In the coffee world, moka pots don’t boast the cult-like following of pour-over coffee makers, aren’t as ubiquitous as drip makers, nor are they as widely used as French presses. Though they’ve been around for generations, they’ve been viewed as a sort of novelty, a relic of old-word Italy.
But here’s what coffee snobs know to be true: These little stove-top wonders make intensely delicious espressos and coffee.
And as someone who’s used my fair share of moka pots — I’ve previously sung the praises of the Bellemain moka pot, and have used everything from cheap grocery store moka pots to the Bialetti pot — I can honestly, though subjectively, say that the Alessi Pulcina 3-Cup Espresso Maker ($49.99, down from $120) produces the tastiest, most robust cups of at-home espresso.
It all starts with the design. First off, it’s a beauty, and will for sure be the highlight atop any stovetop. But it’s more than just eye-catching. Made in partnership with Illy and designed by famed architect Michele De Lucchi, the Alessi pot’s bulbous shape serves an important role: It’s specially designed to stop filtering the coffee at the right moment. Specifically, when it’s done. Other moka pots continue to filter the coffee even after it’s ready, a phase unlovingly referred to as the eruption phase. This final stage of filtration leads to a burnt aftertaste that often outshines the true taste of the coffee.
I was sure to test this claim multiple times, leaving the moka pot over the flame even after all the coffee had been filtered to the top of the pot, signaling it’s done. No matter how long I left it on the burner, the coffee produced never even gave a hint of the burnt flavor that other moka pots, even the beloved Bialetti pot, can produce.
Instead, you’re left with a truly robust, strong cup of espresso. It’s fuller in the mouth to almost a viscous degree, so instead of a watery concoction, you get a coffee that doesn’t just wash over your taste buds, but envelops them in flavor and awakens your senses. No matter the beans we tried — dark roast, medium roast, espresso — the coffee was always well rounded and flavorful. Pouring cups side by side, one made in the Bialetti and one in the Alessi, the differences were noticeable, with the Alessi time and again producing a more rounded and balanced taste.
Another small but very welcome upgrade to the Alessi’s build is the V-shaped spout. Most moka pots sport a more rounded spout, which in my experience leads to a bit too much dribble. But the V-shaped spout perfectly cuts off the pour, so even during my most bleary-eyed, why-am-I-awake-so-early mornings, I didn’t leave a puddle of coffee on the floor after pouring.
Even at its discounted price of $49.99, the three-cup Alessi moka pot is expensive, comparatively speaking. But for coffee aficionados, it’s a must-have, beautifully designed coffee maker that produces exceptional cups whenever you need them.