Mama Mia! Italians love their coffee and adore a stovetop espresso maker. The big decision in their coffee life is the one all Italians face: Stovetop espresso maker, stainless steel Vs aluminum!
This article is all about helping you to decide which one of the two is best for you and helping you to decide which one you should get your hands on presenting you only with the unbiased facts with a little wiggle room left for my opinion and experience.
Is Aluminum Or Stainless Steel Better For A Espresso Maker?
- 1 Is Aluminum Or Stainless Steel Better For A Espresso Maker?
- 2 What Is A Moka Pot?
- 3 Coffee Flavor Profile Of A Moka Brew
- 4 What Is Different Between An Aluminum And A Stainless Steel Moka Pot?
- 5 Do Stainless Steel Stovetop Moka Pots Make Better Coffee?
- 6 Are Stainless Steel Moka Pots Safer To Use Than An Aluminum Model?
- 7 Frappé-Ing It All Up – Stovetop Espresso Maker Stainless Steel Vs Aluminum
In my opinion, the original Aluminum moka pot is much better than a stainless steel version for a number of reasons that I line out in this article. The one main deciding factor that sways me to Aluminum is a more even heat distribution than the stainless steel version.
A secondary reason is using this type of brewer, not my main way of making coffee, is it is good to enjoy it when made in the original traditional method, materials and all.
There are other reasons that point to stainless steel being a better choice, which I lay out below.
What Is A Moka Pot?
A moka pot, a staple of Italian, Southern European and Latin coffee culture, invented in 1933 by Engineer Alfonso Bialetti and named after the Yemen city of Mocha. The original and traditional stovetop model is still used today, with electric versions becoming more and more popular and common place.
The brewing process passes steam pressurised boiling water up through and past the compact ground coffee and then into a coffee chamber to produce an espresso like coffee.
The moka pot is sold in a variety from a 1 x 60ml (2 ounces) to 18 x 50ml (480ml total (36 ounce)) size and larger. Originally, they were only available with Bakelite handles and aluminum body.
Now they are made of stainless steel and other common alloys.
The Battle Of The Brew: French press Vs Stovetop Espresso
Coffee Flavor Profile Of A Moka Brew
Moka brew is a staple in every home in Southern Europe, just as common as a tea pot is in a British home. So what is the brew like?
The brew method and brewing technique of the moka pot is different from other methods and why it has, and will continue to stand the test of time. It has its rightful place in coffee history.
Like other brewing devices, the flavor depends on the type of roast, the coffee bean, brewing time, temperature and grind size.
The extraction process is different from the French press, Cold brew, drip coffee, Chemex, pour over as it does not involve immersion or pour over technique.
The Moka pot uses water that is superheated to create a steam pressure. The steam and water rises up to the middle chamber where your grounds are and up and over them and into the coffee chamber.
Due to the brewing mechanisms and pressure used to extract the coffee, a moka pot does give you some crema, but not as much as a proper espresso machine. This is why I referred earlier to moka pots brewing an “espresso like” coffee. It is like espresso but not quite.
A moka pot can produce a pressure of 29 pounds per square inch (PSI) which is only a fraction of the 130 PSI of an espresso machine.
The moka coffee brewing machine is not classified as an espresso nor considered as one. It is a coffee brew of its own classification, like a French press, a drip coffee or siphon coffee.
The quality of the coffee produced, taste wise, remains the same if you use an electric stove moka pot or a more traditional stovetop coffee percolator styled one.
What Is Different Between An Aluminum And A Stainless Steel Moka Pot?
Today, the vast majority of moka pots are still made of aluminum. It was said to be chosen by Alfonso Bialetti, the inventor due to the materials’ ability to conduct heat and respond to changes in temperature very well and distribute the heat evenly.
Aluminum also gives manufacturers the ability to sell their products in a variety of different colors.
Stainless steel does not conduct as well as aluminum, is less efficient and more uneven in its conduction of heat. Due to this uneven distribution of heat, if your stainless steel moka pot is not sitting perfectly on your stovetop or burner, you will get an uneven heat.
This is even a problem with a high quality moka pot made with stainless steel.
When you get an uneven heat it is going to give you an uneven extraction and spoil your brew. Every coffee connoisseur knows that is something to be avoided.
Another factor to consider is, and one that counts against a steel pot is that your gasket is likely to need replacing more often than an aluminimum one.
A stainless steel moka pot does retain heat for longer than that of an aluminum moka pot and is more suited to a modern kitchen with an induction stovetop.
Which Kind Lasts Longer: Aluminum vs Stainless Steel?
With proper care and maintenance, Italian coffee makers will last for many years regardless of which of the two stovetop coffee makers you decide on. Both are made from sold, strong materials.
The stainless steel models tend to last longer due to being made with a slightly stronger material and are resistant to scratches and corrosion.
Neither an aluminum coffee maker nor the stainless steel versions will react badly to the acids in the coffee grounds and will both make delicious coffee.
Do Stainless Steel Stovetop Moka Pots Make Better Coffee?
In my opinion, you are not going to notice a difference in the flavour of your cup of coffee just because it was made in one of the aluminum models of a Moka coffee percolator or a stainless steel version.
Other factors, such as the tap water quality, the coffee beans, brew time and how many ounces of coffee used, and the grind will have a greater effect.
There is no evidence or suggestion at all that a coffee brewed in a stainless steel moka pot tastes better. Stainless steel reacts less to food and thus has a lesser effect on the color and taste.
Neither will result in a metallic taste and both will have no real effect on the color of coffee and will extract the coffee oil from your ground coffee efficiently well resulting in a delicious coffee, every cup of coffee you make.
Why Not Brew With A Stainless Steel Stovetop Coffee Maker?
As an avid coffee lover, I want to make amazing coffee single time and due to the uneven conduction of heat and the heat spots caused by steel coffee pots of all types you, or I won’t be able to brew coffee to perfection due to steel being a poor conductor of heat.
This will result in an unbalanced way in which the water rises up on and over your coffee beans and eventually the coffee chamber and an uneven brew.
Aluminum models are very incremental and even with their distribution of heat, with no heat spots, meaning you can serve yourself and your friends amazing quality coffee every single time, predictably.
Are Stainless Steel Moka Pots Safer To Use Than An Aluminum Model?
All types of moka pots, be they stovetop traditional style or an electric model that works like an electric kettle type of espresso machine, work based on the principles of building up steam pressure in the lower water chamber, the chamber with water.
This pressure and the boiling steaming hot water is separated from the coffee grounds by gaskets and safety valves. The gaskets keep the upper chamber and lower chamber together, ensuring a safe non-volatile build up of pressure.
The safety valves allow for steam to escape safely and in a controlled and safe manner. Steam only escapes when there is an intense buildup or when too much steam has formed in the lower water chamber.
This really, good old-fashioned steam engineering from the 1930s and are super safe. There is no suggestion, indication or any engineering data to suggest that one type of moka pot is safer than the other based on the material it is made from, which type of metal or the way in which it functions (electric or a stove top traditional Italian coffee percolator).
Stovetop Moka Pot Vs Electric Moka Pot
The classic and original design of a stovetop moka pot is replicated in style with a modern electric moka pot. The advantage of the electric versions is, to borrow a phrase “plug and play”. Just plug it in, and you are good to go.
You can use an electric version anywhere you have electricity and not limited to where you have a heat source, such as a kitchen stove or even a campfire.
Where the electric models thrive is their “keep warm” facility which can be set to keep your coffee warm for a predetermined period of time.
Frappé-Ing It All Up – Stovetop Espresso Maker Stainless Steel Vs Aluminum
When it comes to the battle of the Moka pots, the stovetop espresso maker stainless steel Vs Aluminum fight I side strongly with aluminum. Those heat spots and uneven heat distribution are a big turn off for me. Don’t rule out the new kid on the block entirely though – the electric models make coffee just as good and use the same technique and have the added advantage of keeping your coffee warm.