2,009 of 2,048 people found the following review helpful
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Every family in Italy owns one of these machines. Here are a few tips:
1. In Italy this is NOT called an espresso machine, but a Moka machine. An espresso is what you would drink in bar made with a steam or high pressure machine with the crema on top.
2. Smaller size Moka machine tend to make better coffee.
3. Never wash the Moka with detergents, just rinse it under tap water
4. You've gotta use it often for a good coffee.
5. If you haven't use it in a while, make a weak coffee ("lungo") and discard
6. DO NOT put the MOka in the dishwasher.
7. Use drinking water. Avoid tap water especially if very chlorinated
8. Never compress the coffee.
9. For a strong coffee fill the filter with ground coffee and make a small cupola that slightly protrudes beyond the rim. Do not press down.
10. For best coffee, heat at very low heat. It's ok if it takes 10min.
11. As soon as coffee reaches the top, remove from heat
12. Do not let the coffee boil
13. Use good quality coffee, not too strong, medium grind (try Illy for a good commercial brand)
14. Sip while still hot, enjoy!
15. (Added Nov 2012) - Wait until all the water has reached the upper chamber before removing from the heat. You will be able to tell by the sound (takes some practice) or simply visually. As soon as no more coffee reaches the upper chamber remove from heat. Do note let the coffee boil. With practice, you may remove from the heat even sooner, by just using the residual heat in the lower chamber.
16. (Added Nov 2012) - Some times you may put too much coffee, or the coffee is too finely ground, or it's been packed too hard. In all of these situations, the end results is typically that the coffee struggles reaching the upper chamber. You can tell by the spouting noise occurring too early, the foam occurring too early, and how slow the whole process is. You can try increasing the heat if that helps. However, you will likely end up with a coffee that is too bitter and tastes burned. Back in the old days, this was dangerous business with many machines exploding (they had no safety valves). Regardless, your coffee is ruined and I would suggest removing it frmo the heat immediately, let it coold down and starts all over.
17. (Added Nov 2012) - What kind of coffee should I use? Experiment, experiment, experiment! Here are some tips I have learned by experimenting. Until you become confortable with the operations of the machine, you can use a good commercial brand like Illy (although it's quite expensive). I wouldn't want you to blame the machine, just because you happened to use a bad coffee. Then start trying different varieties from different roasters. If there are independent roasters near you, why not giving them a try? I haven't had good experience with roasts marketed towards Espresso machines (I find the roast too excessive). Try to buy whole beans and grind them yourself. I find the cheap and popular brands pretty bad for Mokas, even if they happen to make good American style brews. I have had pretty good luck with small roasters and Colombian varieties (or Costa Rican). I have also had outstanding African coffees (Ethiopian). Unfortunately, I found they are seldom consistent.
578 of 604 people found the following review helpful
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About 12 years ago I was in Milan, and a friend gave me one of these to take home. I have used it nearly every day since (I don't take it out of town), so that should give you an idea of how sturdy it is. It is the best coffee maker I have ever owned. To compare, I also have a high-tech espresso machine with frother; a state-of-the-art automatic drip coffeemaker; a French Press; and a different style of stovetop maker, which, surprisingly, makes a different brew. But I ALWAYS go back to my Bialetti Moka 6-cup for the best espresso and lattes. You even will get a crema effect with this simple pot. For lattes, I simply fill half a coffee mug with milk, heat it in the microwave until it's hot, and then top it off with espresso. It's low-maintenance -- every once in a while I replace the internal rubber gasket, which costs a buck or so, depending upon where you buy it. If you like your coffee like the Italians and the Cubans, then you will like the brew this serves. I am loyal to this simple little pot, and hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
303 of 326 people found the following review helpful
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***DO NOT OVERHEAT!***DO NOT OVERHEAT!***DO NOT OVERHEAT!***
There. I've done my good deed, and passed along the warning for the next person. Reading the translated-to-English directions, it's easy to miss this important cautionary note. In fact, it's not even IN the directions. It's written on the side of the box.
But fortunately, before my Moka Express ever arrived, I read another reviewer's cautionary note about avoiding HIGH heat (which can destroy the rubber gasket), so I didn't have any problem from the get-go.
And speaking of 'get-go' here's the deal. The FIRST time out (actually the second time, because the directions recommend that you dispose of the first batch), I had THE *BEST* ESPRESSO I EVER HAD. PERIOD. BAR NONE.
Using some Columbian coffee (that a friend had actually hand-carried from Columbia a few weeks ago), and setting my smallest burner (it's a ceramic-top stove) to just under "5" (10 being the hottest), the espresso that came out of this coffeemaker was INCREDIBLY smooth, and totally without the bitter taste that it can sometimes have.
If this is the result after using it ONCE, I'm looking forward to seeing how good it gets after I've had a chance to figure out the best combination of type of coffee/amount to use/fineness of grind/etc.
Also, for the price, it absolutely cannot be beat. The full pot yielded about six double-shots, so after just one use, it's almost half paid for!
I'm going to be drinking a lot more espresso. And cappuccino. And cafe-au-lait.
Oh well. Who needs sleep? It's overrated anyway! ;-)
UPDATE... We put it in the dishwasher today.
DON'T make this mistake!
When we pulled it out at the end of the cycle, the shiny aluminum exterior had turned into a pretty ugly, uneven, dull finish. I'm sure it'll still work just fine, but it sure doesn't look as nice as it did before.
(ONE other review, among the 48 thusfar, mentions the dishwasher issue, but doesn't say why.)
UPDATE TO THE UPDATE... It's taken about 3 months, but a BUNCH of hand-cleaning has finally reverted our Bialetti to its former shiny state! It's STILL making the best espresso/cappucino I've ever had!
229 of 251 people found the following review helpful
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Recently picked up a 3 cup Bialetti Moka Express while on holiday and couldn't wait to get it home and broken in. I've tried stove-top Italian coffee makers before, and this model has not disappointed.
Sturdy and well made, this unit only has about five parts, all of them metal or heavy-duty plastic so very little can go wrong. This should last ages if properly cared for.
Just remember to keep it simple; fresh, cold water in the lower chamber (stopping *before* you get to the brass outlet valve) and fill the grounds basket with an espresso grind coffee (good excuse to buy more coffee) without packing it too tightly. Place on your stovetop ring and don't go anywhere. Wait a few minutes, and you have an excellent espresso to start the day or to add to steamed milk after dinner. I can't wait to have some with a cigar this weekend. I've been trying some Cafe Bustello the last few mornings and it's been great. Yeah, I know it's canned, but so are most of the coffees in Italy and Latin America.
The only problem I can foresee is needing a larger one for company, but unless you need gallons of espresso each morning, this is great for two to share.
60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
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This unit is a great little device for making strong coffee (somewhere between espresso and regular coffee, closer to the espresso side) in an elegant way, and it's designed to last a long time.
The coffee produced is extracted using steam that is generated when the bottom part of the pot gets heated from placing the unit on a stove top. You have to experiment to find the right low-to-medium heat to get the best results. Too low and it will not boil, but you probably want it just above that and not too hot. I have found a setting where it will boil in 5 mins, and then the coffee comes up in 1 minute or less. So, a total of 6 minutes, which is not bad at all. As mentioned, what's produced is close to what we call "espresso" in the US, but it is not the same thing. It is not as strong and with not quite the same taste as full-blown espresso created using an automatic or semi-automatic espresso maker. It's much stronger and more flavorful than regular coffee, though. I used the same Intelligentsia Coffee House Blend (a great coffee) through my French press and then the Moka pot, and the taste difference was eye-opening. Apparently, these stove-top coffee makers are the norm in Italy, and practically everybody has one.
If you enjoy taking your time making your coffee, this is a beautiful unit that creates great coffee (and apparently it gets better over time, as the coffee oils seep into the aluminum). And as mentioned, it's actually not that slow. It's a nice "coffee ritual." It's made in Italy. It only has three parts, which are easy to clean and look virtually impossible to break, so it will last.
The only potential downsides are:
(a) you need coffee ground to the correct size. Either you should get pre-ground Illy Coffee or else you should get a good grinder that can grind to just above espresso fineness. When using whole bean coffee, our old blade grinder does not work well at all with this (sometimes it's acceptable, sometimes hardly any coffee comes out), but we have a Vario on the way, so all is good... But it is a given that a grinder is extremely important regardless of what method of coffee brewing you use. So -- get a good grinder!
(b) you can only make the same amount of coffee each time. For example, we have the version that says 6 on the side (6 cup?) and it makes just enough for my wife and myself. (It doesn't actually make 6 cups, as far as I can tell -- it's more like 2 cups for us). That is, you cannot just put in less ground coffee and less water to make less coffee. If you do that, the mechanics of the steam don't work and you won't get proper coffee as a result. So, make sure you get the correct size for your use.
This thing is so cheap and well-made that anyone who loves coffee should have one around to try out or for occasional use. Ours will get regular use, alternating with our French press. I was very happy to find this.