The best moka pot
Moka pots might not be extremely popular in America, but they're ubiquitous in Italian households -- and Italians love their coffee. These compact coffee pots make strong black coffee that rivals espresso at a tiny fraction of the price of true espresso makers.
All you need to do now is find the right model for you. Keep reading to learn more about moka pots and see our recommendations at the end of this article. Our favorite is the bonVIVO Intenca Stovetop Espresso Maker, which looks amazing while also making excellent coffee.
Considerations when choosing moka pots
Moka pots indicate their capacities in cups, but these are small two-ounce demitasse cups rather than standard eight-ounce cups. As such, a four-cup moka pot would make one standard US cup full of coffee. However, coffee made in a moka pot is strong enough to dilute, much like espresso, so a little coffee goes a long way.
Traditionally, moka pots are made from aluminum, but some contemporary models are made from stainless steel. Aluminum is inexpensive and lightweight, though it can be difficult to get completely clean once stained with coffee. Stainless steel is highly durable and nonporous, so it won't absorb flavors from previous brews. Stainless steel moka pots cost more than equivalent aluminum models, however.
Stovetop vs. electric
Most moka pots must be heated on a stovetop in order to brew coffee, but you can also find self-contained electric models with their own built-in heating elements. In general, we'd recommend stovetop models over electric models because electric models cost a lot more but don't offer any significant value. However, there are some situations in which an electric moka pot is handy, such as for use in a dorm room or RV where you don't have your own stove.
Plastic handles might not look as attractive as metal handles, but they stay cool as the moka pot heats so you don't need to use a pot holder to pour from it. That said, you can find some options with stay-cool metal handles.
Although the majority of moka pots are simply metal-colored, others have an outer coating of color to brighten up your kitchen.
Traditional moka pots have octagonal bases and many models retain this shape today, though some contemporary models have round bases. Some people claim the octagonal shape heats more evenly, but it makes little difference overall.
An average moka pot costs between $10 and $30. Electric moka pots and those with contemporary designs can cost from $50 to $150.
Q. How do you make coffee in a moka pot?
A. A moka pot consists of three main parts: a bottom chamber, a funnel, and a top chamber. To make coffee, fill the bottom chamber with water up to just below the pressure valve, then add ground coffee to the funnel and level it off without tamping it. Next fit the funnel into the bottom chamber, screw on the top chamber, and heat it on the stove (or switch it on if you have an electric model). As the water boils in the bottom chamber, pressure will force it up the funnel, through the grounds, and into the top chamber. Once all the liquid has made it through to the top chamber, your coffee is ready to drink.
Q. Is the coffee from a moka pot espresso?
A. Coffee made in a moka pot isn't quite espresso, but it's almost as strong as espresso, and definitely far stronger than regular black filter coffee. As such, you can dilute it with near-boiling water to make a tall black coffee or add steamed for foamed milk to make lattes or cappuccinos.
Moka pots we recommend
Best of the best: bonVIVO's Intenca Stovetop Espresso Maker
Our take: This sleek-looking moka pot is ideal for anyone who favors style over a lower price point.
What we like: Performs well. Made from stainless steel. Works on induction stovetops. Choice of three attractive finishes.
What we dislike: The handle heats up so you shouldn't touch it with bare hands.
Best bang for your buck: AICOOK's Stovetop Espresso Machine
Our take: A simple, inexpensive moka pot that does its job well but won't win any awards for innovation.
What we like: Generous six-cup capacity. Handle stays cool when the pot is hot. Lightweight and easy to handle even when full.
What we dislike: Feels slightly flimsy.
Choice 3: Bialetti's Express Moka Pot
Our take: A real Italian moka pot with a classic octagonal design from a well-regarded manufacturer.
What we like: Made from lightweight aluminum but feels sturdy. Plastic handle stays cool. Seals well and doesn't tend to leak.
What we dislike: Time consuming to do a deep clean.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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