If you want an authentic at-home espresso experience in a convenient all-in-one package, we recommend trying the Bialetti Moka Express. This made-in-Italy stove-top espresso maker keeps clutter to a minimum while allowing you to make real espresso coffee.
Espresso may be an acquired taste, but many people who have written off this form of coffee have not experienced a well-made cup. It is challenging to perfect this brew style, and unless you have the help of a barista, it is difficult to make it at home.
These are reasons why the Bialetti Moka Express stovetop espresso maker is a great small kitchen appliance for the coffee aficionado. It is dramatically cheaper than an electric espresso machine and can provide a high-quality espresso coffee with minimal effort.
A stove-top espresso maker is not the same type of machine as an electric espresso maker. For more information on electric espresso makers, check out our guide.
A stove-top unit uses the stove heat to boil the water, so your experience with this type of espresso maker will vary depending on what type of stove you have. However, the speed at which you can make espresso is not any faster with a stand-alone machine. Moka pots also work better on a gas stove, which means you guys with the electric stoves may have to wait a little longer for your coffee to bubble.
Part of why stove-top units can be just as fast and effective as a stand-alone espresso maker is that a stove-top unit is typically a self-contained device. Clean-up and maintenance are minimal, and they are no more work than a machine.
A big part of making espresso in any machine is properly adding the ground coffee and, if you are grinding the beans yourself, getting the correct grind size. For a stovetop espresso coffee maker like the Bialetti, medium-fine grinds are best. The grounds must be the right consistency and tamped appropriately.
No matter what type of espresso maker you use, you will have to become proficient at loading it with coffee grounds. While more-expensive electric espresso makers will grind the beans for you, you can enjoy the extra counter space a stove-top unit offers without sacrificing quality.
Stove-top espresso makers like the Bialetti are ideal for those willing to put in the extra effort required to make espresso coffee (it is never as easy as using a simple drip coffee maker) who do not want to spend the big dollars necessary to get a top-of-the-line machine.
Overall, we like the Bialetti Moka Express. It is a tried-and-true design, and you are unlikely to have any problems with the device. Plus, it makes a quick cup of coffee!
Like any stove-top espresso maker, the Bialetti requires several steps to set up and brew. The manufacturer likens the process to a ritual. If you do not have the patience to use this device and want espresso without the hassle, you are best enjoying espresso-only from coffee shops.
The integrated safety valve on the boiler is a nice and necessary feature. Some users may be anxious about heating water in a metal vessel on their stove, but even if the normal brewing operation becomes clogged, this safety valve ensures your safety.
- The safety valve for automatic pressure relief
- Environmentally-friendly design
- Ease of maintenance – just warm water cleaning!
- Robust, high-quality design and construction
- Versatile; you can make your espresso just how you like it
The biggest drawback of the Bialetti is its small size. If you live in a house full of espresso lovers, this unit will either be insufficient or slow. And since the espresso maker needs to be cleaned between brews, cleaning time needs to be factored into multiple runs.
- Some users will find it small
- The handle may get hot when used with a large burner
- Slow for multiple servings
The Bialetti Moka Express is full of great features. We will describe the features most important to the curious shopper.
The Bialetti aluminum construction, commonly found on most stovetop coffee makers, allows it to brew and be cleaned without the use of any disposable parts or cleaners. There are no paper filters, plastic cartridges, or special cleaning instructions.
The environmentally-friendly design of the Bialetti aluminum coffee maker is recognized in its association with Oceana as an Earth-friendly product. You can enjoy a world-class espresso maker without the possible ethical concerns from one-time-use plastic products.
While you may feel the need to clean the Bialetti with soap or detergent, its all-aluminum design makes this unnecessary. It can be cleaned effectively with nothing besides hot water and then allowed to air dry while disassembled.
The Bialetti’s safety valve acts as the coffee maker‘s fill level indicator and a safety device. Since water is being heated and boiled in a confined space, similar to a pressure cooker – concerns over sudden pressure release are mitigated with this feature.
During normal operation, the safety valve is simply present and requires no special care or attention. Do not let it concern you; pressure inside the boiler is allowed to escape by having water pass through the grounds and into the pot on top.
Stove-top espresso makers are used throughout the world every day. They are safe and dependable, so do not look at the safety valve as the manufacturer’s admission of a safety defect.
The Bialetti screws together for brewing and storage in a single compact state. It takes up very little room, and no separate carafe is required.
The construction is solid and durable. This is a product that is meant to last for years, not months. We are impressed with its precision machining and solid feel. Its aluminum design protects it from drops and mistreatment during shipping.
You will likely be surprised how inexpensively the Bialetti can be purchased. As far as espresso machines go, it is a fraction of an entry-level countertop unit’s cost.
The relatively low cost is not a reflection of the product’s quality. It is simply a classic design that does not require intricate and expensive parts, so as long as you are willing to put in the time to make your own espresso using your stove, you can benefit from the low entry price.
The Bialetti is an attractive product. It has a distinct look about it, and you may want to leave it out on your counter instead of storing it in a cupboard.
The attractive design will likely draw positive attention from guests in your home, especially from those who have never seen one before. While many seasoned espresso drinkers immediately recognize a Bialetti, others may ask you about it and are interested in seeing a demonstration.
Making espresso with the Bialetti is a process. You must fill the boiler with water, fill the filter with coffee (at the correct grind size), screw the device together, place it on your stove, and watch and listen as it brews your coffee.
This may sound like a lot of work and many steps, but it is easy to use, and the process can be fun. As we mentioned above, if you want your coffee quickly and do not want to be involved in the creation, this is not the product for you.
However, if the thought of having more control over your brew is interesting to you and you want to learn how to make great espresso, the Bialetti allows you to control the process and have fun doing it.
Bialetti‘s design is stable and safe. Many do-it-yourself coffee makers like pour-overs require two hands and a steady surface. On the other hand, the Bialetti has a stable base and gives no indications that it wants to tip while it is brewing.
This stability makes it easy to use the Bialetti with one hand. You can place it on any stove with ease and rest it on your counter without fear of it falling or tipping over.
You do not need to buy the Bialetti Moka Express to get a great stove-top espresso maker. We have another article about different stove-top options, which you should read to learn more about these specific products.
Bialetti even offers other options for a stove-top unit, such as their stainless steel unit with rounded edges. Depending on the look you are going for, there are other options for stove-top units.
The basic operating principle of a stove-top espresso maker is fairly simple, and many manufacturers offer their own take on this design. If you like the idea of a stove-top unit but are not sold on a Bialetti, we encourage you to dig deeper into your product search for strong coffee making.
You do not need a stove-top espresso maker to enjoy great espresso coffee. Many countertop machines deliver an excellent brew while still affording you some control in the process. Some prefer this approach, and there is nothing wrong with it.
Finally, we recommend checking out this link and watching the video about using the Bialetti Moka Express. While we have done our best to describe this product, the short video demonstrates exactly how to use the Bialetti, so you know what you are getting into.