How to craft the perfect home espresso using a Stove Top (or Moka Pot)

So you’ve found yourself with a rather snazzy looking Stove Top coffee pot. You might be calling it a percolator, a Bialetti, a stovetop espresso maker, or a Moka pot. It’s a cool, and fairly inexpensive piece of kit, allowing you to create a strong espresso coffee with very little fuss and a much lower cost and effort than standard motorised espresso makers. Providing you are willing to be vigilant and have attention to detail, to avoid over extraction, you’ll find yourself with a new brewing method to add to your repertoire with very little initial outlay.  However you have previously got your brewed espresso, it is well worth looking into this method too.

So what exactly is a Stove Top espresso maker, and how does it work?

A stove top coffee maker is very similar to the process for brewing espresso, utilising steam pressure built up through boiling a lower chamber of water underneath coffee grounds, to push said water through your coffee grounds. Bialetti is the classic producer of Stove Tops, having invented this glorious contraption in Italy in 1933; but Stove Top coffee makers can now be found in various sizes, brands, colours, you name it. We highly recommend this as a great beginner’s method to brewing due to the limited amount of kit, expertise, experience and time required. We reckon that once you’ve got the bug, you’ll be heading over to our alternative methods pretty quickly!

So with the background of Stove Top espresso out the way, let’s take a look at some step by step instructions for one of our most straightforward brewing methods, which still delivers great taste and versatility.

You will need:

Before we head on with our step by step guide, it’s worth noting that we don’t use specific measurements below. This is as the amount of water and coffee you need depends entirely on the size of your Stove Top pot and the two part chamber at the bottom of the pot. Stove Tops can come in a huge variety of sizes, from single servings, to those that can create enough espresso to fill eight mugs (or one mug, if you are very, very tired!). We’ll ask you to measure out your quantities at the relevant stage of instructions, but we’ve given some advice below so you know how much you’ll need in advance.

  • Ground coffee (we recommend buying whole beans and grinding yourself to a medium grind)- you can gage an idea of how much you’ll need based on the size of your Stove Top’s top chamber.
  • Stove top coffee maker
  • A stove!
  • Kettle
  • Water for boiling – you can gage roughly how much water you’ll need based on the size of the lower chamber of your Stove Top
  • A tea towel to protect your hands

How to:

  1. Unscrew your Stove Top. You will be left with a kettle-like top, with a spout, and a two part chamber. The top chamber, which is removable from the lower, will be for your coffee, and the bottom for your water. Remove the top chamber.
  2. Measure out the amount of water you need via filling up your lower chamber, and pour this back out into your kettle. Set your kettle to boil, and when complete, let the water sit for a minute or so, to ensure that when you add it to your Stove Top, it’s off boil.
  3. Now your water is hot water, as opposed to boiling water, fill the bottom chamber of your stove top up to the valve. Even though we are going to heat the water again over the stove, pre-heating it means the brewing process has time to begin, developing flavours from the get go and allowing the coffee to bloom a little, removing some of the carbon dioxide built up during the bean roasting process.
  4. Fill your top chamber with ground coffee, levelling off the top but not compressing the coffee down. Holding it with a tea towel, drop it back into the lower chamber, over the water.
  5. Use your tea towel to protect your hands, and screw the top of the Stove Top back on.
  6. Now is the time for vigilance! Place your complete Stove Top onto your hob and put it on a high heat. As the steam pressure builds in between the chambers below, espresso will be pushed out of the top inner spout. The top of the Stove Top will fill with espresso. It’s a case of not too much checking, not too little, at this point. Leave for too long, and you’ll find that the top of the Stove Top overfills and burns your coffee. Check it too frequently, and you’ll release the steam that has built up. Our best advice? Try and leave the Stove Top as long as you can, and when you begin to hear it bubble it’s ready.
  7. Leave the Stove Top to sit for a while to cool. You now have your espresso to use as you like – add it to your favourite mug with hot water for a smooth Americano, or add in steamed and foamed milk for your favourite latte. If you’re looking to add this espresso to another recipe, take a look at our tip below.

And there you have it! A straightforward method to get to your favourite espresso, without the need for a larger scale machine. If you enjoyed the process, but are craving a bit more challenge without shelling out for a machine, head over to our alternative espresso article, which will teach you how you can make espresso via using a French press. Enjoying this method of creating espresso, but want to combine it with something else to make a longer drink? Take a look at our ‘how to make a cappuccino’ article, subbing out the espresso machine element.

We have plenty of other guides for you to check out, as well. Want to learn how to use an AeroPress? Or perhaps you’d rather check out our guide on using a Chemex for the perfect drip coffee method! Check them out and let us know how you get on!

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