Moka Pot vs Drip Coffee: Why Stovetop Espresso is Totally Different

Some of the most common questions my friends ask me when they see me making moka coffee on the stove is one of the following worded something like this:

  • Is Moka coffee stronger than drip?
  • Do moka pots make better coffee than regular coffee makers?
  • Is it easier (or faster) to make coffee in a moka pot?

At first I was shocked at how few people knew anything about this method of making coffee since it’s been a part of my life since as long as I can remember.

These days however I have started looking forward to introducing this style of coffee to anyone and everyone I meet. It’s like introducing modern man to old world techniques that operate simply, with heat and physics.

If you are reading this then you probably have little experience with moka pots so I’ll briefly summarize before getting into the details:

The Difference Between Moka Coffee and Drip Machines

Moka coffee is made from coffee grind roughly the same size as drip machines. The best stuff uses a slightly finer grind commonly found in pre-ground bags of Lavazza which many people also use in espresso makers and drip machines.

You put coffee in the basket and water in the lower chamber and heat it up on the stove. In as little as a few minutes you then have a potent batch of moka which will remind you a bit of straight espresso. It is potent and much stronger than drip coffee or even French press.

You can see more about how to brew with a moka pot here and tell when the moka is done making coffee here.

Espresso lovers will sip on this brew as is just as they would a double espresso. Coffee lovers will then add a bit of hot water to the brew making them something extremely similar to an Americano or a lungo shot.

As to the question of whether moka coffee is better, that is purely a personal opinion. I think it is way better because you can only make coffee so strong when using drip or pour over techniques. The straight moka is probably not quite as good as proper espresso but it’s a really close second and it is just as versatile, meaning you can alter it to work for any coffee based drink like mocha, latte, lungo, or Americano.

Other Than Flavor Why Would You Make Moka Over Regular Coffee

For me I make moka because I love the strength of the coffee coming out of my Bialetti. Stovetop espresso makers are all dead simple to use too so it’s a lot easier and cheaper to use a moka pot than it is to use a top of the line espresso machine.

An older technique for making strong coffee was to use a percolator but moka doesn’t ever come out tasting burnt to me and I can adjust the strength down for my wife or guests as easily as adding a pinch of hot water.

You will also find a ton of people use moka pots first because they have no moving parts, have no electronics, clean easily, use no plastic whatsoever, are extremely durable being made from heavy aluminum or steel.

They are small enough to actually travel with and they are a campers first choice when it comes to making coffee over a campfire.

If there is no electricity moka pots are ready to make coffee because all they need is a heat source like a fire or a set of burning coals.

Top Arguments for Using a Regular Drip Coffee Makers

There are of course some good reasons to not use a moka pot however. Although my favorite style of coffee comes from a stovetop espresso maker I do still have a 12-cup drip machine that I use from time to time so let me cover some of the reasons why I bust out the Cuisinart on occasion and why I think that drip machines may be better for certain types of people.

In my home I typically make coffee for myself and occasionally for my wife. She usually mixes milk and foam into here however so that doesn’t happen as often.

Since I make coffee for myself I don’t need a large moka pot, in fact I use a small 3 or 6 cup moka pot most of the time. 9 or 12-cup pots are just too big for me.

With moka pots you have to make a full pot every time you brew so you wouldn’t want to own a 12-cup pot if you were making it for just yourself.

I do keep a large moka pot on hand for company but I find that my average house guest doesn’t want to drink potent espresso like moka.

For this reason I usually use smaller moka pots for myself and use regular drip coffee pots when I am making coffee for a group of people.

I also know for a fact that regular coffee makers are great for making coffee on an alarm. A drip coffee maker can make coffee before you get up and make your way to the kitchen. This can be particularly helpful for people who have extremely busy mornings or are dealing with morning routines when their hands are full.

Busy mornings with small kids are one perfect example of the benefits of setting a drip machine to go for early morning… its just so hard to make coffee with a baby in your arms after all.

One other excellent reason to opt against a stovetop moka pot is because they need to be “babysat”. When you put the moka pot on the burner you have to be standing by ready to take it off the heat right after it finishes brewing. If you walk away and come back even 5-10 minutes after the brew cycle completes you could have a huge mess on your hands with boiling coffee, burnt flavors, and you might also have damaged your gaskets beyond repair.

When I use my moka pot I am usually in the kitchen the whole time so I am always there to remove the pot from the burner; if you don’t trust yourself to do this every time then you should absolutely invest in a proper espresso machine or make your coffee in an electric moka pot, electric drip machine, or even percolator. It’s just safer.