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How to Use a Stovetop Espresso Maker (aka the Moka Pot)?

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By Daniel Bruce

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So, you love espresso? Try a stovetop espresso maker!

Affordable and convenient espresso at home

If you’re a coffee enthusiast who craves a daily dose of espresso but dislikes the high cost or the hassle of bulky machines, it’s time to consider a stovetop espresso maker. With this simple and affordable device, you can enjoy the perfect cup of espresso whenever you want without breaking the bank.

How to Use a Stovetop Espresso Maker: A Simple Guide

Your essential tools and ingredients

To make stovetop espresso, you’ll need a few crucial items:

– The stovetop espresso maker (which consists of the lower part, filter funnel, and top part)

– High-quality coffee beans (check out some recommendations for Moka pots)

– A coffee grinder set to a moderately coarse grind

– Cold, filtered water

– A stove or other heat source

Step by Step Instructions for Using a Stovetop Espresso Maker

Step 1. Prepare Your Moka Coffee Maker

the main parts of a moka pot

Begin by separating your stovetop espresso maker into its three parts:

– The lower portion, which holds the water

– The filter, where you’ll place the coffee grounds

a hand grinder, a coffee bean container, and a stovetop coffee maker

– The upper chamber, where the finished coffee collects

Step 2. Grind the Coffee

Next, grind your coffee beans to a moderately coarse setting. Unlike traditional espresso, a finer grind can lead to leakage and other issues when using a Moka pot.

Step 3. Add Water

Fill the lower part of your stovetop espresso maker with cold, filtered water. Be sure not to go above the safety valve to prevent any accidents.

separating the parts of the bialetti

Step 4. Add the Coffee Grounds

three parts of the moka express

Place the coarse-ground coffee into the filter funnel, ensuring it is evenly distributed. Don’t pack it too tightly, which can affect the extraction process.

Now that your stovetop espresso maker is prepared and filled with water and coffee grounds, you’re ready to start brewing your espresso. Place the device on the stove or heat source, and watch as the water heats up and creates pressure, forcing it through the coffee grounds and into the upper chamber. Once all the water has passed, you’ll have a rich and flavorsome cup of espresso.


With a stovetop espresso maker, you can enjoy the pleasures of espresso without the high cost or need for expensive machines. By following these simple instructions, you can create a delightful cup of espresso from the comfort of your own home. So go ahead, give stovetop espresso a try, and elevate your coffee experience without emptying your wallet.

putting coffee grinds in the filter basketpouring water in the chamber of a moka pot

How to Brew Delicious Coffee with a Moka Pot

Step 1: Fill the Filter Basket

To start making your perfect cup of coffee with a Moka pot, fill the filter basket with coffee grounds. Ensuring it is complete is essential, as under-filling it can cause brewing issues. Use coarsely ground coffee for the best results.

placing the filter basket in the lower unit of the bialetti

Step 2: Reassemble the Unit

Once the filter basket is complete, it’s time to reassemble the Moka pot. Place the filter back into the water-filled lower part of the unit and screw the top position on the well. Remember not to overtighten the full chamber; ensure it is firmly tightened.

Step 3: Add Heat!

Now it’s time to add heat and start the brewing process. Place the assembled Moka pot on the stovetop and turn on the stove. Wait for the water to boil, which should happen quickly due to the pot’s small size.

grinds in the lower unit of the bialetti

Step 4: Serve and Enjoy

Listen for a gurgling sound, indicating that the water has traveled up through the grounds and filled the upper chamber with delicious coffee. Once you hear the gurgling, remove the Moka pot from the stove and pour your coffee into your favorite mug.

Pro Tip: Avoid leaving the Moka pot on the burner for too long after the gurgling begins to prevent a burnt taste in your coffee.

a photo showing how to use a stovetop espresso maker

Making coffee with a Moka pot may seem simple, but there are different methods you can try. Check out our video tutorial for more ways to use a Moka pot.

What is a Moka Pot?

A Moka pot is a unique stovetop coffee maker that produces rich and flavorful coffee. It’s important to note that while it may resemble espresso, it’s not technically the same. However, brewing still results in a strong and satisfying cup of coffee.

a moka pot with an open lid

Moka Pot Coffee: A Unique Alternative to Espresso

pouring coffee from a bialetti moka pot

Understanding the Difference

When it comes to stovetop espresso makers, commonly known as Moka pots, many coffee enthusiasts mistakenly believe they are brewing actual espresso. However, while similar in taste, Moka coffee differs from traditional espresso in a few key ways. The main distinction lies in the absence of the frothy crema texture that characterizes espresso. Unlike espresso, Moka coffee is not subjected to the same high-pressure extraction process, resulting in a different mouthfeel.

Nevertheless, in this article, we will use the terms “Moka pot” and “stovetop espresso maker” interchangeably, considering their common usage. It is important to remember that while they are similar, they are not precisely the same.

How Does a Stovetop Espresso Maker Work?

Are you wondering about the inner workings of a stovetop espresso maker? The process is quite fascinating. When you place a Moka pot on the stove, the water inside heats up, generating steam. As the moisture builds pressure in the lower chamber, it pushes the water through the coffee grounds and into the upper room, where it is ready for pouring.

parts of a moka pot

By the way, it’s worth noting that stovetop espresso makers are sometimes referred to as coffee percolators. While they share some similarities, they do have distinct differences. You can learn more here if you’re curious about percolators and how to use them.

If you want to explore the differences between a Moka Pot and a regular espresso machine, check out our comprehensive guide.

Caffeine Levels in Stovetop Espresso Coffee

The Caffeine Conundrum

For many coffee lovers, caffeine is one of the primary attractions of their daily cup of joe. So, let’s delve into the caffeine content of Moka coffee and how it compares to espresso. Here are some average caffeine content facts for three different coffee options:

  • Cup of coffee (8 oz) = 105 mg of caffeine
  • Shot of Moka coffee (2 oz) = 105 mg of caffeine
  • Shot of espresso (2 oz) = 93 mg of caffeine

NOTE: The actual caffeine content can vary significantly.

Interestingly, an 8 oz cup of regular coffee contains the same caffeine as a quarter of Moka coffee, while a shot of espresso contains even less.

What might surprise you is that a shot of Moka pot coffee has more caffeine than a shot of espresso! This can be attributed to the tendency of Moka coffee to over-extract from the grounds, resulting in a more potent brew with higher caffeine content. So, if you prefer a milder option, exercise caution when brewing Moka coffee.

If you find it challenging to choose between a Moka pot and an Aeropress, we’ve prepared a guide outlining the differences between the two methods. Additionally, check out our other coffee brewing methods for a variety of options to try.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, while stovetop espresso makers are often called Moka pots, it’s important to remember that Moka coffee and espresso are not identical. However, Moka coffee’s unique taste and higher caffeine content make it a popular choice for many coffee lovers. So, whether you’re a fan of traditional espresso or curious about exploring alternative brewing methods, the Moka pot is worth a try. Cheers to your next caffeinated adventure!

If everything has gone well, and you’ve followed the steps carefully, you should be looking at your empty Moka pot while sipping a delicious cup of stovetop espresso. That leaves one question left to answer: How is it?


1. How long does it take to make stovetop espresso?

Moka pots usually take around 5 minutes to make coffee. But if we consider the grinding and prep time, it usually takes about ten to fifteen minutes. That does not include cleanup, which is essential if you want to continue to enjoy your moka pot coffee.

2. What is the best stovetop coffee maker?

The best Moka pot is the Bialetti Moka Express, as it makes coffee fast without compromising the quality and taste. The Bialetti Moka Express is also stylish,  easy to clean, and lasts long. There is a HUGE difference between a cheap and a good stovetop espresso maker, so choose wisely. Here’s a place to start: The best stovetop espresso makers.

3. How do you grind coffee for a stovetop espresso maker?

For Moka coffee, we recommend grinding your beans reasonably coarse (like in French Press and similar manual coffee makers), as a finer grind can cause leakage and other issues. While we suggest a coarse grind for the coffee, each setup can differ. Experiment between a coarse grind, a fine one, and everything in between until you find a setting that gives you just the proper Moka coffee for your palate!

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