Do you love espresso? I do too! And I’m very picky about my espresso. I used to prepare it for others, now I mostly make it for myself.
We’re going to have a look at how to make espresso at home.
A fancy machine can help a great deal and contribute to the tastiness and quality of the espresso, but you can also make it on the stovetop. Yes, you can! I’ll walk you through the process, step-by-step. Read on to find out all about Moka pots and best coffee for stovetop espresso!
Honestly, most of us can’t really afford high-end espresso machines at home, so we have to make do with whatever we have. Espresso machines for home use can be sometimes severely overpriced for the quality of the coffee they make.
That’s why I decided to follow the nation that’s built its reputation for creamy, fragrant, and rich coffee. My trust lies with the Italians and their practical Bialetti coffee maker. My family’s owned a few forever, I’ve had mine for years, and it’s never failed me. It’s one of the easiest and best ways to make coffee on the stove if the coffee machine dies out.
Why do I love my Bialetti? Because it’s lightweight, inexpensive, durable, easy to use and it makes great coffee!
Okay, it’s not the same as espresso, but it makes coffee with steam pressure. Add a properly ground coffee and you may be in for a delicious cup of coffee with crema on top! (crema: a Holy Grail in the espresso world! Crema is the initial light/tawny colored liquid that comes out during espresso extraction. It is what causes that ‘Guinness effect’ that folks sometimes reference.)
We’ll have a look at the step-by-step guide on how, what, and whatnot on how to make espresso on the stove.
- How do you make coffee with a stovetop espresso maker?
- How long does stovetop espresso take?
- How do you know when espresso is done?
- Can you make espresso with a percolator?
- Is Moka coffee as strong as espresso?
- What is the best stovetop espresso maker?
- What kind of coffee do you use in a stovetop espresso maker?
- How do you clean a stovetop espresso maker?
- Stovetop espresso: a recap
How do you make coffee with a stovetop espresso maker?
Moka pot can be a bit confusing if you’re not used to it, but it’s straightforward and very easy to use.
Essentially, it consists of 3 parts: the bottom container, the filter basket, and the top container. Apart from that, you’ll need water and coffee.
Have a look at the step by step process on how to make espresso on the stove with Moka pot (and excuse the not-so-clean maker):
1. Unscrew the Moka pot
2. Remove the bottom container and the filter basket
3. Fill the lower container with water to the safety valve
4. Place the filter basket into the bottom container
5. Fill the filter with coffee to the top of the filter. Gently pat it to level it with the filter, but don’t press the coffee down too much; that would build up too much pressure and cause coffee to spray everywhere
6. Place and screw the upper container tightly and straight
7. Place the Moka pot on the stove, over a flame that covers the bottom of the pot in width and not any wider
8. Turn off the gas when you hear coffee bubble and gurgle.
9. Your coffee is ready when the top container is full of hot fragrant coffee and there’s just steam coming from the spout
How long does stovetop espresso take?
Less than 10 minutes. Adding warm water to the bottom container helps to speed up the process of making coffee, as the water doesn’t have to warm up before it starts creating pressure in the container.
How do you know when espresso is done?
The only thing you need to do is listen to your stovetop espresso maker. When you hear the bubbling and splashing, turn off the heat and let it sit for a minute or so, until it stops making sounds. You’ll also notice there is no more coffee coming from the spout. That’s when espresso is done.
Can you make espresso with a percolator?
I’ve seen the term percolator being used for Moka pots. If that’s what you have in mind, the answer’s yes! You can make espresso in an Italian percolator that’s actually a Moka pot.
If you were thinking of the actual percolator, namely that one container that brews coffee on the stove, then I have to disappoint you. Both Moka and percolator pots make a strong coffee, but it’s not the same.
The percolator brews coffee multiple times while cooking the grounds, multiple times.
Moka pot, on the other hand, uses steam pressure and extracts coffee grounds only once.
Is Moka coffee as strong as espresso?
Coffee coming from the Moka pot pretends to be an espresso. It wants to be as smooth, creamy, and strong, and we all pretend it to be a great substitute if you don’t have a professional barista espresso monster in your kitchen.
But, Moka coffee is not as strong as espresso. It doesn’t taste the same and while it’s stronger than drip coffee, it’s not the same thing as that thick creamy liquid from the espresso machine. It’s still lovely though. You can easily make coffee on the stove, even when your drip brewers fail you.
What is the best stovetop espresso maker?
Let’s have a look at the best espresso makers you can get. But before we’ll check the reviews and competitors, have a look at three important factors that you should pay attention to when buying your own Moka pot!
How many cups?
Believe it or not, these stovetop espresso makers can brew anywhere from 1 cup of coffee to multiple cups, up to 10! Before you buy it, take this into consideration: will you brew for yourself or for a crowd? After all, brewing multiple coffees several times with a Moka pot is extremely annoying, and I speak from experience. The bottom chamber is burning hot, the top is warm, you can’t remove the filter properly without making a mess in the kitchen…. So, # of cups matters!
Aluminum VS stainless steel
Moka pots are normally made of either aluminum or stainless steel. I have espresso percolators of both materials, but I prefer stainless steel much more, even though it’s much hotter to the touch (I’m a klutz!). I find it’s easier to clean and it seems indestructible. I’ve had this Bialetti one for more than 6 years now and while it’s too small to please a crowd, it makes great coffee.
The aluminum pots are also good, just make sure they weren’t made in China. They’re better for the clumsy people of the world who regularly burn themselves everywhere. They’re normally also cheaper than the stainless steel models.
Type of stovetop: gas, induction, electric
I have a gas stovetop, that’s what Moka works best with. It won’t work on an induction stove, but it should be okay on an electric burner. Since these pots don’t always work with an electric stove, make sure to check whether the pot you want to buy is electric/induction-friendly. I’ve found reviews that claim their Moka works great on a glass-top electric stove!
Now, let’s have a look at the best stovetop espresso makers:
The all-time favorite classic, this Bialetti can make anywhere between a single cup to 9 cups (espresso-sized), depending on the model you choose. Its shape allows the heat to distribute around the chamber while brewing the coffee in under 5 minutes. it’s easy to clean (see tips on how to clean Moka pots below).
- Various sizes available
- Made in Italy
- Brews coffee fast
- A trusted classic
- Made with aluminum
- Not best for electric stoves
This is a stylish coffee maker that’s made of stainless steel and easily makes delicious espresso-sized coffee under 5 minutes. This one is an easily portable brewer you can bring on hiking trips, camping, and when you move house.
While the handle is heat-resistant, don’t put it directly over the flame of your stove or campfire, as you’ll get burned. While the brewer isn’t dishwasher safe, that’s quite alright since you shouldn’t wash it with detergent anyway!
- Stainless steel
- Works on induction
- Not dishwasher safe
Okay, this one isn’t your classic stovetop espresso maker. It’s an electric one and you can easily avoid any extra coffee burning as this machine comes with an automatic turn off. What’s more, it can keep coffee warm up to 30 minutes after it’s done brewing. It’s easy to clean and you can choose from 3 to 6 cups.
Plus, if you’re not sure whether Moka pot is compatible with your stovetop, this one is a great solution! It can brew delicious coffee in minutes and you can bring the brewer with you, as it’s travel-friendly and lightweight!
- Detachable base
- Automatic shut-off
- Easy to clean
- Certain parts are plastic (BPA-free)
If you need a Moka pot to please a crowd, Cusinox is a great choice! You can easily avoid the refilling and brewing coffee several times when you have people over. What’s more, it’s elegant, made of 18/10 stainless steel, and brews tasty coffee.
It’s safe to use this stovetop espresso on all cooking surfaces. The only issue many have is that it’s made in China and not in Italy, even though that’s becoming more and more common.
- Stylish design
- Suited for all cooking surfaces
- Extra gasket and reducer included
What kind of coffee do you use in a stovetop espresso maker?
Overall, you’ll want to choose grinds that are finer than the ones you use to make drip coffee, but coarser than the ones we use for espresso machines. Ideally, the best coffee for Moka pot is medium-ground coffee.
When it comes to coffee type, you can stick to dark roast, or experiment with different coffee types and blends until you find the one that suits you best.
Here are some ideas for the best coffee for stovetop espresso maker:
Made with 100% Arabica beans, this coffee comes with a sweet dark taste and it’s regularly served in Italy. It works great on all espresso machines, also on stovetop espresso. This heavenly blend comes packed in Nitrogen to preserve maximum freshness.
For a full-bodied dark roast experience with crema, Lavazza is a great option when you want to spoil your guests or yourself. Easily used on a daily basis, this one is one of my to-go coffees to keep at home. It’s blended and roasted in Italy, the blend is 30% Arabica and 70% Robusta. Delicate yet powerful, make sure to give it a try!
Coming from Brooklyn in small batches that ensure maximum quality and aroma, this coffee is great for Moka pots and other types of espresso machines. It’s a blend of 75% Arabica and 25% Robusta coffee. Nicoletti coffee blend comes with a balanced flavor (but a bit mild) and low acidity. It’s a light espresso roast, always delivered fresh.
How do you clean a stovetop espresso maker?
There are three rules when it comes to cleaning espresso Moka pot:
- No soap or detergent
- No dishwasher
- Yes, water, hot water
For a more visual idea on how to clean it, see the video below:
Stovetop espresso: a recap
Making espresso on the stove is easy. There are a few basic steps you must follow to brew a great cup of java:
- Use freshly ground coffee to maximize the taste
- Store pre-ground coffee in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place
- Heat up the water you add to the lower chamber to avoid warming up ground coffee in the filter excessively
- Avoid soap and detergent when cleaning the pot
- Don’t forget to enjoy each sip of the way!
Okay, I know and you know that making coffee in a Moka pot isn’t the true espresso the professional beasts of machines make. But it’s close to espresso.
By placing your trust in and focus on freshly ground coffee before brewing you can ensure the maximum flavor and quality, and can even expect to get crema on top!