Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Maker Review

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The Bialetti Moka Express is an extremely popular option with espresso lovers who want an ultimate hands on experience. It's a simple aluminum percolator designed for use on a stovetop. Owners like its simplicity, although it takes some practice to achieve the perfect brew. There are few complaints noted, but there are reviewers who dislike the plastic handle saying it gets too hot -- and a few say it's melted. Others note that the gasket can wear out fairly quickly.

ProsCompact , Several sizes available, Produces excellent espressoConsHas a learning curve, Long, 10- to 15-minute brewing cycle, Plastic handle can melt

Breaking it down

Performance

Simply makes excellent espresso. The Bialetti Moka Express's eight-sided design diffuses heat evenly to extract the best flavor from coffee grounds. It's available in 1-, 3-, 6-, 9- and 12-cup sizes ranging in price from about $20 to $50. A few owners say the smaller sizes produce better-tasting espresso. In one professional test, the Moka Express produced rich, dense coffee. Its simple, sturdy design perfectly combines steam and pressure, they note. Although it takes about 10 to 15 minutes per brew cycle, its fans say the taste achieved is well worth the wait and effort. Be warned, though, users say, a "cup" is not a true U.S. 8 ounces; one cup is actually the equivalent of one shot of espresso, so the 6-cup size makes about 3 shots.

Ease of use

Practice makes perfect. It takes some time to get the hang of using the Bialetti Moka Express, say reviewers and finding the perfect grind consistency is a trial-and-error process. It's also not an option for a quick cup -- users say it takes between 10 and 15 minutes to produce the best results. The Moka Express is typically used on a stovetop, but several owners say that it's great for camping trips and traveling, because it's small enough to pack and can be used over nearly any heat source. It must be hand-washed to avoid discoloration of the aluminum casing. Quite a few reviewers suggest that merely rinsing it out is better than cleaning it with dish soap, saying that continuous use produces richer flavor. Although, be sure to dry it thoroughly so it doesn't corrode.

Appearance/durability

Iconic, old-fashioned appeal. With a simple, charming design, Bialetti Moka Express' octagonal pot's design is often referred to as "iconic" or "classic" by reviewers. It's small enough to easily store in a cabinet or drawer. Made from aluminum, this simple stovetop pot is highly durable and will last for years with proper care, users say. Because it's not electric, there are few parts and gadgets that can malfunction. Two caveats, however: The plastic handle get can melt if the pot is left unattended and the gasket will eventually wear out -- more quickly if you let it steam too long, say users -- but it's easy and inexpensive to replace.

Our Sources

1. Cook's Illustrated

Moka Pots, Editors of Cook's Illustrated, Jan. 1, 2012

Editors of Cook's Illustrated test seven moka pots, including the 3-cup Bialetti Moka Express. The moka pots are evaluated for ease of use and performance.

2. Gayot

Bialetti 3-Cup Stovetop Espresso Percolator, Editors of Gayot.com, Not Dated

The Bialetti 3-Cup Stovetop Maker is included in this roundup of the Top 5 Espresso Machines. Editors call it the "little espresso maker that could!" They have many years of experience using it, they say, and note that it's easy to use and clean and "makes perfect shots with foamy crema; just like that without all the big guns." They do note that you need the proper grind for best results.

3. Amazon.com

Bialetti 6800 Moka Express 6-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of December 2015

More than 4,100 owners review the Bialetti Moka Express at Amazon.com in all of its available sizes and colors, giving it 4.5 stars out of 5. Users say the Bialetti is simple to use, durable and easily portable.

4. SeattleCoffeeGear.com

Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Coffee Maker, Editors and contributors to SeattleCoffeeGear.com, As of December 2015

Editors give the Bialetti Moka Express a thorough review, including a how-to video, awarding it 3 stars for ease of use, 4 stars for ease of care and maintenance, and 5 stars for overall value. About a dozen owners also weigh in, giving the Bialetti an overall rating of about 4.5 stars out of 5.

5. CoffeeGeek.com

Vac Pots & Others: Bialetti Moka Express, Contributors to CoffeeGeek.com, As of December 2015

Just more than a dozen owners post reviews of the Bialetti Moka Express on CoffeeGeek.com, where it maintains an average rating of 8.7 out of 10. Users praise its low cost and ability to produce excellent espresso.