Coffee can be made from many different ways and methods. All of the methods have different characteristics and processes. It is not possible to list and identify the advantages and disadvantages of the methods directly, because it depends on how, where, when you want to use it. The methods can not be classified as good or bad, but we can classify them according to possible usage scenarios. We can also compare them from several perspectives. In these comparisons, one method of brewing may be best for a person, while another method for another. Moka Pot vs. Espresso Machine discussion should go on this base. In this article, we will find answers to these questions: What is a Moka pot/stovetop espresso? What is an espresso machine? What are the similarities and differences between them? Which one does more satisfy your expectations? And after that, we will compare them in 12 criteria.
Firstly: The Main Similarity and Difference
Both Moka pot and espresso machine use the same technic to brew coffee: Pressure. Thanks to pressure, water passes through the grounded coffee layer. This technic creates stronger and more intense taste than filter or drip coffee because this pressure provides more power than gravity in a short time. So, both a Moka pot and an espresso machine have a similarity about technic. On the other hand, the main difference is the pressure level. Moka pots provide 1-3 bar pressure, while espresso machines provide 6-19 bar pressure. So, if you define espresso as coffee which is brewed by pressure technic, yes, both of them can brew you a shot of espresso. However, if your definition includes “high-pressure”, then Moka pot may not provide your espresso.
What is a Moka Pot? (or a Stovetop Espresso)
A Moka pot is a coffee maker. It is also called as stovetop espresso. It brews coffee by pressure. Boiling water causes steam, and steam pressurizes the water. So, water passes through ground coffee. After this process, the coffee is ready.
Moka pot was invented by an Italian engineer (Alfonso Bialetti) in 1933. It has become quickly one of the primary parts of kitchens in Italy. The word “Moka” is based on the city of Mocha (in Yemen).
What is an Espresso Machine?
An espresso machine is also a coffee maker; actually, it is an espresso maker. It provides high-pressure to make intense and concentrated coffee. Although most espresso makers powered by electricity, there also some manual human-powered makers.
The first machine was patented in 1884. Angelo Moriondo (from Turin, Italy) built it.
Before we compare Moka pots vs espresso machines, let’s look the bestseller espresso machine and Moka pot on Amazon: (valid for the date this article published, over time the bestseller products of categories may change)
Let’s compare espresso machines and Moka pots for 12 different criteria:
1) Equipment cost*
*(valid for June 2020, over time it may change)
Although espresso machine prices vary from $50 to $2000, generally bestseller models are located in the range of $100-$1000. We listed and commented on Best Espresso Machines Under $2000. There are generally automatic espresso machines in that price level. On the other hand, there are not enough options under $100, and usually, they do not satisfy consumer needs well. However, you can find good espresso machines between $100-$300, especially for home use and for entry-level consumers. You can click here for our top selections of espresso machines under $300 article. Generally, Nespresso machines dominate this price category. There are also more professional options above $300.
Moka pot prices vary from $10 to $100. The average price category is $25-$35.
Result: Moka pots are way cheaper options than espresso machines.
While espresso machines provide 6-19 bar high-pressure, Moka pots provide 1-3 bar pressure. High or low pressure does not mean that the result would be good or bad. However, the outputs will change.
Result: Pressure is not a criterion for deciding whether to buy an espresso machine or a Moka pot. It does not show a result of a better or worse taste experience. We will discuss the taste in the next comparison part.
Espresso machines and Moka pots provide us different outputs. Espresso machines’ output has more intense, dark, and bitter flavors. On the other hand, Moka pots’ output is not dark and intense as espresso. However, it is more similar to espresso than other brewing methods. Moreover, its flavor is more concentrated than drip or filter coffee.
Result: For more concentrated and dark flavors, you may choose espresso machines. If you like intense middle aromas, then you can look for Moka pots. It is a matter of choice.
A Moka pot is combined with few parts. It does not have closed parts that you can not reach. The detachable design of parts allows you to reach all parts. Therefore, the cleaning processes are so comfortable. You just need to discharge grounded coffee rinse all parts under water after every use.
Espresso machines have different cleaning processes for different product types. While manual machines like Flair Signature Espresso Maker are easy to clean, some other machines need specialized solutions to clean them. You can decide the ease level of cleaning by looking there are how many closed parts which you cannot reach readily.
Result: Moka pots are easier to clean than espresso machines.
Durability depends on the complexity level, materials’ quality, and design.
Less complexity, aluminum body, and containing few parts provides durability to Moka pots. A Moka pot has four parts basically: the base which you fill with water, the top chamber where the coffee exits and fills, the inner funnel where the hot water passes after enough pressure is provided, and filter which filter the grounded coffee. However, there are also some additional parts, and they may have more risk to decay like a gasket. Its quality is significant for long time use. It may be deformed after several months or years. So, you may need to change it.
Manual espresso machines have fewer parts generally than electric-powered models. And they can be classified as durable according to their material and design. On the other hand, automatic espresso makers have more parts and sophisticated designs. Most of the parts cannot be reachable, as we mentioned in the “Durability” section. Therefore, durability depends on its quality. You may prefer products which have good reviews even after several years of use. Also, regular maintaining is essential for them. For example, Nespresso machines are needed to use special descaling solutions to be sure that the machine works properly.
It is also important that using appropiate coffee beans for your equipment. For example, overroasted coffee beans have oil in the surfaces, and these oils may clog a grinder or an automatic espresso maker. Preffering less oily, medium or light roasted ones, will be the best whole bean coffee for an espresso machine.
Result: As a general perspective, Moka pots may be used for decades if you maintain it well, while espresso machines could have a higher chance of breaking because of their complex design. However, some manual machines cannot be placed in the espresso machines category for this section. They may have high durability as Moka pots.
6) Using The Output for Espresso-Based Drinks
The name of “espresso-based drinks” includes “espresso”. So, you need to use espresso for real taste results. On the other hand, if you look from another perspective, you may make any espresso-based drinks with any coffee. The main difference is that espresso is concentrated, and adding two shots of espresso, which is made from 15-18 grams of finely grounded coffee, has an intense effect on taste. It takes up approximately one of third space in a big glass. Water, dairy products, sugar, and aromas are the last ingredients of the drinks. So, if you want to use Moka pot to make the base of the drinks, you need to use more in volume because Moka pot does not has concentrated outputs as espresso machines. However, you will still have a better base with Moka pot than regular filter coffee.
You may want to click the link to learn and more about how to make espresso-based drinks on wikiHow.
Result: For preparing espresso-based coffee, the best option is espresso. Besides, you may use a Moka pot to make the base coffee. Filter coffee is the last option in this list, because of its light and juicy taste.
7) Brewing Time
Time depends on different variables. For instance, if you want to roast and grind your coffee from the beginning for fresh outputs, then it may take a long time for both Moka pots and espresso machines. When all things are equal, and you use ready to use (roasted and grounded) coffee; Moka pots may require about 10 minutes, while espresso machines may require 5 minutes on average.
Result: There is no significant difference in time. Although the difference looks 100% as a percentage, actually it is just 5 minutes. However, 5 minutes could be an important time for you, and then you may want to choose espresso machines. Or, if you prefer to spend more time on processes, a Moka pot may be a better alternative for you.
Espresso machines generally have a capacity of 2-4 shots of espresso, while Moka pots have a capacity of 1-14 cups. Also, we should consider that, when the amount of cups increases, the required time increases for Moka pot. With espresso machines, you may need to wait for several minutes to cool down both the machine and the parts of it. Also, if you do not want to use capsule espresso machines, you may need to spend time on the cleaning process.
Result: If you want to brew more espresso for one time, bigger Moka pots may be the right choice for you. This option will be helpful, especially for serving your guests. Moreover, it could be an advantage for meetings. In another way, with espresso machines, although it takes less time for two shots, you need to wait in breaks between preparing processes for making more than two shots.
9) Basic Requirements
Preparing coffee with different types of equipment require different things. Moka pots are used on the stovetop (this is also why they are called as stovetop espresso makers). So, they require heat from the bottom/base side; the basic requirement is heating. You can use a Moka pot in all places which you can find fire or different equipment like an electric cooker. However, you do not have to use electricity. Espresso machines require electricity if you do not have a manual espresso maker. This requirement is an important limitation and difference. It affects portability, which we will discuss in the next section.
Result: Moka pots have an advantage on this topic. They require more reachable sources. In this criterion, manual espresso makers have the same advantage as moka pots.
On average, a Moka pot’s dimensions are 5x4x8 inches. Espresso machines’ dimensions vary in an extensive range, but we can say that an average espresso machine’s volume is at least five times bigger than an average Moka pot.
Result: A Moka pot has an important advantage in volume. It takes up much less space than an espresso maker on your countertop or desk. Even you can place your Moka pot into the kitchen cupboard; it does not have to be on your countertop.
In this section, we should analyze three criteria: weight, dimensions, and basic requirements.
Weight: Generally, the weight of Moka pots is less than 2 pounds, while espresso machines’ weights vary between 5-30 pounds. So, it is absolute that Moka pots are more portable than espresso machines in this criterion.
Dimensions/Volume: We discussed this criterion in the previous part. Moka pots are way easier to carry than espresso machines in this criteria.
Basic Requirements: We also discussed this criterion. You can use Moka pot wherever you can make a fire. Except for manual ones, espresso machines require electricity to work, and you can not find it everywhere. Moka pots have an advantage in this criterion.
Result: Moka pots are more portable than espresso machines.
12) Ease of Use
There are no critical differences in ease of use. Both of them have similar processes for making espresso. Moka pots do not have various abilities and functions, while espresso machines have. So, using complex machines will not be as easy as using basic machines.
Result: Both of them are at the same level of ease of use unless you compare a Moka pot with a complex espresso machine.
In this article, we analyze:
What are the differences between Moka pots and espresso machines?
Which one is better, what are the advantages and disadvantages? (not generally, in different criteria)
We made comparisons about Moka pot vs. espresso machine in 12 criteria. We compared their equipment costs, pressure, taste, cleaning processes, durability, using the output for espresso-based drinks, brewing time, capacities, basic requirements, volume/dimensions, portability, and ease of use. Each one of them has different perspectives and approaches. One of them is not better than another generally. They have different advantages and disadvantages in different conditions. You need to define your needs and expectations well to decide which alternative is best for you.