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Brewing guide: the best stovetop coffee makers

Take a trip to Italy, and they’ll all tell you that the best coffee is made on the stove with a Moka pot, a stovetop coffee maker that brews coffee by passing pressurised steam through ground coffee.  It’s not only an Italian tradition but also a daily ritual in most households.

A brief history of the Moka Pot

Named after the Yemenite city of Mocha, this coffee maker was invented by Luigi De Ponti, but it wasn’t until 1933 that the invention was patented in Italy by an engineer named Alfonso Bialetti. In fact, to this day Bialetti industries continue to produce the same model under the name “Moka Express”. 

These days, the Moka pot is most commonly used throughout Europe and Latin America and its design has become so iconic that it has been displayed in modern industrial art and design museums around the world.

How do you use a stovetop coffee maker?

Stovetop coffee makers aren’t just pleasing to the eye. They’re easy to use and, when used correctly, can produce an espresso that’s as good as what comes out of that expensive machine your favourite local café has just invested in.

Get your hands on some decent grounds

Of course, your first important task is to invest in some good quality coffee. The bean and type of roast that you choose will be down to your taste, but the more time you spend sourcing freshly roasted ground coffee the more flavour you’ll get out of your brew. If you’re looking to create a traditional espresso, a dark roast tends to be your best option. 

For beginners, the main thing to remember is that a “fine” or an “espresso” ground coffee bean will allow the heated water to only briefly pass through the coffee so that crema can be produced and flavour can escape.

Making a simple espresso

Here’s our step-by-step guide to making the perfect espresso. 

1.    Remove the coffee holder and fill the bottom part of your stovetop coffee maker with fresh, cold water just below the safety valve. 

  1. Replace the coffee holder at the base of the pot and fill it with your ground coffee using a spoon. 
  2. Once the coffee holder is full, level it with a spoon. 
  3. Screw the top of the pot onto the base, making sure it is on tight and that there is no unwanted water from its last use. 
  4. Place the coffee maker on the stove or the hob, whether gas or electric. Gently heat the water to the point where it starts to boil and passes through the coffee and up to the top part of the pot. 

Depending on how you enjoy your coffee, you can adjust the thickness of your espresso by simply altering the ratio of coffee to water. In a smaller pot, the espresso will cool down much quicker.