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Bialetti Moka Express Review

The Bialetti Moka Express is a classic Italian stovetop espresso maker that impressed us with its consistent flavor and easy care.
Bialetti Moka Express
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $45 List | $44.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Consistently excellent flavor, brews quickly, easy to use and clean, versatile
Cons:  Made out of aluminum, expensive, if you don't like espresso you will want to add water or milk
Manufacturer:   Bialetti
By Penney Garrett ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 7, 2018
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70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 13
  • Taste - 40% 8
  • Group Cooking - 20% 9
  • Ease of Use - 20% 7
  • Portability - 10% 4
  • Weight - 10% 2

The Skinny

The Bialetti Moka Express 9-Cup is an Italian classic, serving up strong thick espresso right from the stovetop. It's easy to use without having to measure or weigh anything, and it brews quickly, equating to less fuel use over time. Yielding about 18-ounces of coffee, the "9-Cup" designation refers to 2-ounce espresso servings which can be consumed as is, or used as the base in Americanos or lattes. Easy to clean, the Bialetti delivered really great flavor profiles, even when we changed up the brew ratio to make a more drip-style coffee. We awarded this iconic device our Top Pick for Large Groups because, of our large brewers, this one was the easiest to use and consistently produced the best result.

The only thing that bothered us about this coffee maker is the fact that it's pricey at $45 and made from an aluminum alloy. If you'd rather be using stainless steel, check out the Farberware Yosemite 8-Cup Coffee Percolator which is almost half the price and can percolate up to 40-ounces of coffee at a time. We didn't choose the Yosemite for our group award because it's much harder to dial in a good recipe, the flavor wasn't as good, and it consists of some tiny parts that could easily get lost when camping. If you know you want a Bialetti but are steering clear of aluminum stainless steel pots are available, they are just smaller and more expensive.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

We loved the Bialetti Moka Express 9-Cup and the options it provided for a larger group. Taking just minutes to brew, it gave us 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 preferred a more drip-style cup. We awarded it a Top Pick award for all these reasons and more, outlined below.

Performance Comparison


While the Bialetti was perhaps not created with camping in mind  it fit right into our car camping routine and kept us caffeinated in style.
While the Bialetti was perhaps not created with camping in mind, it fit right into our car camping routine and kept us caffeinated in style.

Brew Features


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 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.

The three pieces of the Moka Express. While this is obviously more to contend with than a simple pour over cone  it's still a simple set up that's easy to keep track of.
The three pieces of the Moka Express. While this is obviously more to contend with than a simple pour over cone, it's still a simple set up that's easy to keep track of.

Taste


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.


The Moka Express was one of our favorite options for good consistent flavor, only falling behind the Aerobie AeroPress, our Top Pick for Gourmet Taste, and our two Editors' Choice winners, the Hario V60 and Cafellissimo Paperless Pour Over. We brewed many different kinds of beans on our Bialetti and it impressed us with its ability to retain the inherent flavor notes of the coffee used without imparting any bitterness or nasty boiled-flavor.

We quite enjoyed the results from this classic Italian brewer.
We quite enjoyed the results from this classic Italian brewer.

Cooking with aluminum
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 smaller stainless steel options.

Group Cooking


While our other large brewer, the Farberware Yosemite 8-Cup Coffee Percolator could yield twice as much coffee as the Bialetti, we still awarded our Top Pick to this brewer because it was far easier to use and the taste was so much better. And, if you consider that the espresso from the Bialetti can be a base for Americanos and lattes, then the yield is actually higher.


Another reason we found this coffee maker more ideal for groups than the Farberware Yosemite was because it's easier to use. We found that even when changing ratios, the Bialetti still tasted good, while the Yosemite was easy to mess up and deliver a sub-par cup.

That wonderful gurgling sound means it's coffee time!
That wonderful gurgling sound means it's coffee time!

Ease of Use


While this brewer might look intimidating, it was actually very easy to use and clean. Simply fill the bottom chamber with water up to the valve, place the funnel filter inside and fill to the brim, and screw the top on. Place it on the burner and heat until you hear that lovable gurgling sound. Pour and enjoy!


Cleaning is easy with this brewer as well — you 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. This may not be as simple as cones like the V60 where you just lift a filter out and toss, but we liked not having any paper waste. We also appreciated the simplicity of design of the Bialetti - by comparison, the Yosemite Percolator involved more parts, steps, and small annoyances.

Loading up the Bialetti was as simple as filling the filter chamber to the top. Aspects of measuring are built into the design of this brewer  making it easy to use no matter who is in charge.
Loading up the Bialetti was as simple as filling the filter chamber to the top. Aspects of measuring are built into the design of this brewer, making it easy to use no matter who is in charge.

For the best flavor, the manufacturer recommends seasoning your Bialetti by brewing at least 3 pots and dumping the coffee out. After that, you're good to go and can start brewing for real!

Portability


No surprise, this wasn't an area where this model scored well. Weighing in at 25.6 ounces, it's a fine option for car camping but certainly not something anyone would want to take backpacking.


That being said, the Moka Express was a slimmer design with less small parts than the Yosemite, another reason this brewer won a Top Pick award. Considering how versatile, well-performing, and high-yielding it is, we don't mind giving up a bit more space in our camp kitchen box.

While this obviously isn't a small device  it's durable and light for its size - perfectly fine for car camping.
While this obviously isn't a small device, it's durable and light for its size - perfectly fine for car camping.

Weight


At 25.6 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.


If you want to be able to brew for more people but need to keep it light, consider some of the pour over options that can accommodate getting packed with more grounds like the Melitta Ready Set Joe, our Best Buy winner. The Jetboil Coffee Press is also an option for bigger crews, allowing you to turn your boiler into a french press.

Conclusion


All in all, we found the Bialetti to be a great option for larger groups and car camping — though you might like it so much that you'll use it at home too! If you have a smaller group and espresso isn't your favorite, we found that we could use the full amount of water but just fill the filter funnel up halfway with coffee — this gave us a more drip-style final cup that still tasted great.

Everyone loves the Bialetti!
Everyone loves the Bialetti!


Penney Garrett