How to use a stovetop espresso maker for Italian moka coffee correctly?

How to Use a Stovetop Espresso Maker

what is espresso grosche milano

So you want to learn how to use a stovetop espresso maker? Here are 7 steps to perfect Italian Moka Stovetop espresso coffee! A stove top espresso maker is also called an Italian coffee maker or a coffee percolator. It is a great stovetop coffee maker to making a rich dark coffee or a stovetop espresso. Also, it is a budget-friendly alternative to expensive electric espresso machines.


What is a stovetop espresso maker?

Stovetop espresso makers were first introduced in 1933 by Alfonso Bialetti in Italy. It is generally called an Italian coffee maker, or a moka pot. It is a type of Italian percolator for making stovetop espresso coffee. This is an easy to use stovetop coffee maker that makes a stovetop espresso coffee. They are still very popular around the world, especially in Europe and Latin America. That is because they make a very rich and tasty cup of coffee. The highest quality stove-top espresso makers have Italian safety valves. These safety valves make sure the coffee percolator can withstand the high water pressure that develops during the brewing process.

VIDEO: How to make stovetop espresso easily in a grosche milano

So are you ready to use an Italian Coffee maker to brew a stovetop espresso? Follow our quick step-by-step instructions on how to make espresso in a stovetop espresso maker.



Stovetop espresso maker vs. espresso machine

You’d be surprised how good an espresso from a coffee percolator tastes. A stovetop espresso maker produces a richer and tastier coffee than your regular coffee machine. But it’s lighter and not has heavy as that from an electric espresso maker. Also they stovetop espresso’s are small and sleek and don’t take up a lot of counter or cupboard space.

It’s a budget-friendly alternative from bulky electric espresso machines. And all you need is an electric or gas stove-top.






How do they work?

A coffee percolator has three main parts.  First, there is a bottom chamber for water. Secondly, a funnel to hold the coffee grinds. Finally, there is a top chamber that holds the coffee once it’s brewed. How an Italian coffee maker works is easy. The boiling water from the bottom of the chamber makes steam. The steam reaches enough pressure to force the hot water up the funnel. The hot water goes through the coffee grinds and into the top chamber. The steam brewing water gives a bold and rich coffee flavor. This way a Italian stovetop coffee maker brews a thick and rich moka coffee.

Aluminum Stovetop espresso makers come in many shapes and sizes. They range from a single server coffee maker to multiple cups to accommodate groups.  The most common sizes are 3 cup, 6 cup and 9 cup.

But remember these are 3/6/9 “espresso cup” sizes, not 3 large cups or mugs of coffee!

What is the actual liquid capacity of each size of moka espresso coffee maker? View our GROSCHE Milano stovetop espresso maker page for this and more information about moka pots.  

—–Perfect for camping too! —–

Did you ever wonder how to use a stovetop espresso maker when camping? Turns out it’s perfect to take to a picnic, camping, or to your cottage. They are convenient, easy to use, and don’t need electricity. All you need is fresh coffee, a manual coffee grinder, and your Stovetop Espresso maker.


There are three parts in an italian Moka pot Coffee Maker. The boiler base, the coffee funnel, and the top brewed coffee chamber. 

Here is our 7 Steps to perfect Italian style espresso moka coffee in a aluminum espresso maker:

Step 1: Disassemble your Moka Pot stovetop coffee maker

First, take apart your coffee percolator into its three pieces. They are the bottom boiler, the middle coffee funnel, and the top coffee chamber.

Next, check to make sure the silicone seal on the bottom of the coffee chamber is there and is kink free. It should be in good condition for a good seal.

Step 2: Add in filtered water up to the safety valve

After that, pour filtered water into the bottom chamber. Fill it to just below the safety value for an Americano-styled coffee. For richer and thicker Italian espresso style coffee, only fill the bottom chamber half way.

Safety tip!  Don’t fill water above the safety valve. The safety valve is there to release pressure in case the pressure is too high. That can be due to any blockages. The safety valve avoids possible explosion of the pot from high pressure. Make sure the stovetop coffee maker you use has an Italian safety valve. Some coffee percolators use cheap valves that can lead to dangerous accidents while making coffee. Check out the MILANO if you’re interested in buying one.

Step 3: Add fine ground coffee in the filter funnel

Fill the filter funnel with freshly ground medium to fine coffee or espresso grinds. The grinds should be level with the top of the filter.

Slightly pat the grinds down but don’t compress the grounds in the funnel or the water will not flow through. Tamping the coffee should only be done in electric espresso makers. Also, compressing the grinds can make excess pressure buildup in the boiler (bottom) water chamber. That can create a potentially unsafe situation.

Step 4: Re-assemble the espresso maker

After that, place your filter into the bottom chamber and screw the upper chamber to the bottom securely.

Here is a quick info graphic of the whole process

Step 5: Add on stove top on low heat

Next put your stovetop coffee maker on low to medium heat of your electric or gas stove. Make sure the handle is not in contact with the heat.

Step 6: Once coffee starts to brew, turn heat down to lowest setting

Once you hear the coffee start to emerge from the filter funnel, turn down the heat and leave it to complete percolating.

Step 7: Coffee is ready!

When the ‘gurgling’ stops in your stovetop coffee maker and top chamber is full of espresso, your coffee it ready.

A stovetop espresso maker is an easy way to make espresso at home.

How to clean your stovetop espresso maker

Now that you know how to use a stovetop espresso maker, it’s time to clean it. Cleaning your coffee percolator is important for maintaining great tasting coffee. We don’t recommend putting it in the dishwasher to prevent any salt-like built up from occurring. Also, the aluminum will oxidize and turn black and tarnish, and look rusted too.

The best way to clean your stovetop espresso maker is using warm water and a tough sponge. They say the older a moka pot gets the better its coffee tastes. And using soaps remove the conditioning that a moka pot gets with time.

Detergent is not necessary and also not recommended. That is why they say that the older these coffee makers get, the better the coffee tastes. You may have heard that in Italy grandma’s moka espresso maker is the prized possession of the family.

stovetop italian coffee maker after dishwasher use
Washing it in a dishwasher can tarnish a stovetop espresso coffee maker


Replace the seals for your coffee percolator every 6 months!

Once you know how to use a stovetop espresso maker, you have to know about the seals. When cleaning your pot, take a look at the rubber seal and gasket for any hard build up. So if you find any build up or if the seal appears to be damaged, it’s time for replacements. Usually the seals should be changed every 6 months. Also if you are a heavy user of the moka pot you may need to replace them more often.

The gasket keeps the seal and safety of the pot, so it’s very important for it to be in good shape.

What are the sizes for espresso maker seals and gaskets?

There are three common sizes to the espresso maker gaskets. The seals come in 3, 6, or 9 cup sizes and are mostly universal in their fit. You should carefully remove the seal in your espresso pot and measure it and compare to the chart below. Then you can select the right one to buy for your moka pot gasket replacement.

11 thoughts on “How to Use a Stovetop Espresso Maker

  1. Mario Santilli says:

    I have a 9 cup Bialetti that is fairly old. It simply does not work well anymore. I have replaced the gasket and cleaned the screen, which when held up to the light, is clean. The only thing I can see that might be wrong is the coffee tray (holder) is somewhat distorted, not entirely round anymore. Last time I tried to use it without any coffee, just water, it would barely function at all even with high heat. Any idea what is going on?
    thanks, Mario
    P.S. I am very familiar with these pots and use a 3 cup every morning.

    • Helmi Ansari says:

      HI Mario, would you be able to send us a picture to get a better look at it?If the coffee funnel isnt sealing well against the water boiler (where it sits in the boiler pot), you could have some water bypassing around the coffee giving you inconsistent results.It doesn’t take much, even just a little bit can really change the taste of the coffee. Think of it like watering down the coffee, randomly, giving you inconsistent flavor. Id suggest trying to get a replacement funnel and hopefully that may fix it.
      Also (I’m sure you’ve already tried this), but the funnel has a screen that can get plugged, and it should be cleaned. As well as there is a screen that the silicone seal holds down, all those can be cleaned to keep the steam flowing through the pot properly.
      Also if you have hard water, try de-scaling it with some vinegar. Though Im not sure if that will tarnish the aluminium or not. Id suggest replacing the funnel as a start, and hopefully that will get you brewing again. Really hope that helps!

  2. Cari Wix says:

    That white espresso maker is beautiful! And this is a good article about making Italian style moka coffee. It really is so tasty, and once you make it its hard to go back to regular coffee. i find its a quite a bit stronger, though, than regular drop or french press coffee. and the caffeine levels are high too. So I dont drink it later in the evening as caffeine bothers me.

  3. Göran K. says:

    It is more popular to make the Italian style coffee as well. I picked up a second hand Grosche moka pot in Sweden from a small gourmet shop and am happy with how it works. I didnt know about your charitable work until recently, keep up the good work. I am happy when I chose to buy products from companies that do such good works, and your water projects are quite amazing. do you ship the rubber gaskets for the moka pot to Europe? I will need to replace them soon.

  4. Javier Miethke says:

    I thought it was a lot harder to use than this, but its pretty simple. Id suggest you add a little video to your blog to show how to make moka coffee. Its really quote delicious and easy to make. But l learnt the hard way not to put it in a dishwasher! with I had read your article sooner.

  5. Nelly 33 says:

    My grandmother used to make this for us in Italy, we just called it Coffee, not moka coffee or espresso. It is really so much better tasting than the standard American electric drip coffee, and has a rich flavor and aroma. These pots are so easy to use as well, its surprising more people dont use them to brew their coffees on a daily basis.

  6. Cecile Gardner says:

    Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyways, just wanted to say great blog and good article about espresso makers!

  7. Coffee Holic says:

    I dont know if I would call this an espresso, as most people prefer the machine made espresso which is even thicker than this. But more of a concentrated percolator coffee or Moka coffee Maker. Regardless, if you are a coffee lover you need one of these in your toolkit. A small cup does me well. I have a 3 cup for me and a 9 cup for when I have friends over.

  8. Fabruzzo P says:

    No more Bialetti for me, I prefer the soft touch handle on the grosche moka pot and its performed as well or better than my old Bialetti. And of course I like your social work too. My grandmother in Italy used to use these in her home and I have always as well. They make the best coffee, Italian style!

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