Moka Pot Vs Espresso: A High-Pressure Contest

By Shabbir
Last update:

Moka pots are traditionally referred to as stovetop espresso makers, but you’ll be surprised to know that there are quite a few differences between a coffee from a moka pot vs espresso.

In this post, we’ll dive deep into both types of coffee and see what the differences and similarities are.

Does a Moka Pot make espresso?

Moka pots brew coffee that is similar to espresso in some respects, but not exactly. The brewing method is a little similar to an espresso machine, which is probably why they got the name “stovetop espresso maker.”

A stovetop espresso maker on a gas burner
Moka Coffee Pot

So even though you can’t make authentic espresso with a moka pot, you can still make a really delicious cup of coffee.

Moka Pot vs Espresso: Flavor

Moka pot

Bialetti - Moka Express: Iconic Stovetop Espresso Maker, Makes Real Italian Coffee, Moka Pot 1 Cup (2 Oz - 60 Ml), Aluminium, Silver

The Moka pot makes coffee that can be best thought of as something halfway between regular drip coffee and espresso.

Like an espresso machine, the moka pot uses pressure generated by steam to extract flavor from coffee grounds. Water is filled in the bottom chamber. As it is heated, it gives off steam, which becomes pressurized and rises through the filter basket and with coffee grounds to percolate in the top chamber.

The resulting cup is an intense brew of strong coffee similar to espresso shots, but of a quantity similar to normal drip coffee.

It also has a thicker mouthfeel and is quite acidic.


Two white ceramic cups of espresso being pulled from machine.

Espresso can only be brewed using an espresso machine. Very high-pressure water is pushed through a tight puck of finely ground coffee to extract an espresso shot.

Espresso shots are very acidic and are highly concentrated coffee with a layer of rich crema. A single shot of espresso is about 1.5 ounces. Even though the flavor is very intense, you’ll be finished with the shot before you can say “coffee!”.

Espresso is typically even more acidic than moka pot coffee. Even though it has a thicker mouthfeel, it does not feel gritty as moka pot coffee does.


Moka Pot

The moka pot is not as veratile as the Aeropress or drip coffee. There are very few variables you can control, and the resulting coffee is quite consistent.

Once you have a cup of ready coffee, you can make specialty coffees as you would with a shot of espresso.

It’s not going to be the exact same thing, of course, since espresso shots are much smaller than the volume of coffee you’ll brew with a moka pot.


Modern espresso machines are very versatile. You can actually brew a lot of different drinks with an espresso machine:

  • proper espresso
  • double espresso
  • ristretto
  • lungo

Once you have your espresso shot, you can use it to make specialty coffees such as cappuccinos, lattes, macchiatos, and mochas. Even a lower end espresso machine will have a steam wand built in.


Moka pot

Moka pots are nearly indestructible. Once you buy a good moka pot, you can expect it will easily last for years and years as long as you clean it well. You can find moka pots anywhere, so a cheap one may have a poor seal that will give out in some time.

An expensive moka pot will last much longer than a less expensive moka pot. For the best of the best, consider investing in a Bialetti.


Espresso machines have a lot of moving parts, and as a result, there’s a lot more that can go wrong. If you decide to invest in an expensive espresso machine, make sure you get one that can easily be serviced where you live.

They can either last for years without any problems, or they can cause problems within a few months. It also depends on luck, as I’ve had some machines last for over 5 years, and others giving headaches within 6 months.

Most espresso machine manufacturers have good warranties, so there’s no issue there. Repairs need to be accessible, that’s all.

Ease of Use

Moka pot

Moka pots are fairly easy to use as far as coffee machines go. You just have to boil water, add it to the bottom chamber, add the coffee grounds in the filter, level them off, screw on the top, and place it on the stove.

There’s not much that can go wrong – all you need to make sure of is that the coffee beans are ground to the correct consistency.

Moka pots are a little tedious to use, though. That’s because you have to add hot water to the chamber, then grab a towel to grip the bottom as you screw the top on. There are a few more steps compared to espresso machines.


True espresso is far more nuanced and requires a lot of practice to get right. Home espresso machines make things a lot easier as they’re very forgiving – you can put nearly anything in the portafilter and modern espresso machines brew a half-decent shot.

Manual espresso making is real coffee brewing where you have to adjust a lot of variables liek grind size, shot length, and consistency.

As long as you stick to home espresso machines, they should do the job well enough. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to learn the true art of how to create authentic espresso, consider a manual espresso machine.

Brew Time

Moka pot

Moka pots brew fairly quickly. Since you’re already using hot water, the brewed coffee should start bubbling up within a few moments of placing it over heat.

There’s a little bit of preparation involved, but aside from that, you’ll have a cup of coffee in hand in a very short time.

Espresso machine

An espresso machine can brew coffee nearly instantly as long as it is already hot. Even then, the heating elements of most newer espresso machines are really good and can be ready within seconds of powering up the machine.

You just have to add grounds to the portafilter, tamp, attach it to the espresso machine, and press a button to have a cup of coffee ready in your hand.


Moka pot

Moka pots are generally small, and can brew a single cup of coffee. After each brew, you’ll need to clean out the filter basket and upper chamber, add new grounds, boil new water, and brew a second cup.

They’re great for brewing for a single person.

Espresso machine

An espresso machine can do two shots at once. Super automatic espresso machines can do two at once also, but you can press a button and it will extract 2 more within minutes.

With cheaper espresso machines, you’ll need to clean the portafilter, add new grounds, and extract again.


Moka pot

A good moka pot like the Bialetti will set you back around $30. Cheaper knockoffs can be found for less.

Espresso machine

Espresso machines vary wildly in their prices from less than $200 all the way up to $1000 and beyond. More expensive machines generally have better features and their espresso tastes better.


As far as brewing methods go, espresso and the stovetop moka pot are favorites for those who prefer a more intense brew. While the extraction process is similar, a real espresso shot is much more concentrated than moka pot coffee, but a moka pot can generally brew a larger volume. Plus, it’s much cheaper.

Last update on 2024-07-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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About Shabbir

Shab is the Chief Caffeine Officer at Coffee Brewster. When he's not weighing out coffee beans for his next brew, you can find him writing about his passion: coffee.