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Brewing with the Bialetti Brikka 4-Cup
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holmwood
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Oct 2004
Posts: 6
Location: Florida
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Bialetti Brikka 4-cup
Grinder: cheap-o Krups blade
Drip: No drip: press pot
Posted Thu Oct 14, 2004, 8:30pm
Subject: Re: Brewing with the Bialetti Brikka 4-Cup
 

Hi--CG newbie here (well I've been lurking off and on for a while), and I have a question for Stash and other Brikka fans.  I recently purchased the 4-cup Brikka model and I'm still not thrilled with the espresso I'm getting.  I'm getting plenty of crema, but it tastes impossibly bitter.  Can anyone give a more exact measure of how much coffee you're using, like in tablespoons or better yet weight in grams?  "Not quite full" is vague, especially because the weight for a given volume can be highly variable depending on how packed it is.  Stash I know you said you don't tamp, but do you level it, or do you just mound it?  If you level it how high up do you fill it?  

Here's some more info about the coffee and method I'm using:

Lavazza pre-ground coffees (vacuum-packed): either the Qualita' Rosso or the "Crema e Gusto"

I'm wondering if the factory grind on these is either too fine or not fine enough for the Brikka.  Lavazza says its suitable for moka pots, but I'm sure someone has an alternative opinion on this!!

I'd ideally like to find a good brand of pre-ground coffee that works well in the moka so I don't have to buy an expensive grinder (yes I see all you home-grinder snobs rolling your eyes, but work with me here!).   Eventually I'm going to get a Solis Maestro Plus or something good, but not just yet.  

I have an electric stovetop and set the smallest burner on the near-highest setting.  I found that at lower settings it took way to long for the coffee to brew.  

ALSO (this may be important): I'm getting a small amount of coffee coming into the pot before the climactic burst (use whatever lewd analogy you like for this phenomenon) and I'm wondering if this means I'm doing something wrong.  It was worse when I had the burner on a lower setting, so I think it had to do with not getting up to temp/pressure fast enough.  But it's still happening some at the higher burner setting.   And believe me my stove is not lacking for heat.  

Also: I got one of those cute little Aerolatte frother and I have to say it is *not too shabby* for frothing steamed milk, makes a beautiful 'pseudo-ccino'.  

Thoughts and advice greatly appreciated!
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hilary
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Jan 2005
Posts: 12
Location: Southern California
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Elektra Semi Automatica
Grinder: Macap M4
Drip: Presto Scandinavian
Roaster: Fresh Roast
Posted Mon Jan 24, 2005, 3:53pm
Subject: Re: Brewing with the Bialetti Brikka 4-Cup
 

I'm getting plenty of crema, but it tastes impossibly bitter.

 

I, too, have had problems with the Brikka, which is all the more disappointing after the raves on this board. I've been using Lavazza (could that be the problem?) and get the worst-tasting coffee (undrinkable, really). Bitter to the extreme.
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cafedj
Senior Member


Joined: 3 Oct 2003
Posts: 654
Location: NC
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bialetti, Aeropress
Grinder: Rocky doserless
Vac Pot: Bodum
Drip: Behmor Brazen
Roaster: Counter Culture
Posted Mon Jan 24, 2005, 7:53pm
Subject: Re: Brewing with the Bialetti Brikka 4-Cup
 

Have you tried making an Americano with it?  May not be your thing, but that's what I use mine for and the results are very good.  Not bitter at all.  Some coffees seem to handle the heat and pressure better than others, so you just have to experiment.
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Terje
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Jul 2005
Posts: 16
Location: Sweden
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sun Jul 31, 2005, 5:18am
Subject: Re: Brewing with the Bialetti Brikka 4-Cup
 

holmwood Said:

I'm getting plenty of crema, but it tastes impossibly bitter.

Lavazza pre-ground coffees (vacuum-packed): either the Qualita' Rosso or the "Crema e Gusto"

Posted October 14, 2004 link

OK, so here we probably have it. That Lavazza coffee mix was made for a good sized crema. So in it you have plenty of robusta beans which are in themselves bitter. What you need to do for the moka pot, which makes more bitter coffee than an espresso machine cause it gets hotter and uses less pressure is to use 100% arabica beans and lower the damn heat!

I would like to point out that I have learnt about this the hard way myself. I used to use a french roast with mixed beans, very dark and definitely some robusta in it. I used to set the stove on "full" and wait until I heard the "pfloffing" sound from the coffee squirting out in the top of the pot...

To review: 100% arabica, low heat, do not tamp the coffee, just fill the filter and rather take a little less than too much (I took way too much once to see what would happen and I had to clean that up for a long time... coffee was coming out on the sides of the pot and poured onto the stove... the smell was fantastic though, spreading in the whole kitchen).

When you do it right the coffee should come oozing out, without making any sound, pouring slowly into the top of the pot... it's easier with the smaller pots for some reason...
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holmwood
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Oct 2004
Posts: 6
Location: Florida
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Bialetti Brikka 4-cup
Grinder: cheap-o Krups blade
Drip: No drip: press pot
Posted Sun Jul 31, 2005, 9:16am
Subject: Re: Brewing with the Bialetti Brikka 4-Cup
 

Thanks Terje.  I'd kind of hit on this method by trial and error and now I'm getting much better results.  Now I buy good quality arabica whole bean coffee (I like Sumatran or Ethiopian in particular, medium to dark roast) at Whole Foods in small amounts, grinding it in the store on espresso grind.  Then I fill loosely, don't tamp, and put on medium-low heat.  Now I'm getting great crema AND great taste.  I also think that the machine needed to be used for a couple months before reaching optimum performance.
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Terje
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Jul 2005
Posts: 16
Location: Sweden
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Aug 1, 2005, 3:43am
Subject: Re: Brewing with the Bialetti Brikka 4-Cup
 

holmwood Said:

Thanks Terje.  I'd kind of hit on this method by trial and error and now I'm getting much better results.  

Posted July 31, 2005 link

You're welcome. The guy who sold me my first moka pot told me all this. He said it in plain words, "low heat, do not tamp, fresh cold water"... I didn't listen to him really and suffered the consequences...
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coffee_monkey
Senior Member


Joined: 23 Apr 2004
Posts: 248
Location: Boston, MA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Isomac Rituale, FE-AR...
Grinder: Mazzer Kony, Hario MSC-2
Vac Pot: Hario TCA-2
Drip: Hario DPW-1
Posted Mon Aug 1, 2005, 6:39am
Subject: Re: Brewing with the Bialetti Brikka 4-Cup
 

I don't know about the 4-cup, since I tried really hard to get the 2-cup version. Prior to purchasing, I did a lot of research, and the general consensus is that the 4 cup is a inferior version. It just could not provide as nice of a "crema" as the 2-cup model.

As for my routine...

  1. Fill and level of the basket. I use a grind that is about fine drip. No tamp.

  2. Pour broiling water to the lower chamber and seal the top

  3. Start out w/ the max flame that covers but do not exceed the bottom

  4. Upon first droplet of coffee, I lower the flame to about 50%

  5. As soon as the coffee started to flow (~ couple seconds after the first drop), I will reduce the flame to about 20%, then kill it before the "final gurgle"

  6. Pour the coffee to the cup asap to prevent it from getting burned.


The idea of using broiling water in the lower chamber is that:

  1. To prevent the coffee getting "steamed"
  2. To reduce brewing time

Basically you want to get hot water to the gounds as soon as possible, but reduce the heat once the water flows up to prevent any burning.

It has worked quite well and I just have to be careful when screwing the hot lower chamber in.

As for what coffee, I found it actually does a excellent job of drawing out the fruity acidity of light roast coffee (Kenya, for example). I use it to make single origin americano and enjoyed the enhanced brightness and sweetness (comapared to a drip/FP). Give it a try... you might like it.


Ben
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holmwood
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Oct 2004
Posts: 6
Location: Florida
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Bialetti Brikka 4-cup
Grinder: cheap-o Krups blade
Drip: No drip: press pot
Posted Mon Aug 1, 2005, 7:06am
Subject: Re: Brewing with the Bialetti Brikka 4-Cup
 

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I now own both a 4-cup and a 2-cup Brikka.  I use the 2-cup most often when I'm just brewing for myself.  If I have a guest I use the 4-cup.  I don't notice an enormous difference between the two; maybe yes a little more crema with the 2-cup.  I had to order the 2-cup directly from Bialetti, located in Italy.  It cost about the same as what I paid for the 4-cup from a U.S. website (including the shipping), which was around $50 USD.  Do a google search for Bialetti and you should find their retail site.  

BTW I'm skeptical about putting boiling water in the base, but maybe I'll try it!
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Terje
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Jul 2005
Posts: 16
Location: Sweden
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Aug 1, 2005, 9:47pm
Subject: Re: Brewing with the Bialetti Brikka 4-Cup
 

coffee_monkey Said:

It has worked quite well and I just have to be careful when screwing the hot lower chamber in.

Posted August 1, 2005 link

Jeez... I can see how I could mess it up seriously if I tried that...
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Terje
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Jul 2005
Posts: 16
Location: Sweden
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Aug 1, 2005, 9:49pm
Subject: Re: Brewing with the Bialetti Brikka 4-Cup
 

As for moka pot sizes I have a 1 cup, 3 cup and a 6 cup. The 1 cup makes the best coffee of the three but it's that great to use if you have as much as one guest.
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