Moka Pot vs Espresso Machine: Which Should You Choose?

Moka Pot vs Espresso Machine

Making espresso at home gives you coffee shop quality coffee without having to wait in line at a coffee shop. There are a few different ways to make espresso at home. Two of those options are a moka pot and an espresso machine. Today, we are going to examine the main differences between the two and also the benefits and drawbacks of each. This will give you more information to aid you in making a decision on which to use in your home to make your favorite espresso drinks.

Moka Pot Basics

A moka pot is a stovetop or electric espresso maker. They have two chambers. One chamber is for the water and the other chamber holds the coffee grounds. The stovetop versions are then put over medium heat which makes the water hot enough to pass up through the grounds to produce the espresso. The electric moka pots just have to be turned on. This process usually takes about ten minutes.

moka pot

Image credit: Bill Rice, Flickr

Benefits

The moka pot is a simpler process. It’s easy to use (even for first timers) and does most of the work for you. It can make multiple shots of espresso at once, depending on the volume the moka pot will hold. A 4-cup stovetop espresso maker will make four 2-oz cups of espresso.

Drawbacks

Moka pots can have poor extraction because they don’t use any pressure to force the water through the grounds—just steam from your stovetop. Every time you make it, another variable (from the heat to the amount of coffee) might be different. This can vastly change the way your espresso tastes each time you make it. Another drawback is that it can have a metallic taste if you’re using an aluminum moka pot. Some are stainless steel, which eliminates the potential for a metallic tint to the coffee.

Espresso Machine Basics

Espresso machines are pump-driven and are calibrated to the correct temperature and brewing pressure to give you a quality product. Unlike moka pots, espresso machines need the user to tamp the ground coffee to give it resistance against the water flow to create this pressure.

espresso machine

Benefits

There is one major benefit to using an at-home espresso machine and that is the quality of espresso it produces. It uses a higher amount of pressure that can create a more intense, richer espresso than a moka pot. Most quality espresso machines let the user have control over most of the variables because they’re manually set. Some are already set by default and cannot be changed, but this depends on what model you purchase. These variables include time, temperature, and pressure. The machine controls these variables for you at a consistency that moka pots often cannot reproduce.

Drawbacks

These are typically more expensive than moka pots. They can also differ vastly in operation depending on what model you buy. This means you cannot use all espresso machines the same. Most moka pots, on the other hand, work exactly the same and after using them once or twice you’ll feel comfortable operating them. Espresso machines tend to take more practice to master the craft of making espresso.

Another drawback is that if you want to make multiple cups of espresso, it takes more time because you have to pull the shots individually—which takes on average 30 seconds per shot. Espresso machines can require maintenance for multiple things including replacing dull burrs, cleaning out grounds that have built up in parts of the machine, and calibrating the temperature and pressure on occasion.

Summary

We’ve just thrown a lot of information about espresso machines and moka pots at you. To make it easier for you to see the benefits and drawbacks, here is a pros and cons list. This will give you a clear visual of which qualities each possesses to help you decide which method is best for you.

Moka Pot – Pros & Cons:

Pros
  • Simple Process
  • Multiple servings
Cons
  • Metallic taste
  • Quality can vary

Espresso Machine – Pros & Cons:

Pros
  • Consistent quality
Cons
  • More expensive
  • More maintenance