Stovetop Espresso vs. Pump Brewed Espresso: Characteristics & Differences

This would not be the first time were comparisons between espresso coffee and moka pot brewed coffee are drawn.  Part of the appeal and popularity of the moka pot itself was due to how similar the coffee it is capable of brewing is to the classic bar-bought espresso.

The pump-driven espresso machine is, nowadays, the most popular espresso maker, used mainly for commercial purposes in coffeehouses worldwide. This is a mostly automated mechanism, since it’s the pump the one that provides the force necessary for the brewing process to take place.

Moka pots are also called stove-top espresso makers (hence the title of this article). Truth is they brew coffee that is similarly extracted to espresso. Sometimes, the extraction ratio can be even higher than that of a conventional espresso machine. This pot uses a system of pressurized steam, drawing even more similarities to the classic way of brewing espresso, since the first machines were steam-driven. The resultant brew from a Moka pot is usually a strong one, since this device enables increased caffeine extraction and therefore flavors from the ground itself than filter coffee, making this a more robust and fuller cup than the one obtained by say, a drip brewing method.

Nonetheless, moka pot coffee is still not espresso and the reason why lies in the height of the pressure with which both of these devices work. Moka pots extract flavor and brew coffee at 1 or 2 bar (the metric way of measuring pressure), while standards set for espresso specify that at least a pressure of 9 bar is needed.

Moka pots are generally accepted as espresso makers when the term is applied in a broad manner. Since it is brewed by steam and the resulting coffee bears more similarities to classic espresso than to filter coffee, it is, in my opinion, a fair way to describe it. Moka pot coffee also has crema (the foamy layer that condenses on top of the coffee), the trademark of espresso, making the similarities between the two even more.

However, it is easier than ever to acquire an espresso maker nowadays. Complete with the coffee pods that they use, espresso makers especially designed for home use have threatened to make the moka pots completely unnecessary. This comes as a personal choice and a question of convenience, since we have explained in the past the complications that moka pot or stove-top brewed coffee entail, and with coffee pods and electric espresso makers these difficulties are erased.

In conclusion, if you are looking into purchasing a system for your house that can brew top-notch espresso, the best choice is without a doubt, a pump-driven espresso maker that can be bought in any appliance store.