Affordable, uncomplicated, delivers espresso-like coffee, ideal for travel use
Positive Product Points
- Delivers a very rich, strong cup of espresso-like coffee. It does not deliver true espresso, but it's very tasty nonetheless. - Classic, uncomplicated design - this product has been used by millions of Italians over many years. - Simple to use, clean, and maintain. - Excellent choice for espresso lovers who travel (see below).
Negative Product Points
- As long as your expectations are reasonable, this product doesn't really have any negative points. Keep in mind that a moka pot can't be fairly compared to a true espresso machine (e.g., a Rancilio Silvia). - Although it hasn't been a problem for me, if you are sensitive to aluminum, then consider buying a (more expensive) stainless steel version.
Moka pots are widely used for home espresso in Italy. When you buy pre-ground Italian coffee (e.g. Illy), it has been ground for use with a moka pot. The moka pot is an affordable and simple way to brew an extremely rich, thick cup of "espresso-like" coffee.
I have a Rancilio Silvia/Mazzer/Innova espresso setup at home. But when I travel, I bring a Bialetti Express (6 cup) Moka pot and a can of pre-ground Illy with me. All I need is a stove and some water. It isn't the same as my espresso at home, but it's pretty darn good (and much better than 99% of what I would get in coffee shops). As an added bonus, when I stay with friends, I bring a brand new Bialetti ($20) with me. Usually I am able to share the Moka pot experience with them and I can leave the pot behind as a thank-you gift.
You can buy moka pots in various sizes 1/2/3/6/9/12/18 cups. I like the 6 cup version because it is perfectly sized to serve just me or a small group of friends.
Tips for use: - Follow the directions (included in the box). - Use pre-ground coffee or fresh beans that have been ground a little bit coarser than your usual espresso grind. - Always fill the basket completely with coffee, don't try to make a smaller pot by putting in less coffee. - I don't tamp the coffee, just heap it into the basket. - Keep the burner on medium, not too high or the coffee will taste burnt. - Over time the aluminum will darken/stain which is perfectly normal. The directions indicate that you should not scrub the pot with a harsh abrasive; I clean it using a sponge with gentle soap and lots of water. - Pay attention to the condition of the rubber gasket over time - make sure that you don't get coffee on it when you seal the pot. Replacement gaskets are cheap and available on-line.
Bialetti moka pots can be found on-line, as well as in home stores, some coffee shops, and even some grocery stores.