Bialetti Moka Express Review
Cons: Made out of aluminum, expensive, if you don't like espresso you will want to add water or milk
Our Analysis and Test Results
We love the Bialetti Moka Express 9-Cup and the options it provides for a larger group. Taking just minutes to brew, it gives consistently delightful results and the choice of enjoying strong Italian-style espresso or, with the addition of hot water, an excellent Americano for those that prefer a more drip-style cup.
A classic design that has been going strong since the 1950s, the Bialetti has a signature 8-sided shape that the manufacturer claims helps diffuse heat more evenly, enhancing the aroma of your coffee. Whether that's true or not, we weren't disappointed with the results. Requiring no filters, this brewer consists of three parts: the lower heating vessel, a stemmed filter chamber for the coffee, and a handled top that collects the coffee as it percolates up through the center. The pot is assembled and placed on a stovetop, where a gurgling sound informs you it's finished — on a good burner, the whole process takes mere minutes.
Stovetop espresso can be a bit of an acquired taste — it's certainly different than the smooth shots with beautiful crema that you receive at a cafe. However, if you're someone that loves thick, strong coffee, especially on early camp mornings, you will probably love this brewer. And, if you find the coffee too strong right out of the pot, simply add hot water at a 1:3 or 1:4 ratio for a lovely drip-style Americano — or add hot milk for a latte. We brewed many different kinds of beans on our Bialetti and it impressed us with its ability to retain the inherent flavor notes of whatever coffee we used without imparting any bitterness or nasty boiled-flavor.
The Moka Express is made from food-grade aluminum alloy, which might turn some people off. If you'd prefer to steer clear of aluminum, Bialetti does make stainless steel options.
Ease of Use
While this brewer might look intimidating, it's actually very easy to use and clean. Fill the bottom chamber with water up to the valve, place the funnel filter inside and fill to the brim (or not if you want a brew more like drip and less like espresso), and screw the top on. Place it on the burner and heat until you hear that lovable gurgling sound. For cleaning, just unscrew the top and tap out the grounds. If you don't have water for a rinse, a simple wipe with a towel will do the trick.
While this brewer only produces 18-ounces at a time, if you consider that the espresso can be a base for Americanos and lattes, then the yield is actually considerably higher. This versatility is a nice perk for groups with different coffee preferences.
No surprise, this isn't an area where this model excels. It's a fine option for car camping but certainly not something anyone would take backpacking. That being said, the Moka Express is still a slim design with no overly small parts to keep track of. Considering how versatile, well-performing, and high-yielding it is, we didn't mind giving up a bit more space in our camp kitchen box.
At 1 pound 9.6 ounces, this brewer obviously didn't score in the top of this category either. But if you consider how much coffee you can make quickly, it's a perfectly acceptable trade-off for larger groups.
This brewer is indeed an investment, but it makes a lot of really delicious coffee at once. If you need to satisfy a group of sleepy friends regularly, then the price tag really isn't so bad, especially considering you will never need filters and it's highly durable. This is the kind of coffee maker that can last you a lifetime, though we'd recommend a stainless steel version instead of aluminum if that's your plan.
The Bialetti is a great option for larger groups and car camping — you might even like it so much that you'll use it at home too! If you have a smaller group or espresso isn't your favorite, you can use the full amount of water with half the coffee for a more drip-style final cup that still tastes great. This versatility, along with how quick and easy this device is to use, make it one of our longstanding favorite options for enjoying our morning brew.
— Penney Garrett
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