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minokim2512
Senior Member


Joined: 10 May 2012
Posts: 3
Location: Machesney Park
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Mon May 28, 2012, 8:05pm
Subject: Question about the Bialetti
 

Hello,
I'm planning to buy one of the Bialetti models. I've been researching and I kind of like the Brikka and their new mokacrem's "crema" but wonder which one makes tastier coffee. I heard the classic moka express makes very syrup-y coffee too, wonder how true that is.

Also, should I go for the aluminum or the stainless design? Is it hard to keep the Al from being corrosive?

I'm pretty new to this and a college student. I want to get sth nice while saving for a...la pavoni :)

Thanks
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NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,050
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Mon May 28, 2012, 10:07pm
Subject: Re: Question about the Bialetti
 

Welcome to CoffeeGeek!

In Italy a moka pot is the traditional way to make coffee for your breakfast caffè latte, which is a little different to the kind of latte you usually get in coffee shops around the world, because it doesn't contain frothed milk. Like with any way of preparing coffee, the quality of the drink largely depends on using fresh beans that have been freshly ground for the occasion. So what you'll need is a capable grinder. A relatively cheap hand grinder like the Hario Skerton, for example, will do even in respect to the La Pavoni you're saving for, but even on a tight budget you shouldn't skimp on it.

Since all van pots work by the same principles (boiling water until it percolates with a pressure of around 1.5 bar through a dose of ground coffee in a filter basket), they all have something in common: Whatever they say at the Bialetti homepage, you cannot make espresso with them, the water being too hot, and the brewing pressure being too low. But the resulting coffee still tastes better that the average drip coffee made from pre-ground beans sold at the supermarket and it has indeed more body. But it's not as syrupy like a real espresso, and it lacks real crema.

Which Bialetti model you prefer is a question of how many cups of coffee it's supposed to make at a time, how much you're willing to spend on it, and whatever design you like best. They're all pretty sturdy. The moka express is the traditional model. The aluminum will oxidize a lithe over time, but that gives it some patina. The stainless steel steel models are little easier to scrub.

 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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jpender
Senior Member
jpender
Joined: 11 Jul 2011
Posts: 708
Location: California
Expertise: I like coffee

Grinder: OE LIDO
Vac Pot: S/S Moka Pot
Drip: Aeropress
Posted Wed May 30, 2012, 4:01pm
Subject: Re: Question about the Bialetti
 

I own a stainless moka pot. I like the ease of keeping it clean but with care the aluminum models are fine. I wouldn't call moka coffee syrupy, just strong. Mine is usually around 3% strength, or 2-3 times that of regular drip coffee.

The water normally doesn't boil in a moka pot except at the very end with the last ejected coffee. The brew temperature varies widely over the course of the brew. The grounds might initially be infused at 50°C and finish above 100°C, with half of the coffee volume brewed below 90°C and half above. So it is both too hot AND too cold, at least by normal standards. The flow rate also varies, slower at the initial lower temperatures and more rapidly as the temperature rises. It's an interesting profile. Moka coffee also features a fair amount of suspended solids which is great if you like that sort of thing.

The Brikka is in a different class. Because of the valve that restricts the flow the temperature profile and resulting coffee must be different. I have not yet used a Brikka but they have a very loyal following. Most people (but not all) say they prefer the coffee produced by the smaller 3 cup Brikka.

The Bialetti Mokacrém I'm not familiar with. It appears to be a normal moka pot with an attachment to produce foam. So the question is how much do you like foam?

Fortunately, with the exception of the Brikka, moka pots are inexpensive. Even the Bialetti models are affordable. So you could buy more than one without too much worry.

Happy brewing!
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mhborstad
Senior Member


Joined: 18 Feb 2012
Posts: 31
Location: Gatineau
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Wed May 30, 2012, 5:24pm
Subject: Re: Question about the Bialetti
 

Stainless/aluminum moka/Brikka: I found the Brikka easiest to "drive" - unlike a standard pot, the brewing has distinct phases, and it becomes pretty easy to judge. Once you have a grind that you like (or even preground... millions of Italians can't all be wrong can they?) you can pretty much ignore the pot until the valve unseats and you get the "whoosh". A few seconds later, take the pot off the heat and you can stop the process without blasting high temperature steam through the grounds (not tasty). The consistency was easily worth the price difference - the crema/foam was there as well, but maybe neither here nor there.

I paired ours with a Tuttocrema plunger-style milk frother for several years. Heating milk on a stovetop isn't the same as using steam, but you *can* get a nice velvety texture. I also used the Mukka for a couple of weeks, and liked it as well. The coffee wasn't it's strong point, but once drowned in cappuccino quantities of milk it was not bad, and pretty convenient apart from cleaning.

It's pretty easy to keep the aluminum clean as the coffee really only touches it for a half minute or so. The coffee chamber, tophat valve and screens on a Brikka at least are all stainless. I just used paper towel (slightly abrasive) and no soap to wipe the oils off. If you let grounds fall back into the bottom half and sit there all week you'll grow black stains. I'd like to see a stainless Brikka, but I think Bialetti believes that the heat transfer to the upper chamber is important (and they might even be right...)
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jpender
Senior Member
jpender
Joined: 11 Jul 2011
Posts: 708
Location: California
Expertise: I like coffee

Grinder: OE LIDO
Vac Pot: S/S Moka Pot
Drip: Aeropress
Posted Thu May 31, 2012, 9:29am
Subject: Re: Question about the Bialetti
 

mhborstad Said:

I'd like to see a stainless Brikka, but I think Bialetti believes that the heat transfer to the upper chamber is important (and they might even be right...)

Posted May 30, 2012 link

I've never understood why better heat transfer would be an advantage for a moka pot. Why would you want to heat up the upper chamber? I don't want to cook the brewed coffee. In the same vein I think you'd want to avoid heating up the funnel containing the coffee grounds.

In terms of transfering the heat from the burner to the water chamber I'm not convinced it matters. It is a common theory amongst backpackers that water will boil faster and more efficiently in an aluminum pot than in a steel or titanium one. But when you actually try it it turns out to make no difference. Good heat transfer in pots and pans allows them to heat evenly so there isn't a hot spot where the burner is. This is important for frying food, but for heating up water a hot spot is irrelevant.

So why is aluminum better for a moka pot?


---------
(An interesting moka pot with a ceramic upper)

jpender: porcelain_moka_1.jpg
(Click for larger image)
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JKalpin
Senior Member
JKalpin
Joined: 28 Dec 2008
Posts: 804
Location: Thornhill, Ontario Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Aerobie Aeropress
Grinder: Baratza Maestro Plus
Vac Pot: Yama 5-Cup
Drip: Krups Moka Brew, BraZen
Roaster: Freshroast+8, Behmor 1600
Posted Mon Jun 4, 2012, 10:24am
Subject: Re: Question about the Bialetti
 

If you are going to buy a Bialetti, don't get a 'knockoff'.  My son has two and one is a low-cost copy, that looks identical.

A few weeks ago it blew up on him.  The screen ruptured and his entire kitchen (and himself) was covered with coffee-grounds and it took him two hours to clean up from it.  

One other caution:  When the little relief-valve pops, do NOT leave it on the heat; move it off.  

See the pic below.

JKalpin: Bialetti1.jpg
(Click for larger image)

 
Jerry
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jpender
Senior Member
jpender
Joined: 11 Jul 2011
Posts: 708
Location: California
Expertise: I like coffee

Grinder: OE LIDO
Vac Pot: S/S Moka Pot
Drip: Aeropress
Posted Tue Jun 5, 2012, 11:56am
Subject: Re: Question about the Bialetti
 

Why did it blow up?
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JKalpin
Senior Member
JKalpin
Joined: 28 Dec 2008
Posts: 804
Location: Thornhill, Ontario Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Aerobie Aeropress
Grinder: Baratza Maestro Plus
Vac Pot: Yama 5-Cup
Drip: Krups Moka Brew, BraZen
Roaster: Freshroast+8, Behmor 1600
Posted Tue Jun 5, 2012, 12:39pm
Subject: Re: Question about the Bialetti
 

An educated guess:

I think the low-cost knockoff of a Bialetti pot had a crack in the screen.  But I also think that my son was not paying attention and left it on the burner with the relief-valve open and venting.  If that little relief-valve is not sized to carry the full steam-load of the pot at a full boil then 'something' had to break.  The screen split and allowed the excess pressure to be relieved through the top works, carrying a bunch of coffee-grounds with it.  

Under other circumstances the body of the pot might have ruptured and aluminum shrapnel as well as coffee spread around.

I had a good look at my pot.  It seems pretty solid and I found no cracks or other suspicious warnings of voids or inclusions.  But you never know.  When the relief valve pops ...that's OK ...but move it off the heat.

 
Jerry
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jpender
Senior Member
jpender
Joined: 11 Jul 2011
Posts: 708
Location: California
Expertise: I like coffee

Grinder: OE LIDO
Vac Pot: S/S Moka Pot
Drip: Aeropress
Posted Tue Jun 5, 2012, 2:06pm
Subject: Re: Question about the Bialetti
 

So maybe a cheap, cracked low-cost knockoff saved him from worse!

Even a Bialetti could be made into a bomb if you plugged the coffee pipe and turned the stove on full blast. I have the relief valve on my moka pot removed at the moment. But I'm watching it pretty carefully.

Thanks for posting that photo. I would have loved to have seen the kitchen.
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svyerkgeniiy
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Dec 2006
Posts: 380
Location: New York City, NY
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: (-ish) Bialetti moka pot
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Vac Pot: Yama (large 8-cup)
Drip: Technivorm KBT; Clever...
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Tue Jun 5, 2012, 2:41pm
Subject: Re: Question about the Bialetti
 

About that pic...

The gasket looks black.  I would imagine that could happen only if the pot was left on for a long time and allowed the reservoir to heat up enough to darken it.  At most, my gasket gets brown from coffee stains, but not ever blackened like that.

Also, that could just be a cheap screen.  It broke along a circle, if the holes are too large or the metal too thin, some abnormal pressure could break it there.  So was it abnormal pressure? or normal pressure that broke it?  Did you confirm he left it on too long?  I'm too impatient for coffee in the morning to forget about it like that.

One design issue I have with the aluminum pots is that they have a stem top that doesn't direct the coffee downward.  They rely on the lid to prevent the coffee from spraying out.  My Bialetti Musa (still going strong after 6 years) has a cap at the top of the stem that prevents the coffee from spraying outward or upward.  Don't open the lid on a brewing aluminum pot, especially during the sputtering part!  So an extreme pressure release could have cause it to pop the lid up and spray everywhere.

Perhaps it was an issue of too fine a grind.  This would cause a high pressure buildup in the bottom, which might be released catastrophically as pictured.  Unfortunately, we don't see any remaining grinds in that picture...

 
Donald Varona
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