Living in the north of Italy, every morning was accented by the same routine: Pull the moka pot out of the cupboard, fill it with coffee grounds and water, then relax as the coffee brewed.
When my Bialetti moka pot began to stutter and bubble, telling me in its own way “I’m ready, come grab me,” I would pull it from the burner and pour the fresh coffee into a large mug with hot water. My at-home “americano,” known for being an American style coffee, filled the kitchen with a delicious fragrance of Italian roasted coffee beans.
A Bialetti moka pot was found in any Italian home I visited, and brewed fantastic coffee every time. Some Bialetti’s had stayed in the family for generations, continuing to function perfectly and with grace. Because of that time, and those wonderful stories of such a long lasting piece, I will always recommend a Bialetti Moka pot to people looking for a new coffee brewer. Though there are other fantastic ones on the market today.
What Makes a Moka Pot Unique
Stovetop espresso makers, commonly known as moka pots, have grown in popularity for decades. Since its invention in 1933, the moka pot has come to be the coffee maker of choice across several countries in Europe, and are increasingly common in the U.S.
Moka pots utilize boiling water to create a pressure system which pushes the hot water through espresso . It works in a miraculous way, especially with a dark Italian roast, as it is meant to be. The original design came out of Italy, and has caught the world by storm, building itself a repertoire of new styles as more designers grasp the concept.
Beyond just being a beautiful piece of equipment, moka pots are clever and functional. Though moka pots don’t technically make espresso, they make a strong and rich coffee that is very similar. It is commonly drank like espresso, in small espresso mugs with a small amount of sugar. I always added hot water to make an “americano” though it often caught strange glances and snarky comments from the locals.
They also allow you to create great coffee at home without spending massive amounts of money on an espresso machine. Ranging from $15 to $300, you have options to spend what you’d like, and be left with a solid coffee maker if nothing else.
But what should you look for when shopping for a moka pot? Beyond functionality and looks, their build can make a big difference in their longevity. Moka pots have the ability to last a lifetime, if built to last. With those points in mind, here is a breakdown of what to look for, and which moka pots are the best around.
What Makes a Great Moka Pot?
Moka pots should be built to last. Some are made of aluminum, and others from stainless steel. Either way, the body is almost completely metal, meaning it has ample opportunity to be sturdy.
Stainless steel bodies give a stronger structure, and are usually easier to clean. Don’t let that completely dissuade you from aluminum body moka pots though, there are some fantastic pots out there made with aluminum, including my top pick.
The original moka pot design made about two ounces of strong coffee. After years of slight alterations and upgrades to the design, you can buy moka pots that make up to 12 cups. The measurements are in espresso cups instead of the American mugs of coffee. A single cup moka pot will still make about two ounces of coffee.
Since the pot needs a specific amount of espresso ground coffee in the metal filter , you are forced to use the correct amount of grinds every time you brew. It is common to own a couple sizes of moka pots; one for personal use, and one for having guests over. The filter needs only to be rinsed out after use, and is said to add flavor as it is used over time.
Once the moka pot grew in popularity, designers fell in love with it as an appliance. The result has been a range of unique styles and looks. It is very possible to find a design that suits your home decor, though the traditional design already has a clean look to it.
Alfonso Bialetti designed the original moka pot in 1933. He called it the Moka Express. Since then, Bialetti has continued to produce and sell their masterpiece of a coffee brewer. They have altered the original design in small ways, but the essence of the Moka Express lives through their products.
The Bialetti is a fantastically designed appliance. It is primarily built out of aluminum, and has a base made with eight sides to ensure equal heating for the water and coffee inside. The Bialetti comes in a variety of colors and sizes. You are sure to find a look that compliments your kitchen, and a size that matches your needs.
Bialetti’s are known for their durability. They will last for decades without fail. You will want to replace the filter and rubber gasket at some point, but you can buy those replacement parts directly from Bialetti for a very affordable cost.
The Vev Vigano Kontessa Gold is a beautiful piece of machinery. Brandishing a brass handle and accents across the pot, this shimmering beauty is dressed to impress. The Vev Vigano comes in 4, 6, and 12 cup sizes.
The rest of the body and filter are built with stainless steel, making for an easy clean up, and a brilliant shine to the pot. If you are looking for a gorgeous moka pot to wake up to every morning, this is the one for you.
Isao Hosoe is just one example of a designer that fell in love with the idea of moka pots. After seeing Bialetti’s original Moka Express, Isao built this unique design and partnered with Serafino Zani to produce it.
The Mach Italian espresso maker is a 4 cup brewing moka pot. It comes in a few colors, but can be difficult to find. The rarity of this majestic moka pot adds character, but also cost. Be ready to spend upwards of $150 for this designer piece.
The Bellman SS is a special type of moka pot, made to allow you to foam milk without an espresso machine. An extra wand utilizes the escaping water vapor as a steam wand. Supposedly, you can use the steam that is created by making espresso to steam your milk.
Similar to the moka pots espresso making capabilities, the wand doesn’t have as high of pressure as a legitimate espresso machine. That doesn’t mean the wand doesn’t work at all though, just not as efficiently as a machine with a built in boiler.
If you are one to enjoy a macchiato, cortado, or cappuccino over plain espresso, the Bellman SS is a great option to consider. It is built well and will last you a long time. Be sure to clean the steam wand after every use, to keep milk from building up and clogging it. Besides that, enjoy the same way you would a normal moka pot!
The Final Shot
Moka pots are a flowering product, with options galore. Any of the choices above will be great, the biggest difference between them being what you are looking for aesthetically.
The Bialetti holds true as my choice because of its classic style, minimal design, and color choice. It does the job well every time, and looks great while doing it.