I have a Mukka Express but these questions should be applicable to Moka Pot and Brikka users as well.
How much coffee should you use? I use enough coffee to fill the basket to about level and use the factory recommended water level. Still I'm getting watery/diluted weak coffee similar to drip. I'm using Lavazza and Illy pre-ground.
Also, if your technique is right, should there be any water left in the tank after the brew?
That's probably your main problem. The grind for Bialetti should be finer than drip. I grind about half way between cone filter and espresso--maybe just a hair closer to espresso.
Also, pre-ground (read stale) will produce a flat body. A Bialetti is not a La Marzocco, but I know how grounds respond in a La Marzocco even after a few minutes of being ground--the shot comes out way flat.
Last, I get better results (in terms of body) when I settle the grounds in the basket as few times. Ever see a (good) barista do that with the portafilter? Kinda like that. Then I give it a moderate tamp. I know--Bialetti's instructions say not to tamp, but their instruction illustration also shows grinds that are as coarse or more so than drip!
I would go with the first reply. How fresh is your coffee? And what grind do you use. I have a Billati (Brikka) and love it. So as for specifics on your device I can not give. But I will say this. These units are top notch! If your coffee does not taste right, well your asking in the right place. I doubt it is the machine. For sure you fill the basket up to the top. They make them simple to use. Also you are not using a Brikka but a Mukka, it is possible that it is not what you want for full flavor coffee. I have a feeling you would be shocked it you saw how much coffee I need to put in my Brikka compared to the Mukka
Tamping a basket??? Humm not sure about that. The Brikka (makes the strongest) you never tamp. You just fill maybe mound a little. But again I don't have a Mukka.
The Brikka is supposed to exert greater pressure in the basket than the regular pot. I don't have a Brikka because they only come in aluminum.
The freshness and grind of the coffee is the most important thing.
Look for some vids online of baristas settling the basket. They do it as they fill the basket--so quickly sometimes you may miss it! This should help some. I tamp with a glass bottle that fits my basket. Maybe 10 lbs--nothing like I would on a La Marzocco.
Do you have the link to the vid you are talking about showing a barista with a Bialetti because I've never seen one? All the Bialetti vids on YouTube are done by amateurs and their brewing techniques are all over the place.
How close can a properly brewed Bialetti cup of coffee get compared to one done by an espresso machine?
You have to understand that a Mukka will not give you what a Brikka will. The Brikka comes closest to espresso. It even gives a crema, thin but still there. You are expecting to much from what you have. Use a Mukka for cafe au lait. Or such. Sorry you have the wrong machine for a espresso.
With my Brikka I used to tamp slightly; found out that it took forever for it to brew, always popped the steam valve. Best I have found is just put the grounds in basket till level. Works great every time.
"Coffee leads men to trifle away their time, scald their chops, and spend their money, all for a little base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking nauseous puddle water." ~The Women's Petition Against Coffee, 1674
Posted Sat Aug 9, 2008, 4:29pm Subject: Re: Bialetti weak watery brew?
I've never used a Brikka. With the added pressure, it makes sense to use it a bit differently than with a regular Bialetti.
I grind quite fine, settle, and slightly tamp and I don't have a problem with time or blowing the pressure valve. I also get the water boiling first, then, with hotpads, drop in the basket and screw on the top. Takes between 10 and 30 seconds.
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