What's the difference between a percolator and a moka pot? For example, differences in the device itself, the method of use, and the resulting brew? They seem somewhat similar, since both are stovetop coffee production devices. I see some questions tagged and , but none yet seem to discuss the fundamental preparation method.

This question seems to suggest they are synonymous. Are there regional differences in use of these terms?

2 Answers 2


A moka pot is what some call a stovetop espresso maker; I find this to be a bit of a misnomer, because the result is rather different than proper espresso. Water is put into a bottom vessel; coffee grounds are placed on a perforated platform with attached cone, which is placed on/in the water vessel; a top holding tank with rubber gasket is screwed on top of the apparatus. The device is placed over a heat source, boiling the water; the boiling water creates steam and pressure, which forces water through the grounds into the upper storage vessel. The two chambers are separate, so the water is forced through the grounds once (upward). Somewhat similar to espresso, a moka pot develops some small amount of pressure to force (nearly boiling) water through grounds, though the pressure is much less than espresso (see also this answer). I don't think the grounds are meant to be tamped like espresso, either.

A percolator boils water and drips it over grounds continuously. There is no separate storage vessel for the coffee once brewed; water (at first) or (partially-brewed) coffee is continuously boiled (passing up to the top of the chamber through a funnel/straw) and dripped over the grounds (which are instead at the top of the chamber, rather than in the middle as in the moka pot). The brewed coffee ends up in the same place the plain water was at the beginning of the brew. Percolators often have a clever little clear cap in the middle of the top, so you can see when the brewing is occurring, and color of the brewed coffee.

I have both devices, and use them differently; e.g., a coarser grind for percolator. I find the outcome of percolated coffee to be more like French press or perhaps drip; moka is more like Turkish coffee or espresso. Though similar in concept (stovetop coffee production devices), they're (to me) totally different in outcome.

I suspect, but I don't know, if there are regional differences in these terms.

Full disclosure: this meta question and my answer prompted this adaptation as a clarification question.


These two things are clearly not the same. Here are my reasons:

Moka pots - They use small amounts of pressurized water flowing through the coffee grind to make a fine stovetop espresso. The brewing process is relatively cheap and nearly uses the same amount of pressure as a actual espresso machine. You could even call them just mini espresso machines if you wanted to.

On the other hand...

Percolators - These objects that resemble tall, thinner tea pots make cups of coffee with the high heat and lengthy steeping process. Steeping might not really the word here but here is how they do it: The percolator heats the water from the bottom to create steam. The steam goes up, condenses as water in the top compartment, and then drips through the grounds, making coffee at the bottom of the percolator. The coffee slowly strengthens as the process continues. Flavors may vary...

In conclusion, they as in percolators and moka pots are different. Percolators are mainly used to make straight coffee while moka pots make espresso. Their ways of making coffee is different too, and also goes to the flavors. Here is my source. I hope this helps you!

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    I was under the impression that moka was not espresso - hot water is pushed through the coffee grounds by steam pressure, but it is not actually under pressure.
    – fredley
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 13:36
  • @fredley - agreed; though sometimes called a "stovetop espresso maker", moka and espresso are different, even if for no other reason than they're produced differently. This answer about moka pots and crema states that the pressure, for one thing, is much lower in moka pots -- on the order of 1.5 atm instead of 9 atm -- though admittedly there are a few models that permit higher pressures.
    – hoc_age
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 14:17
  • @PythonMaster - I don't know what you mean by your statement "The steam goes up then comes down" -- but I think for a percolator this statement is inaccurate; other than condensation, steam isn't at work; water goes up the tube and drips over the grounds.
    – hoc_age
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 14:18
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    Also, it's not mentioned, but a percolator seems to me to be flawed in that it boils the water containing the coffee; I've always read that water for coffee should be lower than boiling or it becomes bitter. Is this a valid belief on my part? Commented Feb 27, 2018 at 19:43

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