Stovetop Espresso Brewing Tutorial

This is a quick tutorial on the stovetop espresso maker. It is also known as a Moka Pot and is sold under the name Bialetti. Let’s get started.

#1 Fill the Bottom Chamber with Water

Fill the bottom chamber with cold water. Stumptown Coffee advises pre-heating the water, so the coffee doesn’t cook on the stove. That may be a good idea if you use the large 6-cup Bialetti, but I found with the 3 cup maker, it made no difference to the taste and was more of a hassle. Try both ways and do whatever works best for you.

fill bialetti with water
Fill the lower chamber of the Bialetti with water.

#2 Add Ground Coffee to Filter

Add ground coffee to the filter. There is some debate on how fine the grind should be. I use a grind that is finer than drip, but a little more coarse than an espresso grind. Do not pack the filter. Like regular espresso, I level the grinds with my finger and wipe off any loose grounds. Once the coffee is loaded into the filter, place in into the bottom chamber. or you could load the filter first and then add the ground coffee. Either way is fine.

add coffee to stovetop espresso
Add ground coffee to filter.

#3 Secure the Top and Bottom Chambers Together

Twist the top and bottom chambers together until a tight seal is made. Failure to secure the two chambers fully could result in a failed brew and potential clean up mess.

Seal the top and and bottom chambers together
Seal the top and and bottom chambers together.

#4 Place Coffee Maker onto Stove

Place the stovetop maker onto the stove and turn on the heat. A low flame is enough to do the job. You could also take it outdoors with you and use a campfire.

Heat the Stovetop Espresso Maker
Heat the Stovetop Espresso Maker

#5 When Coffee Finishes Brewing, Remove From Heat and Serve

When the coffee has completed the brew cycle and is in the top chamber, turn off the heat and serve the coffee. Below are some photos showing a brew cycle in progress. Ideally, you would want to keep the lid down during brewing.

espresso before extraction
Before Extraction

espresso during extraction
During Extraction

espresso after extraction
After Extraction

#6 Cool Before You Clean

Allow your stovetop espresso maker time to cool before you break it down for cleaning. You don’t want to burn yourself.

Bialetti 6800 Moka Express 6-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker
Bialetti 6800 Moka Express 6-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker ( product page)


Cafe Cubano – Learn how to use the Bialetti Stovetop Espresso Maker to make this classic Cuban style coffee drink.

The Story of the Bialetti Moka Express – The interesting history of the stove top espresso maker.

Wikipedia – References on stovetop espresso machine brewing temperature and atmospheres of pressure data.

Michael Allen Smith

Michael Allen Smith fell in love with coffee while attending college. Shortly after graduating college, he found himself in the Tampa Bay area far away from the good coffee he had at The Ohio State University. That is when he starting home roasting coffee. Less than a year later in April 1999, he launched the coffee website has been going strong ever since with hundreds of articles and tutorials submitted by over one hundred contributors.

In 2007, Michael moved to America's coffee capitol Seattle, Washington. He has visited close to three hundred different coffee places in Seattle, Portland,Vancouver and San Francisco and met many of the top roasters and baristas in the country. Since 2009, Michael has been the Organizer of the Coffee Club of Seattle, which is a Meetup group of over 800 coffee enthusiasts. Besides the social aspect of the group, the Coffee Club of Seattle partners with local coffee professionals for educational events such as coffee cuppings, brewing demonstrations and roasting tours.

Unrelated to coffee, Michael has a personal blog at which covers several topics including fitness, cooking and economics.