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 prefer a more drip-style cup. We awarded it a Top Pick award for all these reasons and more, outlined below.
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.
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.
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, our Editors' Choice winner, the Hario V60, and the Espro Travel Press, our Top Pick for a French Press. 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.
We quite enjoyed the results from the classic Italian Bialetti Moka pot.
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
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 (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. 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 on 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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Some people love the Bialetti enough to carry it around everywhere they go.