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Bialetti Moka Express Review

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By Matt Woodburn-Simmonds

Before espresso was espresso, we had Moka Pot espresso. Rich, syrupy, intense, and slightly bitter. It was the go-to coffee for millions for around 2 decades and is still the home coffee of choice for many around the globe. This is our complete Bialetti Moka Express Review, the stovetop espresso that you will want in your life straight away!

If you like rich and syrupy coffee then the Bialetti Moka Express is a great coffee maker for you. We love how easy it is to use and clean, and the fact it’s practically indestructible. A great budget coffee option that you can take with you anywhere.

Mastering the Bialetti Moka Pot is a right of passage for any coffee lover. Doing a Bialetti Moka Express review we had to put ourselves in the shoes of someone who has never operated one before. Rather than seeing it as a trustworthy old friend as we normally would.

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At a Glance: Bialetti Moka Express Review

Bialetti Moka Express review product image

Bialetti Moka Express

Cheap, sturdy, easy to use, and portable: The Bialetti espresso maker has a lot going for it.

The only real downside is that it will only make one style of coffee. It falls in that halfway house between true espresso and drip filter.

So, if that isn’t what you like to drink on a daily basis then this isn’t the coffee maker for you. If it is, then it’s very hard to argue against the iconic, top-quality Moka Coffee Pot from Bialetti.

Pros

  • Very good coffee quality
  • Built to last
  • No electricity needed
  • Easy to clean
  • Budget-friendly
  • Portable
  • Available in a range of fun colors and different sizes
  • Two-year warranty

Cons

  • Leaves aluminum residue if used incorrectly
  • Not dishwasher safe
  • High maintenance: can’t turn on then ignore
  • Long brew time
  • Takes practice to master the brewing technique

Average Rating

  • Ease of Use: 8.0/10
  • Coffee Quality: 7.5/10
  • Value for Money: 9.0/10
  • Overall Rating: 8.0/10
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Key Features Review

1. Portable

You can take your Bialetti Moka Express anywhere and use it to make coffee, as long as you have a heat source. Your stovetop espresso maker can be used on an electric stove, gas stove, camping stove, or just a hotplate. Basically, as long as you can get the water to boil, you can make your coffee.

2. Classic Design

Bialetti created their Moka coffee pot in 1933 and the design hasn’t changed since. Its simple, old-fashioned style looks great in every kitchen. If you prefer a more industrial style decor at home, this fits in much better than a lot of space-age-looking espresso machines.

3. Great Value for Money

The Bialetti Moka Pot is very cheap and very durable making it an amazing value coffee maker. It does take practice to perfect the brewing process, and it is limited in the style of coffee it produces. However, it can be a once-in-a-lifetime purchase if you look after it correctly.

4. Very Easy to Clean

You just take the sections apart and give them a rinse. There is no descaling or dismantling half an espresso machine. Instead, just take it to pieces, give it a quick wash in your sink, and the job is done.

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Is it Easy to Use?

Next to a manual espresso maker, yes the Bialetti Moka Pot is very easy to use. But, there’s more skill needed than a simple push button machine.

The Bialetti Moka pot is very easy to use when compared to manual-espresso makers. After we measured our ground coffee into the basket and filled the bottom chamber with water, we were ready to go.

How do you make coffee in your Moka pot?

  • Fill the bottom chamber with water up to the fill line.
  • Put your freshly ground coffee in the basket. You don’t tamp them down like you would with other espresso machines.
  • Put the top on and put the Bialetti Express on your heat source, not too high though.
  • When you hear the distinctive gurgling sound, your coffee is ready to pour.

The complexity comes in mastering these very simple steps. Getting the perfect coffee is a balancing act of water-to-coffee ratio and how quickly you heat the pot. It took us maybe 4 or 5 attempts to get the coffee we liked. A combination of adjusting the grind and the heat of the stove.

Be aware that Bialetti strongly advises that you don’t put the Moka Pot on high heat as this can create pretty horrible coffee and possibly damage the pot. Something we wholeheartedly agree with.

Simple steps to use a Moka pot
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Do you Use Grounds, Beans, or Pods in a Moka Pot?

Moka pots only take ground coffee – and the Bialetti Moka Express is no exception.

As this is a very cheap coffee maker, you could buy a grinder separately. Combined, you will still pay less than for some of the entry-level espresso machines. This way, you get fresh ground coffee exactly how you like it.

We have a 1Zpresso J-Max grinder that we love and use for all coffee making. We find that grinding fresh does really improve the coffee quality but it’s up to you if you want the extra expense.

You can just buy ground coffee if you aren’t too worried about the loss of flavor that happens over time after grinding coffee beans. We all have mornings where we just want to put a couple of spoons of coffee into our Moka pot and go.

Storing your ground coffee in a vacuum-sealed jar can also help to keep pre-ground coffee in good condition longer.

The Bialetti Moka Pot uses ground coffee, placed in the bottom section
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Design & Build Quality Review

First created in the 1930s, the iconic Moka pot design has stood the test of time.

We love the design. Bialetti first came up with the design in the 1930s, and their Moka pot espresso maker hasn’t changed since. Its unique design of brushed metal and angular shaping still looks great today. It looks particularly at home if you are into an industrial or vintage style, in your kitchen.

We appreciate that the unique look won’t be for everyone, especially if you have a very modern kitchen. But then how often are people watching you make coffee?

Due to its small size, you can easily store it in a cupboard. Even the bigger Moka Pots aren’t that big – they go up to 31oz capacity. Even if your cupboards packed with random Tupperware and glasses that you don’t use, like ours.

No matter how many cups of coffee you need to get you through the day, Bialetti has your back with their range of sizes.

Bialetti 1 Cup Moka Express | Bialetti Moka Express 3 Cup
Bialetti Moka Express 6 Cup | Bialetti Moka Express 12 Cup

As these Moka pots are made of aluminum, they won’t work on an induction stove. However, they have released a stainless steel version that will work as an induction stovetop coffee maker. This version, the Bialetti Venus, is just as good as the Express Moka, it’s just a bit heavier.

We have a gas stove so have only used the aluminum Moka Pots. I’d be careful with how fast the pot might heat up on an induction stove.

There are a few stories hanging around of Bialetti Moka pots leeching some aluminum into the coffee. These reports are rare and there is no strong evidence that small amounts of aluminum being ingested are harmful. However, if you are concerned about this, we recommend doing some reading into official medical sources in order to decide for yourself.

Generally speaking, as long as you don’t put the Moka espresso maker on high heat and clean them properly, then they’re pretty indestructible. Italian soldiers carried these things around in WW2 after all. You’ll find many people who have used the same one for 20+ years, the base all carbonized from years of gas stove usage.

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Does the Bialetti Moka Express Make Good Coffee?

If you enjoy a longer, rich, strong coffee then the Moka Express will serve you up cup after delicious cup. Just keep in mind that it won’t be true espresso – despite the marketing claims.

The Bialetti Moka Pot markets itself as an “espresso maker”. Now, while it does make strong coffee, it doesn’t produce what we would think of as “espresso” today.

This is mainly due to the fact that it doesn’t generate enough pressure to create the crema topped, syrupy richness of modern espressos. If you’re looking to get a good crema using a Bialetti Moka Express, you make have to look elsewhere. Whilst it is possible, depending on your technique, it is really only seen inside the pot and won’t transfer to your coffee cup.

Now, saying that, if you enjoy a slightly longer coffee that is rich and strong then the Moka Pot will deliver exactly what you’re after. It’s a halfway house between true espresso and drip filter coffee.

The quality of your coffee will vary a bit in the beginning. But once you’ve got it nailed down – probably after 4 or 5 attempts – it will be remarkably consistent. If you’re not sure if Moka pot coffee is right for you, check out our Moka pot vs French press article for a deep dive into these coffee styles.

Bialetti Moka Express on stovetop with no crema
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What Bells & Whistles Does the Bialetti Moka Pot Come With?

None. What you see is what you get which makes it super easy to take your Moka pot straight from the box and start making incredible coffee.

The Moka pot is sold precisely on its lack of bells and whistles – it does what it says in the tin (or box). So we aren’t going to criticize the Bialetti Moka pot for not having any fancy gadgets. It has a purpose, and it serves it well.

Parts of the Bialetti Moka Express separated on a table
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How do you Clean Bialetti Coffee Makers?

Very easily. All you need to do is dispose of the coffee grounds, and wash out in the sink.

You clean the Bialetti Mok Express by dismantling it and rinsing it in the sink. This will have to be done after every use and while it may seem labor-intensive and time-consuming. It only took us a minute or two at the most.

Sadly, the Bialetti Moka Express is not dishwasher safe. Whilst putting it through the dishwasher won’t destroy it, you can end up damaging the aluminum which leads to some being leeched into your coffee. This hasn’t been shown to be harmful, but definitely isn’t great.

It is very important to ensure you clean the Moka pot after every use. Failure to do so can result in it getting blocked which can cause it to explode when heated up! You will be able to find horror stories of exploding coffee makers online if that’s your thing (personally, no thanks!). However, this is always due to improper maintenance of the pot and it is not a fundamental issue with the espresso maker.

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Which is Better: Moka Express or Brikka?

The Brikka adds an extra layer of complexity and produces a stronger cup of coffee than the Moka Express. So, for us, the original is still the best.

The Bialetti Brikka is their newer model. Whilst it is not hugely different in the way it brews coffee, the Brikka produces coffee closer to that of “true espresso” than the Moka Express. It is also harder to use, to begin with. So for simplicity, the Moka Express is better, for coffee closer to espresso, the Brikka is the one.

First up is the coffee itself. There are distinct performance and flavor differences between the two models. This puts the Bialetti Brikka closer to a traditional espresso machine than a Moka pot. The Brikka produces a crema that the Moka Express doesn’t. There is a slight taste difference, although not that most would notice, and the coffee from the Brikka is much stronger.

If you’re used to using the Moka Express, be prepared for a new learning curve if you purchase the Brikka. The brewing process is much faster which you will need to watch to prevent burning.

As the Brikka is a more complex model, it also means there is more room for error. People have reported numerous issues, such as, low pressure where there are gaps in the filter. As the Moka Express is one of the most popular coffee makers in the world, issues there are few and far between. You know what they say – don’t fix what’s not broken!

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Bialetti Moka Express vs DeLonghi EMK6

If you love the style of Moka Pot coffee but you don’t like the idea of sitting it on the stove, or maybe you don’t have a spare burner on your stove in the morning, there’s the DeLonghi EMK6. A fully electric coffee maker that works exactly like the Moka Pot to produce the same style of coffee.

The downside to this is obviously that you can’t use it anywhere that doesn’t have an outlet to plug into. No campfire/camping stove coffee for you.

If, however, you never intended to use your Bialetti anywhere except your kitchen then the EMK6 could be a good option for you.

The downsides are mostly aesthetic. It just doesn’t look as nice as the Bialetti. But no fear of exploding moka pots and no need to take up part of your stove to make coffee while you’re cooking up a storm, or reheating leftovers, in the kitchen.

The coffee quality difference is really minimal to non-existant for us. So it’s entirely on looks and ease of use. The EMK6 is also more expensive, but not drastically so.

A nice option to have.

Bialetti Moka Express Review
Bialetti Moka Express on the stovetop
DeLonghi Alicia EMK6 Electric moka pot on table
Delonghi EMK6 on countertop
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Final Thoughts

As a beloved icon of the coffee world for nearly 100 years, you can’t go wrong with a Moka Pot. Just remember to keep an eye on it whilst brewing to prevent any mishaps.

The Bialetti Moka Pot espresso maker is absolutely ideal for you if you love the strong, rich style of coffee that it makes. The coffee style could be considered the love child of espresso and a drip filter coffee. Certainly stronger than you would get from other traditional brewing methods like the French press or pour-over drip maker.

The price, style, and ease of use of this Moka pot all make it a great coffee maker for your home. Although Bialetti does only make one style so if that’s not what you want from your coffee, then this isn’t for you.

Whilst using a stovetop coffee maker is undoubtedly more involved than a simple pour-over cone, it’s still a simple setup. With a little practice, you will soon be a well-caffeinated pro. If you like the sound of the Bialetti but don’t like the idea of using it on the stove, there is an electric version you can buy. We did a full review of the De’Longhi EMK6 too.

The portability and longevity are also massive pluses for the Bialetti Moka Express. Even the biggest coffee nerds need to have respect for this great coffee maker.

We really love the Bialetti Moka Express. It’s a coffee icon and you get a rich and delicious brew from it, with a little practice. As long as it’s also your style, then it’s a great buy.

Don’t forget to Buy Your Bialetti Moka Express Today

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Matt Woodburn-Simmonds

Matt's coffee obsession started in 2006 when working as a Barista. A tendency to turn up to work hungover kickstarted his coffee journey which quickly turned into a love affair. As he moved on to work as a Restaurant Manager and Sommelier, the obsession continued to grow. Now, his passion is helping others to enjoy better coffee at home.

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