Stove top espresso makers can be intimidating little devices, but they’re actually a very easy and convenient way to make espresso on the stove, without all the fancy and expensive equipment that comes along with at-home espresso barista systems. Stove top espresso makers are very poplar in Europe, especially in Spain, and can be found in most Spanish households because they make a much stronger “cafe” than what we’d normally drink in America. An espresso maker makes very strong, small shots of coffee that are used to make popular drinks like cafe con leche, cappuccino and the traditional espresso or “cafe,” which isn’t doctored with milk or sugar. If you just bought a brand new stove top espresso maker, here’s how to get it set up and use it properly.

Things You'll Need

Set up your espresso maker. A stove top espresso maker is made of three parts. The top part is the kettle, the small middle piece is the funnel and the bottom is the water base. Set each piece on the counter and familiarize yourself with each part.

Wash the devices. If the machine is new, you need to wash all the parts. Never use a product straight out the box without first washing it. Make sure that each part is carefully rinsed of all the soap, so you don’t get soapy espresso. Thoroughly dry the espresso maker.

Grind your coffee. Whole bean coffee that you grind yourself is the surest way to a fresh cup of espresso. Buy a dark bean and pulse in your coffee grinder until it is a fine powder. Espresso grinds should be finer than normal coffee grinds. For fine espresso grounds you should use a burr coffee grinder, but if you don’t have a grinder you can ask your coffee specialist to grind the beans for you, or you can grind them yourself at most grocery stores.

Fill the base with water. The water should come to just below the steam valve, which is the small hole on the outside of your base, near the top. Do not fill the base with water past this hole. Water content is dependent on the size of your espresso maker. If you have a 12 shot maker, you must make all 12 shots, even if you only want two. There are small and large size makers, so buy the size that best fits your drinking style.

Fill the coffee filter with espresso grounds. Place the funnel into the base and fill it with your ground espresso. It should completely fill the filter. Level the grinds, but do not pack them.

Attach the kettle pot to the base. Screw the kettle onto the base and make sure that it is tight and secure. At this point the kettle should be empty and dry.

Heat your espresso. Place the espresso maker on the stove and heat on medium to medium high heat. Don’t be alarmed when you hear gurgling or steam spray, this is normal and means that your machine is working properly; forcing fresh espresso into the top kettle. In about five minutes, the gurgling with subside. Once the sounds have stopped, you may check the espresso, by carefully and slowly lifting the lid. Do not lift the lid if you still hear gurgling, as the coffee may spray out. The espresso is ready when the top kettle is full of fresh espresso (about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on size).

Immediately remove the espresso maker from the stove top using the handle and an oven mitt. Do not touch the metal, it will be very hot. Be careful; the pot, coffee and steam will be very hot. Serve and enjoy!


  • Use good water such as bottle or filtered water for better tasting coffee.

  • Espresso grinds are much finer than coffee grinds, but for a lighter coffee you may use a courser grind. Experiment with your grinds until you find your perfect cup.

  • Grind your own beans for a fresher espresso and use a burr grinder for the finest grain.

  • You must make the full batch that your maker calls for.