Both very Italian ways of brewing coffee, both contraptions have their advocates and their detractors. In this piece, we will try to unravel this mystery and find an answer to this question: which one is better?
In case you are unfamiliar with the way a moka pot works, here is a little run down. Also called stovetop espresso makers, they work by passing pressurized by steam hot water through ground beans, making a strong, concentrated, and very similar to espresso cup of coffee; all of this without the fancy espresso machine. Technically, this is not espresso, but the fact that the coffee the moka pots brews is so strong makes people associate it with espresso, whether it deserves it or not.
Here are a few of the most common moka pots found in kitchens world wide.
Alessi A9095/3 B La Cupola Stovetop Espresso Pot for 3 Cup, 5.25ozBialetti 6800 Moka Express 6-Cup Stovetop Espresso MakerBialetti Moka Express 3 Cup Espresso Maker 06799Primula Aluminum 6-Cup Stovetop Espresso Coffee MakerDelonghi EMK6 Alicia Electric Moka Espresso Coffee Maker
However, when it comes to brewing in moka pots, getting it right can be a bit tricky and it will most likely take you a little practice. You will need to fill the bottom part of the device with water and the basket with your choice of ground beans. Once everything is tightly screwed together, bring the pot to a boil using moderate heat from your stove. When the coffee has percolated into the upper part of the pot, turn the heat off. Though handles are often made of bakelite, be careful. They tend to be really hot. This whole process, once you get the hang of it, should not take you more than ten minutes.
On the other side of the argument, we have the real espresso coffee. Pure Italian, this type of coffee is more often than not very strong, caffeinated and really popular with coffee lovers. In order to achieve this specific type at home, you will not be able to get by with a little aluminum trinket. You will need the real deal: a fancy, electric machine that nowadays a lot of name brands produce and sell with a lot of success.
Similarly to the classic moka pot, espresso is brewed by forcing a generally small amount of boiling water to finely ground coffee beans. The achieved cup of Joe will be thicker than regular coffee, will have a higher amount of suspended elements (due to the extra-fine nature of the beans used) and will be topped by something the Italians called crema (which is a fancy way to refer to the foamy substance espresso shots have on top). This coffee is very concentrated, so it is consumed in little cups (shots) instead of the usual mug.
Here are a few of the best selling entry level espresso makers to get you started in your research.
Mr. Coffee ECM160 4-Cup Steam Espresso Machine, BlackKRUPS XP1000 Steam Espresso Machine with Frothing Nozzle for Cappuccino, BlackDeLonghi EC5 Steam-Driven 4-Cup Espresso and Coffee Maker, BlackBELLA 13683 Espresso Maker, BlackCapresso EC100 Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Machine
The problem is, moka pots are not fool proof. If the temperature is a little too high, you can burn or cook your ground beans, which does not lead to a pleasant taste. If the water is a little too cold, you will not achieve a full pot of coffee. It is said that the best way to ensure this does not happen is to heat the water beforehand. As you can see, there are a few variables that can lead to a less than desirable cup of coffee.
So, let’s see. Though espresso machines (even the cheapest) will be pricier than moka pots, they are automatic. This is a good thing if you like to wake up with a cup of coffee and prefer not to create a big hassle. With an espresso machine you will only have to set it up and wait for your shot (or shots) to be ready. Moka pots are a bit trickier. So though they may be capable of brewing amazing coffee, they need your attention and a very attentive eye. If you are not a morning person, the moka pot is definitely not for you. I am well aware that a day can be ruined by drinking a foul cup of coffee first thing in the morning.
In conclusion and as always, it comes down to what your needs are, what you like and what you are willing to spend. If you are willing to train you stove top coffee maker and to learn from the classic trial and error, by all means, go for it. Once you find the perfect formula, you will most definitely not regret it. But, if you rather let a machine do the hard work (we promise we will not hold it against you), an economically priced espresso maker can make the whole difference. You will have delicious coffee with clockwork precision, and it will only cost you a few extra dollars. If this article wasn’t enough to make up your mind, we have a small list of resources you can consult, for further reading and information: http://www.digitaltrends.com/home/stovetop-moka-pot-vs-electric-moka-pot-vs-espresso-maker/, http://coffeesnobs.com.au/general-news/27938-moka-pot-vs-espresso-machine-guest-appearance-andy-freeman.html.