Everyone knows the Bialetti Moka Express is the best selling moka pot of them all by a landslide!
But why? Is it really that much better?
The Bialetti Moka Express makes coffee the same way as all the other stovetops you can buy. It comes with simple instructions and to get started you don’t need any filters, just your Moka Express and some coffee.
This stovetop espresso maker even looks just like all the others. In fact you have to try kind of hard just to find a moka pot that looks different.
Let me tell you right off the bat though, this moka pot may cost a fraction more than the cheaper options you can find for sale here and there but it is made so much better and it’s replacement parts are so much easier to find that it is a no-brainer to buy over the competition.
You can see quick pricing for the 6-cup Moka Express here or continue reading to learn a bit more about this really versatile coffee/espresso maker.
GGC’s Review of the Bialetti Moka Express Moka Pot
Let’s say you own one of these already but haven’t used it yet.
Before you start using your moka pot for the first time (and this pertains to all aluminum moka pots) you’re going to have to season the pot first. To do this you’ll make 2-3 pots of throw away coffee. 🙁
There are a lot of people who use an aluminum moka pot for the first time and their first pot tastes bad so they give up, but there is a lot of improvement to be seen with repeated use of the espresso maker.
So, while it hurts us all to waste the coffee it’s paving the way for a great coffee experience in the future. Maybe this could be time to use up any pre-grounds coffee you may have lying around a cabinet somewhere.
If you do season your pot just make sure to not wash your pot out after seasoning. You may rinse it but using any soap or abrasive scrubbers negates the whole process. You see, it’s the coffee oils that seal the aluminum surface making future runs taste a lot better.
Don’t like aluminum or this process? See our favorite stainless steel moka pots here.
How to use Bialetti Moka Express
The Moka Express instructions are really pretty simple to follow:
- First fill the lower chamber with cold water, the water level needs to come up to just below the valve.
- Next, place the funnel in position and fill it with ground espresso. Any coffee grounds left on the rim of the funnel will need to be removed.
- Screw the upper part of the pot to the base, make sure it’s on tightly to prevent leaks.
- You next need to light your stove and place your moka pot on the heat, if you’re using a gas stove please making sure that the burner is small enough that the flame does not reach to the sides of the pot, this is dangerous and can damage your Moka Express. Low to medium heat it enough to do the job.
- The pot needs to be left on the stovetop until the water boils, which will then cause the coffee to rise through the post in the center.
- When the top of the pot is full of coffee and you see a hazel colored foam, it’s almost done making coffee so you can then remove it from the heat.
Before pouring the coffee, stir it well to make sure that the flavors are evened out through every serving.
Finally, pour it into your favorite coffee cup and enjoy your espresso-style coffee. Read this if you didn’t realize stovetop espresso is different than traditional espresso.
How To Clean Bialetti Moka Express
The Bialetti Moka Express doesn’t need a lot by way of cleaning, the pot works best when coated a little with coffee oil – the aluminium is sensitive to cleaning products and any abrasive materials, such as wire wool. According to the instructions the best way to clean your Moka Express is to dissemble and then hand wash it with warm water without any soap or detergent. It’s not dishwasher safe.
Because many people think this is unsanitary stainless steel moka pots have started becoming a little more popular. See this post to learn more about why aluminum moka pots are safe too!
Before reassembly, make sure to thoroughly dry the parts as any trapped moisture could cause the Moka Express to rust and this will impact the coffee in terms of flavor and in terms of your health.
How Does The Bialetti Moka Express Work?
All stovetop espresso makers work in essentially the same way, the water heats up on the stove and the steam pressure generated by the boiling water forces the water upwards and then through the filter and the coffee grounds.
It’s kettle and coffee maker in one and it doesn’t require electricity, just a heat source, so it’s a very versatile piece of equipment.
With drip or pour over coffee makers water slowly falls through the grind making coffee on the bottom side. With stovetop espresso makers the pot generates roughly 1.5 bars of pressure as it passes through the grind going up to the upper collection chamber.
This method is ingenious and is a simple alternative to true espresso. The final coffee is even dosed in the same portion size as espresso – the only glaring difference is that you can’t get any significant amount of crema from a moka pot, even if you tamp down on the grind so don’t do it!
Tamping down makes it harder for water to pass through the grind and slows down the brew. Because pressure isn’t high enough this causes much longer brewing cycle to occur and over-extracted, bitter coffee can be your reward.
What Grind Works Best With Bialetti Moka Express?
The grind is important for the Bialetti Moka Express as it is with all coffee makers.
The Moka Express requires a medium-fine grind, but make sure its not so fine as to get through or clog the filter. When loading the coffee funnel, take care not to tamp the grounds, as this will prevent the water from getting through to brew the coffee, leaving you with a slow and over-extracted brew.
If you prefer however to use the same grind size as you would use for a drip coffee maker or other kind of pour over a moka pot will still give you acceptable flavors. Medium grind will come out just fine from a stovetop espresso maker but most people agree that a finer grind just tastes better in the end.
What Is The Best Coffee To Use In A Bialetti Moka Express?
As far as beans go, the moka is generally considered pretty versatile, and you can experiment and see what works for you. You can use espresso roasts even though you’re not making true espresso, provided the grind is right. If you’re buying pre-ground beans, espresso ones will be too fine for the filter on the Moka Express.
While you can use whatever suits you, it is most common to use mostly medium to dark roasts, as these lend well to the strong and full-bodied cup you’ll get from this brewing method.
Why Is The Moka Express Made From Aluminium?
Aluminium is used for stovetop coffee makers because it’s a great conductor of heat. There are often cries that you can taste the aluminium in the cup with all metallic coffee makers where others swear they cannot. Whether some people have more sensitive taste buds to other or whether this is psychosomatic, who knows?
The stainless steel alternatives are often considered to have less of an impact on the flavor of your cup, but this isn’t a view shared by all. In one admittedly unscientific experiment one man failed to find a difference, and it’s hard to find evidence that food-grade aluminium really does affect the flavor of your coffee any more than stainless steel ones.
Is It Safe To Use The Moka Express?
As with all products that are used on the stove, you need to take care when using a Moka Express. They can be dangerous of left to boil dry.
There have also been rumors of aluminium coffee pots being a factor in the cause of Alzheimer’s disease, but there is no evidence of this and people don’t share these concerns in relation to other aluminium based products, such as aluminium foil or soda cans. If you have concerns there are plenty of stainless steel coffee makers available, so if you don’t trust aluminium, a stainless alternative is probably your best bet.
How Is The Moka Express Different From Cheaper Moka Pots
There isn’t a lot of difference between the Moka Express and other, cheaper, moka pots. What you get with Bialetti is a brand that knows what its doing and a name that people trust. The design is also attractive and the Moka Express, like with other Bialetti products, is a good quality, well-made coffee maker.
It is slightly more expensive, but it can be better to pay a little more for a maker you can trust, and any replacement parts you need will be widely available, due to the popularity of the brand. Another perk is the two year warranty Bialetti offer on the Moka Express, so you know you can count on it lasting or being replaced, good news.
That said, there are many good quality alternatives that won’t set you back as much, so if you’re happy to shop around and do a little research (and you must be, you’re reading this!) then you could save yourself some money without a significant compromise in quality.
Biggest Problems With The Moka Express
The Moka Express works well, it looks good and it is tough and sturdy enough to last. Bialetti certainly do a good job of making coffee-makers. However, there are a couple of things they could have done differently.
Firstly they could have used stainless steel, while there isn’t a lot of evidence as to the toxicity of aluminium over stainless steel, the perception that it’s dangerous will put a lot of people off. Stainless steel is also easier to clean, as you can use coffee maker cleaning products with it, aluminium is to vulnerable to corrosion for that.
Secondly the price is a little steep when compared to alternatives, although at Gathering Grounds we appreciate the advantages of using a big brand that we trust and have used before, for a newcomer to coffee making, the price might well be prohibitive. The beauty of coffee-makers is in the simplicity and while the design is great on the Moka Express, the fanciness of it can be said to take away from its basic charm.
Who Is The Moka Express Best For?
The Moka Express is best for anyone who wants to just but a coffee maker without too much mulling it over. If you just want something of good-quality that works then Bialetti are the brand and the Moka Express is a very decent model if you’re sure you’re looking for a stovetop.
Of course you’ll need to appreciate the rich and full-bodied coffee it produces, which isn’t everybody’s favorite, but at Gathering Grounds we recommend these stovetops as a great and more practical alternative to the expensive and high tech espresso machines you can buy. If you appreciate the art of coffee making and enjoy espresso, then this might be the solution for you.
The Moka Express is small and portable too, so if you like to carry around coffee equipment to work or travelling, then you can. You need to bear in mind that with all stovetops you need access to a stove, so while you may not be able to take it to work and use it there, they are a great addition to any camping trip. If you travel a lot and find yourself drinking bad coffee while you’re there, the stovetop regulates itself by brewing at the same temperature so you won’t need to be measuring your water temperature like you need to for other methods.
What are the Alternatives to the Moka Pot?
There are a few good alternatives to the Moka Express. You can buy a cheaper unit from a lesser known brand. Go for an Aeropress, an inexpensive steam espresso maker, or even a Handpresso!