go outside of the pot’s base and burn the handle. You can also use it on an electric stove, just be careful to place the handle well away from the heating element.

    Using less heat ensures your coffee doesn’t burn, either. A few minutes later, you’ll hear the pot begin to gurgle as the steam-pressurized boiling water passes through the grounds and up through the spout of the Moka pot to become strong, rich coffee.

    You can purchase the Cuisinox Roma in 4-cup, 6-cup, and 10-cup sizes to suit your needs. The 6-cup model will be best for most users, but bigger families will want the 10-cup machine.

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    The best stainless steel on a budget

    Bialetti Kitty


    The Bialetti Kitty Espresso Coffee Maker is the solution to achieving rich and flavorful espresso without breaking the bank. 

    Pros: Stainless steel design, comes in multiple sizes, easy to clean, affordable compared to high-end machines, works on gas or electric stoves, 25-year warranty

    Cons: None to speak of

    If you want a stainless steel stovetop espresso maker but you’re not looking to spend $100 , Bialetti’s Kitty Espresso Coffee Maker is the answer.

    This stovetop espresso maker is made from 18/10 stainless steel, making it durable and attractive. The Kitty looks especially elegant and classy next to our top pick, the more angular Moka Express. It also has a nice wide handle that’s easy to grip when you need to serve the espresso.

    It’s functional on gas, electric, and ceramic stovetops, and also available in several sizes. We recommend one that brews 6 cups of espresso or about 12 fluid ounces of coffee.

    As with any stovetop espresso machine, you need to follow the instructions precisely to get a good brew. Never overfill the water chamber and always make sure that you use only coffee grounds in the built-in filter. The Kitty does come with a two-year warranty in case you run into problems.

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    The best electric pot

    Delonghi Alicia espresso


    The DeLonghi EMK6 Alicia Electric Moka Espresso Coffee Maker enables you to have the taste of stovetop coffee, even if you don’t have a stove.

    Pros: Stove not required, the electric heater is easy to use, makes good coffee, keeps your coffee warm longer

    Cons: It may not last as long as a Bialetti

    If you want to have a Moka pot in an apartment, dorm room, or office without a stove, you’ll need an electric one like the DeLonghi Alicia Electric Moka Espresso Maker. It’s a modern take on Bialetti’s age-old design that combines the tried and true Moka pot technique with an electric heating element.

    You can take the pot off the heating base to take your espresso to the table if you prefer. The base has an on/off switch that lights up when the pot is heating up. You’ll follow the same process of putting water in the base and coffee grounds in the filter before you screw on the top part and pop the pot on the electric heating base.

    The Moka pot part looks exactly like a traditional Bialetti, the boiler is made out of aluminum, and the entire pot is BPA-free, but the top is clear plastic.

    Also, unlike the Bialetti, it won’t boil over when you’re not looking. It’s a nice safety feature for busy adults and families with children. 

    You can make 3 to 6 cups of espresso with it and watch the clear container at the top fill with coffee as it brews. It has an automatic shut-off function that prevents burned coffee and dangerous overflows. The DeLonghi Alicia will even keep your espresso warm for 30 minutes after it’s brewed in case you can’t drink it fast enough, or you like to have two cups before you head out the door.

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    The best for espresso shots

    bialetti shot


    Bialetti’s Mini Express Espresso Maker produces wonderful crema-capped espresso shots more consistently than any other stovetop espresso pot on the market.

    Pros: Brews fast, rich shots

    Cons: Requires some finesse

    Bialetti’s Mini Express Espresso Maker isn’t for everyone, but it’s unmatched if you’re seeking a café-quality espresso shot rich with crema at an affordable price. I’ve had a wonderful experience with it, though it requires a little finesse. 

    You want to make sure that your grounds are fine enough for these devices to build up a little pressure. Too often people complain that they don’t get a result anywhere near espresso when they’re actually using the wrong beans or failing to finely grind them.s always with espresso, use a light roast to achieve a thicker, creamier shot. I find that the Mini Express produces a shot far quicker than any other stovetop device I’ve used. 

    We also can’t get over the unique design: red solo cups meeting old-school Italian espresso is the most dynamic duo.

    The Mini Express can, on occasion, produce uneven shots, but try to get your grounds as even as possible in the basin and it should work out well more often than not. Owen Burke, Home & Kitchen Reporter

    Note: This item is currently out of stock, as is the case with all of Bialetti’s Mini Express Espresso Makers. We will continue to update this guide to reflect inventory changes.

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    The best-designed espresso maker

    Alessi Pulcina


    The 6-Cup Alessi Pulcina Stovetop Espresso Maker artfully crafts excellent coffee, and looks like a piece of modern art, too.

    Pros: Lovely design, wide variety of colors and sizes, makes great coffee

    Cons: Doesn’t work on induction stoves, wildly different pricing based on colors

    Alessi’s Pulcina is the high-brow Moka pot for artsy types. Alessi’s espresso makers are actual works of art that appear in MoMA and other design museums around the world. 

    It’s not a surprise that Alessi’s espresso makers are actual works of art that appear in MoMA and other design museums around the world — and its brewed coffee is also dese rving of an exhibit.

    According to Alessi, the Pulcina has a special boiler design that stops filtering the coffee at the “right moment and thus eliminates the ‘eruption phase’ – the final filtering stage that can generate a burnt aftertaste – thus enhancing its full-bodied and rounded aroma” of your coffee. The pot also has a ‘V’ shaped spout, which is supposed to be “reminiscent of a baby chick’s beak.”

    The name Pulcina (baby chick) comes from the beak-like spout and curvy chick-like shape inside of the machine. It also refers to the fact that De Lucchi designed it in the chicken coop where his studio is set up.

    Esoteric design talk aside, Alessi is a trusted brand for stovetop espresso makers, and the Pulcina is a great option. It works just like other stovetop espresso makers, where you put water in the base and coffee grounds in the filter. However, the Pulcina doesn’t work on induction stovetops, so you’ll need a gas stove if you buy this product. 

    The Pulcina comes in two sizes: 3-cup and 6-cup models with your choice of a red or black handle. The 6-cup option will be best for most people.

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    Everything you need to know about stovetop espresso machines

    Bialetti stovetop espresso


    Moka pot vs. fancy espresso machine

    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 most 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 is removed from 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.

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