Aluminum or Stainless Steel Coffee Pot: Which is the Best?
Do you want an aluminum or stainless steel coffee pot that effortlessly makes a rich, strong cup of coffee without breaking the bank? A moka pot is perfect for you! And this time, you can believe the hype. No matter the material, moka pots are known for producing an incredibly flavorful cup o’ joe with minimal effort and maximum versatility.
Still, how do you know which material is best suited to your taste and preferences? It depends on many factors, such as your desired heating method, longevity, and more. Read on to learn more about how to choose the perfect moka pot for your morning brew.
What is a Moka Pot?
A moka pot is a widely adored model of an autonomous coffee pot. People love them for their portability and flexibility, as they can be used almost anywhere unlike an espresso machine, whether you’re camping out in the wilderness or bundled up at home.
These are often said to produce much more richly flavored coffee (which some even prefer over drip coffee) and are highly appealing due to their budget-friendliness.
At the same time, many admit that coffee novices will require an adjustment period, as you’ve got to put in some practice to learn how to make the best cup for you. But once you get used to it, moka pots are easy to use with a consistent coffee grinder.
Here’s how the magic happens:
- Upper chamber: Your freshly brewed coffee will be stored in this top chamber.
- Filter: As the water ascends from the lower chamber, it mixes with your coffee grounds before flowing through the filter into the upper chamber.
- Gasket: This piece prevents leaks as your coffee brews, ascending from the lower into the upper chamber.
- Safety release valve: This valve regulates the water pressure in the pot.
- Water tank or lower chamber: This part of the moka pot holds the water as it’s being heated*. Whether you preheat your water or prepare it in the pot, setting the pot on a stove to brew will pressurize the water, pushing it up into the funnel.
*Some moka pot users disagree on whether the water should be heated in the chamber or separately. While you’re free to heat your water on stove tops or even camp stoves, some experts suggest that heating the water inside the pot can lead to bitterness.
What’s the Difference between Aluminum and Stainless Steel Moka Pots?
Whether you use an aluminum or stainless steel moka pot depends on several factors, including how you heat your water, your cleaning methods, use conditions (e.g., at home or out camping), and preferred longevity, to name a few. Here’s a closer look at which might be best for you, with insights from expert-led scientific studies.
Are Both Types of Moka Pots Safe?
Many who are not familiar with this appliance might wonder, “Are moka pots dangerous?” Not at all! Both an aluminum and stainless steel moka pot is safe for coffee drinkers, assuming the material is food-grade. How long it remains that way depends entirely on the user.
For example, some moka pot enthusiasts have some questionable use methods that can reduce the appliance’s dependability for making safe (or tasty) beverages. Consider the fact that many novices feel that moka pots are difficult to clean. A lack of proper cleaning can lead to corrosion, which can arise much faster in aluminum vs stainless steel.
On the other hand, some users intentionally leave accumulated coffee residue in the funnel leading to the upper chamber as a matter of “taste.” Not only can this produce bitter coffee, but it can cause sickness, too, if you’re not careful. Although it’s well-known that drinking old coffee doesn’t necessarily make you sick, the warm, moist environment inside an uncleaned moka pot is perfect for bacteria and fungus.
All this considered, a moka pot is safe to use in and of itself. Still, it requires attentive care and thorough cleaning to keep it that way, whether you’re using aluminum or stainless steel.
Aluminum or Stainless Steel Coffee Pot? Pros and Cons
Aluminum and stainless steel each present unique value to moka pot users. While the former is cheaper, it offers slightly less durability and longevity than the latter. Plus, recent studies have shown that aluminum moka pots are responsible for higher rates of “migration” of the metal into the coffee drink.
In other words, some of the metal of an aluminum moka pot can seep into your morning cup o’ joe. Scientists report, “The highest concentration of aluminum was observed the first time the pots were used. From the second to fifth use, the aluminum concentration in coffee was at a lower level… Cleaning the pots in the dishwasher increased the aluminum concentration in the coffee significantly.” Read on to learn more.
Pros and Cons of Aluminum vs Stainless Steel Coffee Pots
It’s easy to see aluminum as the better option for a moka pot due to its budget-friendliness and relatively lightweight feel. But are aluminum coffee pots safe? Yes, with minor caveats. Scientists compared aluminum vs. stainless steel coffee makers and found that drinking coffee out of an aluminum moka pot can lead you to ingest anywhere between 0.47-2.79 mg of aluminum per week. Though this small amount isn’t a life-threatening health risk, it isn’t ideal either and can lead to heartburn, nausea, and similar symptoms for sensitive coffee drinkers.
Still, there are ways to mitigate this. In fact, the risk of ingesting aluminum may be one of the primary reasons why many moka pot users insist on throwing out your first one or two brews as you test your appliance and practice making that perfect cup.
Yet, with careful use, you can still make yourself a tasty, healthy cup of coffee and enjoy these primary pros of an aluminum moka pot.
Pros and Cons of Aluminum Coffee Pots
- Responsiveness: Many moka pot users say that aluminum heats up more quickly and adapts more readily to direct heat adjustments
- Lightweight: Since moka pots are appreciated for their versatility, a lightweight model would come in very handy for use between the house, office, outdoors, and anywhere else you might want a quick brew (of course, this depends on your pot’s capacity)
- Cleaning: Aluminum stovetop espresso coffee makers are often more challenging to clean, as metal flakes can “sludge” off with any residual water or improper maintenance techniques
Pros and Cons of Stainless Steel Coffee Pots
Stainless steel is often viewed as the better option for coffee brewing by default. Although this can be true in some cases, you’ll need to be mindful of your shopping choices to ensure it applies to your moka pot.
There are many different types of stainless steel. Of course, no matter what you buy, you’ll need to get food-grade material. That’s step one. Beyond that, you might want to consider the particular grade of stainless steel you’re considering, as this can influence whether or not you get the “after-taste” that many new stainless steel moka pot users refer to, as well as longevity and durability.
- Corrosion resistance: Stainless steel can help minimize moka pot corrosion, more so than aluminum
- Cleaning: Since stainless steel models don’t “sludge” off metal flakes as much as aluminum alternatives, many feel that these are much easier to clean, contributing to their relatively relaxed maintenance and longevity
- Taste: Some people feel that stainless steel negatively changes the taste of their coffee, although few people are sensitive to this effect
Tips for Buying the Best Moka Pot for You
You’ll need to consider a few key factors when buying your moka pot. Some are specific to the model you buy, while others are generally “need-to-know” before you transition into this style of coffee-making. Here is a handful of the most important:
- Capacity: Think about the context in which you plan to use your moka pot. Will you be making coffee for yourself or others? One or multiple servings? This will help you determine your ideal moka pot capacity.
- Design: Many users swear by Italian-made stainless steel moka pots, as they’re said to produce the richest, boldest, strongest coffee that’s as close to an authentic espresso as you can get with a high-quality moka pot. (That’s not to say that others can’t make a flavorful cup!)
- Heating: Many people say that induction cooktops pale in comparison to gas stoves, which many prefer to use with a stainless steel or aluminum stovetop coffee maker. So, consider your available appliances alongside your moka pot’s material, as this will influence the effectiveness of your heating method and its heat retention. Interestingly, aluminum is said to hold heat better than steel. This may be important for those who don’t plan on drinking their coffee right away.
- Budget: Whether you get an aluminum or stainless steel model, moka pots are praised for their affordability. However, the size, material, and design will influence the exact price point. Keep in mind that you’ll most likely need to purchase a grinder alongside the moka to achieve the right grind, so consider these appliances together when determining your preferred price point.
- Coffee preferences: Users often praise the moka for making very strong cups of coffee, as well as delicious lattes and espressos, so bear that in mind when considering your personal coffee preferences. Further, many people recommend slightly coarse ground (coarser than a true espresso grind), medium and dark roasts, and Italian blends as the best coffees for moka pots.
How do You Use a Stainless Steel Coffee Pot?
Admittedly, it takes a few tries to master the moka pot. But once you get it down, you’ll never want to go without this appliance again.
Here are the fundamental steps to brewing your morning coffee in a moka pot, as taught by expert James Hoffman.
Step 1: Weigh your coffee
Weigh your preferred ratio of coffee to water. This is highly subjective and depends on the coffee type and your taste. We recommend 10g (0.35 oz) for every 6 fl oz of water.
Step 2: Grind fresh beans
Grind your beans so that they are just barely coarse but not as fine as an authentic espresso grind.
Step 3: Heat the water
This is yet another step that’s subject to preference. However, experts suggest that heating your water in the moka pot will also expose the grounds to heat, making your coffee unnecessarily bitter. So, it’s best to heat the water separately, then pour it into the lower chamber until the level reaches just below the safety valve.
Step 4: Attach the upper chamber
Screw the upper chamber onto the moka pot, being careful not to burn yourself on the lower chamber.
Step 5: Finish the brew
Place the moka pot on either a stovetop or induction cooktop to complete the brew. Leave the lid open; otherwise, the coffee may begin spurting out from the sides due to high pressure. Remove when you hear a gurgling sound, close the lid, and run the pot under cold water to stop the brewing process.
Step 6: Enjoy!
Accurately Brew your Coffee with a Coffee Scale in a Stovetop Espresso Maker from Escali
Transitioning to an aluminum or stainless steel moka pot requires careful research and in-depth consideration of your needs and preferences. But once you’ve got your hands on one like The London Sip stainless steel stovetop espresso maker and established the ideal routine for a perfect cup o’ joe, there’s no going back.
Still, it can be difficult to decide which is best for you. Consider your coffee preferences and needs, such as brew capacity and available heating appliances, before making a purchase. No matter which you choose, make sure you’re prepared to make the perfect cup by weighing your grounds carefully with an Escali coffee scale. Happy brewing!