How to Use Stovetop Espresso Maker – (Step-by-Step Guide)

You can make a delicious espresso at home using a stovetop espresso pot. The pot consists of three parts: a bottom chamber, a funnel with a filter basket, and a top chamber.

It can be used on either gas or electric stove burners. As water comes to a boil in the bottom chamber, steam pressure pushes the water upward through coffee grounds in the funnel basket, and brewed espresso arrives in the upper chamber.

When compared with expensive automatic and semi-automatic home espresso machines, you will find that stovetop brewing is budget-friendly and produces delectable results.

You can easily learn the steps for using a stovetop espresso pot. Additionally, a stovetop espresso cooker is lightweight, easy to clean, and convenient to store when it’s not in use.

It’s easy to use a stovetop espresso pot. The process is so simple that it’s genius!

A few simple steps are required to get you started with stovetop brewing. You will develop your own style and make your own signature tweaks to the process as you go along.

RELATED READ: How to Use Delonghi Espresso Machine 

1. Warm your espresso cups. Pour hot water into the espresso cups to prepare them for serving.

  • Because espresso is served when it’s piping hot, you don’t want to diminish the final product by pouring it into cold cups.

2. Grind your coffee beans. It is always best if you grind your beans just before you brew your espresso. How fine should you grind the beans?

  • Some sources say to use finely ground beans that are the consistency of table salt. Other sources recommend using a slightly coarser grind.
  • The grind should be finer than what you would use in a drip coffee maker but coarser than you would put into an espresso machine.
  • You can experiment with your stovetop espresso cooker to find the just-right grind that suits your preference.

3. Disassemble and fill the espresso pot

  • Unscrew the top chamber from the bottom chamber.
  • Don’t grasp the handle when unscrewing; it could break. Instead, grasp the main body of the top chamber to unscrew it from the bottom chamber.
  • Remove the funnel (with filter basket).
  • Fill the bottom chamber with cold, filtered water. Fill to just below the steam safety valve.
  • Don’t underfill the bottom chamber because too little water causes problems in the brewing process.

4. Fill the basket of the funnel with ground coffee

  • Don’t overfill, and don’t pack the coffee down into the basket tightly. The coffee grounds should be loose for the water to pass upward through them in the brewing process.
  • Brush any stray coffee grounds off the rim of the funnel basket. This will ensure a tight seal when you screw the top chamber onto the bottom chamber.

5. Reassemble the espresso pot. Place the funnel back into the center of the bottom chamber.

  • Screw the top chamber of the espresso pot onto the bottom chamber.
  • Make sure it’s tight, but don’t overtighten. You should not use a lot of force.

6. Cook the coffee. Place the pot on a stovetop burner and turn the heat to a medium setting.

  • Use a burner that is approximately the same size as the espresso pot so that the handle will not overheat.
  • Cook approximately 3-5 minutes.
  • Let the water come just to the boiling point so that it produces the steam pressure needed for the water to be pushed up through the funnel.
  • Do not overcook your coffee.
  • If you let the water to come to a fast, rolling boil and cook for too long, you’ll end up with a burnt-tasting espresso.

7. Listen to your espresso cooker. How can you tell when the coffee has finished brewing?

  • While the coffee is traveling up into the top chamber, you’ll hear it bubbling. When you hear the bubbling stop, the coffee is ready.
  • Another way to tell when your espresso is ready is to listen for a gurgling sound.
  • When you hear that gurgling sound, you’ll know that the water has finished traveling up through the funnel and has filled the upper chamber with the delectable brew.
  • Of course, you can always carefully lift the top to take a peek. Be careful, as the espresso pot will be very hot.

8. Take your espresso pot off the burner

  • Do this as soon as the coffee has come up into the top chamber.
  • Be careful not to overcook, or you’ll end up with a burnt-tasting coffee.

9. Let it stand for a few minutes

  • Set your pot down off the stove burner for a brief rest.
  • Stir the coffee in the top chamber of the espresso pot before pouring it. This will help to smooth out the flavor.
  • Don’t let the coffee cool down too much. You want to serve it hot.
  • Pour your espresso into the pre-heated espresso cups.

RELATED READ: How to Use Breville Espresso Machine

Best Way to Make Stovetop Espresso

The best way to brew stovetop espresso is in either a stainless-steel or aluminum stovetop espresso pot, sometimes called a Moka pot. You can use the stovetop espresso cooker on either a gas burner or an electric burner. Even a hotplate or camp stove will suffice for stovetop brewing.

1. This is a Moka coffee. Although it is strong and rich like espresso, Moka coffee does not have the crema texture like espresso that comes from a machine.

2. Use a Moka pot or espresso cooker.

  • Stovetop espresso pot, stovetop espresso cooker, or Moka pot; these are all different names for the same piece of equipment.

3. Use the right-size espresso pot. Consider the number of people you will be serving. Stovetop espresso pots come in varying sizes, such as 3-cup, 4-cup, 6-cup, or 9-cup sizes.

  • The cups are demitasse, espresso shot size.
  • A 3-cup size espresso pot is approximately 6.5 inches tall x 4 inches wide, with a handle that protrudes about 2 inches.
  • A 5-6-cup size espresso pot is approximately 8 inches tall x 4.3 inches wide, with a handle that protrudes about 2 inches.
  • A 9-cup size espresso pot is approximately 8.6 inches tall x 6.7 inches wide, with a handle that protrudes about 2 inches.
  • Use a smaller size pot for one or two people and use a larger size pot when you have guests for dinner.

4. Use the right amount of water and ground coffee. Always use the prescribed amount of water and coffee for the size of your pot.

  • For example, do not try to make only 3 cups of espresso in a 6-cup size pot.
  • Underfilling your pot with too little water or too little ground coffee will ruin the brewing process because the proportions will not be right.

5. Select whole coffee beans to suit your taste. There is no singular type of coffee bean that is prescribed for stovetop espresso cookers.

  • Always use fresh beans and grind them right before you brew the coffee.
  • Because stovetop espresso pots were invented by Bialetti in Italy (1933), you may want to use a traditional Italian roast.
  • Many users like a dark roast that is typically used for espresso.
  • A low acidity coffee bean might be best suited for stovetop brewing.

6. Monitor the brewing process. Unlike an automatic coffee-maker, the stovetop espresso cooker requires you to listen and watch while the coffee is brewing.

  • If the heat is too low, the water will not boil vigorously enough to produce steam pressure that will push the water up through the funnel basket and into the top chamber. In this case, you’ll not hear the bubbling sound of coffee flowing into the top chamber as it should. Turn the heat up.
  • If the heat is too high, the steam pressure will send the water exploding upward. In this case, turn the heat down.
  • As soon as the top chamber is filled with coffee, take the pot off the heat. Overcooking will produce a burnt taste.

7. Be aware of safety precautions. Unlike an automatic espresso machine where you simply insert a pod, you will need to be careful while you are using a stovetop espresso pot.

  • Use a stove burner that is the same size as the pot to avoid overheating the handle.
  • Always let the pot cool down completely before you clean it.
  • If you want to make several pots-full in a row, be sure to rinse your espresso cooker with cold water to cool it before you handle it for refilling.

RELATED READ: How to Use an Espresso Machine

How to Clean a Stovetop Espresso Maker

The clean-up process varies slightly for aluminum or stainless-steel espresso pots, but there’s nothing complicated about either one. With its simple-genius design, the stovetop espresso pot is quick and easy to clean.

1. Clean your stovetop espresso maker before its first use. When it is new, disassemble your espresso pot and wash all the parts with mild soap and water.

  • Use a soft dishcloth or sponge, not an abrasive scrubbing pad.
  • After washing, begin regular use but discard the first 2-3 brews from your new pot.
  • After that, your espresso pot is seasoned and ready for continued use.

2. Cool-down is important. After every use, be sure that your espresso cooker is completely cooled before handling it for cleaning.

3. Disassemble the espresso pot for cleaning. When it is completely cool, unscrew the top chamber from the bottom chamber.

  • Remove the funnel and dispose of the coffee grounds.
  • Then, clean all parts of your espresso cooker.
  • Use the appropriate cleaning method, depending on if your pot is made of aluminum or stainless steel.

4. Cleaning an aluminum espresso maker. If your espresso pot is made of aluminum, you should not wash it with detergent.

  • Simply rinse all parts of your aluminum espresso pot with water after each use.
  • Gradually, oils from the coffee will build up to seal the aluminum walls of the pot, and this will guarantee a rich flavor for your espresso.

5. Cleaning a stainless-steel espresso maker. If your espresso pot is made of stainless steel, you should wash all parts with mild dish detergent after each use.

  • Occasionally, clean the outside of your stainless-steel espresso pot with a light chrome polish. This will keep the outside looking shiny and new.

6. No abrasive scrubbers!

  • Do not use steel wool or abrasive scrubbing pads on either aluminum or stainless-steel espresso cookers.

7. Drying all parts is important. Thoroughly dry all parts before reassembling your stovetop espresso maker.

  • This is a crucial step to prevent oxidation (rust).
  • It’s a good idea to leave the espresso pot disassembled when you store it away in your cupboard. That way, air can circulate to prevent rust.

8. Not dishwasher safe! You should never put your stovetop espresso cooker in the dishwasher.

  • This is important for both aluminum and stainless-steel models.

9. How to clean deposits left inside the espresso maker

  • Occasionally, users find a white deposit in the base of their espresso cookers. This is caused by putting the pot away before all parts are completely dry.
  • If you find this white deposit, scrub with a mixture of white vinegar and water using a non-abrasive dishwashing brush.
  • Rinse thoroughly and dry completely before storing your espresso pot.

10. Occasional cleaning for aluminum espresso pots, when needed

  • If you have an aluminum espresso pot that has not been used for a long time or that has too much build-up of coffee oils inside, then you might need to scrub it with mild detergent and super-fine steel wool.
  • Steel wool texture is numbered; use the super-fine designation (0000).
  • After scrubbing your pot, brew a couple of throwaway pots-full to build up coffee oils inside again. Now you’re back in business!
  • Returning to regular use, simply rinse your aluminum espresso pot with water after each use and do not use detergent.

11. How to remove gray spots or pits

  • Storing your aluminum espresso pot without thoroughly drying it will cause gray spots and pits on the inner walls.
  • If this happens, just give it a quick scrub with mild detergent and super-fine steel wool (0000).
  • Then, make a couple of throwaway brews to re-season your pot with coffee oils.

Final Verdict

For only a fraction of the cost of an espresso machine, you can enjoy delicious Moka coffee from a stovetop espresso cooker. Many users find the taste to be even richer than the espresso that comes from a machine.

Clean-up and maintenance are simple, and a stovetop espresso pot is easy to store in a cupboard. Additionally, a stovetop espresso maker is portable for traveling or camping.

I think you’ll find great satisfaction with stovetop brewing. Best wishes for finding a stovetop espresso pot that you will absolutely fall in love with!

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