Once popular only in Italy, these little espresso pots have gained incredible popularity here in the Americas.
Stovetop espresso makers are offered in a variety of sizes, shapes and even functionality. They come in various materials such as aluminum, stainless steel, and even porcelain.
Not all retail stores carry these types of espresso makers, so people often resort to looking online.
One of the lower cost models is your standard aluminum stovetop espresso makers. These usually cost around $15.00 or so depending on size. You can find them online at places such as Amazon which readily carries them. I think I even saw one for $11.00, but I don’t know if it is still available at that price.
Of course, the size of the espresso maker also determines the price. Naturally, the more cups it can produce, the more it will obviously cost.
However, many people do not like to use aluminum espresso makers because of the health concerns regarding the affects that aluminum has on the human body. There is ongoing debate on the topic.
In addition, aluminum itself will tend to corrode and pit over time causing you to toss it out only to replace it with another one every few years. Plus you cannot put it through the dishwasher. Yes I’m speaking from experience.
However, there is an alternative and that’s using stainless steel stovetop espresso makers. Stainless steel models can also range in price. They are not as cheap as the aluminum ones, however they can cost more, but not by that much. Some models just by $10 to $20 more, others by quite a bit.
They are more durable and will last much longer. Yet, even with stainless steel there are variations in the quality of the materials and parts which are used. For example the Alessi 9090 is probably on the top end of a stovetop espresso makers as it is made in Italy and imported in. It is made by a popular design manufacturer company named Alessi. The Alessi can range from $175 upwards. However the quality is definitely tried and true.
There are other brands like Vev Vigano which all offer stainless steel espresso makers of fine quality and worth checking out.
When looking online, or in a store, do not assume that all of them are stainless steel or aluminum. Some may use a combination, or may offer both aluminum and stainless steel models, so make sure you read carefully what you are getting.
this is a great post – and I hope more and more people are introduced to this different way of making coffee, which is THE way in Italy.
I was born and raised in Italy and to me the experience of coffee at home is intrinsically connected to the bubbling sound that the machine makes when it’s ready, as the smell pervades the kitchen.
A couple of comments – please forgive me if I seem obnoxious, but I like to be precise 🙂
In Italy you would refer to these machines as moka – espresso is only the coffee that is made with the big steam machines like at we would call the bar (cafe’ for non Italians); it’s those machines that have one or two (or more spouts for the coffee and a spigot for making cappuccino (or heating water for tea). There is a fundamental difference between the moka and the espresso experience for an Italian – espresso is much stronger and can be adjusted by the “barista” to your taste, and is normally consumed quickly at the counter (unless you sit down for a cappuccino, which might take longer), and moka is what you do at home, what you might add milk to and have a large “caffe’ e latte” mug for breakfast or make after lunch or dinner (how many times I sat down in friends’ kitchens for a moka during an afternoon visit!)
Si the moka is a staple of almost every Italian kitchen – and just to be fair I have to say that it might be the cheapest choice, but the Bialetti (the cheap machine with the logo of the little guy with the mustache – he was the famous protagonist of lengthy commercials in the 60s; look at him here http://www.mondocarosello.com/html/omino_bialetti.html) is the absolut classic and most common.
I hope these little trivia can be enjoyed by anyone who is curious about life and food in Italy… please ask for more if you’d like!
I’m so glad you commented! What part of Italy are you from?
It is always so interesting to hear about the difference in termanology between cultures – of course Italian and American is my favorite.
If I were to start calling it moka, I think I’d confuse everyone around me! But a great tip to know for when I go back to Italy.
When I spent some time with my cousins in Italy nearly 12 years ago, I don’t remember if they said espresso or moka – probably moka since they used the bialetti “moka”. It was my first encounter with this type of maker. It was never served to me with milk though. Gosh it was so bitter.
Thanks again for sharing your trivia!
I just came across this section of your website. I just wanted to thank you and Oliva for the information.
Also, I wanted to as if you know if the Alessi 9090 is still made in Italy. I know that many of their products are now made in China. 🙁
I have a smaller, older model and I would like to buy a larger version. With that said, I won’t spend a lot for a product made in China.
Thanks and keep up the good work!!!
Hi Jon – not sure if I replied to you previously, but the Alessi 9090 is still made in Italy as far as I know! Check it out on Amazonfor further details.