First off, let me be totally up front and state that I own the Bialetti stove top coffee maker and that i use it every day. Second, I used the term “coffee” maker for a reason. Without gong into a lesson in Italian (the original was invented in Italy), a moka pot makes coffee by passing pressurized water (or “steam”) through ground coffee. So, while the device does create some pressure, it is nowhere near the bars of pressure a pump style machine utilizes to make true espresso. The actual result is somewhere between espresso and coffee, hence the name “Moka”.
Having said all of that, it doesn’t mean you can turn your nose up at this little stove top unit. It does make excellent coffee and if you use an espresso roast and grind (preferably an Italian roast IMHO), it does taste a lot like an espresso shot, but it isn’t. For example, it is almost impossible to create any amount of crema with the Moka Express. However, it does make great coffee.and while the name may be a misnomer, that is not why we do not recommend the Bialetti “Espresso” maker (see below for that).
The Bialetti Moka Express uses an simple and yet ingenious design that removes almost all of the guesswork to making great coffee. Because the water should be heated at low temperatures for best results, this unit can actually be quite portable and could be used with a hot plate or similar device. You could also go more “Greek style” and use a campfire or other open flame, though that might affect the beautiful brushed aluminum exterior. Ideally, you would use this on a stove top, heat the water slowly and above all, never let the coffee boil as this gives it a “burnt” taste. If you’re in a hurry, you can heat the water very quickly – yes, I have done this – but just do not leave the pot unattended. It’s not that too much pressure will build up or that the aluminum can’t handle higher temperatures – particularly the bottom portion which goes dry when the water turns to steam and moves through the ground coffee to the top. No, the reason you don’t want to leave it unattended at higher temperatures is so that, again, you do not let the coffee boil!
Contrary to many reviews, the pot is not difficult to clean, take care of or to cycle for additional cups. It just takes a little time. You also have to understand that in the description & title, a “cup” is neither an american standard measuring cup nor anything like the average american coffee mug. The cups they are referring to are those tiny little “one-shot” espresso cups. Again, this is not that difficult to work with. Basically, the 6 cup pot being reviewed equates to about a standard large coffee mug worth of coffee. This is also not a drawback nor a bad product description – just a “translation” issue.
What Others are Saying
The best — straight from Italy!
5 out of 5 stars
About 12 years ago I was in Milan, and a friend gave me one of these to take home. I have used it nearly every day since (I don’t take it out of town), so that should give you an idea of how sturdy it is. It is the best coffee maker I have ever owned. To compare, I also have…
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Follow these tips for a unique coffee
5 out of 5 stars
Every family in Italy owns one of these machines. Here are a few tips:
1. In Italy this is NOT called an espresso machine, but a Moka machine. An espresso is what you would drink in bar made with a steam or high pressure machine with the crema on top.
2. Smaller size Moka machine tend to…
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Recommendation and Price
The Bialetti Moka Express is very reasonably priced (about $26) for the quality of coffee it creates and it is a #1 best seller. All of that is not the problem, as you’ve probably figured out if you’ve read all of the above. The issue is not just one of convenience either, since that is relative to the user or audience. Ah, now we’ve come to the real issue. The major audience for my reviews is American, and for the average American, the Moka Pot will probably be either too cumbersome or just not useful for what they want to make. Most of us want lattes or cappuccinos and therefore will want a machine that also froths milk. Yes, you can purchase a separate stove top milk “frother” that is really more a milk “warmer” that you then have to whisk – but who wants all that trouble and manual labor? Just look at the increase in popularity of the new one-shot “coffee” pod machines – and who knows what is really in that pod to create a froth-like “milk” on the top? In addition, this is not really a true espresso maker since the pressure is not high enough.
However, if you are someone who just wants a cup at a time of very strong “espresso-like” coffee to start your day, then, like me, this could be a useful tool in your coffee arsenal.