How To Make Stovetop Espresso (Brew Guide)

In this quick coffee brewing guide, you’ll learn how to make moka pot espresso that even your Italian Nonni’s will be proud of.

Do you love espresso coffee, that syrupy black gold in a cup? If you’re not ready to invest in a home espresso machine or don’t have space for it, then you may want to consider a stovetop espresso maker also known as a moka pot or Italian Espresso.

At a Glance

Brew Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 2 cups

What You Need


Step 1: Prepare the stovetop espresso pot

Separate your stovetop machine into its three parts by unscrewing it at the middle. When the top chamber comes off, you’ll find the filter basket resting inside the water tank.  

Step 2: Grind your coffee beans

This part is important. First of all, notice we didn’t say “get your pre-ground coffee out of the cupboard”. We strongly recommend grinding your beans for that fresh flavour that no pre-ground coffee will ever match. The only advantage to pre-ground coffee is it’s usually ground to the consistency you want for espresso and stovetop, which is about the same as table salt. So when you’re grinding your own beans, you’re after that fine grind.

Just to get really finicky though, err on the side of slightly coarser than fine rather than powder. That powdery grind is what you’ll find in Turkish coffee but in stovetop it can potentially clog the filter and create too much pressure during the brew. 

So, no finer than espresso!    

Step 3: Add water to the water tank

The bottom portion of the stovetop machine is the water tank. Fill it with cold and filtered water. You’ll notice a little safety valve near the top of the tank. Think of that as your water level marker. Fill up to that point but not above so that it’s able to let out steam to balance the pressure. 

Step 4: Put the FRESHLY GROUND COFFEE in the filter

Fill the filter basket with freshly ground coffee to the brim. Once again, if you’re still using pre-ground coffee, consider purchasing a grinder. Ok, rant over (but you’ll be amazed by the difference it makes)!

Sometimes people are tempted to tamp the coffee a little but that’s unnecessary with a moka pot, it’ll only interrupt the boiling water bubbling upward. Simply fill the basket to full and use a tea spoon to level it out across the top.

Step 5: Reassemble the chamber or unit

Place the coffee-filled filter into the water tank and screw on the top chamber! Easy!

Step 6: Put it on a medium/medium-high heat.

Almost done! 

Turn your stove to a medium to medium/high heat and put the moka pot on top. 

The process won’t take long, anywhere from 3 to 8 minutes depending on the unit. And if you can, don’t leave the maker. You want to be present when the top chamber starts drizzling out hot coffee.  

Side note – Experiment with the brew temperature and take note of the end result, as some coffees do better with a higher heat than others. There’s no exact rule to this. Generally though, if your coffee tastes bitter or burnt, the brewing temperature may have been too high and if the coffee tastes sour or watery, the brewing temperature may have been too low. This is assuming that your coffee is fresh, and the grind is on point. 

Step 7: Serve and enjoy your espresso!

You’ll know it’s done when you hear the gurgling sound. It means there’s air in the chute and the upper chamber is full. Turn off the heat and remove the coffee maker from the stove, pour that black gold into your cup of choice and enjoy!

Pro tip – Don’t leave the coffee maker for more than a few seconds after the gurgling sound starts. Once it’s done…it’s done. Leaving it longer on the stove may overbrew the coffee and cause a slightly burnt taste.

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