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Summary of Differences
You can’t go wrong with buying a Moka pot or a pour-over coffee maker. Both options are great manual coffee makers that are affordable, easy to use, and easy to maintain and clean. The most significant difference between the two is the flavor profile of the coffee they make.
Moka pots produce coffee that is similar in taste and aroma to espresso. It is rich, sharp, and full-bodied. Pour-over coffee makers, on the other hand, are known for the clean, smooth, and nuanced flavor they produce.
If you like both flavors in your coffee, we recommend getting both coffee makers, especially since you can snag them for under $60 in total.
|Prices||$20 to $75, depending on size and brand||
|Supplies needed||None||Paper or reusable filter|
|Grind size||Fine to medium-fine||Medium-fine to medium-coarse|
Moka pots and pour-over coffee makers have coffee flavor profiles that are radically different. Pour-over coffee generally has a clean, round taste with a smooth finish. Even though pour-over coffee has a clean finish, it’s not lacking in depth and nuance. In fact, it often brings out many complex flavors in your coffee beans.
Pour-over coffee makers are great with single-origin or higher-end coffee beans because you can pick out tasting notes. Because it can bring out so many different flavors, it’s one of my favorite methods for making coffee at home.
Moka pots, on the other hand, are known for the strong, sharp, and deep flavor they produce. Its taste profile is similar to AeroPress and closer to the espresso side of the coffee spectrum. That said, it doesn’t taste like espresso, and it does not produce espresso. Moka pots are a great option if you like rich and thick brews. Many people dilute the coffee brewed by a Moka pot with additional water to produce something similar to an americano or with milk to make something similar to a latte.
Pour-over coffee makers and moka pots achieve such diametric flavor profiles because they brew so differently.
How Moka Pots Brew Coffee
Moka pots were invented in Italy in the 1930s. They use pressurized steam to brew coffee. When you use a Moka pot, you place water in the bottom chamber and then put a filter basket with coffee grounds on top of this chamber. You then screw on the top of the Moka pot and place it directly on a gas or electric range.
The range will heat the water in the bottom chamber. As the water heats up, it produces steam and pressure. Once the pressure is high enough, the pressure forces the water up through the coffee grounds and into the top chamber to become coffee. Once you hear a gurgling sound, that indicates it’s time to remove the Moka pot from the heat source.
Pour-over coffee makers function very differently from Moka pots. Pour-over coffee makers come in a few styles, but for the sake of simplicity, we will discuss a single-serve pour-over coffee maker that sits on top of a mug.
A simple, single-serve pour-over coffee maker looks similar to a funnel. First, add a paper filter to the pour-over coffee maker and then coffee grounds. Then, pour enough hot water over the grounds to soak them and let them bloom. Blooming allows gases that can negatively affect the taste of your coffee to escape. After the coffee grounds bloom, pour more hot water over the coffee grounds in a back-and-forth or circular motion, ensuring all coffee grounds are equally wetted.
The hot water will soak through the coffee grounds, pass through the paper filter, and drip into the cup below. After the water finishes flowing through, you have a cup of coffee.
There’s some art to pouring water over the coffee grounds when you make pour-over coffee. Additionally, getting the water temperature right plays a key role in how the coffee brews.
Moka pots require a finer grind size than pour-over coffee makers. Typically, you want to use a medium-fine to fine grind size for your Moka pot. A pour-over coffee maker generally takes a medium grind but can be medium-fine up to medium-coarse depending on the bean, the specific coffee maker, and your preferences.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Both moka pots and pour-over coffee makers are easy to clean and maintain, so you can’t go wrong with either one based on this factor alone.
Pour-over coffee makers generally require a filter, either a paper filter or a reusable filter. After brewing, you can throw out the paper filter or rinse the reusable filter. You can clean most pour-over coffee makers by rinsing or hand-washing them. Some types may even be dishwasher-safe.
For most types of pour-over coffee makers, there’s virtually no maintenance you need to perform other than cleaning them. If they break, you’ll need to replace them.
For daily cleaning, take apart your Moka pot and rinse with warm water. Using soap or running them through the dishwasher will damage most Moka pots. On occasion, you will need to descale the Moka pot to remove mineral buildup and ensure the proper functioning of the safety valve.
The Bialetti Moka Express (the original Moka pot) requires a bit of citric acid or vinegar to descale. Other models may have different descaling procedures, so check the user manual. Bialetti and other manufacturers offer replacement parts, such as the gasket, for their Moka pots should any component become worn.
One note on the safety valve of Moka pots: it’s essential that the safety valve is not clogged and that you check it works properly before using the Moka pot. If the safety valve clogs, this can allow too much pressure to build in the Moka pot and cause an explosion.
Moka pots are inherently eco-friendly. They don’t require paper filters, coffee pods, or other single-use accessories. Because most Moka pots are metal, you can usually recycle them at the end of their lifecycle. As I mentioned above, many manufacturers offer replacement parts for purchase, meaning you can extend the life of your Moka pot.
You can make pour-over coffee makers more eco-friendly if you buy a reusable filter. Pour-over coffee makers need a filter to brew. While you can use paper filters, many types accommodate a reusable metal filter.
For pour-over coffee makers made from metal or glass, you can likely recycle these at the end of their lifespans. Ceramic pour-over coffee makers will be more difficult to recycle as many municipal or city recycling programs do not accept ceramics. Certain facilities may recycle ceramics into bricks or concrete, but research what’s available in your area. Another option is to donate or sell your ceramic pour-over coffee maker if it’s not broken.
Depending on the brand and size, a Moka pot will run between $20 and $100. A three-cup Bialetti model, for instance, retails for $30 to $40. Larger Bialetti models range in price from $50 to $60 for a nine-cup model and over $75 for an 18-cup model. Other brands retail at similar price points.
A single-serve pour-over coffee maker ranges from $8 to $30, depending on the materials, model, and brand. A carafe-style one, which can make multiple servings, costs $30 to over $100, depending on the size and brand. A six-cup classic Chemex (a carafe-style pour-over coffee maker) retails for around $50. Carafe styles are usually glass or plastic, whereas single-serve models can be metal, ceramic, glass, or plastic.
Which One Do We Prefer?
Unsurprisingly, we own both (we drink a lot of coffee and test a lot of coffee makers in our house). That said, when it comes to what I’m drinking for my own enjoyment, I usually reach for our pour-over coffee maker if I want a cup of coffee. I love the clean, smooth, and light taste produced by pour-over. When I am in the mood for something rich, I’m more likely to reach for my espresso machine to make an espresso or a cappuccino.
My preferences aside, both coffee makers are excellent options that are easy to use and clean and make wonderful-tasting coffee. In my opinion, the key difference that should influence your buying decision is which taste profile you prefer. If you like both flavor profiles, you can’t go wrong investing in both coffee makers.