If you love a strong cup of coffee and don’t want to splurge for an espresso machine, a Moka Pot strikes the perfect balance. This stovetop brewer serves up a coffee beverage that will leave you wanting to take your time sipping, but it doesn’t quite deliver the qualities of actual espresso.
If you’re new to the Moka Pot crowd, welcome! They are a lesser-known option on the market but can be well worth it for the right person. The real question is: should you buy an aluminum or stainless steel Moka Pot? The answer really boils down to your preferences and what exactly you’re looking for in a coffee brewer. There are a lot of aspects to consider, so it’s best to break them down and have a full understanding before you commit to one option or the other.
It can be overwhelming if you’re trying to choose a Moka Pot that’s right for you, but it doesn’t have to be! I’ve broken down everything you need to know about Moka Pots. There are pros and cons to both aluminum and stainless steel brewers, but this information can empower you to make the decision that best meets your needs.
What is a Moka Pot?
Before you can choose the right Moka Pot for you, it’s important to understand what they are and how they work. A full appreciation of this specialty brewer will not only help you to brew the best coffee but also determine which type of Moka Pot will be the best addition to your kitchen.
The Moka Pot was invented nearly 90 years ago in 1933. Its inception is credited to Alfonso Bialetti, an Italian engineer, and it quickly spread to other parts of the globe. Today, it is popular in Europe, but also in Latin American households as well. The namesake Moka Pot, Bialetti, is still revered as one of the best that money can buy.
How do Moka Pots work?
Moka Pots look similar to teapots or traditional coffee pots but have a few distinct differences. Moka Pots, similar to teapots, are typically made from either stainless steel or aluminum. However, Moka Pots are constructed with two chambers instead of just one pot to contain or collect liquid.
The bottom chamber, called the water chamber, holds and heats the water. The water is pressurized by the heat and rises upward into the coffee basket, which contains the coffee grounds. The coffee basket has small holes in it that allow the pressurized steam from the water chamber to rise through a filter screen that lets the water pass without any coffee grounds. All of this pressure pushes the brewed coffee into the upper chamber.
This amount of pressure is responsible for the resulting coffee having such a strong flavor. While it isn’t as strong as espresso, it isn’t too far off. The real difference here is that it doesn’t produce that signature espresso crema. So while it doesn’t pass the espresso test, it is much stronger than a regular cup of coffee, producing more than double the flavor.
Tips for getting the most out of your Moka Pot
Since Moka Pots aren’t as common as regular drip coffee pots, many people aren’t fully aware of the nuances of using them. Follow these recommendations for the best-tasting coffee you can get.
Make sure to pick the right size
Unlike regular coffee makers, Moka Pots should be filled to their capacity for each brew. They come in sizes of one-cup increments. The number of cups coincides with the number of shots, or ounces, of coffee the Moka Pot will brew. For example, a two-cup-sized Moka Pot will produce two shots (approximately two ounces) of coffee.
Heat the water ahead of time
Pre-heating the water serves two purposes. The first is to limit the risk of essentially cooking the coffee grounds that could result from the pot being on the burner for too long. The second is to prevent the coffee from becoming bitter.
Don’t use ultra-fine coffee grounds
Espresso requires special coffee grounds that are extremely fine, but Moka Pots work best with coffee that is ground just a bit more than your run-of-the-mill coffee.
Aluminum or stainless steel?
Herein lies the age-old question: what kind of Moka Pot is better? Truly, one isn’t better than the other. They just have distinct differences that appeal to different needs and uses.
Pros: More affordable, quicker to heat up, lightweight, and more size options available.
Cons: Doesn’t retain heat, doesn’t work with induction stoves, and is not as durable.
Pros: Retains heat better, is more durable, and works with induction stoves.
Cons: Less affordable, takes longer to heat up, and heavier weight.
So which option is best for you? It depends on what you find important in your coffee brewer and what you’ll be using it for.
If you travel often, love going camping, or need a way to brew coffee while on the go, then aluminum is the better option. If you’re planning to gift it or are investing in a Moka Pot that you want to last for years to come, then stainless steel is the way to go.
Another thing to keep in mind is the taste of your coffee. If you plan on using the Moka Pot frequently, it can wear down a bit over time. The acidity of the coffee can corrode the aluminum, which can ultimately impact the taste of the coffee. You won’t have this issue with stainless steel, so if you’re a daily Moka Pot user, it’s worth investing in a more durable option.
How to choose which is right for you
There is no universal right or wrong answer here. The original Moka Pot was made of aluminum, so many purists believe this to be the best choice. Others find the durability and heat retention of stainless steel to be most appealing, so they choose to splurge on this instead.
Consider what aspects are most important to you and go with the option that meets those needs. And if you’re a real Moka Pot lover, maybe you’ll end up with both!