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With so many different ways to make coffee, finding a suitable brewing method that aligns with your taste preference can often be pretty tough, especially if you’re relatively new to the vast world of coffee.
But, If you at least know that you enjoy espresso-based drinks such as a latte or cappuccino, you can dwindle down your options to just coffee makers that can brew espresso coffee.
This is all well and good, but home espresso machines cost a small fortune and require quite a bit of tinkering and technical know-how to pull the perfect shot time and time again.
So, this might not be the best option if you are still learning the ins and outs of brewing coffee at home. The good news is that there are two popular coffee brewers that are super easy to use and are known to produce an espresso-style of coffee – and they won’t break the bank.
The AeroPress and the Moka Pot. In this article, I will take a closer look at both brewers to see which is the best budget option for producing the closest thing to authentic espresso.
A Closer Look At The Moka Pot
Okay, so let’s first take a look at the Moka Pot. The roots of the Moka Pot can be traced all the way back to 1933 when it was created by Italian metalworker Alfonso Bialetti.
It quickly gained popularity, and even to this day, this tiny coffee brewer is the backbone for many coffee-based drinks in Italy and Europe, and it has even taken a foothold in South America.
Alfonso Bialetti’s design is simple. The small brewer comprises a three-chambered steel pot with a coffee filter basket that can be used directly on a naked flame, such as a regular kitchen stovetop.
The Moka Pot functions like an elementary school science experiment and relies on steam and pressure to force water up through a filter basket filled with coffee grounds. The resulting coffee is strong and concentrated with plenty of mouthfeel.
Although the Moka Pot brewing method sounds very similar to how the espresso machine functions, with pressure and steam, the process is fundamentally different.
The pressure produced in a Moka Pot is barely 2 bars, and nowhere near the same amount as the 9 to 15 bars an espresso machine is able to generate; they’re not even on the same playing field.
A Closer Look At The AeroPress
So moving on to the AeroPress. Off the bat, I will tell you that this coffee brewer functions completely differently from the Moka Pot.
The pocket-sized AeroPress was designed by engineer Alan Adler. You may have heard of this name before because Adler is also the inventor of the iconic Frisbee.
Hitting the market in 2005, the AeroPress was a bit of a flop. It was too weird for coffee enthusiasts who saw it as more of a gimmick or a toy, just like the Frisbee, rather than a coffee brewer.
However, as the coffee market evolved, the focus shifted toward single-cup coffee makers. With manual pour-over, such as the Hario V60 and Kalita Wave, becoming increasingly popular, naturally, so did the AeroPress.
Soon the AeroPress was a coffee nerds’ secret weapon, and it wasn’t long until World AeroPress Championships were pulling in baristas from around the globe to compete for the best AeroPress recipe.
The AeroPress is a relatively simple device and much easier to use than the Moka Pot. The design of the AeroPress functions very much like a giant syringe and utilizes a tall cylindrical chamber and a plunger that forms an airtight seal.
Using the AeroPress is straightforward. It relies on a method of manual pressure and small round paper filters to produce a clean coffee concentrate.
Looking at the pressure. Comparing the AeroPress to the Moka Pot, the AeroPress can only produce around 0.25 to 0.5 bars of pressure.
To put that in perspective. The Moka Pot can produce about 2 bars. A full-sized espresso machine generates around 9 bars of pressure to produce an authentic espresso (In regular “people” terms, that’s 640 pounds of pressure).
As you can see, this is a huge difference. It’s simply not feasible for anybody to create 640 pounds of pressure with an AeroPress. And even if you could, the pocket-sized coffee brewer isn’t designed to withstand that kind of pressure.
AeroPress vs Moka Pot: Key Differences
So which coffee maker will be the best choice for brewing espresso-style coffee? The Moka Pot or the AeroPress?
This is easy to answer. The Moka Pot can definitely make coffee more in line with a traditional espresso.
Is it a textbook espresso? No.
There simply isn’t enough pressure.
And the process is back to front. In an espresso machine, the pressure pushes down on top of the coffee, which is compressed (tamped).
However, using a Moka Pot, the pressure is pushed up from underneath the coffee, which isn’t tamped.
Looking at the brewing coffee side by side. When comparing the AeroPress to the Moka Pot, you can easily get a more creamy, espresso-like texture with a Moka Pot than you can with an AeroPress.
Yet, it is possible to fiddle with your AeroPress and use accessories such as the Fellow Prismo attachment, which will help in producing AeroPress coffee more akin to espresso.
But even with third-party attachments used on the AeroPress, the Moka Pot still comes out on top with its espresso coffee texture and mouthfeel.
Nevertheless, it’s not all rosy. Moka Pot coffee does tend to suffer from a lot of muddiness, and it is also very easy to burn the coffee if you get your timing wrong.
Also, it’s worth noting that the Moka Pot can be a bit of a pain to clean. You have to take all of the sections apart and then try to remove the toasty coffee puck.
With the AeroPress, it’s effortless; shoot the coffee puck into the trash and give the parts a quick rinse – it takes roughly half the time.
How Portable Are These Coffee Brewers?
If you are looking for a coffee maker to take with you on your next road trip, excursion, or camping out in the wilderness, which will be the best travel buddy to keep you caffeinated?
The answer is both. The Moka Pot and the AeroPress are both suited to brewing coffee when you’re away from home.
But I will say that the Moka Pot has a slight edge, especially if you’re heading out in an RV or sitting around a campfire. It is perfect for using on gas stovetop burners or placing directly on a campfire.
On the flip side, the AeroPress is a great all-rounder that you can throw in your backpack, along with a budget burr grinder. You can brew coffee from almost anywhere; as long as you have hot water, you’re all set.
The AeroPress is more lightweight and compact when compared to the Moka Pot, which is something you might want to consider if you’re traveling light.
Personally, I find myself reaching for the AeroPress when I’m looking for a consistent no-fuss portable coffee maker when I’m hitting the road. It’s just so darn easy!
Conclusion: AeroPress Or The Moka Pot?
So the AeroPress or Moka Pot for espresso? There really isn’t much competition between the two coffee makers. I’m sure if you’ve got this far, you’ve already drawn your own conclusion.
But I will say that if you want to make a budget espresso style of coffee at home, the Moka Pot is the best choice to make coffee with more “espresso” qualities.
At home, I often use the Moka Pot when craving a milk-based coffee drink such as a latte. The coffee brewed with a Moka Pot goes really well with milk.
Yet I find the AeroPress is typically my daily driver, and I use it multiple times a day to brew a strong coffee which I then turn into an Americano.
Although Moka Pot can brew something closer resembling espresso, it’s the AeroPress I find much easier, quicker, and fun to use.
At the end of the day, it really comes down to personal preference. The AeroPress and the Moka Pot are relatively cheap, so why not pick up both coffee makers and have fun experimenting?