How to Use A Stovetop Espresso Maker – Instructions for Delicious Moka Pot Coffee


Chris Clark

Chris Clark is the co-founder and chief content editor of With a passion for all things java, Chris has been a coffee blogger for the past 3 years and shares his expertise in coffee brewing with the readers. He's a hands-on expert, loves testing coffee equipment, and has written most of the in-depth reviews featured on the site. When he's not whipping up delicious drinks or experimenting with the latest coffee gadgets, Chris is exploring the local cafe. You can reach him at [email protected].

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When it comes to home brewing, we shouldn’t miss the stovetop espresso maker (AKA. The Moka Pot), especially if you are an espresso fan. It’s one of the most common coffee gadgets, which can produce a full-bodied and rich flavored coffee. So you can enjoy your espresso-like coffee without investing in the expensive espresso machine at home. That’s how Moka pot got the nickname ‘Stovetop espresso maker’.

The stovetop espresso maker has a bad reputation since it is very easy to make bitter coffee. Most people used it once or twice, made extremely bitter coffee that tasted nowhere like the espresso, and then put it in the cabinet as a decoration.

Actually, you can also brew delicious coffee using a Moka pot if you know the tricks. It’s time to dig it out. In this guide, we will show you how to make excellent stovetop espresso.

How to Use A Stovetop Coffee Maker

What you need:

  • A Stovetop coffee maker (In this guide, I’ll use the Bialetti Moka Express)
  • Freshly ground coffee
  • Boil water
  • Heat source

Step by Step Instructions for Using A Stovetop Espresso Maker

1.Prepare The Moka pot

Disassemble your stovetop espresso maker into three parts, and a wet towel that you will use in the later steps.

bialetti moka express

2. Grind Coffee Beans

Get enough freshly roasted coffee beans into medium-fine using your coffee grinder. Don’t use the espresso fine grinds, or it might clog the filter and add more bitterness to your coffee. For your reference, #8-10 grind size in Baratza Encore is good to go. Check out the coffee grind chart here >>

Make sure you fully fill the filter basket. Just level the coffee ground but don’t tamp it.

fill coffee ground to filter

3. Add water to the bottom chamber

Fill the boiling hot water into the bottom chamber of your Moka pot. Fill it in right below the safety valve.

fill water to lower chamber

4. Assemble the Stovetop espresso maker

Put the filter basket on the bottom chamber, then grab a towel, screw the base and the top chamber together. Make sure it’s nicely sealed, and no sounds come out from the gap between two units.

Be careful when you hold the bottom chamber with the towel. It will become very hot after filling the hot water if you use the aluminum Moka pot.

assemble the moka pot

5. Put the Moka Pot to the heat

Put the Moka Pot on the gas stove or other heat source. Use moderate or low heat and wait.

moka pot on the stove

6. Let the coffee flow

The water in the bottom will start to evaporate. Steam pressure will push the water through the filter and coffee grounds. Since we use hot water, the coffee begins to flow in about 1 minute. When you see the nice and delicious looking coffee coming out, wait and listen.

coffee flowing in the moka pot

7. Take the espresso maker away from the stove

As soon as you start to hear a gurgling sound or the flow becomes vigorous, you need to move the Moka pot away from the stovetop and cool it down. You can also run it under your cold tap water in the sink. It gets rid of the steam and stops the brewing quicker.

coffee in the stovetop coffee maker

8. Enjoy the coffee

Descant the coffee from the stovetop coffee maker to your cup. Pour gently and leave the coffee at the bottom, which is usually a little bit muddy.

enjoy the stovetop espresso

Now you can drink as it is or dilute it with hot water to make Americano coffee.

That’s how to use a stovetop espresso maker. Many people are still using it for their everyday ‘espresso’. Moka pot is a good coffee maker if you use it right.

Just like the standard espresso, you can froth the milk to make yourself a latte. It’s very easy to make Cuban coffee with sugar. You can make creative coffee drinks as well. Try to pour the strong coffee over the ice or even into the ice cream.

The Moka pot is an underrated coffee maker that can make the perfect coffee, go and play with it.

Tips for Making Perfect Stovetop Espresso

It sounds pretty easy to use a stovetop coffee maker. Still, many people are frustrated with the ‘espresso’ coffee they made. Here are some tips for making delicious coffee using Moka pots.

Grind Size for Stovetop Espresso Makers

First things first, proper grind size is super important for all the brewing techniques. Although we call it the stovetop espresso maker, it doesn’t mean we need to use the espresso fine grinds. This is where most people make their first mistake when making stovetop espresso and produce a lot of bitterness into the cup.

Don’t grind the beans super fine as we use for an espresso machine. For Moka pots, we need to use a courser grind. You can use the grind size between espresso and pour over.

Fully Fill The Filter Basket

You should entirely fill the filter with ground coffee. This is very important. If you don’t fill the filter completely, the water will run through the coffee without proper extraction. It often produces an under-extracted coffee. And Moka pot coffee is one kind of pressurized brewing methods. Without the coffee puck’s resistance, it won’t give you a perfect flavor.

Sames as the water, it’s great to fill it just under the safety valve for the best coffee. So choose a Moka pot in the proper size. If you bought a 6-cup Bialetti Moka pot but only need 1-3 cups, you can’t simply use half the coffee and water.

Don’t Tamp the Coffee Ground

After filling up the filter, level up the coffee ground, make a flat and even surface without tamping. Moka pots are not designed for high-pressure brewing. If the coffee grounds are too intense and tightly packed, the 1-2 bars of pressure is not enough to force the water through the grounds.

Should You Start With Cold or Hot Water?

To reduce the bitterness and brewing time, I suggest using hot water when using a stovetop coffee maker. If you use cold water, while you’re heating your water, you’re heating your coffee too. In this case, the coffee will taste a little bit more bitter. And it takes more time to heat the cold water in the stovetop coffee maker.

How do Moka pots work?

A stovetop espresso maker, or Moka pot, whatever you’d like to call it, is a very simple coffee maker invented in 1933 in Italy. Most of the Italian households have one sitting in their kitchen. Usually, it contains three parts: At the bottom is a chamber that holds the water, in the middle, a filter funnel that contains the ground coffee, and at the top is the coffee container.

moka pot parts

When you place the stovetop coffee maker on the stove, the water is heated and produces steam. The increasing pressure forces the water through the filter funnel and the coffee granules, finally into the top coffee container.

Can Stovetop Espresso Makers Make Espresso?

Moka pots are often called stovetop espresso makers. However, a Moka pot only produces relatively low pressures of 1 to 2 bar, which is far lower than the required 9 bar pressure to make the standards espresso coffee. Therefore, Moka pot coffee is different from espresso, and they have different flavor characteristics.

However, Moka pot coffee is similar to the espresso at some points. Compared with other brewing methods like pour over or French press, stovetop espresso makers make strong and full-bodied coffee like the coffee made by an espresso machine. You get thin crema on the top as well. So it’s a good alternative for a strong cup of coffee for home brewing without the expensive espresso machine and a high-end coffee grinder.

Common problems when using a stovetop espresso maker

Following the step by step instructions and tips above, most of the time you can get great coffee from a stovetop espresso maker. However, if you encounter the following problems, you can make some adjustments until you get what you prefer.

The coffee tastes too weak

Make sure you’ve fully filled the filter basket. Try to tap the filter to distribute the coffee grounds more evenly. Or try the finer grounds next time.

The coffee tastes too bitter

It is very common for Moka pot coffee. Try to use a slightly coarser grind setting, or remove the Moka pot away from the stove earlier. Never let the coffee maker sit on the stove until the coffee stop coming out. The coffee will be over-extracted. After removing the Moka pot from the stove, you can also use a cold wet towel to cover the lower pot to reduce the heat. Or even rinse it with cold water to stop the brewing process instantly.

What if steam leaks from the gap or the valve?

Safety first, remove the Moka pot from the heat source instantly. There is too much pressure within the stovetop coffee maker.

First, check if the coffee grounds are too fine and cause a clog. Make sure you didn’t tamp the coffee grounds. If there’s no problem with the fitness, check if the rubber seal is appropriately placed. And make sure that you didn’t place the filter-plate upside down. And never fill the bottom over the safety valve.

How to Clean Moka Pots?

To make perfect stovetop espresso every time, make sure your Moka pot is clean and well maintained. Those stale, rancid accumulated residue will add a little bit of bitterness to the cup. You also need to pay attention to the rubber seal, clean and dry it thoroughly.

Most of the Moka pots are available in aluminum or stainless steel. It’s effortless to clean them with warm water and a soft cloth. But don’t use dish soap for aluminum Moka pots. It will damage the coating. Also, most of the Moka pots are not dishwasher safe.

When you store the stovetop espresso maker, don’t screw the top and bottom too tight. Or it will age the rubber.

Photo of author

Chris Clark

Chris Clark is the co-founder and chief content editor of With a passion for all things java, Chris has been a coffee blogger for the past 3 years and shares his expertise in coffee brewing with the readers. He's a hands-on expert, loves testing coffee equipment, and has written most of the in-depth reviews featured on the site. When he's not whipping up delicious drinks or experimenting with the latest coffee gadgets, Chris is exploring the local cafe.