Moka pots are fantastic little pieces of kit. They are stove top – or, sometimes, electric – coffee makers that brew decent, strong coffee by passing boiling water and steam through ground coffee. Invented in 1933 by Italian engineer Alfonso Bialetti, the Moka pot is named after the Yemeni city of Mocha.
The Moka pot is iconic, with its clean, classic design formed from a symmetrical, eight-faceted metallic body, and has altered very little in its 70 year lifetime. In fact, Bialetti Industries, Alfonso Bialetti’s company, continue to produce the same model today, under the name ‘Moka Express’ (which we will review below). They are a staple of modern European, especially Italian, culture.
For all their fame, Moka pots are ingeniously unassuming and modest. They are also generally cheap, especially compared to other, equivalent coffee brewing methods. You simply fill the bottom chamber with water (preferably hot, though not quite boiling, so as to avoid scalding or burning the coffee grounds). Then you fill the filter basket with coffee grounds, insert it into the bottom chamber, level with a spoon, screw the top compartment (the upper chamber) on and put it on the stove. The percolation system they use is simple – it allows hot water to pass upwards, through the ground coffee, up out of a tube and into the upper chamber of the pot, ready to be poured and enjoyed. There are no additional filters needed, no special techniques – it’s quite fantastic.
You will want to use very finely ground coffee, more so than drip filters or cafetières would typically call for – almost as fine as needed for a regular espresso machine. Other than this, you can use whatever style of bean takes your fancy.
Then you can simply stand back and watch the coffee brew. When the water in the bottom chamber reaches the boil, it will push it upwards, percolating. Then it will run into the upper chamber as a steady, satisfying stream.
You will then have a wonderful, full bodied coffee.
How To Choose The Best Moka Pot
There are a couple of things to look out for when choosing the right Moka pot for you.
Firstly, there is size. You can find Moka pots that will give the equivalent of three cups of espresso, those that give around twelve, and pretty much everything in between. If you’re in a household with lots of coffee drinkers – or if your caffeine habit is in any way as serious as mine – you’ll want one of the larger models. If not, a dinky one will be more economical and will ensure you don’t waste any coffee by letting it go cold.
Then there is the question of whether or not you can use it on your hobs. Conduction is a thing. If you have conduction plates, make sure you pick a Moka pot that is compatible.
Material also matters to a certain extent (see below). Generally, modern Moka pots will be stainless steel, though aluminium is also quite common. I’ll go into this shortly, so bear it in mind when picking your pot.
Aesthetics may also be a factor (they are for me). Moka pots are a triumph of modernist design. They can be truly beautiful. With this in mind, you may as well get something that will look good on your kitchen counter.
Other than these specific areas, the usual criteria apply when choosing your Moka pot that all purchases should be judged by – quality of the product, its usability, and how economical it is should all be weighed up.
Why Use A Moka Pot?
Moka pots are simple, easy tools for creating a nice cup of coffee. In fact, until very recently, they were about the only method going of getting something similar to an espresso at home. Nowadays, the ubiquity of espresso machines and their ilk – including dozens of different varieties – have changed this slightly, of course. However, there is still very much a place for the humble Moka pot in everybody’s home.
For starters, they have pedigree. They are beautiful, elegant examples of modernist, chic living. Have one on your stove or kitchen shelf as a work of art, near enough. Moka pots have near enough spread espresso culture through homes around the world, so take pride in having one on display. They are retro, hipster and beautiful – go get yourself one.
Of course, there is more to it than the lifestyle that Moka pots represent. They are also incredibly practical. They are convenient and easy to use at a moment’s notice. Though it isn’t actually espresso that comes out of them, Mocha coffee is thick, rich and smooth enough to pass for one – and, mixed with foamed milk, it makes for a great cappuccino or flat white.
They are also cheap. A Moka pot can set you back anywhere from fifteen to sixty pounds. There are outliers, of course, with cheaper and more expensive models going, but the majority will be in this price bracket (and there are few reasons to go beyond it).
Don’t ask yourself why you should use a Moka pot. If you like coffee, ask yourself why on Earth you wouldn’t.
The Best Moka Pots
So, of all the different brands, variations and divergences on the market, which Moka pots – and stovetop percolators more generally – are the best? Which will give you the best brew for the best value for money, whilst looking elegant and beautiful on your kitchen counter?
The answer: any of the below.
Bialetti Express Espresso Maker
The Bialetti’s classic octagonal shape both looks lovely and allows the Moka pot to more evenly distribute heat as your coffee brews, giving you a smooth, strong coffee in just a matter of minutes. Cleaning it is easy, too, as you can simply unscrew the top, separate all the parts and wipe them down.
The Bialetti Express is made from aluminium, with an ergonomic handle that can happily take the hob’s heat, and the patented safety valve gives you a smooth brew that is easy to keep fresh. You have the choice between buying their 1, 3, 6, and 9 cup options, and each comes in a range of stylish, bright colours – though classic chrome is always a good shout.
It is suitable for all hobs except induction hobs.back to menu ↑
VonShef Chrome Aluminium Espresso Maker
VonShef’s offering on this list is one of many Moka pot makes that uses the Bialetti’s original octagonal shape and clear, elegant design. It is large, delivering 12 cups of espresso-style coffee per brew (600ml of coffee) with a rich, highly concentrated flavour perfect for any espresso-based drinks.
The VonShef Espresso Maker is very well-made, sculpted to a good finish from durable aluminium. As with the classic Bialetti, it has a hinged lid and a cool touch ergonomic handle, and each purchase comes with an extra silicone gasket and filter.
It works as you would imagine from any good quality Moka pot, giving you an effortless brew in just a few minutes, and is easy to deal with and clean.
It can be slightly hard to get all of the water out of the large bottom reservoir. I imagine it’s something in the design of the gasket, but there is often a lot of water left in the bottom. This means, of course, that you don’t always get as much coffee as desired. It also means you may need to handle with care when unscrewing it afterwards!
Nevertheless, this is a fantastic model, it’s very reasonably priced and you will get a lovely coffee. It is suitable for all hobs except induction hobs.
You get a minimum 2-year warranty with the VonShef.back to menu ↑
Bialetti Venus Induction Espresso Maker
Bialetti’s Venus Induction Espresso Maker is a tall tubular jug that manages to look as chic and elegant as Bialetti’s original whilst diverging from his blueprint. It is stainless steel, clean looking and bright, and the handle is insulated to resist high temperatures (so you don’t have to worry about burning your fingerprints off!)
It also gives you a really nice coffee – six cups of it, in fact. It’s portable and usable on pretty much all types of hob or fire. It’s perfect for those of you with induction hobs, for whom more traditional Moka pots may not work.back to menu ↑
Godmorn Stovetop Espresso Maker
We have another stainless steel model here, corrosion and rust resistant and easy to clean. This also allows you to get a really clean, pure flavour from your coffee – the extraction pothole is made of high-quality material, which makes the coffee more mellow.
It’s not the best looking-model on this list, though the jug-like outline and smooth curves are still pretty pleasing. It’s also suitable for fire, induction cookers, electric furnace, ceramic furnace, alcohol furnace and gas stove, meaning that you can use it pretty much anywhere – again, a good one for those with induction hobs, or for those who like a good cup of coffee when they’re off camping in the woods (you’ll find it cleans really easily, even when it gets sooty from the campfire).
You cannot clean it in the dishwasher, however (this doesn’t really matter – it wipes clean so easily you won’t need to bring out the big guns).
The handle is ergonomic and heat resistant, the safety valve allows you to adjust the pressure in the boiler so that you can always maintain the correct amount to fully realise the coffee’s flavourful potential, and the shape of the jug makes for quick and even heating (and a hell of a lovely aroma). Each brew will give you around six cups of espresso-style coffee.
Godmorn offer quality assurance for 12 months.back to menu ↑
Sivaphe Moka Pot
In a list of beautiful coffee makers, the Sivaphe Moka pot somehow manages to stand out in its elegance and loveliness of design. The handle looks like wood (it’s not – you soon find, disappointingly, that it’s nylon with wood pattern coating) and the stainless steel body is gorgeous.
The lower tank is made of 403 stainless steel and the upper chamber is made of 304 stainless steel, so it’s incredibly durable.
You get around 9 cups of espresso from the Sivaphe – so around 2-3 large mugs. It’s suitable for all types of stove, whether electric, gas, ceramic, fire or induction, so all kitchen and outdoor needs will be met. The coffee it makes is nice, smooth and strong, and the stainless steel filter mesh makes sure that it has a lovely texture.
However, it is a bit of a case of style over substance. It looks lovely at first. However, as above, you soon find that the handle is actually nylon. In addition, it has a tendency to leak, and the welding spots are a little weak looking.
It does look nice, and it will give you a good coffee, but it won’t last forever and may end up with you making a bit of a mess.back to menu ↑
La Cafetière Classic
That’s kind of what the La Cafetière Classic is all about – emphasising the classic chic cool of the traditional Moka pot to the Nth degree.
In fact, La Cafetière are something of a traditional home for modern coffee lovers. They have brought the same classic chic cool to all of their designs with sleek, contemporary kitchenware for over half a century. They manage to be timeless and trendy – everything the Moka pot should be.
La Cafetière’s Classic Espresso Percolator is made from high quality aluminium, which will ensure long-lasting use whilst doffing a well-earned cap in Alfonso Bialetti’s direction, and is available in three sizes: 3-cup, 6-cup and 9-cup.
It’s also as easy to use as any Moka pot should be. Add hot water, add your grounds, screw the top on and heat it on the stove. You’ll be sipping a good-quality espresso in under five minutes, guaranteed. It makes the kind of espresso-style coffee you want, opening your brew up with a fresh, rich and fulsome flavour.
All this, and it’s super cheap, at half the price of many equivalent models. For my money, this is one of the only classic Moka pots to watch.back to menu ↑
La Cafetière Induction-Safe Stovetop
Let’s look at something that is expensive but beautiful, now. Once more, it’s La Cafetière; once more, it’s achingly stylish. Though it’s around triple the price of their Espresso Percolator, their copper-effect induction espresso maker is worth every pound and penny.
It’s a deviation from the classic Moka pot design, is made from stainless steel with a choice of either a copper or brushed gold finish, and it manages to look both old and rustic and stunningly new and fresh at the same time. The coffee it produces is much the same – it’s a classic, warm, smooth brew that somehow feels like something new and revolutionary in your life.
All this, and it works on any stovetop going – so, once more, perfect for those of you with induction hobs.
The copper effect stovetop espresso maker is also as easy to use as a classic Moka pot. Simply fill with water, add your favourite grounds, put it on the stove and wait a few minutes. Then, a rich, gurgling sound will rise from deep inside and you’ll have a fresh brew ready and waiting for you – four cups’ worth, in fact, at 200ml.
If you want something that looks beautiful and gives you a perfect coffee, and don’t mind paying a little extra, this is the one for you.back to menu ↑
London Sip Company’s Stovetop Espresso Maker
This is another deviation from the original – an authentic Italian style espresso maker with a distinctly modern, British twist. The London Sip Company have enhanced the traditional aluminium Italian Moka Pot with this modern, stainless steel offering.
But why? And is it any good?
As to the latter, yes. Yes, it is very good. As to the former, well… they’ve tinkered with an already almost-perfect design, and it seems to have paid off. The final product is a machine that gives a clear, clean flavour, delivering 300ml – so 2-3 cups – of beautiful espresso with each brew.
The handle is a clever design, too. It reaches far from the main body – thus, far from the heat – and is well insulated, so you won’t ever be in danger of toasting your digits.
It’s not even very expensive, either – about the same as you would pay for a slightly higher end standard Moka pot.
This being said, their tinkering has still only gone so far. It gives a clear, full flavour, but I can’t see (or, rather, taste) much difference in The London Sip Company’s offering than can be found with any stainless steel product over an aluminium alternative. So, they talk of revolution, and they are wrong. It’s just a solid, good, stovetop coffee pot, very reasonably priced.
But that’s enough to cheer. It’s still a very good percolator.
How Many Cups Can A Moka Pot Make?
The amount of coffee you can get from any single Moka pot depends, unsurprisingly, on the size of the pot in question. There are many different styles and sizes, designed to give different numbers of cups.
There are plenty that brew a-cup-at-a-time. These are perfect for coffee lovers who live – or sip – alone, who don’t want to go back and reheat their coffee, or down a day’s worth of coffee in one go. However, if you live with other people, you will want one that can make several cups in one brew.
Generally, a 3-cup Moka pot will give you around 200ml; a 12-cup Moka pot will give you around 775ml; others, in between, will stick to a similar ratio. This will realistically be the difference between a cup or two for one person or enough for a whole family at Sunday brunch.
Stainless Steel or Aluminium – Which Is Best?
Alfonso Bialetti used aluminium in his original design. This was pretty revolutionary – at the time, aluminium was not considered a domestic use metal. However, he saw it for what it was: light, cheap, great at conducting heat – everything needed to mass produce a stylish little coffee pot for everybody to be able to afford.
However, most manufacturers these days go with stainless steel. It looks nicer – which is a big deal with such a stylish gadget as the Moka pot – and has a fair few practical benefits over aluminium.
Put simply, stainless steel Moka pots are easier to maintain and keep clean, don’t corrode and pose no health risks.
Aluminium, though highly resistant to oxidation and corrosion, still suffers far more than stainless steel. Stainless steel will keep clean and in good condition – stain free, naturally enough – for decades, marking a good investment. There is also a negligible risk of toxicity associated with aluminium – one that is pretty much statistically invalid. However, it’s still there, which it isn’t with stainless steel.
Realistically, aluminium coffee pots will be absolutely fine. Stainless steel just have a subtle edge over them that many manufacturers take seriously.
We have something for everyone here. There are pricey models, naturally, and there are absolute steals. There is beauty in abundance, with effortless style and European chic modernism running throughout, though expressed in very different ways.
More than anything, however, we have lots of good machines for making your perfect cup of coffee. While size, style, material, manufacture quality and heating elements all matter, the Joe at the end matters more. Choose any of these and you will have a lifetime of good coffee ahead of you.