Best coffee experience you can find at a low budget...
Positive Product Points
Best coffee for a machine at this price range. Not so picky about grind size, freshness of beans and grind quality (better of-course with fresh, quality grounded coffee, but still more than acceptable with pre-ground coffee). Can use anywhere you have access to a heat source.
Negative Product Points
I don't know if its negative, but should point out - its not espresso. Its very close to it in terms of body and mouth-feel, but its not espresso. You must take good care of it, in order to prevent corrosion. Meaning you have to rinse and dry it carefully after use. 4-cup version needs a bit coarser grind and sometimes may be hard to dismantle after use.
About a year ago I've started looking for a way to have good coffee at home. What I was looking for was basically an espresso machine that would provide results close to the ones I get in the coffee shops around here (which are generally very good). As always, when I'm looking for a new thing to buy, I start reading stuff on the web, especially various forums including the amazing one here.
I really didn't like what I've seen... I'm a student with very limited budget, and i thought that about 100$ will give me everything i need. As you probably know, i was dead wrong. 100$ would be a total waste of money on espresso machine, not to talk about the need for a good grinder to go with it.
So, I've started looking for a different device that would make good coffee. After a lot of reading, one device kept floating above the rest at my budget, the Brikka. Reading some more, especially the "Confessions of a brikka lover" thread (which was much shorter back then), and decided to purchase. I've purchased the 2-cup model, 4-cup model and the tuttocrema plunger for frothing, total cost of about 110$.
The package arrived at my door, 20 minutes and 3 "break-in" runs later, and I was drinking my first brikka coffee. Instantly, I fell in love... the cup actually had "crema" in it and the taste was better than i expected (considering its my first time and i was using pre-ground coffee). Very soon afterwards, I bought a simple blade grinder that upgraded my coffee a bit but not enough. A couple of months later it was replaced by a Nemox LUX excellent grinder that upgraded the coffee even more, and by now I'm also roasting myself using an air-popper.
After a year, I'm still using both the 2-cup and 4-cup brikkas, drink mostly straight shots myself, but many cappas (using the tuttocrema) for the guests, experimenting a lot with different blends and roasts, and enjoying a very good cup of coffee each day.
Other things I'd like to mention:
Difference between the 2-cup and 4-cup: There is a slight difference in amount of "crema" between the two (in favor of the 2-cup), the difference is usually quite subtle and doesn't bother me very much. I have found out, that the 4-cup prefers a coarser grind than the 2-cup, but your mileage may vary.
My way of brewing: medium grind (pretty coarse - almost like filter), filtered water all the way to the line, fill the basket until the coffee mount is slightly above the rim (no tamping at all), very intense flame (gas stove) that covers the entire bottom.
Difference between the Brikka and regular moka: During that year, I wanted to try a regular moka, so I've purchased a Bialetti's 9-cup Moka Express pot. The difference is amazing. Although you can sense some similarity between them, its really another drink... nice body, but doesn't bring out much of the flavours the brikka does.
Ordered on-line, shipment came after 2 days.. simple and easy.