HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >


stove top thermal espresso maker

  • h

Was wondering if anyone has used one of these and whether they liked it or not.


From the picture it seems that the bottom portion isn't big enough to hold 9 cups of espresso to go into the top portion....Anyone?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Never used it, but stove top espresso making is about controlling quality, not quantity. Even regular commercial espresso makers don't try to make more than one or two cups at once, much less nine. You run into over extraction of the coffee.

    If you use a stove top espresso maker and using a very fine grind, you only want the initial, rich, thick liquid that trickles and foams out. At the point that the liquid starts to gush out in spurts, you cut the heat and immediately pour off the rich part and cut off the bitter liquid that follows.

    1. These devises are called 'stove top espresso makers', what they really are is a 'Moka Pot', and they are nothing like real espresso. What they do is make a good cup of strong coffee if used correctly with fresh ground beans.

      The trick is to get the grind of the beans correct, (not nearly as fine as true espresso) and get it to finish brewing in about four minutes under a medium heat on your stove.

      1. Thansk Jkt and Chipman for your insights. Here's what I've been using to making my coffee. Whether you call it strong coffee or espresso, I generally make this one small portion and then add hot water to make a large cup of regualr coffee. If i can I use Lavazza d'Oro grounds, but when I'm poor, I use something like Bustelo...stuff you get in a bodega in NYC. I can't drink drip coffee as I don't like the acidity it produces.

        So is there a real difference between my little stove top coffee maker and those that have no upside down "J" shape spout, what you call 'Moka Pot"? I mean, with this little one I actually do see some "crema' when the coffee shoots into the cup.


        3 Replies
        1. re: HLing

          I suspect the difference is in size rather than principal. Your little maker has a bottom section you fill with water and a top section that holds the ground coffee, right? And the top part has a tube or funnel that dips down into the bottom section? When the water starts to boil the pressure rises and the only way out is into the tube, through the grounds, then into the cup.

          Can't see the inside of the big stovetop maker, but it's probably the same design except the brewed coffee is collected in the upper chamber instead of a cup. I use a small stovetop model that does the same thing. So I think there is not a real difference between the two, at least with regard to how they work.

          BTW, how much is 9 "cups" of espresso? Surely that thing doesn't produce 72 ounces (more than 1/2 gallon) of espresso! My stovetop model makes maybe 8-10 ounces.

          1. re: Zeldog

            I think that's it. A "cup" of espresso usually refers to the tiny "cups" it is served in, not the 8oz we commonly think of.

            Hope that helps answer why it says it holds 8 cups.

            Also agree with other posters on small batch production vs. pot o espresso.

          2. re: HLing

            The one with the J shaped spout is essentially the same as a Moka Pot. The bottom parts are identical, consisting of the container where the water boils, and a funnel that contains the grounds. Steam pressure in the lower container forces water up the funnel and through the grounds. With the Moka pot the upper half has a tube up the center. The brewed coffee rises through this tube and collects in the upper pot. In the other one, the coffee flows through the tube and drips into a cup set under it.


          3. I've been using the same stove top Alessi expresso maker for almost 30 years. I use a melitta grind. Its a terrific cup of coffee. I use a froth-au-lait for my milk. Its not really expresso but its good--and simple.

            1. As long as you like it, thats what counts. I own a Rancilio espresso machine and two Moka pots and enjoy all of them. In fact, if crema is used as the indicator for "real" espresso, then no espresso machine made up until Gaggia's produced 'real" espresso.

              1. Exactly. If moka pots don't make "real" espresso, then some yuppie can be the one to tell who-knows-how-many thousands of old-skool Italian-Americans, and *millions* of Italians. Of course it's not the same as as the machine at the cafe with more horsepower than my first three cars. It does't have to be the same to be real.

                1. I use one I got from Ikea and I love it. Never had a bitter brew once I got the right grind of coffee.

                  1. I am having problems with the stove top I got.

                    It is the smallest size I could find. I think this may be the problem.

                    It immediately started clogging: the water would not go through, so that only half or a third of the water put in makes coffee in the upper chamber.

                    I then achieved some success by making the grind coarser, but this weakens the coffee, so much you may as well be drinking -- I apologize for saying it -- drip coffee.

                    Even then it clogged, so I tried reducing the amount of coffee in the filter chamber, further weakening the coffee.

                    The brand is "Bonjour." It says it is "designed" in the USA but of course it is just a copy of the Italian aluminum archetype -- six sided. The construction is so simple, I cannot imagine what could be going wrong. I have tried enlarging the hold in the second filter, that goes at the bottom of the upper chamber. The problem persists.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sarpesius

                      Had you ever had success with this particular maker? Or was it this way from the start?

                      If it's clogged, then you should be able to find out exactly where the clog is, seeing how simple the mechanism works. But if that doesn't fix it, then it could be that it's not "clogged" but just not getting enough pressure for various reasons.

                      A working one should work if you 1) have the water filled to just at the air escape which is usually half way up the bottom reservoir for clear water. 2)have FINE ground reasonably PACKED in the filter funnel thing; coarse or loosely filled won't produce the pressure needed 3) medium and up flame...or as large a flame you can have without burning off the handle. You need enough heat for the water boil and steam up through the grounds. Too weak a flame won't produce enough power to break through.

                      When all is done right, and the flow is bad, I would then change the gasket, the rubber ring around the plate under the top unit. If it's tired and sealing properly, it could also contribute to the slow and no flow. Also, I make sure that part of the unit is clean and relatively dry, not still water logged from previous attempts.

                      Good luck.

                    2. my grandmother has been using the same stove top espresso pot to make cuban cafe as long as I can remember. I think the cafe comes out wonderfully! (we use cafe bustelo or cafe pilon) I need to buy an espresso pot myself. i dont think I want one to make 9 cups, that seems a little large.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: amopdx

                        Bear in mind that nine cups are espresso-size cups. I often use a nine cup pot to fill a regular cup to the brim for the missus and myself.

                        1. re: Jimmy Buffet

                          duh.. i should have picked up on that.. thanks :)