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Stovetop Espresso Tutorial


Some people may argue that one is not making TRUE espresso with this appliance. That is true. Espresso machines uses high-pressure water to make  espresso. The Stovetop Espresso pot uses boiling water pressurized by steam. However, it comes very  close to espresso!

Before I begin to explain the process of making an espresso with a Stovetop Espresso maker.  It is important to know some basic information.

  1. What is a stovetop espresso maker?
  2. What is the best grind for espresso?
  3. What is the correct coffee:water ratio?
  4. How does the process work?


1. What is a Stovetop Espresso Maker?

A little history

The moka pot, also known as a macchinetta (literally “small machine”), is a stove-top or electric coffee maker that produces coffee by passing boiling water pressurized by steam through ground coffee. It was patented for the first time in Italy by the inventor Luigi De Ponti for Alfonso Bialetti in 1933.[1] Bialetti Industrie continues to produce the same model under the name “Moka Express”



Here is a photo of our Ikea Stovetop Espresso Pot:moka-pot

We bought ours used from EBay several years ago. Amazon does not sell this exact one. Ours was made in Italy.

Here is a link to one similar to ours. You can get it on


IKEA – RÅDIG Espresso pot for 6 cups, stainless steel

  Anatomy of an Stovetop Espresso Pot

3 parts-espresso maker

L-R Bottom chamber for water, filter basket for the ground coffee, and the top part which holds brew espresso

2. How fine should the coffee be ground?

See here for photos: Coffee Grind chart

Espresso grind

The coffee beans for espresso are usually ground finer than drip coffee, but coarser than espresso grind. Here is the coffee grinder we use:

JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder | Conical Burr Mill for Precision Brewing | Brushed Stainless Steel


3.What is the Correct  Coffee:Water Ratio?

We have experimented on this to our personal taste preference. Here is what we do:

Using a small kitchen scale we weigh out the coffee beans

  • my husband currently uses a ratio of 1/8 cup (10 g) beans to 1/3 cup (2.8 oz or 80g) cold water or about a 1:8 ratio for a single shot espresso.
  • When he makes it for both of us he uses 1/4 cup (20g/.8oz)beans to 1/2 cup (112 g) cold water or about a 1:6 ratio for a double shot espresso.

NOTE: It all comes down to a matter of personal preference. You are certainly welcome to change the ratio to whatever you wish. Experiment to find your preference, but weighing the coffee will ensure that the ratio is correct.


For utmost accuracy, it is important to measure all coffee by weight. You will not yield good results if you just always go by volume. Also roasts (light vs medium vs dark) of coffee have slightly different weights! At least start with weight until you are familiar with the coffee, then you could always switch to volume.

For example:

Espresso beans (Stovetop Espresso Pot) we use 1/8 cup or 2 Tablespoons=10g or .4 oz.   of coffee


For the dark roast ( French Press) we use 1/8 cup or 2 T coffee = 8 g/.3 oz. of coffee.

Even though there is only a very slight difference, but it is still good to measure and weigh. Your coffee might be slightly different and should be weighed for best results.

4. Cold water vs Hot water

  • Hot or cold water can be put in the bottom chamber.
  • We tested the weight of cold vs hot water and they were different. It may not be worth the hassle, but just a heads up!
  • Using cold water (you could just use a measuring cup):
    • 1 cup water=224g/8 oz, 1/2 cup=112g/4oz, 1/3 cup=80g/2.8 oz and 1/4 cup=56g/2 oz .  For cold water 80z is the same in volume and weight.
  • HOWEVER, when using hot water PLEASE notice the difference in weight.
    • It is NOT the same as cold water and MUST be measured by weight! (1 cup=210g/7.4 oz, 1/2 cup=105g/3.7 oz,  1/3cup=73g/2.46 oz and 1/4 cup= 52.5g/1.85 oz
  • Hot water will bring everything to boil quicker and as my husband said “a slightly better tasting coffee”.


Finally we get to the important part!

A Step by Step Guide:

How to make Coffee in Stovetop Espresso Maker!

1. Calculate your coffee:water ratio

NOTE:  Espresso machines used in coffee shops generally produce espressos  anywhere from a 1:2 ratio up to a 1:5 ratio.

While the 1:8 ratio is not as strong as the espresso from an espresso machine, it is much more concentrated than a French Press!

2. Weigh your coffee.

  • Put the measuring cup on scale, zero it out and then add beans to desired weight.

3.  Place in grinder and grind away!

4.  Fill the bottom with hot or cold water.

  • Do not fill past the safety valve (the little knob-like piece on the inside of the chamber.
  • If using hot water, please weigh!
    Do not fill past the knob/safety valve on the side (you can also see it inside)


5. Put the filter basket in the bottom chamber and fill with ground coffee

espresso-filter basket

6. Sweep out excess grinds from the grinder with a pastry brush, if desired, or just with your fingerspastry -brush

7. Tamper or press down the grounds into the filter. Do not pack too tightly.

We use a 1/8 measuring cup as a tamper.

Tamper coffee, but not too tightly!

8. Wipe the edges of the bottom chamber to ensure there is no moisture or grounds hanging out. If it is too wet, it might not seal properly.

9. Screw the top section onto the bottom section of the pot.

10. Set it on the stove to boil and bubble away.espresso maker-placement on stove burner

  • Turn the heat on to about medium and set the espresso maker  on the burner.

NOTE: For a coil stove, place pot to the side like in the photo above. The heat is more evenly distributed.

NOTE: For a glass top stove, you can set the pot in the middle at medium heat

  • Stay fairly close by. You will start to hear it bubbling. It generally takes about 6 minutes. After you know how long it takes, you can wonder away a little farther.

11. Remove from heat and carefully pour into a stainless steel tumbler like this:

Tumbler for blending your espresso coffee!

12. Blend with a hand blender moving it up and down (see photo on right) so you get a nice foam. One like this is relatively inexpensive:

Hand blender for foaming up coffee made in stovetop espresso pot

Here is a picture of my husband using the hand blender we own. This particular one is no longer available. Blend-espresso-with-handblender

Voila! You have a delicious cup of espresso! ENJOY!




  1. Thank you for such a wonderful post Deb. You are going to have me converted from my coffee habits now to some wonderful new ideas. Great information

    • Hi Merry,
      So glad that you are learning something new and you might be “converted”. That would be great! Coming soon will be a post about where to find great coffee online!

  2. Do you bring in one batch, or for each individual coffee experience? When I had an espresso machine, I ground my beans in one job lot, and then put them into an airtight container, that I put in the fridge, as my coffee is “precious” to me.
    Yeah, like the site. Doin good- keep it up!

    • I buy the coffee fresh roasted at the coffee shop. But we do not grind any coffee until just before we use it. We keep the coffee beans in a cool dark place (not in the fridge) and grind before each batch of coffee is made.

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