How to Use a Stovetop Espresso Maker, or Moka Pot

You may have started spotting a funky little stovetop espresso maker more and more frequently in the U.S. in recent years. Also called moka pots, these espresso makers are small, sit on a stovetop, and make about 2 cups of espresso in a matter of minutes. They have been widely used in Europe (namely Italy and Spain) and parts of Latin America for decades but are just now making waves in the United States.
Europeans have always enjoyed stronger coffee than most North Americans are used to. Go into any coffee shop or restaurant overseas and you will quickly realize that drip coffee is non-existent. Order a black coffee, and a shot of espresso is what you will receive. The espresso has been making a slow climb in coffee shops in the United States though, but now, it has finally reached the home kitchen.
Today, these 3-piece stovetop espresso makers are finally showing up on store shelves. With many still unfamiliar with what they are and how to use them though, there is still need for a little explanation.
Stovetop Espresso Maker

How to Use a Stovetop Espresso Maker (Moka Pot)


  1. Take a fully cooled stovetop espresso maker and unscrew the top half from the bottom and set the two pieces apart.
  2. Inside of the lower half is a small funnel like piece with small holes in the bottom that sits right inside the opening. This where your coffee will go, but remove this piece for now and set it aside.
  3. Fill the bottom half of the espresso maker with water until the water line is sitting just below where the bottom of the funnel piece sat, or just below the pressure valve if your espresso maker has one.
  4. Place the small funnel like piece back into the lower part. If water is bubbling up through the holes in the funnel piece, your espresso maker is too full. Remove some water- the water level should not be above the basin of the funnel piece.
  5. Now, spoon some ground espresso into the cup of the funnel like contraption as it is sitting in the lower half. Do not pack it. Loosely fill it all the way up, even a little heaping if you would like.
  6. Screw the upper half back onto the bottom with the water, funnel, and grounds sitting inside. Be careful not to jostle the bottom too much as you do this so you don’t spill any water or coffee grounds.
  7. Place the espresso maker on your stovetop over high heat.
  8. Soon your pot will start to hiss and bubble, which it will do for a minute or so until the top chamber is full of espresso. You will learn the sound of your stovetop espresso maker after a while, but usually once the bubbling and hissing gets very loud is when the espresso is ready. If you are not sure, just flip the lid open and check if the top chamber is full of espresso yet.
  9. When the top chamber is full, remove from heat, and your espresso is ready to go! Carefully pour it into your cup and enjoy.

How to Clean Your Stovetop Espresso Maker


  1. When your espresso maker is cool, unscrew the top portion from the bottom.
  2. Remove the funnel like piece that sits in the bottom half and shake out all coffee grounds into the trash.
  3. Rinse the funnel piece upside down in the sink to remove all residual grounds, soap is not necessary.
  4. Once it is clean, set the funnel piece aside to dry.
  5. Thoroughly rise the top and bottom halves of the stovetop espresso maker to remove all residual espresso or grounds. If you’d like, use a bottle brush to scrub them out as well.
  6. Set the top and bottom halves upside down to dry.
  7. Before storing, dry all pieces thoroughly to prevent rust.

Once you get the hang of stovetop espresso makers, or Moka Pots, they are not that difficult to use at all. Stovetop espresso makers deliver strong, tasty espresso with very few steps and no expensive equipment. Enjoy fresh espresso at home with this nifty European invention.


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