stovetop americanos

Last December, I announced to I’m sure at least ten thousand well-deserved eye rolls that after 10 years of food blogging and one (now two!) cookbook I had finally learned how to make coffee. I mean, yeah, it was melodramatic. I, too, can scoop whatever the Maxwell House can says into the filter and press the on button, as I did most weekend mornings as a kid. What I meant was that I had figured out how to make the coffee I most liked to drink and spent too much money on at coffee shops these days, and I had found this delight with the simplest old-fashioned thing, a stovetop espresso maker.

I then promised you a tutorial. It’s been 6 months. I got nervous. It would be a little weird if I were suddenly an expert on something I’d been doing for 7 weeks. I thought I needed more time with it. In these 6 months, I’ve become one of those people who previously baffled me because they said they didn’t like to buy coffee out; they liked theirs at home better. But here we are.

stovetop espresso maker

A few nuts and bolts:

  • This is not intended as a conversation about why one type of coffee-making apparatus is best. It does not matter; it only matters what works for you. For me: petite, hands-off, no electrical cords, no counter space required, no filters I have to keep in stock, and really really hard to mess up. I use a Bialetti Moka Express 6-cup but most of the other brands of stovetop espresso makers are very similarly constructed. It also comes in 1, which I imagine is cute as a button, 3, 9, and 12-cup sizes.
  • This 6-cup stovetop espresso maker can be used to make 6 single shots of espresso, but most mornings I use it to make two hot or iced Americanos. Americanos are American-style coffee (bigger cup, less strong) made with an espresso machine by adding hot water. The strength is similar to a drip cup but the flavor has the richness of espresso. How much water to espresso? Nobody agrees. For hot, I like a little less water than espresso. For cold, I add no water — the cup of ice provides just the right amount. (I’ll show you how in a minute.)
  • Do not put your stovetop espresso maker in the dishwasher; it will ruin it. Don’t wash it with soap. I scrub mine lightly with a soft brush (easier to get in all the corners) under very hot water, removing any debris, let it dry before reassembling it, and that’s it. You can replace the rubber gasket or metal filter if you want, I have a couple spares, but I also know people have theirs for a decade without doing so. My manufacturer’s instructions also suggest you check the washer on the valve from time to time for wear.
  • It’s almost impossible to talk about a stovetop espresso maker without hearing a story about one that exploded, a terrifying thought. From what I understand, just keep the valve (this little nut/screw on the side of the water compartment) clear and you’ll be fine. It’s there to release steam so you probably don’t want to keep it from doing that.
  • I am sure there are a gazillion other more beloved espressos and less expensive out there, but just for reference I use this one. I opened the can, took a huff, and was immediately transported to long-ago trips to Italy, pre-husband, pre-kids, pre-life full of responsibilities and daily adulting, involuntarily yelled “Take all of my money!” and bought a case. I regret nothing. My pot’s instructions say, not terribly helpfully, “Use coffee ground specifically for a Moka coffee maker. Do not use too fine ground coffee.” What it means is that espresso powder ground for stovetop espresso makers have a slightly more coarse grind than espresso used in coffee shop-style machines. How do you know your coffee is too finely ground? It shows up in your mug and annoys you. [Aren’t you guys glad you have me here to bestow such high-level expertise? Wait, don’t answer that…]

Stovetop Americano

  • Servings: 2 from a 6-cup pot
  • Print

I realize this might possibly take as long to read as it does to brew your coffee, but I found almost every tutorial, video, and set of instructions online confusing because they wanted me to do things that just weren’t working for me. So, I hope the below covers both paths: the advice from pros but also what works for this coffee amateur.

  • Water to fill pot without going over valve (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • About 5 tablespoons ground espresso powder

Pour in water: Fill the lower chamber of your pot with cold water until it reaches just below the valve. I go to the bottom edge of it; my pot holds 1 1/2 cups. Some coffee aficionados say the secret to great stovetop espresso is starting with hot water. I did it a few times; it did not change my coffee life, but who knows, it might change yours. They’ll also tell you that you cannot make half-pots but I do it almost every day. I simply pour in a measured 3/4 cup instead.

half-filled for one glass

Add coffee: Fill the funnel — this is the part with the perforated inside — and with ground espresso. Do not tamp it down, as it makes it harder for the coffee to brew, but you can tap the outside of the funnel to compress it slightly. I find it takes just shy of 5 tablespoons or 14/15 grams of the espresso I use to fill it. Making only one Americano? Use 2 1/2 tablespoons espresso or 7/8 grams. Sweep any excess espresso powder off the rim.

Assemble the pot: Make sure the flat filter disc and rubber gasket are in place, then tightly screw the upper part of the pot onto the base. I do not go crazy muscling it shut. I just twist it snugly.


Brew: Put it over your smallest burner. For gas stovetops, make sure the flame is not larger than bottom of pot; the flame should not come around the sides of the pot. I assumed that the handle was heat safe because it’s a stovetop espresso maker and gas stoves have been around forever… I was wrong. Mine is a bit mottled these days as a result. Medium heat seems about right but if your coffee tastes burnt to you, try a lower heat next time.

Heat until the water boils and coffee begins to come out of the center post. There will be a gurgling sound during this process. At this point, almost every demo I have watched says you can turn the flame off because it will continue to brew and too much “toasting” is at odds with the rich flavor you’re hoping to get from your coffee, however mine basically stops brewing when I do, leading to an inch, not two cups, of coffee in the pot, so I just turn the heat down. Some people insist upon brewing with the lid open, others leave it closed, and although it’s not supposed to make a difference in the final flavor either way, I leave mine closed or it sputters out all over the stove.

comes running when she hears the ice cube tray

Meanwhile, ready your mugs/glasses: While you’re waiting (this takes 3 to 5 minutes to brew), get your cup ready. For two iced Americanos, fill two pint (16-ounce) glasses to the top with ice. Maybe you live with a toddler who is obsessed with ice and comes running every time you crack the tray? Be sure to leave some leftover for her, or suffer the auditory consequences. For two hot Americanos, pour 1/2 to 3/4 cup boiling water in each of 2 mugs. You’ll figure out your preferred level soon enough, but if this is your first time, begin with the lower amount. If you’re making one hot Americano, might you just use the full 1 1/2 cups of water (i.e. twice the water) and 2 1/2 tablespoons espresso (i.e. the amount for one Americano) instead of adding hot water at the end? Yes, and I do this too.

pour over a cup of ice a heavyhanded splash (oops)

Finish and pour: When the top of the pot is full of coffee — you’ll hear a change in sound, or my pot’s instructions says “hazel brown foam appears just seconds before the coffee is completely done” but I’ve never noticed this — remove it from stove and immediately pour between two prepared cups. My pot’s instructions also say to give it a stir before pouring because the first stuff that comes out is more concentrated, but I just do a little pour at a time in each cup, switching between them, to ensure neither loses out if the first and second halves have different intensities.

Frappé it! If your other long-lost coffee memories, like mine, reside in the frappés in Greece, I then dump our iced cups into a cocktail shaker and shake some foam into it. This is a weekend thing. Weekends are lazier. Weekends are the best.

iced americano iced americano

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New here? You might want to check out the comment guidelines before chiming in.

293 comments on stovetop americanos

        1. Wendy

          I adore this. Would love a guide to AirBNB thriving too if you are keen – whatever season, although perhaps harvest is the easiest, so if you are game, another one too ;).

  1. Elisa

    Oh my, this is perfect. I’ve been wanting one of those moka pots for ages. Might have to get one now. And that first picture! Total food porn.

    1. deb

      As much as you like! Unlike with lattes and cappuccinos, Americanos don’t have a set proportion — it’s what you like. My photo up top is a bit heavy for even me, but happens every time I try to take a photo while pouring cream. ;)

  2. Amy

    My MIL has one of these that’s decades old, that we have begged her to replace, to no avail. I think one of us is going to inherit that old jalopy, and the amazing chicory coffee that it makes.

        1. Heidi

          Can you point me to your induction-friendly moka pot? I’ve seen a few out there but they tended to have mixed reviews…

              1. I know that in Italy you can buy a metal disk that you put under your non-induction friendly coffee-pot so that the induction plate works. They are probably sold in other countries too. It’s probably cheaper than buying a new moka pot.

                1. Jo

                  I think I saw this on food 52s site – check their store.
                  We’ve been making lattes at home iced for me because the Starbucks wait is so long. For convience we use a kruieg- I bought their refillable pod & found a Peet’s coffee I really like bought a Mason jar to store and now make a batch for my iced latte that ladts a couple days. Just ordered espresso pods from Amazon from a San Francisco co that has environmentaly friendly pods. I prefer coffee at home now. Though I miss our friends at Starbucks.

                  1. Jo

                    Ps Bean Envy has a great great inexpensive frother for $ 15 -$17 depending on batteries or not. We’ve had ours 6 months it’s reall great. Bought a wonderful Breville model holiday gift for us that is amazing but it makes a sound that scares Addie our pup so I went looking for something else. Again Amazon frother really makes a difference. I apologize for the extra long post.

  3. rachel

    This is one of those unusual places where you and I diverge, food wise, as I hate the taste of coffee, but you bring back very fond memories of being in Italy. In the various rented houses we stayed in, you never could count on what might be in the kitchen; knives, or cutting boards or other seemingly essentials, but always a Moka! Often more than one size, one place had a veritable library of them; at least 5, if I recall! Clearly the Italians have their priorities!

    1. sparkgrrl658

      i hate coffee too! which is a shame i suppose, since i grew up in RI, home of coffee milk and other coffee flavored things. but i just don’t care for it. i do like the smell, though. my dad buys expensive beans from some yuppie place and has for ages, grinds them at home and makes one single cup for himself each morning, iced in the summertime.

  4. Can I suggest making this with beans roasted and ground locally to you? Not because I’m a snob or anything, just because you’ll notice a difference. It introduces a bunch of additional variables and that increases the complexity, for sure. But when you get it right it’s downright orgasmic. The main difference is that the ratio of volatile oils in recently roasted and ground beans.

    1. Coffee aficionado

      Not only that, but you’re contributing to local production. Local is always better (for you, your taste buds and tummy, for the planet)!!

          1. Jo

            I’m a bit confused by the instructions. Can you clarify- do you add creme to the hot Americano, and, are you putting creme in the shaker with the ice? I love coffee from my Moka pot, but have never made an Americano. I know I’m missing something amazing!

        1. Probably no plantations, but very likely to be many roasters as BadBlood suggested. I live in a very rural area and we have two roasters who get raw beans from New Orleans and roast them here. A pecan smoked coffee bean is rather… well, we’ll just say it does not promote harmony when there’s enough for one cup.

  5. Oh man, this brought me back! This is how we used to make our coffee when I lived in France, on a farm in the middle of nowhere. Except we used to have to hand-grind the coffee in one of those wooden box grinders with a drawer, which we’d pass around from person to person because HOLY CRAP, grinding coffee by hand takes forever. I loved those tiny, bitter cups of coffee. Thanks for the walk down memory lane. <3

  6. Andrea

    I live in Napoli (Naples) Italy, and sadly am moving back to the States in a month. I bought one of these Bialetti moka after being here for only 2 weeks, and have used it nearly every day for the past 3 years. Your directions are spot on, although I’m a Napoli Kimbo roast kinda girl. There are pounds of espresso coffee in my household goods shipment, and I also shipped an extra bialetti. My real one has only been washed with soap once, and it will most likely go with me in my suitcase just to make sure nothing happens to it. But no, that’s not my tattooed leg in your flicker pic. Coffee seems so simple, yet rarely is it this amazing. Thanks for the great post!

    1. Liss in Italy

      You most certainly can – medium heat – it just takes longer to brew but there is no risk to the oven or the coffee pot

      1. Melissa

        Thank you from me too! I didn’t think it was compatible with a glass top, hence my aeropress. I’m excited to try it!

    2. Janet

      I set my glass top a bit below medium and set the timer for 5 minutes in case I wander off. Sometimes it takes a little longer, not sure what’s up with that. I don’t add water to mine and use the whole pot in one cup with half and half and a bit of maple syrup – heaven!
      I used to have a stove top pot that steamed the milk too, but it was very touchy with screwing it on and sometimes I ended up with a mess instead of a cup of deliciousness. I’m much happier with half and half anyhow!

      1. I think the keeping brewing after turning off advice works with electric where it doesn’t work with gas because when you turn gas off the heat is gone.
        For what it’s worth I’ve used these on glass-topped hobs, terrible landlord metal coil ones, gas, and my boyfriend takes his camping. All good.

  7. Sage

    You’re a legend! (and Anna is precious)
    I can just direct people here when they need to be shown the way, far easier than teaching them to wrangle my moka before I’ve had coffee. Can’t even remember how I learnt, but after two years in Italy it’s integral to life (I’m more a Lavazza girl, but Illy is bueno).
    Actually your iced Americanos are exactly what I ordered on the regular in Barcelona (‘Café con leche y hielo’); when we needed reviving after morning classes and the summer heat dragged up to Halloween. Haven’t had one in years, but can do it in house now.

  8. Heidi

    A coworker shared his hand-roasted Ethiopian blend with me last week, so I will be rooting in my cabinets for my espresso maker stat. This post couldn’t be more timely.

  9. This is kinda funny for me, because I’ve been living in Spain for 10+ years and this is just the type of coffeemaker that basically EVERYONE uses out here. I had never thought that it was better, just that it was cheaper and lasts for several years. Anyway, I make this coffee every day and it works for me.

    1. charkie

      When I was visiting Ireland, my travel mate and I stayed with a woman from Brazil; her roommate was from Spain. Our host didn’t drink coffee, but her roommate did, and she used a Moka-type pot to make it. My travel mate and I were interested, because in our travels we rarely saw American-style coffee pots and when we did, they were in coffee shops and specifically labeled “filter coffee”. We described the normal, American coffee brewing process to our hosts, who both shrugged and said they’ve never seen anything like that. It was fascinating to me, considering how commonplace it is in America! All that to say – yes, this really IS what they use in Europe! (or at least the parts I was in!)

  10. DonnaMarie

    Thank you for this. I received one of these in an office gift exchange a few years ago and been completely intimidated by it. Just not enough to get rid of it. Off to give it a try!

  11. So funny that you posted this today because I just bought a 3-cup stovetop espresso maker a couple of days ago. My husband and I are ashamedly but self-proclaimed coffee snobs, but I missed having espresso on the regular, so I got one. The instructions on the package are almost no help to using this thing, but I figured it should be easy enough. The first time I used it, I put it on high heat, and the espresso shot out projectile, even with the lid on, and fortunately got all over the counter and stovetop and not on me. We currently have a glasstop stove so maybe that played into it, too. I learned my lesson so I put it on medium heat the second time I used it and had no problems. The third time, however, I wanted to test the boundaries of that safety valve and added water to just above it and left the lid open. This must’ve angered the safety valve because the espresso shot out projectile right onto me! I got a burn on my leg, but it is healing quickly. All this to say thank you for posting this even though you’ve only been using yours for some weeks. I was too proud to look at others’ tutorials, so hopefully others will read this before burning themselves or getting espresso everywhere. From previous comments, it certainly looks like they have!

  12. Thank you for the reminder that moka pots can be used all summer. (I’ve been in a cold brew rut.)

    Can you tell me where you glasses/cups are from/what size they are?

    1. Jen

      Sara, the post mentions the glasses are 16 oz, and they look to me like Duralex. You used to be able to get Duralex glasses at World Market (they’re made in France), but I’m not sure if they still sell them. I got a set from Sur La Table a bit ago, so that’s another option. If you can’t find Duralex, I think Crate & Barrel sells a really similar style.

      1. deb

        Duralex Picardie. I have them in a few sizes but this is the 16-ounce 17-ounce. I also use them as my water glasses, I find the more I pour, the more I remember to drink. :)

  13. Coffee aficionado

    This machine is honestly a godsend. If you’re going to buy one, you may as well just get a Bialetti. It’s excellent quality and so will last a lifetime (and gives killer bragging rights). In terms of coffee, I think Lavazza is on the same level as Illy, both major brands in Italy (and all of Europe for that matter). In terms of prep, my experience has been that despite preferences, the process is simple : fill with coffee, water, and then heat on low until it spurts and babbles, at which point the coffee is done and ready to enjoy. Italian coffee really is the only way to go.

    1. Coffee aficionado

      Protip : if water rises into the filter when you place it in the machine, you have too much water. You shouldn’t see water rise into where the coffee goes. If you do, pour some off, and then you should be fine.

  14. Rhonda Gee

    I tried to rate this tutorial five stars, but it keeps reverting to just four. Your tutorial is exactly what a novice needs, answering the odd niggling questions that can occur to an inquiring mind. Thank you!

  15. Cheryl S.

    Thanks for your tutorial!

    I have 6-cup and wee tiny 1-cup (yes, it IS cute as a button) Bialettis, but haven’t used them a lot. The 6-cup is too big for 1 person – or so I thought. I never tried using it with less coffee/water because of the instructions, but if it works for you I’ll give it a try. Not long after I got the 1-cup, someone gave me a Krups steam espresso machine that I’ve been using ever since, and it’s a lot easier than dealing with the stovetop. But I’d like to use the moka pots, too.

    As for using hot or cold water, I was given a tip to use boiling (or nearly boiling water), because then it starts brewing almost immediately when you put it on the stove, rather than trying to adjust the flame for the tiny pot and sitting there watching it. It does speed things up on the stove, and if I’m heating water in the electric kettle for an Americano anyway, it’s not any more work. But then it’s a little tricky to assemble the pot because it’s very hot.

    1. deb

      Here’s the link. It’s wonderful. I love it, primarily because it doesn’t ever smell freezer-y, even years later (mine is going on 3 now), which always happens with silicone and plastic and other modern marvels. It is bewilderingly expensive (I refuse to buy more than one). I don’t understand; these things are old-school, they’ve been around forever, I’m sure our grandparents paid 50 cents for them.

      1. Ellen

        My mother lived in Vienna for years as a young woman, loved coffee, and always made it this way. I’m not a coffee drinker but I keep the espresso pots as a reminder of her. They last forever. Thanks for the post.

  16. Elisabeth Heien

    I am a recent convert to Nespresso for everyday use,but nothing NOTHING beats the coffee-making procedure you so eloquently describe here! A tip: be sure to clear the funnel completely of coffee by blowing hard into it once it is dry (after the washing), and the reason why you should never use machine-espresso-grinded powdery coffee is because it might clog up the little holes (been there,done that. Not good. ) I also make espresso ice cubes from decaffeinated espresso and shake regular espresso w a combo of icecubes and coffecubes for THE best shakerato!

  17. Ludovica

    Great espresso choice, Illy Coffee is amazing! I went to uni in the city where they have their HQ in Italy, Trieste, and there Illy is the backbone of the local coffee culture, which is one of the best in Italy!

  18. So, which do you prefer: the cold brew iced coffee recipe from ages ago, or the iced americanos described here? It would be great to have an iced coffee recipe that I could make the day of!

    1. deb

      Don’t make me choose! But I’m mostly using this these days… for me. Cold brew remains brilliant for a crowd, as well as when you actually don’t want to have to brew a thing in the mornings. There are many days where I wish I had it because I don’t always have time to put this Americano together exactly the way I like it.

  19. Elissa

    Some of my fondest memories growing up are of my abuelita making cafe con Leche in a pot just like this. I got my own pot several years ago from a Publix in S FL and we picked up a second while wondering a Christmas market in Germany for just €10! We have no idea what size they are but make them for 1-2 servings (we always make a full pot and then just pour half into a glass to leave in the fridge for later if we don’t feel we need a lot of caffeine that day) We have always used Cuban coffee in ours (Cafe Bustelo to be precise) but whenever friends ask what we’d like for a gift from the States (we currently live in Europe) we ask them to send us roasted beans from a coffee shop local to them and grind them ourselves. It’s fun to taste the difference between blends and regions, but we always go back to our Bustelo.

    We make our Cafe con Leche (literally coffee with milk) by adding the freshly brewed espresso to a cup to cup and a half of warmed milk with sugar to taste.

    As for the exploding pot, I’ve only seen it happen twice – once when I was a little girl and Papaw filled the water to high and didn’t turn it tight enough, and funny enough just the other day, when my husband cleaned the pot put forgot to put the seal back in. I have pictures of what my stove area looked like after that one, but suffice it to say it covered an area far greater than I had thought possible and I was so thankful no one was in the kitchen when it happened!

    1. ClippyZ

      I have made coffee exactly like this for about 20 years now, and always always use Cafe Bustelo. No specific childhood memories, but I love it. Which probably makes my palate unsophisticated. But whatevs!;)

    2. Vera Zolotaryova

      A fun trick I learned in Italy to make this coffee more like espresso is to take a little bit of the brewed coffee and stir it vigorously with some sugar before adding in the rest of the coffee. This makes the coffee have crema on top like real espresso, delicious and fun.

      1. Vivian Farrar

        Great suggestion! I’ve been using my little Bialetti for several years now; after being spoiled by good coffee/expresso/lattes in Paris, Croatia, Portugal and most recently Cuba! I wondered if it was sweetened milk ( for sure in Cuba…but not elsewhere ) but this trick of yours sounds perfect, so thank you for sharing!

  20. Melia

    This is exactly!! the way my boyfriend and I make iced coffee every morning, and I feel just the same way: that I finally cracked my own personal coffee code after years of fiddling with pour-over filters, big bulky coffee machines, and a brief stint of trying to switch to tea. Hallelujah.

      1. Caroline G

        I love both coffee and tea but only recently got on the tea train. I had never found a blend or brand of tea I liked (outside of a “cuppa” on a British airways flight to Italy, of all places, a few years ago). After searching high and low and buying every brand my supermarket carried, I read an article in a magazine by Mimi Thorisson of her favorite things. It listed Mariage Freres French Breakfast tea and I ordered it on a whim. It is seriously the best tea I have ever had! I am linking the breakfast tea below but want to also urge you to try the MF Marco Polo blend as well, that funny enough, tastes like strawberries and cream. Just a bit of milk and you’re ready to go!

        1. Cy

          The Mariage Freres teas are the best. A friend who lived in Paris brought me one of their signature tins with the St. Valentine blend, rose petals and violets with black tea, heaven. Also their Earl Grey tea biscuits. On my bucket list to take a trip to Paris and have a proper tea served to me there. Some of their shops are also cafes. There is a place here in San Francisco that serves and sells their teas and makes amazing French macaroons.

          1. Sarah

            Flavored tea is as bad and pointless as flavored coffee. Marriage frères may be classier and more expensive than, say, a pumpkin spice hazelnut latte, but it is as relevant to the true enjoyment of tea as those monstrosities are to the true enjoyment of coffee. (Also: Tea and coffee are not alternatives to each other; they are completely different things. “Switching” from one to the other is a silly idea.) Enjoy the one you enjoy. And if you like flavored versions of either beverage, knock yourself out, but you’re not having tea or coffee in that case; you’re having something entirely separate.

  21. I am so glad that you posted this today, as I was just reeling in shock at the cost of home espresso machines. I just started working from home full-time a couple of months ago, and don’t own so much as a Mr. Coffee, and I had resigned myself to a lifetime of buying $4 Americanos at the coffee shop down the street when I came across your post. I recently got a Vitamix, so I imagine there are some blended frappes in my future.

  22. Kelsey

    I read every word! Been wanting to experiment with making espresso at home. Will have to try. Thanks for the helpful tutorial at home.

  23. Kara

    Thank you for this post!! I’ve always wondered how those little stove-top espresso pots worked. I’m ready to take my coffee to the next level and I think this is the trick! Can’t wait to try this method.

  24. Julie

    Once again you knew what I wanted before I did. I’m stuck here in a hot apartment with a napping toddler (my Amalia is just a little younger than your Anna, I think) and wishing I’d made a batch of coldbrew yesterday, and lo and behold, this recipe came across my facebook feed. Your guidelines are absolutely perfect, too! I was worried that a full pint glass of ice would be too much for a 3-cup Bialetti’s worth of espresso, but the proportions came out just right. Now I’m enjoying my beautiful iced americano and scheming to buy some fancier espresso… Thank you for this!

  25. Nicole

    Yep, I’ve been doing it this way for a while now, but as I’m the only coffee drinker in the house, I have the smaller one which I’ll pour once ready into unsweetened almondmilk heated in the microwave for a minute. Also good over ice with a tsp of sugar. This changed my morning pre-run routine and is something I look forward to setting up the night before (though it takes all of a minute to put together). The coffee grind matters more than the quality for me. Maybe I’ll invest in your recommended brand for weekend treats!

      1. Rebecca Rassier

        I learned of this from David Lebovitz’s facebook feed–I’m pleased to have one degree of internet separation from two of my favorite bloggers.

  26. britziusclan

    I have been a cold brew coffee addict since your post years ago. I’m going to try this as soon as I get one of these pots. And I have a Jack Russell that comes running for a cube whenever i get ice out of my freezer, but your ice lover is MUCH cuter than mine.

  27. Dee

    This machine does make good coffee – but two things: if you have one of these danged electric stove tops that are flat – it’s a problem to control the heat. Your pot size is supposed to match the ring shown on the stovetop.

    But more, this coffee pot is made of aluminum. Folks seem so concerned about getting rid of aluminum pots, but then heat boiling hot water in acidic coffee every day. Is this a good thing?

    1. Julie Facchin

      If you’re concerned about aluminum, there are stainless steel Italian stovetop coffee pots you can buy. They’re more expensive than the Moka brand pots but make the same excellent coffee. I’ve been using one for years.

  28. Janel

    I did not know there were specific grinds for the Moka. Yay for that!

    I was taught by an Italian in Italy to put the Moka on medium heat, lid open. Once the coffee starts to pour into reservoir, turn flame down and watch until coffee starts to sputter, signaling it is almost done. Close lid and turn off flame. Leave a few minutes to allow it to settle, pour and enjoy.

  29. Julie

    Could literally cry with joy. This is one of the first things I’ve ever read online that I’ve wanted to immediately print off (I’m only 28, for heaven’s sake, not a grandmother) so I didn’t lose it if somehow there were an Internet apocalypse close at hand. After your post in December I ran out and bought a Bialetti, but you’re so right—every video tutorial is confusing, opinionated, and not quite precise. Thanks so much for doing this! I can’t wait to try making one big Americano as well as half batches. Woot.

  30. Inspiring! I have a stovetop espresso maker (uh, somewhere) and now I want to dig it out and try your method. We are huge coffee fans here, and huge fans of our percolator. I keep it scrupulously clean so the oils don’t turn rancid and give the coffee an off flavor. Wouldn’t that happen here, if you weren’t using dish soap to clean the maker? I mean, the water would have to be really hot to get the oils off the metal after you brew the espresso.

    1. Julie Facchin

      My Nonna (Italian grandmother) had a number of stovetop espresso pots, didn’t use soap in any of them, and never had a problem. She used them for decades. My parents now have some of her pots, still no soap, and they’re still fine. I don’t know why it works but it does.

    2. Autumn

      I wash my stovetop espresso maker (and my beloved percolators) with dish soap after every use. I have a few different brushes that get into every tube and crevice so that it’s sparkling clean and oil free for the next use. I’ve been doing this with the same espresso maker for the last 25+ years, and our coffee always tastes great.

      I’m not sure why some people say not to use soap. Same thing for cast iron pans. I scrub mine well not only with soap, but sometimes kitchen cleanser, just like my mother and grandmother did. The pans are close to a century old and still in great shape, as is my espresso maker.

      1. deb

        I wouldn’t expect soap to ruin it — ditto for cast iron, I’ll use a little if necessary — but it shouldn’t be needed to keep it clean. For me, this was music to my ears as no soap = faster cleaning, imho.

  31. I find the incredibly detailed instructions somewhat amuzing…while it does take a little practice, the method is hardly rocket science. We have used Moka Pots exclusively for more than 15 years.
    We have four sizes and we use them every day.

  32. Kate

    So great to see moka pots getting the attention they deserve. This has been my go-to coffee maker every day since living in Europe on and off in my 20’s. But I strongly prefer using a stainless steel one to aluminum. With daily use and coffee being so acidic, I worry about the possibility of leaching. There are a number of good stainless choices, and my current one has been on heavy rotation for 10 years without a hitch.

  33. Maura Sgaramella

    Dear Deb,
    I’m writing you from Italy. My husband owns a hardware store here and if you’ll allow me, I’d like to make a couple of suggestions: 1) the rubber gasket does not last decades, actually it starts to decay from the heat rather quickly if you use your moka every day like most people. 2) You are right to point out not to put it in the dishwasher because it will ruin the metal, but a little soap (rinse quickly, do not soak) won’t hurt it. My husband tells me many stories about the sweet little old ladies who believe this old wive’s tale and bring in their moka pot which is dirty on the inside (precisely because it has never seen washing up liquid in it’s lifetime) and ask him to change the rubber gasket.

  34. I got a Moka pot at a white elephant sale on Saint Simons Island. I even bought the coffee — I just haven’t used it yet. I am so ashamed to admit this but I’m Italian and I’ve never made espresso at home. My mamma used to make it in Italy but I have no idea. Now I have my wonderful cooking guru instructing me on the proper way to use it. Thank you!! BTW, your coffee originates from the area where I was born. Can’t wait to try it.

  35. Buzdean

    as one of those ‘coffe geeks’ this is a great blog–a moka pot is one of a myriad of great ‘tools’ in a coffee brewing arsenal

  36. I love this post. I have one of these espresso machines or stove top espresso makers and I now will pull it out of the highest cabinet and get it to working. Great tutorial and easy to follow. I love the little bit of foam so I will be shaking my Americanos also. Thank you.

  37. I have a french press and one of these. The press is good for a Big Cup of coffee, but I like the flavor of the moka pot coffee better (with a generous splash of whole milk!). As far as the noise, I’ve read that some brands of espresso pots make that whooshing gurgle when it *starts* coming into the top and one makes it when it’s *finished*
    We’ve been using ours for at least six years now. Quick hot scrub is all the cleaning, no parts to regularly replace, no waste. I’ve worked in coffeeshops off and on for years, and I’m totally one of those “my coffee at home is better” people, haha.

      1. Hana

        Also your local roaster can guide you in your selection of coffee beans. And there are so many ! For example, somebody mentioned Ethiopian blend, Ethiopian coffee is very strong in flavour , but great when blended with Columbia or Brazil (Santos)which are full bodied but more mellow. Unless you like very strong flavour slightly on the bitter side. Usually each roaster has their own blends as well. Trying these out first is recommended.
        Supermarket blends are barely ok, but will do at a pinch, but for the serious coffee addict freshly roasted at local roaster is the way to go. And grinding at home also adds to the experience. Apparently, you can get a hit of antioxidants just from smelling freshly roasted, ground or just made coffee by just breathing in the aroma.
        Having said that, roasting at home is not for the faint at heart. The margin for error is quite high. I only do it because I live too far from my favourite Roaster Co, and do six monthly mail order of green beans.
        Roasted beans, no matter how well sealed,(supermarket) do not smell or taste as good as freshly roasted.
        And I guess you can tell I take my coffee very seriously………

  38. My husband has been using, and loving, a stovetop espresso maker for years. What recently converted me is grinding the beans immediately before adding them to the filter. The difference between the coffee brewed with beans ground at the coffee shop vs on our kitchen counter is tremendous – The coffee using the freshly ground beans is really amazing!

  39. Love this piece…except I don’t drink coffee! Still makes me want to go out and purchase all the pieces for that elusive item when perhaps all of a sudden I’ll start drinking coffee of some sort. But here’s my question: I have a stovetop steamer thingie because my thing in the winter, on weekends or when I come in from shoveling snow, is hot cocoa. Don’t get me wrong ~ the coffee shops do a fine job but I want my own steamed milk please but can not for the life of me, figure out how to use the blasted beast! Could you do this same tutorial for the milk steamer, you know, the stovetop one? Thanks so much!

  40. Paula Lyne

    Ah yes, I can speak for exploding Moka pots. We forgot to put the seal back in ours one day – someone got over-zealous while cleaning it – and the next time my roommate made coffee, the pot exploded mid-brew.

    It. Went. Everywhere.

    You could literally follow the arc of the coffee (liquid AND grounds) up along our kitchen splashback, across the living room ceiling, over the coffee table, onto the lampshade and down behind the back of the sofa. It took hours to clean and the ceiling still resembles a Jackson Pollock. That said, I’m still Moka4Lyf.

  41. I have gone through four of those little pots. The first two were aluminum and just stopped working. The store in Boston’s North End explained that just happens with the aluminum pots. Everyone else I have ever asked said they lied. It happened to me.

    I then switched to stainless. My adult son, showing off his masculine strength, tightened the top so that in my effort to unscrew it, with my hand around the top part, my hand lurched up and snapped off the handle. The second pot lost its handle as I was washing it. I set the top down on the counter and the cat leaped up and knocked it over.

    Frankly, I would not make coffee in anything else at home, with the exception of my 1 Qt stainless French press which I use for company. I need to buy another soon. Using a potholder and trying to stabilize the cracked handle is not recommended.

    Using dark roast beans is. Someone gave me some medium roast beans. Free coffee is free coffee. But, the pot is made for the dark roast. I do not make Americano. I just add warm milk. Not authentic but it does well on a cold morning.

  42. JessB

    Yea! I’ve been waiting…and now that the heat of summer is here, it’s perfect timing to try an Americano iced. I’ve only done hot till now. Thanks!!

  43. Shonagh

    Just a detail here: my Italian friends insist on the importance of cold water and a flame as low as it can go. This is more important than turning off the flame once coffee starts to bubble through, though you can do that too. Slow percolation gives you the full flavour of the coffee.

  44. Shonagh

    Just a detail here: my Italian friends insist on the importance of cold water and a flame as low as it can go. This is more important than turning off the flame once coffee starts to bubble through, though you can do that too. Slow percolation gives you the full flavour of the coffee.

    Re stainless steel versus aluminium, I agree with the other reader, stainless steel is a good choice and Bialetti makes them too. Cost a little more, not a lot.

    Re freshly ground coffee, agree on that too!

  45. Cassandra Grafstrom

    Thanks for posting this. I have a question which hopefully someone can answer. My boyfriend put my Moki Express in the dishwasher months ago. How much damage did he really do to my machine? Is there anything I can/should do to repair it?

    1. Jennifer

      This happened to me too. The aluminum was ruined and every time I touched it my fingers turned black/grey. I stripped its parts and just bought a new one.

      1. Cassandra Grafstrom

        Well that’s disappointing. Mine doesn’t turn my skin any color, but still this is disappointing. Boyfriend owes me a new coffee maker.

        1. Hana

          Get him to buy you a stainless steel one.
          It will survive accidental dishwasher clean. I put my Italian French Press in the dishwasher every 5-6 weeks and it is perfectly fine, it doesn’t affect the taste and is lovely and shiny after a clean.

      1. deb

        From what I understand, not all dishwasher soaps are reactive with aluminum so you might have been fine, but there’s of course no good reason to risk it if you know. I’ve ruined the exterior of an entire set of All-Clad MC2 pots because I didn’t know better. It only takes one washing and there’s no undoing it. Fortunately, the insides are stainless steel so I just keep using them. And fortunately, if it happens to your coffee maker, they cost about $20. Still, since they last forever, I’m sure most of us would prefer to keep ours that long.

  46. Laura

    This is what we use on our camping trips but I’m going to have to dig it out at home to try an iced Americano. Thanks for all the tips!

  47. We love our Bialetti around here–so much that my crazy husband (who worries about what kind of metals things are made of) upgraded to a stainless steel version a few years ago. It’s bigger (6 cup, I think), and virtually indestructible. But if you’re gonna have stovetop espresso, you’ve gotta have stovetop frothed milk, right? Enter the stainless-steel plunger-style milk frother. I seriously wish I’d invented these:

    End result: I’ve not spent a red cent at a coffee shop in years. Literally.

    1. Oh, I just posted a question about the stainless steel version and here’s your post! Thanks. Heading to Amazon. Good to know about the frother, as well.

  48. Have you ever seen the stainless steel version used? I would love it if they made the aluminum style in stainless steel but it sounds like it functions the same. Great tutorial. This thing has intimidated me for years.

  49. bronte18

    This is a silly question, but there is one dedicated coffee drinker in our household {G} Is that just regular milk you are using in the photo or is it half and half?

  50. Lovely! I love my little Moka pot. I got it at TJMaxx/Marshalls for $7 and it has been fabulous. My drink of choice is a vanilla latte – so I make my own vanilla syrup, heat the milk in the microwave for 2 min then froth the milk with a $1.95 IKEA battery powered milk frother and get a perfect latte each and every time, for a fraction of the price of the coffee shop one.
    Iced lattes are on the menu once my kitchen repairs are complete – only another few days!!
    Thanks for the reminder :)

    1. Oh, and we inherited a larger pot that we use while camping. It’s super fast, delicious and is perfect with Rumchata as creamer. (“You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning” is our camping mantra)

  51. Carol

    I love my moka pot too; mine is a somewhat fancier stainless steel version that I bought for my parents when I lived in Munich many years ago. They never used it so I reclaimed it from them at some point. Fantes in Philadelphia sells spare rings and other parts like the perforated disc you put on top of the ground coffee. They have a website so you can order online. My best coffee was a gift from a friend who lives in Italy and brought it as a gift; it was a smaller local producer so I’ll just have to make the trip someday to discover more. Thanks for all of your writing and cooking inspiration!

  52. I’ve been trying to make a decent shot/pot of espresso with an Ikea Moka pot and an electric stove but it just isn’t working out for me. If I heat the Moka pot on Medium it sometimes doesn’t boil, all the water literally just evaporated out of the bottom without producing a single drop of coffee. If I turn it up a bit more, I get espresso but it’s very bitter/burnt tasting. Turning the burner off once it starts sputtering almost immediately stops the process, turning it down to low means it takes almost 30 min to finish and the taste is still very burnt. I’ve tried cold, lukewarm, & just off the boil water and nothing seems to be working for me. I’m using Illy espresso and Lavazza coffees both for Moka pots and still…no hints of caramel, just an overwhelming acrid burnt flavour. Please help! Any suggestions are welcome.

    1. Jules

      Sounds like your pot needs a new gasket (steam is leaking out instead of being forced through your coffee) and/or you are over-packing your coffee filter bit (if the coffee is too tightly packed, you’ll get no coffee in the pot).

  53. Jenny

    Hi Deb! Thank you so much for this tutorial! I am trying to reduce my incredibly expensive Starbucks habit, and this gives me the confidence I need to try to make espresso at home! Do you know how might I replicate a latte (ie. how best to prepare the milk)? Thank you!

    1. Anna

      Honestly, I’m not crazy picky about the amount of foam when I make espresso drinks at home. Having said that, I usually heat the milk in a small pot and go at it for a few seconds with a whisk. Then I’ll hold it up high while pouring into my mug. It’s not the same as your fancy cafe, but it gives me the same effect without another kitchen gadget.

  54. Sandra D, Joliet

    I love the smell of coffee but it just never tasted like the smell. It was always bitter to me. I bought a Bodum glass siphon/vacuum coffee maker. While it was really cool, like watching a science project, I didn’t think the taste was any better. I then bought a small French Press for tea-my favorite way to make it. I noticed the instructions said you could make coffee but my tea shop owner suggested buying a separate one so I could have designated tea and coffee presses. I bought a larger one for coffee. I bought beans and ground them and I have to say it doesn’t taste bitter to me. I’ve seen a pot similar to yours in the supermarket but was reluctant to try it. I just might have to now.

  55. Well! This is exactly how I do this daily in Italy, with the very same coffee. Legit! Thanks for validating my technique…it works though I confess I’ve been winging it.

  56. Maria

    On our recent trip to Venice the apartment had a Bialetti espresso maker, that the host showed me how to use. That was a good thing, as I have one at home that I had picked up at a yard sale years ago, and I had used improperly. My coffee always boiled over. Not any more! Thank you Paolo!
    And thank you Deb for this wonderful post that brought those Venice mornings making espresso the right way!! back to me.

  57. Sharon


    Question unrelated to this recipe. I saw an article about packing lunches on Food52. I love the stainless Bento box pictured with your comments. I would love to purchase. What is your source. Love you. Love your recipes. Many thanks!

    1. deb

      It’s this one. They’re really expensive, but they last forever* provided you don’t have the kind of child who loses their lunchbox. I’m not naming any names or anything…
      * also, my son’s fabric case was so disgusting after a year and half, I replaced it

  58. Allison

    I haven’t read all these comments yet, so apologies if this has already been brought up – but can you settle a dispute my sister and I have been having…. espresso beans or espresso roast coffee?? The same? Different? Which to use with this amazing little pot?

  59. nevillen

    Thank you! I stopped at the grocery store and picked up the coffee on the way home. I followed your directions exactly and it turned out perfect! My little espresso maker has been sitting in a drawer because I really didn’t know how to use it. Thanks again!

  60. Kimberlee

    I love that the pot of brewing expresso has a backdrop of a digital clock screaming
    “911!” because that’s how I feel until the coffee is safely cradled between my hands in a warm mug. : )

  61. kxn111

    Yoooo, it comes up early in this article, and I bet people have already said this further down the thread, but it bears repeating:

    The handles melt! All fine and good for gas burners, when you can control the size of the flame, but for electric/glass tops…. Do NOT plunk your poor, much abused Mokapot smack-dab in the middle of the burner. Just place it at the border of the burner, with the handle helpfully over the outside of the part, and all will be well.

  62. Mimi

    Have no intention of making this but oh the pleasure of yiur charming tutorial. I hung on yiur every word. It’s better than the coffee, I’m sure.

  63. Sarah

    My lovely lady, when you case of ground coffee runs out get BEANS and a grinder an grin as you need – this is the freshest and best.

    We have flat white coffee and make it for 2 with a pot of coffee poured into the saucepan of hot milk so the strength evens out. It’s strong and milky and delicious.


  64. Debra

    On a trip to Israel last autumn, I fell in love with the coffee and espresso I had daily there. So, when I arrived home, I dug out my Bialetti Moka 3 cup pot from ages ago. I had abandoned it for the melita and then a cold-brew contraption. Since Israel, I make my daily coffee with the Bialetti. Yes, it takes a few minutes but it’s worth it! I was delighted to see your post.

  65. Dayna

    This has changed my mornings! I’ve been using a stovetop espresso maker for years with inconsistent results. Turns out I’ve been packing the grounds, and adding boiling water makes it so much smoother.

  66. Megan

    I’m about to buy an espresso maker so that I can make this. Considering how much it costs for fancy drinks at Starbucks, I shouldn’t feel too guilty for buying one even if we don’t use it every day or just use it a few times. I just can’t not make something that you post that looks good! You also got me motivated to buy a waffle maker when you posted your essential raised waffle recipe. I also bought the drinking glasses you recommended (we were down to just drinking water out of coffee mugs). I have been happy with my purchases and use them a lot. :)

    1. deb

      Thanks. The great thing with this is that you could not use it for months or even years and it should be just fine; electronics have planned obsolescence. The Italian grandmas know where it’s at!

      1. Megan

        I just figured out another great excuse to buy the espresso maker–it’ll be a father’s day gift for my husband! And to get free shipping on amazon I need to spend more so I’m going to get the illy coffee too. I can’t wait–my husband is going to love this. Thank you!

  67. Vikki

    I’ve had my little pot for a very long time. I’ve also found very good coffee beans at World Market; the Moka Java Blend. Upon following your instructions and not grinding too, too finely and not tamping down (which I always did) that little old pot made the best demitasse EVER! Thank you for your experimenting and sharing. I’ll be “cooking” my coffee more often. Perfect 👌

  68. Lauren

    Another, less work-intensive way to make a Greek frappe is to use an old-fashioned milkshake maker (you know, the little stands with the whirly thing on a rod) to froth up the coffee/water/milk mixture. Or at least, that’s how the stewards and cooks on the Greek ships I board make them for me. Granted, they almost always make them with instant coffee, but still, it would save you some arm work!

  69. SK

    I’ve been making espresso and espresso drinks with a stovetop espresso maker for over 15 years. I have yet to replace a gasket or adjust the valve. Still love this way of espresso making and it makes a heck of an impression on my guests :)

  70. Sue

    First let me say that I love your cookbook. It has replaced The Silver Palate cookbook in my library. However your column on coffee is a bunch of pretentious claptrap. I have made coffee for 60 years and go through none of the machinations that everyone talks about. Hear is the recipe:
    6 Cups of cold water
    3 heaping Tablespoons of Chock Full of Nuts original coffee.
    One 6 Cup Black and Decker coffee maker
    Turn on coffee maker and in 5 minutes you will have coffee that rivals any brand

    1. deb

      I’m glad you like the cookbook — that is no small compliment considering that the Silver Palate was our cooking bible growing up (also Joy of Cooking, of course).

      I think those are directions for a drip coffee machine, right? That’s not what this is for. These stovetop espresso makers seem to have a larger margin of error — and more confusing instructions out there — so my goal was to make it easier. I don’t think there’s anything pretentious about them; they cost $22, don’t even use electricity, and have been around for almost 100 years.

      1. Sue Klish

        HI Deb, I have been around for 76 of those 100 years and started making coffee when I was 16 with a stovetop percolator and ground eight o’clock coffee which is still around today. I did a mean cup of coffee then but on an electric stove and still do a mean cup of coffee with a drip coffee maker. I have used a French press and the coffee was OK. However, I have to say that the best coffee I made was in a Corning Ware electric coffee pot which I don’t think is available today. Sorry about the electricity but I don’t have gas.

        1. deb

          The “technology” of stovetop espresso isn’t wildly different from a stovetop percolator, fwiw. Stovetop espresso makers work with gas or electric stovetops.

  71. Anna

    This extremely exhausted, 9 months’ pregnant woman could not thank you enough for this timely post. I made myself an iced americano this morning in a jiffy(somehow this felt faster than my normal, lazy weekend cafe con leche that involves an extra step of warming milk on the stovetop). It had made this Wednesday bearable!!

  72. Can’t wait to try this. Bookmarking this to try as soon as our kitchen remodel is done. I too have a secret coffee shame, as a professed coffee drinker, and avid wine drinker, coffee has always been something I intended to learn more about and “do better” both from a palate and brewing stand point.

    I swear I will learn to make coffee!

  73. Gretchen

    These pots always mystified me. I bought one, the Illy coffee. Made a spectacular Americano for my afternoon. Wow. It doesn’t compare to a chain coffee shop. This stuff, and recipe, far from being pretentious, is coffee at its basic best. Thanks (again) Deb!

  74. araminty

    Uh, this isn’t an Americano. It’s a long black.

    Put hot water into espresso = Americano
    Put espresso into hot water = long black.

    1. deb

      I don’t, I buy my espresso ground. (I realize serious coffee people hate to hear this, but I’m completely at peace with the quality of coffee I’m getting.)

    2. Kelli

      Because when you buy it ground it’s not meant for an espresso meathod…. I have a cheap grinder now and it makes for a horrible French press I’m very curious what your using for this exact meathod and recipe….

  75. Hilary

    Oh man. I am delighted/sorry you posted this because, as a coffee addict who makes my own cold brew (yes, I own a Hario) but doesn’t have the tools for hot coffee, I may need to get a Moka.

  76. Cy

    I have always liked my ” home coffee ” better than most coffee houses. Although truth be told SF had always had a strong coffee culture with great coffee houses and still growing. I bought the other Italian brand of 6 cup stove top. It’s funny some of the Bialetti pots I’ve found were made in China. Sorry, just principal, I had to have one made in Italy, I know you understand. Anyway, it’s so fast! Great for busy mornings. I mostly use a Melitta ( now they call it pour over, but Ms. Melitta invented this method). Very strong, other wise, I use the Illy pre ground espresso and my stovetop. I confess I use more water and usually drink the whole pot myself( but I only have one cup! :) adding milk or soy creamer. I also melted my handle slightly, making the same assumption as you. I actually let it start to boil and then take it off and it finishes on its own. I will try your method next time. Great tutorial!


    Just wanted to mention (for better or worse) that Frappes in Greece are always made with Nescafe instant coffee. It’s beaten with a bit of water (or milk) and sugar, before more water is added, in order to get that foamy consistency.

  78. Agnes

    This is not the method for a Greek frappe! You must devote an entire entry to the lovely, creamy goodness that is frappe. You can also deviate to a Freddo Cappucino…oh the love of cold coffee in Greece.

  79. True story: I was introduced to these in college by an Italian friend, and proceeded to destroy my first one by forgetting to put water in it before I turned the stove on. Some of us should maybe not be trusted with fire before we’re caffeinated :D

  80. I LOVE stovetop espresso; it’s seriously underrated. I usually do get some hazelnut foam – maybe it’s just in my head, but it tastes better with foam – and I keep the heat one notch below medium throughout the process. Also, after starting with cold water for many years, I switched to boiling it in the electric kettle first. I think this might help the foam situation; it speeds the process up and that seems desirable. It also means that there’s water waiting for my americano at the perfect temp the second the espresso is done.

    Thanks for boosting stovetop espresso popularity!!

  81. Gail

    Love it that you have joined the moka pot club!

    I would urge your readers who are thinking of trying this to read lots of comments from fans (there seems to be a cult on Amazon!) on how to make this, and then do whatever works for you. I guess it’s confusing because so many people say, “No, your way is wrong! I do it correctly!” I, personally, make my coffee on low heat for 10 minutes, and keep the lid open for easy monitoring. When the coffee starts bubbling into the upper chamber, I keep an eye and ear on it, and when it starts sputtering that’s when it’s boiling, and that’s when I turn the flame off. If I somehow lose track and let it boil till its done, the coffee is still drinkable but just a bit more bitter. I also don’t get that lovely crema (foam) on top.

    I like my coffee strong so I only add a splash of hot water to the hot espresso. You’re absolutely right–iced espresso requires no added water. Pro-tip: if you ever have extra coffee (ha ha) you can pour it into a dedicated ice tray and make coffee ice cubes, so as not to dilute your coffee with water ice cubes. Also, try adding dulce de leche (sweet condensed milk) in addition to milk for a truly yummy Thai-style iced coffee!

    Always remember: coffee is life.

  82. Susan

    Hi, try putting in a spoonful , or two, of good cocoa powder into the hot espresso and stir well to dissolve. Add ice and milk. I find the milk is sweet enough so i don’t add sugar. Best iced mocha ever.!

  83. Vini

    Deb, you sold me on this coffee maker when I attempted, unsuccessfully, to make a tasty cup at home after being in Portugal. Am ordering the Bialetti today! However, I am in Canada and cannot get the Illy Moka coffee you recommend, without robbing a bank!! Are there other brands you’ve tried and liked? Thanks….

    1. deb

      I would follow reviews on Amazon or the like and see what people are saying (even if you then buy it at some local store), but my impression is that most stovetop espresso machines work very similarly, with very similar parts.

      1. Vini

        I can get the Bialetti machine easily on Amazon, it’s the ground coffee you mentioned being your favourite, the Illy, that I’m wondering about comparable brands to. I guess it’s a trial and error process!

      1. Jenn

        LOL, here in Miami cuban coffee is the standard. People make a full pot then serve like espresso. In almost every office someone either makes it (in electric pots) or buys a “colada” in a styrofoam cup and passes out little shots to coworkers.

  84. Ali Fischer

    Vacationing in Italy with my family this week and your tutorial just saved us all – me the coffee addict and the rest who now get cheerful, awake me instead of the frightening alternative. Thank you!

  85. lomagirl

    I use regular roast coffee- Colombian- instead of an espresso roast. Less bitter, and just like the tinto we used to drink as kids in Colombia. I like the idea of using this instead of an electric coffee maker in the morning- would probably drink less coffee, too!

  86. Allie

    Deb – after 7 min only half the water went up to the 2d level – what did I do wrong? (I only realized later than only half of it brewed.) it was delicious!

    1. deb

      It might just need longer on your stove. I don’t think it’s uncommon for some water not to make it up — in fact, some people intentionally leave 1/3 behind because they think the flavor is best when they do — but it shouldn’t be half.

      1. Allie

        Thanks! The second time it worked perfectly – I was more patient. And good to know re leaving a little water behind.

  87. Ttrockwood

    I have been using my Bialetti for years! But!!

    You forgot the very Most Important Point-
    Do Not Walk Away.

    Do not walk away while this is on the stove!!

    The one time i did the heat was too high and the bottom half of the handle melted…! Yikes.
    It goes from not doing anything to done very quickly so there’s no wandering off allowed.

    I like mine straight from the pot with a splash of nondairy creamer (dairy hates me),no water, and in the summer there’s ice as well.
    I’m not religious about the coffee i use, but i do love the Heatbreaker espresso from Cafe Grumpy (local nyc company, they roast beans in brooklyn) which honestly is about the same as that Illy one (which i also really like)

  88. Una

    Someday, over coffee perhaps, I’ll tell y’all about the time my bialetti exploded all over the kitchen, because (unbeknownst to me, obvsly) one of the gasket thingies was missing. I wondered why it was taking so long to brew. Picture hot hot hot dry espresso shot — sprayed — ‘cross a wall of freshly-painted robin’s-egg blue. I discovered coffee grounds in the nooks and crannies of my apartment for months thereafter.

    Fixed it, no problem — and I agree, such good coffee.

  89. Julia

    Oh God, Frappés! Takes me right back to the summer of 2001, when I went to Greece on what they called a “youth trip” (I was 15 and my parents wouldn’t let me go by myself, so this was my only option). This was before we had Starbucks in Germany, so I hadn’t even had a frappuccino before. The concept of cold, milky coffee over ice totally blew my mind. Thanks for bringing back that memory. I feel old now 😆

  90. Evelyn

    May I suggest a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk? Poured over the ice (before espresso), it gets melty and adds a bit o’ decadence. Just what this Mom needs :)

      1. Evelyn

        I pour the hot coffee right over the ice and scm! First ice, then scm, then coffee poured on top. Creamer stirred in last.

        Very excited for your upcoming book–I covet your first one!

  91. Katherine

    for the non-iced espresso days – you can put a little bit of milk in the chamber where the espresso comes out and it will heat it up as the coffee brews and then mix them at the end: latte ready to go!

  92. Alice K.

    This post brought back lovely memories. Nearly 50 years ago I was a very young newlywed, and of course my husband (also very young) and I thought we were so sophisticated when we bought the coffeepot you use in this post. But we used it with “regular” coffee! It worked fine for a few years, then some other coffeepot caught my eye, and this one was abandoned on the shelf. Now years and years later I have no recollection of having thrown the pot out, but it obviously has been lost through a half-dozen or so moves. I haven’t replaced it, but your post made me smile at the memory of being young!

  93. Winston

    I’ve used one of these (a South American knock-off of the Italian one Dev has) on and off for about 20 years. One piece of advice: if you don’t live in New York, San Francisco or someplace else with excellent water, then you should filter your water for a good result. It makes an enormous difference!

  94. nrossiter73

    I had one of these but it rusted, should have looked after it a bit better as I would love a coffee from it right now. Nice post.

  95. Terry

    I have never been to your site before and wanted to share what a delight it was to read your post. I am an avid reader and I thoroughly enjoyed your sense of humor. I have just subscribed to the weekly digest and I look forward to reading your future posts. Thank you and keep on writing!

  96. Melissa Mitchell

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a thorough tutorial. I so needed this. I so appreciate you for doing this. I have tried – and failed miserably – to replicate my daily espresso latte. I had given up convinced that this could never be made at home. You just saved me $36 per week. THANK YOU!!!!!!! :)

  97. Bree

    Wait wait these make ESPRESSO? I thought that these were just complicated regular coffee brewers that people who wanted to live in the 50s used. Now that I know what their purpose is I might have to look into this life…

  98. Dana

    Freeze some espresso ice cubes to perfect your drink! And look for a stainless steel pot over aluminum – for better taste. And finally — freshly ground beans prepared in a burr grinder really do make a world of difference. I’ve been obsessed with stove top espresso for 20 years!

  99. Dawn

    So I’m pretty sure you read my mind. Long story short I’m living in Guatemala working on my dissertation and our coffee maker broke but my professor brought down a stove top espresso maker. Before he left he tried explaining how to use it but my brain just couldn’t follow (we are super tired). I was catching up on the recipes I missed in the 2 months I had without internet and boom you solved my problem! I’m now super wired from the delicious espresso I just downed. Thanks for always being my kitchen savior!!! :)

  100. Lorraine

    Made this today with my brand new moka pot. I ground dark roast beans on setting 12, and followed your directions exactly. It was perfect!
    Now I get to throw out the pod espresso maker that someone gave me and replace it with this every day when I want something different than pour over coffee.

  101. Ellen

    I’ve been looking at this pot for a while and finally bought one along with the illy coffee to give it a try. So far I’ve got 2 great pots and 2 total failures. The 2 failures, the coffee just didn’t brew. The first time I’m guessing I had too much coffee in the filter. The second time I didn’t fill it full, but I did put the water and coffee in and screwed the top on and then let it sit for about 1/2 hour before I put it on to brew. Maybe that caused the coffee grounds to swell? I hope I’ve figured it out. I don’t want to waste anymore coffee!

    1. deb

      If it’s not brewing, can you give it more heat or time? I agree the coffee feels precious. I have twice in two weeks clumsily knocked my whole fresh-brewed pot over and aside from the fact that I had to clean the stove and the walls and the floor and the cabinet fronts, zomg, and then wash the coffee maker and brew it all over again… it felt especially bad to throw away that lovely Illy.

  102. Melissa

    Awesome! I’ve owned a bialetti moka pot for probably 10 years, but never got it quite right. I went back to my French press. So I dusted it off tried again using your directions. AMAZING. I use it daily now, my French press coffee just isn’t as full and rich as the moka.
    For those with electric ranges:
    I have a glass top electric stove (ugh, someday will replace with gas), and I found that exactly halfway is the perfect heat. (My dial goes up to 10, so I set it at 5.) I also let the stove warm up while I assemble, and I also fill with hot water so it’s ready in about 3 minutes. With room temperature water it takes almost 15 minutes. Must be an electric range thing.

  103. Okay. I’m not sure why, but something totally clicked for me with this recipe. My technique was so similar–Moka pot espresso mixed with almond milk and ice for a sort-of iced latte– but it made me think about lighter more summery versions. One thing led to another, which led to the best of all: a mojito americano thing, where the hot espresso is poured over two handfuls of mint sprigs and sugar in a measuring cup. Ice added soon after, and the whole thing steeps until mixed with a bit of water (depending on how much ice I started with) and more ice. It’s the thing summer needs. If your NYC herb garden includes mint, please try this!! Thanks for the inspiration; love you forever!

  104. gina

    i’m a little confused about the amount of coffee you’re putting in. i just bought one almost exactly like yours (different brand i can’t remember) 6 cup…looks to be pretty identical, but there is no way to put 5 measured tablespoons of coffee in the funnel. also, i checked The Google and 15 grams is 1 tablespoon…no?? clearly i am just confused here, but i wanted to check so i understand what i’m doing (or not). still working out proportions of water to coffee and almond milk, but i LOVE this thing. thanks for all you do!

  105. I am the only coffee drinker in my house, so I got the (extremely adorable) one shot Bialetti. My first cup was a revelation. My second cup… didn’t work out, as I guess I turned the heat down too low and only got a tiny drizzle of espresso. Now I am attempting cup three. All three times, the base has leaked in spite of me twisting it shut as tightly as I can. Am I doing something wrong or is a little leakage normal?


    I have a 15 year-old Inox (now known as Cuisinox)6 Cup stove top espresso maker. It’s a thing of beauty and made of polished stainless steel, and gleams on my gas range. Cuisinox stovetop espresso makers have a reducer, which is a little perforated removable lid that sits on top of the ground espresso in the funnel and it allows one to make less espresso. I have 3 Nespresso machines (one for home, one for the office, and one that travel with me), however, I still love using my Cuisine on my leisurely weekends and lazy days where I have more time to enjoy making traditional stovetop espresso.

  107. Theresa

    This was a game changer. I, too, was a try-every-type-of-pot kind of coffee person and have been using a one cup pour over for the last few years (I can’t justify the cleaning of a giant pot, it’s just me). Recently was given this exact espresso maker for my birthday and, honestly, using your directions, I haven’t had a misstep yet! Since the weather is finally catching up to fall I went hot today and steamed my milk using heated milk on the stovetop and an immersion blender for foam. It worked beautifully! Thank you for this post!

  108. I thought I was so smart for thinking of preheating the water that goes into the bottom compartment. “Put that fast-boiling kettle to work,” I said. “Save time,” I said.

    Well, I almost dropped the whole thing on the floor trying to screw the top on. It turns out that these things are designed to conduct heat.

    Deb, thank you for this beautiful post. That coffee-and-cream photo inspired me to make one this morning. (With cold water.) I made it in my glass lidded travel cup and had a beautiful, blustery walk to work.

  109. Poppy

    Deb, do you know what the most amazing accessory for your moka pot is? A dosa caffè! It’s a container for your ground coffee that you set on top of the moka pot basket before screwing on the top – it dispenses just the right amount of coffee into the basket with the flip of a lever. Very low tech, very effective, mostly tidy. Yes, it’s a single-purpose tool, but oh what a tool it is! Amazon sells shiny stainless steel ones for $25-ish but there probably are other options (I got mine at a housewares shop in Italy for maybe €10). I love it so much, use it literally every day, and have become a serious propagandist, obviously.
    Pictures and explanation here:

  110. Carla J

    We don’t have a two yr old who comes running in when he hears the ice tray cracking, we have 3 dogs that come running as soon as the ice dispenser is depressed on the refrigerator door. They sit and wait until they all get their share of cubes to eat.
    Have to dig the pot out and gather some coffee to brew, great memories from Europe.

  111. Andrea Davis

    I’m a recent Moka pot convert: I got myself a 9 cup Bialetti (one still manufactured in Italy, not China). The ritual of making the espresso is almost as soothing as drinking it. “Moka Pots Forever”! And thanks, Deb, for the amusingly written tutorial. I’m reassured that I’m doing it right.

  112. Jenny

    Ah, yes, this is a staple in our household. My husband and his family are from Cuba, we live in Florida (I was born in Ohio, however). Very early in our relationship, I learned how to make Cafe Con Leche. By now, I swear, I could make it in my sleep. Always Bustelo. But it makes the perfect pot of espresso! Please, always espresso, forever. You can mix it with anything and it makes a superior cup of coffee. But I’ve always loved the method of making cafe con leche because as soon as the espresso is hot and ready you pour just enough over a spoonful of sugar and you whisk it (we’ve even had a special, tiny whisk just for this) quickly to caramelize the sugar before you add more espresso and then the milk. I swear, not a day goes by that I don’t enjoy it.

  113. Victoria Gilbert

    I remember this when you first posted it, and I was sad, because I have an induction cooktop stove, and the Moka pots will not work on it. I’ve tried many different steel expresso makers, but they are just too small. I have been making espresso-like coffee with an Aeropot, and I wanted to pass along that this method of Americano making works well with the Aeropot coffee too. Yay!! Thanks for reviving this post, I am enjoying an excellent iced Americano right now!

      1. Well, I followed the instructions as exactly as I could, excepting the grounds. I only had Cafe Bustelo available, so that might have been it. Using near-boiling water in the lower chamber helped considerably, but the whole thing was such a production of handling scalding water and watching the pot sit on the stove that I think I am going to return it. It’s too much trouble.

        1. Andrea

          I use Cafe Bustelo espresso when I don’t want to use my cherished Kimbo and it works great. I always use cold tap water and it turns out well. If you haven’t returned it, I would give it one last try. Cold tap water up to the bottom of the small round vent, then lightly tapping the grounds while uttering an Italian phrase of your choosing. Then screwing on the top part and putting it on medium-low heat until it makes the gurgling noise. It’s worth one more attempt!

  114. Jess

    Hi Deb!

    Longtime reader :).

    I recently bought a Bialetti 6 cup just like yours after reading about it on several food blogs. Lots of trial and error over here. So far I’ve used Trader Joe’s coffee (ground to espresso form by the machine in the store – what I had on hand, def not fancy) and Publix espresso coffee (which is quite a bit finer than the TJ’s but honestly both seem to work?). My pot is taking about 13 minutes to boil on medium heat starting with room temp water. I dumped the first 3 pots which the brochure recommended (felt sacrilegious). Now, though, I almost feel like the coffee still has a burnt taste- but if I do lower heat it would take at least 20 minutes to boil. Any recommendations? Thoughts on my coffee choices?

    Also wondering if I should try maybe a cup of water to 2 tablespoons of coffee to tone it down a bit (for a half pot)…

    Thanks so much for any input you might have!

    1. deb

      Not sure if it’s the coffee or just needing to be scrubbed better but hard to say. Play around with different brands and water levels — I think you’ll get it the way you want it in time.

    2. Jaymes

      Try using hot water in the base and heating your moka pot on high heat. It only takes mine a minute or two this way to brew. The longer it sits on the stove the more bitter and burnt it will taste. Different types coffees will make a difference to.

      1. Jess

        Thank you so much!! Pulled my bialetti out tonight and was determined to get it right. Heated the water in the microwave for two minutes before adding it to the pot and I just used my regular old espresso powder 🤷🏻‍♀️. Brewed in probably 4 minutes. I heated my milk and sugar up to make a poor man’s latte haha and added the coffee- tastes great! Small victories! Not sure why we all have to use slightly different methods but I’m just happy I cracked it. 😊

  115. Jaymes

    I’m a little late to this post but I’ve been using one for a few years now and I was lucky enough to attend a coffee making class at a local coffee roasters. A couple tips I learned that made a wonderful cup of coffee was to start with hot water in the moka pot not cold, I use my boiled water that I use for my Americano, heat it on high heat and take it off as soon as it’s done. It only takes a minute or 2 that way, which produces a clean rich taste not any bitterness. I’ve used mine on electric, gas, glass top and camp fire, they all work great. There is nothing better then a Americano in the mountains while camping!

  116. Karen Whitcome

    Wow. Takes me tight back to a long ago taste memory of my very first iced latte at a seaside cafe on the island of Samos, Greece 1980. Been trying to replicate it ever since! Thank you!

  117. Anna

    I am one of those people who prefer my homemade coffee to anything else! And yes, I use a stovetop espresso maker, what else :) I’ve been doing this for 20 years and never had one explode on me. It didn’t occur to me that this can actually happen.

  118. gale spencer

    I am often inspired by you, Deb, and this time is no exception! I read your post, and promptly ordered a 3 cup Moka with Illy coffee! Oh, the wonders of immediate gratification via online ordering!
    I followed the instruction with the pot and made the first batch, then dumped it as instructed. (that was a bit sad, but I am a rule follower, if nothing else). That first attempt was worth the effort, though, because I clearly did not tighten the pot and about half of the water evaporated/spurted out and I only produced about half a pot which if I had tasted it, was probably pretty scorched. The second time, I did MUCH better. I probably turned off the heat a bit early – because I found there was about 1/2 inch of water or so left in the bottom chamber when dumping the grounds, BUT the coffee was AMAZING. So smooth, so rich and velvety (truly, I am not exaggerating!) I made an Americano, and I will be a fan for life.

  119. Madeline

    It took me faaaar too long to listen to you (and every other time I’ve listened to you you’ve been right…except for my crispy fried egg debacle where the fire department showed up…nevermind) and now I can proudly, excitedly, and in true broke-grad-student fashion say: I don’t ever need to buy coffee out again! Thx Deb <3

  120. Ginny Burnham

    Thanks for the Americano instructions! Try Vermont Coffee Company – and grind your own. Or, Hacienda Munoz – pure Puerto Rican coffee. Wonderful, both.

  121. Amy Howell

    Hi Deb!!

    I hope this email finds you and your family healthy and safe. And I must tell you how much I LOVE your recipes! The emails set my mouth to watering every single time! And that’s just from reading them! For the stovetop espresso, do you think it’s okay to do it on a flat top electric range? I rent and unfortunately that is what I have.

  122. Jo Ruoss

    In our village in Spain it’s impossible to get iced coffee in a bar or restaurant, even if you order it because it will be served hot, in a tiny glass, to make it easy to disolve the sugar (which of course you would want to add) and they bring you another glass full of ice, so you can pour your own (now sweetened) coffee in yourself. I love it!
    And I have three different sizes of “Mokas” at home.
    Love your recipes!

  123. Alice K.

    I loved reading this. It brought back precious memories. Lo, so many years ago (probably over 50!) I owned one of these espresso makers. It was considered trendy then. Oh, youth! I digress… Anyway, I used it for a few years, and then a friend introduced me to pour-over-filtered coffee. I changed and eventually somewhere along the line disposed of the Moka coffee pot. What a mistake!! I still rue the day that I did that, and even though I am over 70 years and don’t want to invest in any more kitchen “stuff” I am sorely tempted to buy another Moka!

  124. Robin

    You have brought back so many pre kid marriage memories! Frappes keeping me moving as I backpacked through Europe. My utter sophistication when I brewed my first stovetop espresso in college. ( it has long since been destroyed). I need to find a new one so I can remember these times every day!

  125. Nicole

    Thank you for this, Deb! I never experimented much with making espresso drinks from home because I found it a bit intimidating, but your detailed instructions here made it sound fun and doable. So after being laid off in the midst of the pandemic last May and suddenly becoming an overwhelmed, full-time stay-at-home mom to a spirited 3 year old, I decided that making my own stovetop espresso would help me create a tiny morning routine just for me. I promptly ordered all the tools you recommended and proceeded to enjoy iced americanos all summer and switched to hot when the weather turned. Having this daily marker has really helped with my mental health because it has given me something small and achievable to look forward to when I wake up. And for me, weekends are for capuccinos! xo

  126. Robert Kinghorn

    I have read that adding the coffee at the beginning sort of ‘cooks’ the coffee grounds.
    Possibly the reason to use hot water is so there is less cooking of the grounds?
    I add coffee to the basket, boil the water, put the moka base on the stove to heat up, add the hot water, and only drop the basket in place when things are getting pretty hot. Screw on the top, (hot pads, please) open the lid and watch for the stream of coffee.
    The coffee stream initially starts pretty slowly but will start to gush if the pot stays on the stove. You can kind of move it on and off the burner to keep a gentle flow. Ultimately, you will need to close the lid as you get toward the end or the coffee will spritz out.
    I’m using the pot I bought for $1.00 40 years ago at a garage sale.

  127. Parise Plourde

    My Saeco espresso maker died today. I shopped online for a new one all day. I was minutes away from buying an 800-dollar one when I stumbled upon this. Now I am buying a bialetti and following your instructions! Thank you!

  128. Thank you for this amazing guide! I always order Americano coffee when I go to cafe’s but am constantly disappointed in the flavor. I am off to buy a stovetop maker so I can try this recipe!
    What espresso brand do you recommend for the smoothest flavor? I see you have Illy in the photo, any other espresso that is similar?

  129. Mary

    I have a stainless steel moka pot (IKEA’s finest) and it can go in the dishwasher. I hand wash the rubber ring though. Stainless steel isn’t traditional, I know, but it’s pretty and shiny.

  130. We love our Bialetti! Such a great quality stovetop coffee maker – we normally have it espresso style but as it’s coming into summer now in Australia I think we’ll need to give this recipe a try!

  131. Beverly Din

    Hello and happy holidays!! I’m trying this method for one hot Americano but am confused when she says ” if you’re making one hot Americano, might you just use the full 1 1/2 cups of water (i.e. twice the water) and 2 1/2 tablespoons espresso (i.e. the amount for one Americano) instead of adding hot water at the end? Yes, and I do this too.” So do you use 1.5 cups hot water in your cup and put the full 2.5 tablespoons in the moka pot on top of the 1.5 cups of water already in the moka pot? Thank you and have a safe holiday!

  132. Leslie Maddock

    For an everyday Americano (actually my morning cup), I *love* my Aeropress. I add water, not cream, to the finished brew.

  133. Kait W.

    I too love my stovetop espresso maker! It’s the best for those of us that live in tiny NYC kitchens! It is also comforting to hear that you too struggled to find the right coffee to water ratio. It is a journey!

    One question I have (mine is an 8 cup) is that when I choose to not fill the gasket with coffee completely, in order to make less espresso, I find more ground coffee ends up in the finished product. This has happened with a few different types. Does this mean I need a smaller stove top device?

    1. deb

      I’m not an expert, per se, but it might mean it’s just time for a new rubber ring/gasket. It’s easy to buy replacements and we’ve bought a few over the years.

  134. Patricia

    Coming from an Italian family I’m very familiar with these and the smell of coffee filling the kitchen. The key is to fill it below the valve as you said. It’s also portable for taking on holidays and one gets packed into my case easily. If you can get to a coffee roaster like here in Australia they can grind it for you to the right consistency. Our family has always had our own small grinder at home. Grinding coffee as you need it will give best flavour. Small investment overall and the macchinette can last forever with simple care as you said.

  135. Trish Murphy

    I have yet to figure out why my little mocha pot hisses & releases a little steam around where the upper pot screws in to the lower chamber. I have tried cleaning the gasket, reinserting it, screwing the pieces tighter, but it still loses a little steam. Any ideas?

  136. Susan Iseman

    Sounds like a lot of work. I have a Cuisinart coffeemaker. I grind Starbucks Cafe Verona beans and used filtered water- this is key. I prefer hot coffee, so I heat and whip the milk. Perfect cup every time

  137. Deb

    You featured this again recently on Instagram and I can’t thank you enough. The Mona pot and Illy coffee was the perfect gift for my 25-year-old. Then we made Americanos following your recipe. Great evening entertainment!