Do you love espresso? Did you know you can easily brew it on the stove? Let’s have a look at all you need to make a fragrant stovetop espresso from the comfort of your home! You don’t need any fancy barista machine; a simple coffee maker will do!
Let’s walk you through the process and discover everything you need: Moka pots, coffee types, and useful tips!
Honestly, most of us can’t really afford high-end espresso machines at home, so we have to make do with whatever we have. I’m not saying that owning a real espresso machine for home wouldn’t be awesome, but some can be quite overpriced (though I found some quality brewers for different budgets, all the way from $600 and $500, which are built better and provide more accurate espresso experience, to others, more affordable options starting at $300, $200, and even $100!).
Still, if you’re really trying to stick to the budget (or are just a sucker for all things Italian), I compiled a guide on stovetop espresso. Because my trust and my love lie with the practical Bialetti coffee maker, a must-have in any home. 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 a real barista machine, but it makes coffee with steam pressure. Add correctly ground coffee and you may be in for a delicious cup of coffee with crema on top, perfect for any coffee lover! (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 to get started with stovetop espresso.
How do you make espresso on the stove?
Making espresso on the stove isn’t as difficult as you may think. In fact, we’ll have a look at 3 different ways with three different brewers on how do you make espresso without a machine. You’ll still need a coffee maker to brew espresso though, there’s no way you can make Italian-style coffee in a pan!
1. Moka pot stovetop coffee maker
The Moka pot is an all-time classic, also known as macchinetta del caffè. It’s a small coffee machine that brews coffee with pressure. It boils water, pressures the steam through the ground coffee and makes a tasty brew. You can read all about Italian-style coffee and how to make it here.
Bialetti stovetop pot is one of the best stovetop espresso makers and it still holds on to that title. Now the coffee isn’t real espresso, as this brewer is more of an Italian percolator, but back in the day when it was invented, the professional espresso makers weren’t the beasts we know today. That’s why Moka pot was an alternative and affordable way to make espresso at home.
Now, here’s how you brew coffee with it:
- Disassemble the Moka pot
- Fill the bottom chamber to the valve with water
- Place the filter on the chamber, fill it with not too-finely ground coffee
- Add the top chamber on the brewer and secure it tightly
- Place on low-medium heat until you hear gentle gurgling sounds
- Remove from heat, pour and enjoy!
2. Stainless steel stovetop coffee maker
Kamira stovetop maker is another way to brew espresso on the stove. It’s a mix of Moka pot and an espresso machine and you can get a creamy cup of coffee in a matter of minutes. This brewer is probably the closest thing that you’ll get to the coffee shop espresso at home. It produces crema, it brews a strong cup, and it does it all while sitting on your stove.
Here’s how to brew:
- Place the coffee into a portafilter
- Secure the filter on the head of the brewer
- Pour the water into a small container and release it into the lower chamber
- Place a coffee cup under the spout
- Turn the heat to low-medium until you notice coffee coming from the spout
- Turn off heat and enjoy!
Confused? Here’s the video to demonstrate it better:
3. Mini Italian stovetop espresso maker
Unlike a Moka pot, this espresso maker produces crema and a more consistent and thick brew. Brewing coffee with this one isn’t for everyone as the maximum amount of coffee you’ll get are 2 shorts in one go. But, it’s something espresso lovers can truly appreciate. This mini brewer is a great alternative if you’re on a budget and can’t afford to spend hundreds of bucks on beastly espresso machines.
This brewer works the same as Moka pot; it brews the coffee using the pressure
Here’s how you brew coffee with it:
- Take apart the brewer
- Fill the chamber with water
- Place the funnel into the chamber and add ground coffee to it
- Screw the top on
- Place on low-medium heat
- Place a coffee cup under the funnel
- When you smell the brew and hear the gurgle, turn off the heat
What is the best stovetop espresso maker?
Let’s have a look at the best espresso makers you can get for your needs and stoves!
Bialetti Mini coffee maker will easily fit into your kitchen no matter how small it is. This brewer is perfect for smaller households (think two people max) as it comes with 2-cup capacity. But don’t let the size fool you. I was skeptical when I first tried it and I have experience when it comes to operating coffee machinery and making good coffee. I was amazed at how one small piece of aluminum can make good coffee with a bit of crema too! The trick is to let It brew slowly to get the crema into your cup.
- Easy to use
- Brews coffee under 5 minutes
- Italian design
- Easy to store
- Splutters coffee with short cups
This is an adorable piece of the brewer that easily fills two espresso cups and it does it well, just make sure to use taller cups to prevent it splattering on your stove. It won’t take up any space in your kitchen. The espresso from this brewer can easily become a base for cappuccino or latte recipes.
Bialetti Mini will work on gas and electric stove, but it won’t work on induction as it’s aluminum.
Venus Moka pot will fit on your stovetop perfectly. It won’t make such a great cup of coffee as Aeropress, but it’ll do the coffee justice while looking stylish on the stove. With a few adjustments, you’ll be able to brew delicious coffee, but I’d recommend you use freshly ground coffee and set the Moka on low flame while brewing. Once I got used to brewing Italian-style coffee, Moka has become a must in my kitchen.
- 6-cup capacity
- Stainless steel
- Brews coffee under 5 minutes
- Nylon heat-resistant handle
- Great for daily coffee
- Learning curve
Just like with most coffee makers, this brewer also has a learning curve that will allow you to perfect your cup of joe with tweaks and a bit of patience. This brewer is a must if you spontaneously drink coffee on a daily basis and need an effective way to start your day.
Bialetti Venus will work on all types of stoves: gas, induction, and electric.
Kamira works with 3 bar pressure and while it’s not equal to the real espresso machine, it’s pretty close. I didn’t believe it the first time I tried it, but I was amazed by how much quicker and consistent was the coffee it made. The crema, the thickness, the potent taste of espresso was almost the same as the real thing. It’s not the same but it’s as close as you’ll get. It brews coffee in about a minute and while there’s a bit of a learning curve, it’s able to produce amazing results efficiently.
- Brews coffee fast
- No coffee pods
- Stainless steel
- No electronic parts
- Easy to clean
- 5-year warranty
Kamira is the priciest one of the three, but it’s still cheaper than espresso makers. You don’t need any special cup for this brewer, but a demitasse cup or a small cappuccino cups are the best fit. The shot of coffee can become a base for your cappuccino or latte recipes.
Kamira works on gas, electric, and induction stove.
What kind of coffee do you use in a stovetop espresso maker?
Overall, you’ll want to choose a grind size that is finer than the one for drip coffee, but coarser than the one we use for espresso machines (and not as coarse as table salt). Ideally, the best coffee for Moka pot is medium-ground coffee.
When it comes to coffee type, you can stick to dark roast coffee, 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 with many coffee makers, also the stovetop one. 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.
What you need to know about stovetop espresso makers
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.
How many cups do you need?
Moka pots come in different sizes: from 1-cup brewer to 12-cups. But these cups aren’t your standard size cups; they’re much smaller espresso shots, which fit into demitasse cups perfectly.
I have a Moka 4-cup size and it’s just enough for 2 people. It would work great for one person as well. However, if you entertain a lot or have many people who want Moka coffee, I suggest getting a larger size pot that’ll be able to please a crowd.
The other two brewers; Kamira and Mini Bialetti don’t give you much space for improvisation. You can choose Mini Bialetti from one or two cups, and Kamira can only serve one cup at a time.
Will it work with gas or electric stove?
That all depends on the brewer. Some work on all types of stoves, other only on gas or electric stoves. Be sure to double-check before buying so that you can start using it right away. I’ve also provided info on that with each brewer to make your decision easier.
Aluminum vs stainless steel
Some stovetop brewers are made of stainless steel, others from aluminum. The stainless steel models are more durable and easier to clean. There’s nothing severely wrong with aluminum brewers either, but make sure not the get the cheapest one available.
How to clean and take care of the stovetop brewer
The good news is that it’s very easy to clean and look after these types of brewers. With proper care and maintenance, they can last decades! All you have to do is rinse them with warm water after each use and give them an occasional scrub with a sponge to remove coffee build-up. Also, remove all the grounds from the filter. Just remember, don’t use any soap or detergent when cleaning these types of brewers!
There are three rules when it comes to cleaning the pot:
- No soap or detergent
- No dishwasher
- Yes, water, hot water
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 the coffee is ready.
Can you make espresso with a percolator?
The term percolator has been regularly used as another name for Moka pots. We’ve established so far that you can brew it in an Italian percolator, aka Moka pot.
The other percolator; that container that brews coffee on the stove, sadly, cannot brew espresso. It makes a strong brew, just like Moka, but it’s not the same. The percolator brews coffee multiple times while cooking the grounds.
Moka pot, on the other hand, uses steam pressure and extracts coffee grounds only once.
How to make 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 and get crema
- 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 that real deal magic that the professional beasts of machines make. But it’s as close as you can get.
If you’re looking for a coffee maker that’s best for beginners, I’d recommend the classic Italian Moka pot. It’s easy to use and clean, not much can go wrong, and you can really start brewing coffee right away! What’s more, it’s a great alternative for all those times when your coffee machine stops working, it’s travel-friendly (I brought mine to Spain and back), and you can get the best coffee for the brewer pretty much anywhere!
For those who want a closer alternative to the classic espresso, Kamira Express is your thing. I know it’s on the pricier side, but the quality of coffee it brews is more than worth it. It produces crema, dense and fragrant coffee which is the closest thing to a real barista coffee as possible (unless you want to invest in a real espresso machine for home use). While the serving option size can be impractical if you’re trying to please a crowd, this brewer works excellently and helps you make tasty coffee on a budget.