This ultimate buyer’s guide for coffee lovers will look at the best options of stovetop espresso makers, as well as tips for the first-time buyers. Here, you’ll find the list of the TOP 7 Best Espresso Makers that are currently available for purchase. Our picks are based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as intensive product research and analysis. Read on to find out more about this awesome and iconic device.

What could be better than a glass of chilled dry red in the evening? Perhaps, only the freshly brewed coffee in the morning. If you are one of those people, who can only be woken by the thick yet subtle aroma of espresso or americano, then you’d appreciate the smooth brown texture and a little pungent taste of coffee coming from a moka pot, aka stovetop express.

What does the coffee from a Stovetop Espresso Maker taste like?

For Italians, coffee is synonymous with espresso. My friends who traveled to Italy said the stovetop coffee maker was such a common thing, that, perhaps, 90% of Italian households owned a Bialetti stovetop express. The common misconception is, however, that the stovetop maker is not an espresso maker, in fact, its original name says “express”, not “espress” or “espresso”.

What this stovetop coffee maker does is that it brews strong coffee, but not exactly an espresso. It’s usually pretty strong, and bitter, thus many consider this coffee mistakenly as an espresso, but the final and complete drink is something in-between strong filtered coffee and espresso.

My friends said that the taste, consistency, and mouthfeel were somewhat closer to the Turkish coffee rather than a full-blown espresso, which you get from an espresso machine.

These moka pots are, however, pretty tricky, and you really have to put time and effort into learning the “tricks of the trade” to make your cup of coffee “just right.” This guide will help you start your “brewing journey” with the best stovetop coffee makers that are currently on offer on the market.

Read our article about best cold brew coffee makers.

Why are stovetop espresso makers so popular?

If you’ve ever been to Europe, Italy in particular, hosted by an Italian family or have an Italian friend, then you’d probably seen stovetop espresso machines in action. They’ve been popular since the 1950s when Alfonso Bialetti patented the coffeemaker and introduced the moka pot to the Italian households.

Primarily, stovetops were (and actually still are) made of aluminum, because Bialetti worked in the aluminum industry and it was easier for him to manufacture pots from the materials he had better access to. Many years have passed since then, and stovetop makers became exceptionally popular throughout Europe. If you’re a coffee connoisseur, you’d definitely appreciate having such an iconic piece of kitchenware that shaped and changed the course of coffee making history.

What is a stovetop espresso maker and how it works?

A stovetop espresso maker (also known as a stove-top express or moka pot) brews coffee by passing pressurized boiling water (steam) through the layer of ground coffee. If it sounds a little complicated, then it’s probably because some physics is involved in the process.

In fact, there are three chambers inside the moka pot, with one for water, another one for the ground coffee, and the last one for the finished drink. All you have to do is put the coffee in the coffee chamber, then place the pot on the stove, and see the magic happening.

As soon as the water boils, the heated air expands and is pressed through the tunnel into the coffee chamber, where the coffee infuses with water, gradually expands, building up even more pressure. After the coffee is fully saturated, it escapes its chamber and goes through the last tunnel making sputtering sounds that indicate it’s ready to be served. To see how that really works, we’ve included a helpful gif animation:

 The process of brewing coffee with a moka pot: photo

Courtesy of Alborzagros
Taken from Moka Pot Wiki Article

How to use a stovetop espresso maker: steps for success to make a perfect cup of coffee

  1. Add cold water to the water reservoir but make it below the safety valve
  2. Insert the filter and fill it with ground coffee. There’s no need to tamp. Remove any excess coffee from the edges.
  3. Screw the upper part to the base
  4. Select a burner on the stove that would perfectly fit the bottom of the pot. In case you use a gas stove, ensure the flame is not larger than the pot’s bottom
  5. Heat the pot until the water boils and you start hearing bubbling sounds
  6. Remove from the stove when the top part of the pot fully fills with coffee, then gently stir the coffee inside the upper chamber with a spoon to even out the coffee layers, and enjoy your drink.

Mind you, that the above is an original Bialetti recipe for brewing coffee, however, you might find other variations, like choosing hot water instead of cold in the first step.

Especially, the hot water options might be preferred by people who don’t like the pungent and bitter taste in their drink, because when the water boils, it makes the coffee heat up just as well, and you’d probably want to avoid that because it can result in a bitter taste. Also, some other variations call for cooling down the pot under the water in the sink after the coffee is brewed to stop the boiling process.

Here’s the version from ChefSteps:

TOP 7 Best Stovetop Espresso Makers

Hereinbelow, you’ll find the best stovetop coffee makers we’ve found on the market: starting from famous Bialetti to less known brands and some original non-standard options for those who seek to impress. The prices don’t really vary that much with almost all coffee makers priced affordably around 30-50 dollars. There’s also a difference between the models which you have to know before buying: stainless steel espresso makers are good for any stove, whereas aluminum ones can’t be used on the induction stoves.

The Original Bialetti Stovetop Coffee Maker - 3 Cups | Bialetti

Silver Original Bialetti Moka Express: photo Red Original Bialetti Moka Express: photo Green-Red Original Bialetti Moka Express: photo

This is an original Bialetti that’s still made of high quality polished aluminum in the classic octagon shape. This is the exact item you want to have in your kitchen if you’re looking for a classy and iconic Bialetti look.

There’re various sizes available, ranging from just a single cup, in case you’re living alone, to as many as 12 cups, if you have a large family. It's even available in several outlandish color schemes if you want to liven up the look of your kitchen a bit.

The one we cover here is a standard 3-cup (or 4.4 oz) moka pot in silver color, which is, in its essence, a truly classic machine. Besides, it’s designed in Italy by famous Bialetti, meaning it’s high-quality, original stovetop. The aluminum pot features Bialetti’s distinctive eight-sided shape that allows it to diffuse heat perfectly to enhance the aroma of your coffee.

Needless to say, this pot is an absolute bestseller with fantastically positive reviews from consumers, who went a long way and posted the pictures of their stovetops along with recipes for super delicious cups of coffee. However, the unhappy testers related their concerns about materials the pots are made of since they discovered that after regular washing the chrome would come off and metallic flakes would seldom appear in the coffee. The reasons for these could be numerous, from inappropriate cleaning process on behalf of the testers, faulty batches, or degrading quality of Bialetti pots. It’s pretty uneasy to suggest the latter, and I will certainly avoid suggesting that because many consumers are still happy with their pots and coffee they make.

Original Bialetti Moka Express: Check the current price

Stovetop Espresso Maker Moka Pot - 6 Cups - Aluminum | Bellemain

Bellemain Espresso Maker Moka Pot: photo

Although this option brews as many as 6 cups, it’s a lot cheaper than that of Bialetti. And although the Bellemain website states they operate out from NJ, the stovetops are obviously made in China. Nevertheless, this moka pot has received positive feedback from consumers, so it’s worth looking into. It basically copies the Bialetti design, meaning it looks just as beautiful and stylish. It also heats up quickly and evenly, has a classic aluminum finishing, stay-cool handles, and lid knobs to protect your fingers.

From what was noticed by consumers, however, was the rigid construction with a couple of sharp edges, which didn’t really contribute to crafty or exquisite workmanship. The testers also complained of silver flakes and specs that came off the pot and made their way into the drink. But these were a few, the majority of respondents still enjoyed their pots.

Bellemain: Check the current price

Venus Stovetop Espresso Coffee Maker - 6 Cups - Stainless Steel | Bialetti

Venus Stovetop Espresso Coffee Maker: photo

If you’re not a fan of aluminum, Bialetti made a stovetop maker of stainless steel especially for those like you. The construction is good even for induction stoves. It’s still, however, not dishwasher safe. The pot also features a black nylon heat-resistant handle and makes 6 cups (but you can buy a smaller option for 4 cups). The customers, unfortunately, had a lot to complain about, including failed design, cheap manufacture, terrible quality, etc. The item’s obviously made in China, as Bialetti also tries to minimize the costs by moving their factories outside Italy, so unlike the first option from Bialetti we’ve covered, this one is not Italian.

Bialetti Venus: Check the current price

Intenca Stovetop Espresso Maker - 5-6 Cups - Stainless Steel w/ Copper Chrome Finish | bonVIVO

Intenca Stovetop Espresso Maker: photo

This beautiful stovetop espresso maker is made of stainless steel and features an elegant but hard-wearing copper chrome finish. The pot will help you make the perfect espresso on all stove-tops whether gas, electric, ceramic, or induction. The portable coffee maker and its sturdy ergonomic handle are all heat resistant. The item also features a clever spout that allows a drip-free pouring and a safety valve ensuring that excessive pressure cannot build up.

The consumers were happy with their purchases, almost always praising the high-quality of materials used and overall sturdy construction of the pot. Everyone seemed genuinely pleased and in love with their stovetop machines and shared their pictures of both pots in action and the resulting cups of strong espresso.

bonVIVO: Check the current price

Milano Moka Stovetop Espresso Coffee Maker - 3 Cups - | GROSCHE

Milano Moka Stovetop Espresso Coffee Maker: photo

This stovetop espresso machine is something different: it features a sturdy but soft touch rubber coated heat-resistant plastic handle (which actually looks like wood) that adds a bit of non-standard look to the pot but also serves as burn guard for your fingers. There are three sizes available from 3 cups to as many as 9.

An array of colors would definitely appeal to those who care about their kitchen aesthetics. And while the quality of this unit isn’t quite up to snuff compared to the previous machine, the design and ergonomics might appeal to some consumers. I felt it was important to notice though, that Grosche participates in Safe Water Project that helps communities around the Globe to get access to safe drinking water. So by purchasing this coffee maker, you are contributing to a greater cause.

Although the unit seems to be manufactured in China, it received positive feedback from the testers. Some of those early birds, who tried the machine in action, said that the socially conscious maker was clearly better than the competition. Others compared the unit to famous Bialetti and said it was almost on par with it. The unhappy testers said the rubber handle began to melt after a while, the pot leaked, or that the machine came rusty.

GROSCHE: Check the current price

Mini Express Stovetop Espresso Percolator - 2 Cups - Aluminum | Bialetti

Mini Express Stovetop Espresso Percolator: photo

This beautiful item from Bialetti features a pretty design with two small pipes or tubes coming from the center of the moka pot. It’s actually a double shot model, so if you’re looking for a single shot pot, then you need to choose Bialetti Mini Express for One Cup.

What’s important with this item, is that you’ll have to put it on the stove with tubes further away from you, so when your coffee’s ready, you can easily grab the plastic handle in-between the tubes and push it off the flame. The machine does produce a little crema if you’re like your coffee a little frothy on top, but it helps to put the heat down a bit, so you won’t spoil the magic.

Some aficionados say you can put a little skillet on top of the gas stove to make the pot stand a little sturdier. Also, some consumers said they received the machines with gold tubes instead of silver, so obviously there are two color options available, but you cannot exactly choose the one the seller sends.

The testers who seemed disappointed said the percolator didn’t last, my guess was that they didn’t really learn how to use or clean it properly, because those who did their research into the science of good coffee making, didn’t report any issues.

Bialetti Mini Express Stovetop Espresso Percolator: Check the current price

Stovetop Espresso Maker - 1 Cup - Stainless Steel | Bellman

Bellman Stovetop Espresso Maker: photo

This is yet another original piece that greatly differentiates itself from its counterparts by the unconventional form factor and vintage artful conception. It’s old-fashionedly charming appearance comes in the stainless steel construction with heat resistant bakelite. The item’s available in different designs but they all work pretty much the same but would appeal to someone who cares about originality and creativity. The machine is also manufactured in Australia, so must be of high-quality.

The Starbucks barista, an anonymous tester of this moka pot, said he liked the frothy milk from this machine, rather than from any other. As for the espresso part, he said it took him “3 lbs of different coarseness of different beans to get it right,” which definitely sounds a bit like a challenge, but if you like experimenting, then this item is probably for you.

Bellman: Check the current price

Comparative chart of Stovetop Espresso Makers

Product Features

Original Bialetti Moka Express

3 cups (5 sizes available)
Aluminum
8 colors
Italy

Bellemain

6 cups
Aluminum
China

Bialetti Venus

6 cups (2 sizes available)
Stainless steel
China

bonVIVO

5-6 Cups
Stainless Steel
2 buying options (chrome and copper chrome finish)
Germany

GROSCHE

3 Cups (3 sizes available)
Aluminum
4 colors
China

Bialetti Mini Express Stovetop Espresso Percolator

2 Cups
Aluminum
Italy

Bellman

1 Cup
Stainless Steel
Australia

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • If you like European style espresso and experimenting with different beans and blends, then a stovetop espresso machine is for you
  • If you like a bit pungent and bitter taste in your coffee, then this machine is the perfect solution
  • The original stovetop coffee makers are of the highest quality and would produce satisfying results

Cons

  • It really takes time and effort to figure out how to make it right
  • You definitely have to learn how to make coffee with a moka pot prior to attempting at actually brewing your coffee
  • If you’re not an espresso drinker, but like sugary lattes, syrupy frappuccinos, or diluted americanos, then probably this machine is not for you
  • Some products, which are made in China, are not of the highest quality and better be avoided

Tips & Life-Hacks

  • Choose courser grinds for your espresso machine, the finer the ground, the bitter and more pungent the resulting taste. Some testers suggest making it finer than the drip but not as fine as espresso. It actually depends on your personal taste, but remember the rule, the finer the ground, the bitter the taste
  • Cut the heat once the water starts boiling for a gentler and more authentic taste
  • When the rubber seal is new, it can alter the taste of your coffee, so consider making a couple of test rounds, to get rid of a rubber smell
  • Learning how to properly clean your stovetop espresso maker is important: do NOT clean your pot or any of its parts in a dishwasher. Do NOT use any abrasive sponges. Always clean all parts of the machine gently in a soapy water. However, some aficionados do not recommend cleaning the pot with any kind of soap since there’s a chance for the soapy taste to stick to your drink. If you’re concerned with the possible alteration of coffee taste, then just rinse your pot in hot water. If you want to clean the pot from the oxidation, you might consider soaking it in water with a splash of vinegar (for about 30 minutes)
  • Before you store your stovetop machine, make sure it’s completely dry, otherwise, you might end up with grey blotting on the pot
  • See how easy it is to buy a replacement part for your pot. If the pot comes directly from Italy, there’s a chance that you will have to go to Italy to find the desired part
  • As for the beans: let your taste buds be your guide. With a moka pot, the opinions vary greatly. But just an assumption, if stovetop machines are so popular in South America, maybe it’s good to start with the beans of that origin? According to Bialetti official website, freshly ground beans are always better. Also, if you like a stronger brew, consider buying a full-bodied roast.

Other interesting videos:

Stovetop espresso from Starbucks: 

How to make perfect moka pot coffee from a coffee expert:

FAQ

Are stovetop espresso makers good // do stovetop espresso makers work?
Yes, of course, they work. However, if they are good or not, really depends on your brewing skills and taste. If you don’t like strong coffee, they are probably not the best option.

Are aluminum stovetop espresso makers safe?
Aluminum stovetop espresso makers are widely used across Europe and are made to the highest standards in terms of safety. However, if you’re still concerned, choose the stainless steel options over aluminum.

How to assemble a stovetop espresso maker?
While it has been described earlier, it’s always good to watch the assembly process in action. This is a basic assembly of a famous Bialetti:

Which stovetop espresso maker is best?
The classic Bialetti from aluminum is the best and the most authentic coffee maker you can get. However, if you prefer stainless steel models, then Intenca Stovetop Espresso Maker - from bonVIVO, which is manufactured in Germany, is our top pick.

What size of a stovetop espresso maker should I get?
It actually depends on whether you’re living alone and would only like a single shot of espresso in the morning, or have other coffee drinkers in your household. So if you’re single, then a 3-cup one would be more than enough. If you are not, then choose any model with capacity above 3 cups.

Can you recommend stovetop espresso maker for induction cooktop?
Stainless steel options are almost always okay for induction cooktops if you’re looking for specific advice, then Intenca Stovetop Espresso Maker - from bonVIVO is your best bet.

Is there any stovetop espresso maker for tea?
Actually, any stovetop espresso maker can be used for preparing tea. If you want to find out exactly how to make tea in a moka pot, then watch this instructional video from a coffee and tea expert:

Is there any stovetop espresso maker with a steamer? Or steam wand? Milk steamer?
Yes, there is. Here’s what we found for a moka pot with a steamer wand: Bellman SS Stove Top Espresso/Cappuccino Maker. You can actually steam milk directly in the stovetop machine, such as this: Bellman Espresso Maker

Can you recommend stovetop espresso maker with a glass top?
The stovetop options with glass are not exactly the same as stovetop aluminum or steel, they work a little different, and are actually called siphons. So if you’re looking for glass, then consider Yama Glass Stovetop Coffee Siphon.

Please, recommend a stovetop espresso maker with crema.
All stovetop espresso machines will yield coffee with a little crema. BonVIVO and classic Bialetti are good choices here. Even a mini moka pot would do good.

What’s a stovetop espresso maker with milk frother can you suggest buying?
We haven’t seen moka pots with milk frothers worth recommending. However, you can invest an additional 10 dollars to purchase a separate frother for your cappuccino (a little more powerful option from PowerLix) or try and froth milk directly in a stovetop machine.

Which stovetop espresso maker with a spout is best to buy?
Almost all models have spouts. Consider classic Bialetti for an authentic look.

Which stovetop espresso maker is best for a gas stove?
All options covered above are good for gas stoves. Bialetti makers were actually originally created for gas stoves.

Can I wash stovetop espresso maker in a dishwasher?
No. Never.

What is the famous stovetop espresso maker from Italy?
Bialetti is the famous Italian stovetop espresso maker.

Which is the best stovetop espresso maker for an electric stove?
All the options described above are safe to use on the electric stove.

Conclusion

You really need to love to experiment to make the stovetop machine work for you. However, it’s totally worth it. The resulting coffee is so good, you wouldn’t want to return to your espresso machine. The classic aluminum Bialetti and steel bonVIVO options we’ve covered above are our top picks. Happy brewing!