Can you really make comparable espresso when looking at the Moka pot vs espresso machine? It’s a question as old as time, and as old as the battle between Republicans and Democrats, can a Moka pot really make as good an espresso as a high priced espresso machine. While traditionalists claim that the Moka pot makes “true” espresso, the contemporary baristas swear by their $500 machines.
But which one is truly better? And what are the rules that govern the quality of the coffee coming from either of these well-known coffee brewing machines?
What is espresso?
Before we start answering questions, let’s set the foundation first by explaining what espresso is exactly.
By laying this groundwork, you’ll better be able to understand what makes each of the techniques unique when talking about Moka pot vs espresso machine.
So, what is espresso?
You make espresso by forcing hot water under high pressure through finely ground coffee beans.
Since you’re pushing the coffee out with so much force, the final brew is very concentrated and packed with caffeine.
Which of course, gives you the same amount of kick as a regular cup of coffee would in a smaller dose
This is why you see espressos in those tiny little cups and is also why espresso is used to make all those sweet coffee drinks.
Espresso also has a distinct, powerful flavor, much like the French press, but much smoother and less thick.
So, how does that pertain to the techniques? Well, let’s examine the techniques themselves.
Moka Pot vs Espresso Machine – The Moka Pot
The first constant in this Moka pot vs espresso machine contest is the traditional technique.
The Moka pot is a special stovetop device created to make espresso. The design is a classic and is super easy to use.
There really are only three parts to the Moka pot. The top, bottom, and filter portion.
The bottom portion is part of the device which holds the water and the top portion is where you capture the final brew.
To put it basically, all you have to do with the Moka pot is:
- Fill up the filter with ground coffee
- Put water in the bottom half
- Screw the top and bottom half together
- Put it on the stove and wait for the water to boil
When the water boils, it is pushed through the basket and through a funnel, finally gurgling to the top compartment. Yum!
However, because there is no automation and no mechanical precision, it is very easy to over-extract the coffee.
Trust us when we say you don’t want this to happen.
If you over-extract the Moka pot it will be the most bitter tasting, thick glob like coffee you’ll ever taste.
If you’ve tried Moka pot before and hate the taste, you’re probably doing it wrong.
Because, if you brew it right, the Moka pot is one of the best-tasting cups of coffee you’ll brew at home.
If you’re wondering how the heck this is possible, we’ve put together a handy guide that will show you step by step the best way to use a moka pot and how you ensure you don’t over-extract your coffee.
Keep in mind the brewing times can also vary, depending on the stove, and you may get inconsistent results.
Not only that, but you’ll either have to buy pre-ground coffee (which is a big no-no) or grind the coffee yourself, which means you’ll have to buy a grinder. This will also mean that you will have to dedicate more time to making coffee.
But, the biggest advantage is that, even if you buy your own grinder, the entire thing will be less expensive than a machine.
An average price of a Moka pot is about $25. If you add in a decent grinder, it will more than likely still be much cheaper than a good home espresso machine.
And plus, grinding the beans yourself is not that big of deal even if you don’t have a good grinder yet.
If you don’t have a good grinder there are so many high quality, well-valued grinders on the market right now that you could probably find one which fits your lifestyle with only a little bit of research.
Just remember this. In the coffee world, you get what you pay for. So think about the grinder purchase as an investment for many years to come.
Sure you can buy a cheap blade grinder and save money now. However, in the long run, you’ll probably end up spending more money replacing your grinder or upgrading your grinder as your tastes evolve. Not to mention a blade grinder really does not do good beans justice. Especially after so much care has been taken to bring it to your cup.
If you need some help in choosing a grinder, be sure to check out our gigantic review on the best burr grinders available on the market right now.
Moka Pot vs Espresso Machine – The Espresso Machine
The second contestant in the Moka pot vs espresso machine contest is, of course, the espresso machine.
Now, the way an espresso machine makes espresso is much more sophisticated.
The machine has three main components – a water boiler, a “grouphead” (a specialized valve that controls the water flow), and a portafilter with a basket where the coffee is held and a filter – which all work together with surgical precision to deliver a great tasting coffee.
Because of this precision, your brew is always consistent.
Every time you brew coffee, you will get the same tasting espresso as before, with the same texture, flavor, and crema. This is the main reason why contemporary baristas prefer the machine – it allows them to quality-proof their product.
Of course, you’ll have to calibrate your espresso machine first, but there’s not enough time to get into that topic right now.
Not only that, but the machine cuts the time significantly for making a brew, and cuts the time between making different cups. The filter also helps pick up the impurities in the coffee and prevents over-extraction.
As for the negative traits of the coffee makers, there really aren’t that many.
The biggest issue is, of course, the price.
Like we said, you would have to spend at least a hundred dollars on a machine, and that’s going to be a budget product. For a serious machine, you’ll have to spend upward of $300. Spending more than $1,000 on a good espresso machine is not unheard of.
The second problem with such machines is the learning curve.
It takes much more skill to operate the espresso machine effectively than a Moka pot. But the results will be very gratifying once you’ve learned to handle it properly. Given the machine’s price tag and complexity, it might take you more or less time to learn to operate it effectively, but it’s a worthwhile investment.
So, what’s the verdict on this Moka pot vs espresso machine contest?
Well, when all is said and done, it would seem that the espresso machine has the upper hand. It might be more expensive, but it produces a more consistent brew.
With the filter and the mechanized and sophisticated pressure and water flow control, the espresso machine is almost error-proof. Especially when you’ve figured out the right settings for your bean type.
The brew the Moka pot produces is nothing to complain about. You just have to brew it right.
All in all, it’s ultimately up to you.
Ideally, you’d own both items, and compare the taste. However, we know that’s not possible for all of you which is why you’re here obviously.
In our opinion, we’d love to have an espresso machine. But the price, the price, sometimes it’s hard to drop that much money on a piece of coffee equipment.
And to be honest, the Moka pot really does make an awesome espresso substitute. Especially when you consider how much cheaper it is than an espresso machine.
After all, there’s a reason why they say about 90% of all Italian households have a Moka pot in their home!
So we’ll say this again as the final opinion. If you have the money, pick up the best espresso machine you can afford. In our opinion, you will never regret investing the extra money in a quality piece of equipment. Especially if you use it every day.
However, if you’re on a budget, we promise you won’t be disappointed if you get a Moka pot. It took awhile, but we love ours now! Also, we almost forgot to say, but if you’re still looking for a Moka pot, be sure to check out our favorites in 2017.
What’s your opinion on the Moka pot vs espresso machine debate?