Updated – August 2020
With over 105 million Mokas sold, who don’t know the Italian stovetop coffee maker Bialetti?
As an Italian, I have owned several Bialetti stovetop coffee makers of any sizes and models. The company Bialetti is well known among Italians and worldwide for this kind of home coffee makers.
In the last years, after many years of glorious history, Bialetti got some trouble competing with a frenetic coffee machine market and high positioned market competitors as stated in this article .
Why is the Bialetti Moka Express pot so famous worldwide?
Bialetti is in the business for many years and offers a range of high-quality products that are well known to last long.
It is something that home coffee lovers appreciate.
The long history of this coffee brand and its millions of worldwide users, guarantee an overall genuine, positive feeling on their products.
The mokas are solid and you can feel, as soon as you handle it, how the producer follows high-quality control procedures during the entire manufacturing process.
What are the differences between other home coffee makers?
As much as the Bialetti Moka express works the same way as all the other coffee stovetops you can buy on the market, you can feel the quality of the steel as soon as you handle it and the easy step by step instructions, make your coffee experience truly enjoyable.
You will need only a bit of water, your favourite grounded coffee and a bit of fire!
The design of the coffee stovetops available today is quite similar to each other.
The extraction method is similar and well established after many years and many markets served, so it is hard to redesign a well-known and simple-looking design in something even more stylish.
So, why the Bialetti Moka Express is a bit more expensive than other models on the market?
- Quality of the products;
- price and availability of spare parts,
- the well-known brand,
- hands-on and long-lasting.
You can check miriad of good reviews of Bialetti products on Amazon.
The numbers of users are quite impressive and of course, the way of using this product has changed throughout the years. Making a good coffee is pretty much a scientific thing that rely on different processes that must be well prepared.
Generally speaking, any coffee machine will only deliver the perfect extraction if you follow all the correct steps.
How do you start making coffee with your Italian Moka coffee maker?
Just bought it?
Before you start enjoying your coffee, make sure you will run your moka pot with 2/3 scoop (about a tenth of what you normally dose) of a cheap coffee (as you will waste it) so your machine will start a process so-called around the blogosphere “the seasoning”.
What most of the blog said is that since the Moka is made of aluminium, the more the coffee will be used up, the more the coffee will taste better.
This process is called “The seasoning of your Moka”, a process in which all the coffee beans oils that covrt the aluminium Moka surface will help your coffee taste a lot better in the long run. I don’t recommend this process because any coffee oils that settle on a surface are going to be oxidized very quickly and becoming rancid!
What I can recommend is to not wash out your Moka pot with soaps, vinegar or abrasive sponge and also to not put it in the dishwasher, so that you can avoid to affect the taste and ruined the material, since aluminium has a porous surface.
If you are lazy and don’t want to deal with these things you can always opt for a stainless Moka espresso machine which is a great option and also lets you brew over an induction stove.
How to use a Bialetti Moka Express home machine
Bialetti Moka express instructions are pretty simple and straightforward.
Step by step instruction
- Fill up the lower chamber with filter water to the almost boiling point, the water level needs to come up to just below the valve indicated inside the chamber. You will need a kettle for that just to be more accurate and quicker. The reason why we need hot water it’s because we want to prevent any bitter taste result due to an over-extraction. With fresh water instead, the process will take longer and while we are waiting for the water to evaporate, the pot is getting hot and going to overheat the coffee grounds even before getting to the extraction;
- fill up the water until the valve limit, not more. The pressure valve has to be “free” for safety reasons as we can need its help in case of overpressure;
- fill up the basket with ground coffee. At this stage, we want to put fresh coffee just freshly ground with a burr grinder and with the right grind size. We also want to evenly distribute the ground coffee without pressing it down to make sure to extract all of the compounds from the evaporated water. I recommended to just use the index finger and to get rid of any coffee grounds left on the edge. The reason why we don’t need to tamp the coffee as we do with an espresso machine, it’s because the pressure it’s about 6-7 time lower than an espresso machine (less than 2 bars instead of 9-10 bars) so we need to let the water comes through easily without too much resistance. This also avoids to not slower the brewing process as we don’t want to over-extract. And before I forget, we need to grind a little bit coarser than espresso for the same reason I just mentioned at this stage;
- seal the Moka pot with a tea towel (the bottom chamber is hot) tight enough to prevent any leaks.
The Moka is ready to be brewed. Then:
- light your stove and place your filled Moka pot over it;
- regulate the heat to a medium to low heat and be sure to not heat the handle of the pot. Too high flames are dangerous and can damage your Moka Express;
- a low heat it’s enough for the Moka to do the job;
- when the water is boiling we are close to the end of the extraction. As soon as we hear any gurgling we need remove the Moka pot from the stove. We then want to stop the extraction at this point to prevent any bitter taste due to an over-extraction. Just a cold towel it’s enough or we can run some cold water close to the bottom chamber.
Just before served it, stir with a spoon all the layer.
Your coffee is now ready to be enjoyed. Pour it in a nice coffee cup and enjoy your Italian Moka pot home-made coffee.
How To Clean your Bialetti Moka Express without damage it
The Moka is easy to clean.
As I said before, The Bialetti pot doesn’t work when coated with coffee oils.
The aluminium has a porous surface: cleaning and abrasive materials, such as wire wool ruin the finish of the Moka, scratching its surface.
According to Bialetti, the best way to clean it is to disassemble the Moka and then hand wash it with warm water without any soap or detergent.
Dry all the parts immediately after you have washed it up. This will prevent rush and unhealthy chemical process while you are making your coffee.
The Bialetti Moka express it’s not dishwasher safe. Please keep this in mind when you are washing it.
How Does The Bialetti Moka coffee extraction work?
The extraction method is the same for all these kind of models:
the water you place in the chamber heats up on the stove and the steam pressure generated by the boiling water forces the water upwards, through the basket and the coffee grounds.
Working with only a heating source without electricity, the Bialetti Moka Express can be very versatile and the perfect home equipment.
With the Moka stovetop espresso makers, the pot generates roughly 1.5 bars of pressure!
The pressure pass through the ground coffee going up directly to the top chamber.
This extraction method is a simple alternative to an espresso made with a commercial coffee machine. The body and the foam of a Moka pot coffee makers are significantly thinner than regular espressos made by commercial espresso machines for home (such as The Breville). Bare in mind to not compare this two methods of brewing coffee even if the result is kind of similar. The process of these two methods is significantly different in both pressure and temperature.
Which Grinding Size Works Best With Bialetti Moka Express?
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Grinding size is key to get a proper result.
The Moka Express usually perform better with a medium to fine grind, but never too fine. It will go through and clog the process!
Pay attention when loading the coffee funnel!
As I wrote before, do not tamp the grounds hard if not the water won’t get through properly, leaving you with a slow and over-extracted brew.
If you decide to grind your coffee beans yourself read which are the best grinders on the market, to have a clear idea of what you are going to buy and why.
What Is The Best Coffee To Use In A Bialetti Moka Express?
The question is very personal and it depends what’s your taste like.
At this moment I enjoy my 3-cup Moka with a medium to light roast Ethiopian coffee with a hint of pineapple and watermelon.
Why Is The Moka Express Made From Aluminium?
Bialetti used Aluminium for stovetop coffee makers because it’s a great conductor of heat and at that time it was quicker to make.
Some people complain that aluminium leaves some sort of taste in the coffee and related health problem.
For them I would suggest a stainless steel alternative, there are many on the market.
Having said that, there are still not enough studies on what it is the impact on coffee pot aluminium makers on health.
There are many studies on BPA and plastic instead and I talked about them in this blog.
Is It Safe to Use The Moka Express?
Yes, but please be careful not to leave it on the heat for too long after the water starts boiling. That could be dangerous.
How Is the Moka Express different from cheaper Moka Pots?
- 2-year warranty on the products;
- millions of Mokas sold;
- a great worldwide customer service.
Are there great alternatives in the Market?
Yes, there are few other Mokas which deliver a very good coffee. It depends on your budget and how you like your coffee.
Few concerns of The Bialetti Moka Express
- Bialetti could have also used stainless steel;
- aluminium could be toxic;
- possibility of corrosion due to its metallic characteristic;
- a bit expensive considering a few other models on the market;
- you always need stovetops to use it.
Great selling points of this product:
- Small and portable;
- easy to use;
- produce a consistent result;
- no need to measure the temperature to brew your coffee.
A few tips
- Always start with warm filter water: I recommend to heat some filter water with a kettle at least up to 40° degrees Celsius.
- If you’re not entirely happy with the result, start with a hotter water as you may find your cup a bit bitter (this also helps accelerate the brewing process).
In less than a minute you’ll be able to enjoy your cup of coffee.
What are the Alternatives to the Bialetti Moka Pot?
We have written about a great alternative here: the Aeropress which is placed in between the Moka pot and the pour-over in terms of body and grind size.
Again, it’s just a matter of taste. No one can say that a brewing method delivers greater result compared to the others. It’s up to you.
The Moka express coffee maker is for sale on different platforms and the prices range from £20 to £40 according to the size.
I am an Italian coffee lover that pushed for the love of this “amazing drug” decided to come to London to study about coffee and its different extraction procedures and tastes.