To sip coffee made from a moka pot is to be transported to Italy—at least briefly. Each taste is luscious, bold, and lively, making it possible to envision yourself sitting at a little café in Rome.
The moka pot was invented in the 1930s and is used to make espresso-like coffee on the stovetop. The pot, which consists of a base that holds water, and a top that holds coffee grounds, is placed on the burner, and as the water boils and steams, the grounds and water combine to create a bold, rich cup of coffee. For those who wish to forgo a trip to the coffee shop or can’t afford the real estate for a proper espresso machine at home, moka pots are a simple and relatively affordable alternative. However, you'll find many more choices on the market today than the traditional aluminum stovetop model.
Bialetti Moka Express Espresso Maker, 3-Cup
Coffee has versatile flavor and body
Easy to use, regardless of experience
Compact and portable
Cheaper than electric coffee makers
More expensive than other moka pots
Uses a lot of grounds
Handle gets hot
Bialetti is the maker of the original moka pot and the one you'll still find in most Italian homes. While it's pricier than some of the other options on the market, it's easy to use, and it makes exquisite coffee. Its timeless classic design is one you'll want to leave out on your stovetop (though you will need to give it a quick rinse after every use). Depending on how much espresso your household intends to drink, this model is available in just about any size you might need, from 1 to 18 espresso cups, which equal about 30 milliliters or 1 ounce each.
Our tester appreciated the amount of control he had over his coffee: He could use a finer grind, higher heat, and less water for an extra-bold result or a medium grind with more water for something closer to drip coffee. When using high heat on a coil burner and medium-ground coffee, it only took three minutes to brew. On medium heat with a fine grind, it took almost 10 minutes. He found the Moka Express surprisingly versatile considering that it’s a non-electric brewing device.
Price at time of publish: $45
Capacity: 1 to 18 espresso cups | Material: Aluminum | Induction Compatible: No
"I often use the concentrated coffee from my Moka Express for lattes and cappuccinos, which is why I [even] recommend the item as a budget alternative to a real home espresso maker." — Derek Rose, Product Tester
IMUSA Aluminum Espresso Stovetop Coffeemaker
Easy to use
Aesthetic is noticeably cheaper
It's hard not to love a bargain. The IMUSA USA moka pot is made out of aluminum and makes up to three espresso-sized cups. Unfortunately, as this moka pot is made of aluminum, it's not compatible with induction cooktops. For those with electric or gas stovetops who want to try out a moka pot system, this is an excellent start. At this price, you could easily buy an extra one and leave it at your parents' house if they're still all about the coffee pods.
Price at time of publish: $9
Capacity: 3 espresso cups | Material: Aluminum | Induction Compatible: No
DeLonghi Alicia Moka Pot
Great for traveling
Easy to use
Produces great coffee flavor
Top compartment is plastic
Some reviewers report leaking from base
This compact electric espresso moka pot is a favorite of travelers, office workers, and even those at home who have a terrible habit of not remembering to turn things off. Made by DeLonghi, this moka pot comes with an easy-to-read on/off indicator and automatically shuts off if you forget. Its clear top makes it fun to watch the coffee percolate. Some reviewers, however, reported issues with the base leaking, and others wish it weren't made of plastic.
Price at time of publish: $80
Capacity: 6 espresso cups | Material: Aluminum, plastic
Best for Induction
Bialetti Venus 6-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker
Produces great coffee flavor
Some report that the silicone gasket won't properly seal
2-cup version isn't induction-friendly
As the climate crisis intensifies, many people are switching to induction cooktops to lower their carbon footprint. Unfortunately, many moka pot manufacturers haven't kept up with the trend, making it hard to find moka pots that work on induction. Enter Bialetti, which makes a stainless steel, induction-friendly moka pot in 4-, 6- or 10-cup capacities. (There is also a 2-cup version, but it’s not induction-friendly.) While you may miss the classic design, this moka pot is easy to clean and produces fantastic coffee flavor. Be aware that some reviewers report issues with durability.
Price at time of publish: $55
Capacity: 4, 6, or 10 espresso cups | Material: Stainless steel | Induction Compatible: Yes
Best Easy Cleanup
Bialetti Kitty Espresso Coffee Maker
Easy to use
Not as durable as some other options
Raise your hand if you hate having to clean! Bialetti has a wide range of models to fit just about anyone's needs, including the Kitty Espresso Coffee Maker, which is dishwasher safe. While this version isn't compatible with induction stovetops, it works on electric, gas, and ceramic and is available in several different sizes, including 4, 6, and 10 cups.
Price at time of publish: $30
Capacity: 4, 6, or 10 cups | Material: Stainless steel | Induction Compatible: No
Leopold Vienna Moka Pot
Gorgeous color choices
Compact, classic design
Easy to use
Not suitable for gas ranges
If you're short on storage space, Leopold Vienna's adorable squat moka pot, available in three hues, is the moka pot for you. It's easy to use and clean, and you'll want to display it on your stovetop. Its stainless steel base also works on induction and electric cooktops. Note that it's not recommended for gas stovetops.
Price at time of publish: $46
Capacity: 6 cups | Material: Stainless steel and aluminum | Induction Compatible: Yes, but not suitable for gas
Cuisinox Roma 10-Cup Stainless Steel Stovetop Moka Espresso Maker
Great coffee flavor
Works on induction cooktops
Hard to clean
May rust without proper cleaning
One frequent complaint of those with moka pots is that it's not easy to make a lot of coffee at once. Cuisinox's stainless steel moka pot solves this problem with a 10-cup version (though you can get it in 4 or 6 cups, too). It is one of the more expensive options on the market, and several reviews reported trouble cleaning it, which led to the base rusting, but if you often find yourself needing more espresso and don't mind spending a little extra time to give it a thorough cleaning after each use, this moka pot is a nice option.
Price at time of publish: $140
Capacity: 4, 6, and 10 cups | Material: Stainless steel | Induction Compatible: Yes
If you're looking for a new moka pot, the Bialetti Moka Express is our top choice, because it's easy to use and produces great-tasting coffee. For something cheaper, we recommend the IMUSA Aluminum Espresso Stovetop Coffeemaker as an excellent introductory.
What to Look for in a Moka Pot
Moka pots are generally designed to make less coffee than other brewing devices like drip coffee makers, French presses, and some pour overs. This is partially because moka pots brew more concentrated, espresso-like coffee. If a small serving size doesn't bother you, any moka pot is on the table. If you prefer getting multiple servings out of each brew, look for a larger-capacity moka pot.
Electric or Stovetop
Moka pots began as non-electric coffee makers that were meant to be placed on top of a heating source. While stovetop models remain the most common option today, there are also electric moka pots that make brewing quicker and easier—albeit usually for a higher price. Figuring out which style you prefer could make the buying process easier.
If you choose to go with a non-electric moka pot, you'll want to double check that it's compatible with your stovetop or the heating source you plan to use. While most moka pots today are designed for a variety of cooktops, some brands recommend avoiding certain types, usually gas ones.
As far as coffee makers go, moka pot make solid travel companions. They tend to be small and sturdy. Camping trips are perhaps the most common reason to travel with a moka pot because the majority of models don't require electricity. You can place it over a fire or on a propane burner and enjoy strong, tasty coffee without electricity.
Ease of Cleaning
Moka pots are fairly routine to clean. At the worst, you'll have to scrub fine coffee grounds out of some nooks and crannies. Otherwise, a standard combo of water and dish soap will do. If you particularly dislike the cleaning process, however, you might want to consider a dishwasher-safe moka pot.
How do you use a moka pot?
A moka pot has two chambers and a middle basket. The bottom chamber is for water, the middle basket is for coffee grounds, and the top section is where your coffee ends.
To use a moka pot, take apart the two chambers and basket, and then fill the bottom chamber with your desired amount of cold water and the middle basket with coffee grounds. Attach the three chambers, and then put the moka pot on your stovetop on low heat.
"You know that the coffee is brewed when the moka pot starts steaming and whistling vigorously," says Oli Baise, a barista and the founder of the coffee blog Drinky Coffee. "It will be shaking slightly due to all the steam being produced."
How do you clean a moka pot?
To clean the moka pot, take apart the three chambers. The top chamber is cleaned by pouring away any coffee residue and then washing it with a sponge and water. The middle basket is dishwasher-safe, but you should remove the grounds first. The bottom part of the chamber needs to be rinsed, as it only holds water. Occasionally, you may wish to descale your moka pot.
"It's very easy to do so," says Heather Calatrello, head roaster and owner of Shedlight Coffee in San Diego. "Simply add water to the chamber until it hits the bottom of the filter basket. Then, add one tablespoon of lemon juice and one tablespoon of vinegar to the water. Let it sit for about three to four hours to let the acids work their magic. Afterward, pour a bit of the water out, and run a brew cycle with the acidic water. Once complete, discard the acidic water, and allow the moka pot to cool. Then, follow with another thorough rinse, and dry. Voila."
What type of coffee can you put in a moka pot?
You should use medium-fine-ground coffee in a moka pot.
"Using too finely ground coffee can make it hard for the water to pull through the coffee and go into the top chamber," says Baise. "Too coarsely ground coffee can make a very sour final drink."
The amount of coffee you need depends on the size of your moka pot. They work best when you fill the middle basket to the brim.
"As a general rule of thumb, you want six grams of coffee per person," says Baise. "A standard-size moka pot holds up to 18 grams of coffee and is designed for three people."
Can you put milk in a moka pot?
No. Putting milk in the moka pot will scorch it.
"If you want milk with moka pot coffee, just add it at the end," says Baise.
How do you season a moka pot?
Simply put, you don't. You should clean your moka pot after each use to avoid the buildup of oils from the coffee beans.
"This residue can go rancid and ruin any chance of brewing delicious coffee with your moka pot," says Calatrello. "It can also cause a blockage in the moka pot, which can be dangerous. Your best bet is to thoroughly rinse your moka pot after each use, and wipe it clean every time."
Can you use a moka pot on all cooktops?
Typically, moka pots are made out of aluminum, and because aluminum is not magnetic, it won't work on induction cooktops. However, you will find some moka pots made out of materials that will work with them.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Bridget Shirvell has been writing about food and wine, parenting, and climate solutions for more than a decade. Her work has appeared on Foodprint, Martha Stewart Living, Food52, and more. Obsessively organized, Bridget always looks for items that will reduce her household carbon footprint while making baking with her toddler easier.
This piece was updated by Derek Rose, the coffee and tea expert for The Spruce Eats. Derek received an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University and a BA in Communications from Marist College. He joined The Spruce Eats in 2019. Derek also reviewed the Bialetti Moka Express, which is included on the list above.
Heather Calatrello, the head roaster and owner of Shedlight Coffee in San Diego, was interviewed for this piece. Shedlight sells organic, fair trade coffee beans, and the roasting is all done via solar power.
Oli Baise is a barista and the founder of the coffee blog Drinky Coffee, which publishes product reviews and a wide range of coffee-related information.