Review Of The Stovetop Espresso Maker

A Stovetop Espresso Maker is the traditional time-honored method of making espresso. The first espresso maker was patented in 1933 by an Italian named Alfonso Bialetti and till today, the Bialetti Stovetop Espresso Maker is still widely used worldwide.

How Does a Stovetop Espresso Maker Work

Also known as “macchinettas”, “Moka pots” or “caffettitera”, the Italian stovetop espresso maker is easy to use – simply place on a stovetop burner and heat. They are dependable, as they have no moving parts to break, no electric components to burn out, and no complicated circuitry.

It works by pressurizing steam before forcing it through the coffee grounds to create a wonderful cup of aromatic espresso coffee. A resulting brew is a form of espresso known as stovetop espresso that is about half-way between drip coffee and “true” espresso in body and flavor. These are often the choice of coffee lovers who fall somewhere in the middle of how strong they enjoy their coffee.

Parts Of A Stovetop Espresso Maker

It consists of 3 parts. The bottom part is the boiler where the water is placed. This is also where the pressure valve is located which is an essential element in producing your espresso. The coffee basket/filter which stores the ground coffee is found in the middle. The top portion or chamber is where your coffee will finish giving you a freshly brewed espresso.

The most common stovetop espresso maker is made from aluminum. More expensive and better-looking pots can be found made from stainless steel.

How To Use A Stovetop Espresso Maker

There isn’t a thing like “espresso-grade” coffee beans. The only difference is that ground coffee used for brewing espresso is of a finer grind to produce greater extraction of the coffee flavor and a rich, more concentrated cup of espresso. A medium-fine grind, finer than the grind used for an automatic drip filter, but coarser than the grind used for a cone filter, works the best.

  • Step 1: Fill the bottom section with cold water. (Do not fill above the steam valve).
  • Step 2: Add the ground espresso coffee in the coffee basket, then press (lightly tamp) the coffee down, so there are no air gaps. Place the basket in the back into the stovetop espresso maker. follow directions on the can of coffee to know the precise amount to add.
  • Step 3: Screw the top on and place the espresso maker on the stove. Use low to medium heat for brewing.

Once the pot gets hot, the steam will build up pressure and push the water up through the filter and coffee. The coffee will then fill up the top part of the espresso maker. You will hear gurgling sounds, which tell you that this process is taking place. When there is no more water in the bottom section of the espresso maker, the pot of espresso is almost ready to enjoy. Depending on how many cups you have brewed, the process should only take a few minutes.

  • Step 4: Turn off the stove and let the pot sit for around 30 seconds to wait for the bubbling to stop. Remove the top and stir the coffee. Wait until the pot has cooled down before you touch the metal as it will be very hot.
  • Step 5: Serve and add steamed milk and a twist of lime to complete this magnificent and aromatic cup of coffee. Now you can enjoy that freshly brewed cup of espresso in the comfort of your own home.

After the stovetop espresso maker is used, it should be emptied and cleaned before you store it. When you look underneath the top half of the pot you will see a filter and a rubber seal. Check if either of these is worn or damaged and needs replacing.

Types Of Stovetop Espresso Makers/Stovetop Espresso Maker Reviews

Stovetop espresso makers come in many different sizes. Some are small and make only 2 cups, while there are some that produce up to 12 cups of delicious espresso. Most stovetop espresso makers are made entirely of stainless steel. Some fancier versions have a porcelain top and a stainless steel bottom. It all depends on how much you want to spend on the espresso maker.

Aluminum Stovetop Espresso Makers

The traditional Moka pots are made of aluminum. There are many brands available like BonJour, Farberware, Bene Casa, Primula, or Typhoon, but I’ll stick with the Bialetti brand.

I’d go with something like the Bialetti Moka Express stovetop espresso maker (below). Made in Italy this stovetop brewer makes 3 2-ounce cups of espresso in just 4 to 5 minutes. It is made of durable polished aluminum in a unique octagon shape. It has a flip-up top and side-pour spout for added convenience. With the aluminum finish, it should be hand washed and not put in the dishwasher.

Bialetti 06799 Moka Express StoveTop Coffee maker, 3-Cup, Aluminum Silver

Bialetti 06799 Moka Express StoveTop Coffee maker, 3-Cup, Aluminum Silver


Primula Aluminum 6-Cup stovetop espresso coffee maker this is a cheaper version of the above Bialetti. Apparently the patents or trademarks have expired and other companies are producing direct replicas. While it looks the same, this one is actually made in China and may not hold up to heavy use over time. You can find a variety of similar machines that are built on the Bialetti principles in a wide range of styles, prices, and levels of build quality.

Primula Aluminum Espresso Maker – Aluminum – For Bold, Full Body Espresso

Primula Aluminum Espresso Maker – Aluminum – For Bold, Full Body Espresso – Easy to Use – Makes 6 Cups


Stainless Steel Stovetop Espresso Makers

Stainless steel Moka pots are quite popular these days. The stainless steel espresso pots are easier to maintain than the aluminum. Many manufactures make stainless steel models. Again my first choice would be Bialetti. You can check out the Bialetti Musa 4-cup stovetop espresso maker that retails about $50 and can brew 4 cups in 4-5 minutes.

Bialetti 06955 Moka Musa Stovetop Coffee Maker

Bialetti 06955 moka Musa Stove top Coffee Maker, 4-Cup, Silver


Ceramic Stovetop Espresso Makers

There are some Moka pots that have the upper part made of porcelain. The advantage of these pots is that the upper part does not get as hot as with the metallic models. This means that there is no chance that the first few drops of coffee may get burned. I would get a Yabano Stovetop Espresso Maker, 6 Cups coffee pot that sells about $20.

Yabano Stovetop Espresso Maker, 6 Cups Moka Coffee Pot Italian Espresso for Gas or Electric Ceramic Stovetop

Yabano Stovetop Espresso Maker, 6 Cups Moka Coffee Pot Italian Espresso for Gas or Electric Ceramic Stovetop, Italian Coffee maker for Cappuccino or Latte, Black


Glass Stovetop Espresso Makers

Now, this is really cool. The upper part is made from glass, so you can actually watch your coffee as it is flowing into the upper chamber. As far as I know, there is only one glass stovetop espresso pot easily available and that is the GEESTA Premium Crystal Glass-Top Stovetop Espresso Moka Pot – 6 cup. It has a 6 Demitasse Size Cup Capacity and a soft touch handle. The coolest part is the glass top that allows you to see the process of brewing.

GEESTA Premium Crystal Glass-Top Stovetop Espresso Moka Pot – 6 cup

GEESTA Premium Crystal Glass-Top Stovetop Espresso Moka Pot – 6 cup – Coffee Maker


Bialetti Brikka

Brikka works similarly to the Moka Express. The only difference is that the Brikka has a pressure valve that increases the pressure under which the coffee is brewed. This only stovetop espresso maker that actually produces crema on your coffee! Bialetti has a patent on the design, so it’s not offered by anyone else. The absolute best part about a Bialetti Espresso maker is that they are certainly built to last. It is in no way uncommon to read reviews of people that have had their Bialetti Espresso maker for over ten years, and who have just had to replace the rubber gasket a few times. A great example of such a stovetop espresso is the Bialetti 4822 Moka Induction Espresso Maker.

Bialetti 4822 Moka Induction Espresso Maker

Bialetti 4822 Moka Induction Espresso Maker, Anthracite


Electric Moka Pot

There are also espresso pots that you don’t use on a stovetop – instead, they come with a convenient electrical base that does the heating for you. These electric Moka pots work exactly the same as a standard stovetop espresso maker, but they are more convenient to use.

IMUSA USA B120-60008 Electric Espresso/Moka Maker, 3-6 Cups

IMUSA USA B120-60008 Electric Espresso/Moka Maker, 3-6 Cups, Red


Stovetop Cappuccino Maker

A stovetop cappuccino maker is ideal for people who prefer frothy milk-based coffee drinks. The most popular stovetop cappuccino pot is Bialetti Mukka Express. It works similar to Brikka and is very easy to use. Before you start brewing your coffee, you put some milk into the top chamber. While the coffee is brewed the milk gets frothed. You can use it to made delicious latte/cappuccino directly on your stovetop.

Bialetti Mukka Express 2-Cup Cow-Print Stovetop Cappuccino Maker

Bialetti Mukka Express 2-Cup Cow-Print Stovetop Cappuccino Maker, Black and White


You need to steam or froth your own milk if you desire a latte or cappuccino. Don’t sweat it, you can purchase a battery-operated frother for less than 15 bucks (or whip out your immersion blender if you have one) and the total amount spent for the pot along with the frother comes to forty dollars. You have still saved at least $160 not buying a big, scary, space-eating automatic espresso maker.

Stovetop Espresso Maker Care

Make sure to keep that espresso pot in good shape by scouring gently to remove mineral build up in the pot. You want to keep your stovetop espresso maker in good condition to brew up a great cup every time!

 How To Clean Stovetop Espresso Maker