Have you ever had this eureka moment of finding another way to utilize that premium French press coffee grinder of yours? You’ve probably been curious if you can use those different varieties of Spanish coffee on another machine aside from the usual French Press and hand drips. Maybe you have been saving up for the right kind of equipment and you are wondering if you should choose the Moka pot or invest in the espresso machine?

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What Is a Moka Pot

Invented by Luigi De Ponti for Alfonso Bialetti back in 1993, Moka pot is an electric or stovetop type coffee maker that brews your coffee using steam pressurized steam boiling water to your coffee grounds. Part of its benefits is that it makes a rich, thick and strong coffee and is portable, budget-friendly and very easy to clean.

How Does a Moka Pot Work

Known to be one of the best stovetop espresso makers, Moka pot has three chambers for water, coffee grounds and coffee blend. As it is introduced to heat in a stove, the water in the Moka pot creates steam and increases the pressure (around 1.5 bars) of its bottom chamber, resulting in the steam water being pushed through the coffee ground chambers making the coffee we all love. Compared to the usual espresso makers, the Moka pot has reached its popularity due to its basic design and affordability.

Pros and Cons of Using a Moka Pot

Pros

  • Coffee is rich and strong in comparison to French Press and hand drip coffees.
  • User-friendly.
  • Affordable. At least when compared to other coffee devices that can produce an espresso type of coffee.

Cons

  • Not your product if you prefer a weaker coffee concentration.
  • Needs monitoring during the brewing.
  • Doesn’t keep the brew warm naturally.
  • Maintenance is a must, especially with rubber gasket replacement.
  • Since the pot is small, you may have to remake it a few times for larger groups or families.

How to Use a Moka Pot

How to Use a Moka Pot

Step 1 – Grind your coffee

Grind your coffee and fill the coffee chamber. You can opt to use a medium to fine setting in this one.

Step 2 – Boil the water

To reduce your coffee’s bitterness, let your water boil first and then fill it in the lower chamber of your pot just below its valve. Do not cover. 

Step 3 – Fill the chamber

Fill the coffee chamber with your chosen coffee grounds and don’t forget to place the metal filter properly. Do not over compact and overfill your coffee as you level it gently, for this will result in uneven water distribution in the end.

Step 4 – Put it on the stove

Screw the Moka pot’s upper chamber and place it on the stove set at low to medium heat with its lid open.

Step 5  – Brew

Time the brewing and you will notice a change around 5 to 10 minutes. If nothing happens after that, up your heat since there’s a chance that it’s lacking pressure.

Step 6 – Remove the pot from the heat

As soon as your coffee is seen to rise through the upper chamber together with a gurgling-like noise, take your pot off and run its base under running water.

Serve yourself a freshly brewed cup and enjoy!

 

What Is an Espresso Machine

This is where you can tell the difference concerning your semi-automatic cappuccino maker versus the one that was crafted through the help of an espresso machine, giving it a deeper and richer flavor. So what is an espresso machine? 

Espresso machines use forced pressurized water at a certain temperature, usually around boiling point, through a leveled coffee ground of portafilter and filtered to produce a concentrated coffee we know as espresso. 

How Does an Espresso Machine Work

Espresso machines work by pushing hot and highly pressurized water through a filter of compacted coffee grounds at a concise time (around 10 to 20 seconds). 

What is important in using an espresso machine is how well you have impacted your coffee grounds to control and ensure the even flow of that pressurized hot water homogenizing the espresso product. Another thing to point out is the right pressure and optimal temperature of the water to ensure your coffee is not over or undercooked once the 10 to 20-second mark is achieved.

Pros and Cons of Using an Espresso Machine

Pros

  • Easy to use (as long as you get familiar with it). However, this is a bit arguable since coffee espresso machines require a certain skill. It is fairly easy to use if you only want to make espresso by itself or if you want to extend it and make Americano by adding water to it. You can get your filter, put some coffee grounds in it and level and tamper them. Turn in your pressurized water and time it in 10 to 20 seconds. Voila! It is also worth noting that the grind size of coffee plays a huge part in the espresso’s flavor profile and cooking time.
  • Convenient. You can easily make your espresso in less than a minute. If you want to make something strong and fast, having an espresso machine is a worth-it thing to have.
  • Good for business. Espresso machines are widely used for business purposes. Most of your frappes are based on espresso, too, such as refreshing iced mocha.
  • Long life-span and money saver. As long as properly maintained, espresso machines tend to have a longer life span and can produce more coffees; hence can also be a money saver in the long run.

Cons

  • Not suitable for homes. Although there are espresso machines that are made smaller in comparison to the commercial ones, they often can’t cater to everyone’s taste in the family, not to mention they can be dangerous when handled by someone who doesn’t know how to use them due to their hot and pressurized water.
  • Pricey in comparison to normal coffee makers. An established coffee espresso machine can be really pricey in comparison to its other alternatives. This is also due to its nature, durability and options provided. You will have to invest in a high-quality espresso machine when starting up your own coffee shop from scratch.

How to Use an Espresso Machine

Step 1 – Preheat the machine

Preheat your espresso machine. This usually takes time due to the large water quantity in its storage.

Step 2 – Grind your beans

Use the proper grinding size and grind your beans. Make sure your portafilter is dry and then level and tamp your coffee ground evenly.

Step 3 – Start brewing

Re-attach the portafilter to the group head and instantly start brewing. Monitor your time and make sure your glass doesn’t overflow.

 

Moka Pot vs Espresso Machine Comparision 

Ease of Use

Moka pot and espresso machine are totally different. When it comes to ease of use, it is easier to brew coffee in a Moka pot than in an espresso machine. 

Espresso machines require skills to efficiently extract the right mixture of espresso for your preference. The easiest way to brew your coffee in the espresso machine is by using a fully-automatic machine. You should also know how to properly grind your coffee and the proper tamper/compaction technique to make sure it is nice and even.

Brew Time

Brewing coffee in a Moka pot usually takes between 5 and 10 minutes, while it only needs between 10 and 20 seconds in the espresso machine in case the water is already pre-heated. 

Ease of Cleaning

You can easily clean your Moka pot by using water only. You should use mild detergent and warm water when cleaning your machine. Cleaning the machine also requires daily backwashing, as well as deep cleaning at least once a month.

Capacity

Moka pots are small; therefore, you will need more time to brew coffee for a larger group. The espresso machine can easily make multiple cups of espresso since it can be done within seconds.

Additional Equipment

Moka Pot vs Espresso Machine Comparision - Additional Equipment

You need to take your coffee grinder and you can start brewing your coffee in a Moka pot. If you want to use the espresso machine, scales, timer, portafilter and tamper are required.

Cost

Moka pots are fairly cheap, so that you can buy multiple of them for the price of one espresso machine. Espresso machines are pricey and have a more complicated design.

Taste

Moka pot brew has a deeper and darker taste than your average coffee, but it is still not as strong as espresso. Espressos are usually very concentrated, maybe five to eight times stronger than your average coffee. You can always enhance the taste of your coffee by adding honey. Don’t forget – coffee and honey help improve blood circulation.

Does More Spending Mean More Quality

When it comes to Moka pots, a higher price doesn’t have to mean higher quality. Since Moka pot has a fairly easy process, there is hardly any difference with the cheaper ones compared to the branded Moka pots. 

Espresso machines have a very delicate process and most often than not, expensive espresso machines offer more options with temperature, pressure, etc. There are also espresso machines that ensure consistency with finished products that make it easy for their consumers to use them.

Do’s and Don’ts With Moka Pot

Do’s

  • Do rinse after usage.
  • Do practice slow cooking to ensure that it won’t overcook your coffee.
  • Do make sure that the water is at the right valve level.
  • Do level your coffee grounds properly.
  • Do check if the lid is open at the start of brewing as slowly adjust as you monitor it.
  • Do stir your coffee gently after the whole process to ensure that your coffee is homogenized.

Don’ts

  • Don’t use dishwashing soap for cleaning.
  • Don’t overheat. This will also help with the lifespan of your pot and will guarantee the taste of your coffee.
  • Don’t overfill your chambers with water.
  • Don’t press your coffee grounds. This is to ensure the water will flow properly hence extracting the coffee properly.

Do’s and Don’ts With an Espresso Machine

Do’s

  • Do check your equipment instruction manual. Each espresso machine usually has a unique feature. It is best to make sure you remember them.
  • Do make sure to fill the tank with water before using it. Overheating is easier if the machine was started and there was no water in it.
  • Do use fresh water in your water tank always. This will lessen any possible dirt from entering as well as corrosion with the parts.
  • Do practice cleaning your espresso machine after use by running the whole process with just water.
  • Do avoid leaving your machine unused for a longer amount of time.  Descale it first before using it again.

Don’ts

  • Don’t overfill your ground coffee filler funnel. It was not meant for storage; hence may not work properly.
  • Don’t use other coffee varieties (cocoa, soluble coffee, etc.), coffee with additives and treated coffee. 
  • Don’t remove the drip tray and other containers while the machine is in use.
  • Don’t leave the machine ON if it is not being used. It may cause accidents and it can also ruin your machine! Not to mention, a waste of electricity! Yikes!

FAQ About Moka Pot vs Espresso Machine

FAQ About Moka Pot vs Espresso Machine

Is Moka coffee as strong as espresso?

No. Espresso is much more concentrated than coffee made with Moka pot. It is also way thicker and richer than normal coffee.

Is a Moka pot only for espresso?

No! Moka pots can be used on different kinds of coffee types. Brewing Cuban coffee in a Moka pot is also a thing. Regular brewed coffee is also one of the coffee types it is normally used for. Another interesting way to use Moka pots is through making decaffeinated espresso. Decaf espresso is full of B-2 vitamins, so you get it in decaf espresso! However, if the problem is its strength or “bitter” taste, using the cream can make your coffee even sweeter. Since Moka pot coffee creates less concentrated coffee than espresso machines, you need less adjustment for it.

Can you get crema from a Moka pot?

Yes, you can! This is a matter of proper tamping and using fine grind coffee fit for espresso machines.

 Can you make regular coffee in a Moka pot?

Yes, of course! One of the things that you should know is that the taste of your coffee depends on many factors, such as grind size, type of roasting, amount of water used, time of brewing, etc. As long as you know your Moka pot and coffee well, you will be able to determine how you should cook the regular coffee that is unique and right for you. The type of Moka pot is also important in this and how well you know your Moka pot.

Is a Moka pot better than a budget espresso machine?

It all depends on your preference and knowledge. Those who are just looking for a device that will make almost the same thing but are first-timers with it would be best to pick a Moka pot.

Conclusion

If we are basing it off with coffee strength, I would go ahead and say that Moka pot and espresso machines are both a good option to have. However, for performance, quality of the product, and having an overhead control with flavors, this round would definitely go to the espresso machine.

It is important to remember that espresso machines need skills and more rigorous maintenance, not to mention they’re more expensive than your Moka pot. If this is just something that you would like to experiment with, it would be best to pick Moka pot instead. It is easy to use and will definitely not break your wallet.

Photos from: artjazz / depositphotos.com, BartKowski / depositphotos.com, catalby / depositphotos.com, vverve / depositphotos.com and Melica / depositphotos.com.