December 8, 2021

Bialetti Moka Express Review—The Good, The Bad, & Ugly

Clint Doerfler
Clint Doerfler
 | 
Updated: June 29, 2022
       
*This site contains product affiliate links. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. This, however, has no bearing on our reviews and comparisons. Disclosure
If you found this post, chances are you truly appreciate a well-crafted cup of coffee. But you’re probably also realizing that delicious coffee doesn’t come cheap or easy in the real world. It’s best to learn how to craft it yourself, in the comfort of your own home.

Most of us can agree that espresso is the pinnacle of specialty coffee, but plunging into the world of espresso machines can be intimidating. There’s a lot of information to digest and know-how to get started.

The good news is that Moka pots, specifically the Bialetti Moka Express coffee maker, are one of the most popular and user-friendly ways to brew quality “espresso-like” beverages right in your kitchen.
At a Glance: Bialetti Moka Express
Bialetti Moka Express pot on white background
  • Rich, "Espresso-Like" Coffee
  • Will Last You Years
  • Also Great For Camping
  • Easy To Clean
Enjoy a wonderful Italian experience right in your own kitchen. The 6-cup capacity is perfect for 1-2 coffee lovers.
➔  Click To Check Price
Alfonso Bialetti invented the Bialetti Moka Express back in 1933. Often referred to as a stovetop espresso maker, its simple design features no buttons to push, switches to turn on or off, or dials to monitor. All you need is a heat source, your favorite coffee beans, and a burr grinder.

In this Bialetti Moka Express review, we discuss this in detail.

Let’s get into it, but first…

Considerations Before Buying a Moka Pot

If you’ve never owned a Moka pot before, take a second to consider the following when deciding if one is right for you…

A Moka Pot Doesn’t Brew “True” Espresso

Unfortunately, the term “stovetop espresso” has confused many...a Moka pot doesn't brew "true" espresso.
While several devices like the Moka pot and AeroPress can emulate espresso, none can truly replace a real espresso machine. Moka pots don’t brew at a high enough pressure to pull off a traditional espresso.

An espresso machine has around 8-10 bars of pressure, usually through the use of an electric pump, whereas a Moka pot only has around 1-2 bars of steam pressure created by boiling water in the bottom chamber.

If it’s authentic espresso you’re after, you’ll need an espresso machine. Check out our rundown of the best espresso machines on the market today, ranging from super pricey to budget-friendly.

But if you’re still interested in brewing a coffee whose strength falls somewhere between drip coffee and traditional espresso, keep reading.

The coffee that a Moka pot makes is rich, heavy-bodied, and outstanding for creating delicious “espresso” based coffee drinks such as cappuccinos, lattes, and Americanos, without the added expense of an espresso machine.

Your Stovetop or Burner

Moka pot on kitchen stovetop
Moka Pots are long-lasting stovetop coffee makers that are exceedingly simple to use. However, consider the stove type you have before making a purchase.

Aluminum Moka pots aren’t typically compatible with an induction cooktop, so double-check before purchasing (or just go with a stainless steel pot).

Bialetti designed the Moka pot to be used on a gas stovetop or other type of open flame, and it performs best using this heat source. So if you have an electric stove, you may need to wait longer before your coffee begins to flow into the top chamber.

I didn’t realize this when I purchased my Moka Express. Even with using 212°F pre-heated water in the bottom chamber (which is recommended), it still takes a good minute for it to begin brewing on my electric stove. Not a big deal, but something to be aware of.

If you’re concerned with using an aluminum as cookware, stainless steel Moka pots might be a suitable alternative for you. They are usually more expensive, but the tradeoff is worth it for a lot of coffee lovers.

A word of warning though: Even though they’re constructed of “stainless steel”, it’s been a real challenge finding a model that doesn’t end up corroding inside.

We eventually found one that’s constructed of quality food-grade stainless steel (and doesn’t corrode). It’s featured in the Best Moka Pot roundup here.

You’ll Want a Good Burr Grinder

Coffee beans and grounds in a Moka pot
Photo by Janko Ferlič
If you don’t already own a quality grinder, they’re a worthwhile investment for anyone who appreciates great tasting coffee. Grind size plays a vital role in the brewing process. If you use medium-grind coffee grounds (like pre-ground coffee meant for drip coffee makers) in your Moka pot, you’ll be unpleasantly surprised.

Also, on the other end of the spectrum (and because people always compare Moka coffee to espresso coffee), many users think they need to grind their coffee grounds into a fine grind.

However, finely ground coffee can lead to clogging, break your Moka pot, and even lead to injury. Instead, start with medium-fine ground coffee for use with your Bialetti Moka pot.

Also, owning a quality burr grinder allows you to grind right before brewing—preserving the maximum flavor of your ground coffee. Not only that, but grinding your coffee beans to the right size is crucial for manual brewing methods like Moka pots, French press, etc.

Electric burr grinders are the easiest choice for getting the perfect grind size for your stovetop espresso maker. They’re fast, accurate, and offer many grind sizes for other brewing methods as well.

If you’re looking for a manual grinder, the Hario Skerton is a splendid choice that will give you plenty of control over the size of your coffee grounds.

Regardless of the grinder you choose, try to always grind your beans right before brewing for best results.

Bialetti Moka Express Review: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

Bialetti Moka Express Review - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Moka Express 6 Cup—perfect for one person who loves 2-3 cups of "normal" drip coffee at a time
In this Bialetti Moka Express review, we discuss what makes this stovetop espresso maker such a well-loved classic in the world of Moka pots.

In short, here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Moka Express coffee maker:

The Good

It’s simple to use and clean, makes a unique, robust cup of thick, great tasting coffee, and provides great value for the money.

The Bad

Brewing with your Bialetti Moka pot requires a very specific set of steps to achieve the perfect Moka coffee. If you don’t follow these steps, your coffee will probably taste bitter and burnt.

The Ugly

The ugly comes from when you wash your Moka Express in the dishwasher. DO NOT do this!

The detergents oxidize the aluminum and will instantly ruin the shiny finish of your Bialetti Moka pot, leaving a black residue on your skin every time you touch it thereafter. This forces most owners to throw their Moka pots away when this mishap occurs.

Always wash your Moka Express by hand and use a mild soap as necessary.
"Keep your Moka pot out of the dishwasher, my friend."

Using Your Moka Pot Coffee Maker

The Moka pot is a simple device that produces a potent brew for use with espresso-based drinks and can rival the coffee drinks you’re used to getting at your favorite café. See our guide for simple step-by-step instructions on getting the best cup of coffee with your Moka pot.

As with any brew method, we always encourage you to experiment with slight changes in your coffee-to-water ratio, water temperature, and grind size until you find your perfect cup.

What Size Moka Pot Should I Get?

The various sizes the Moka express pot is available in
There are many size options available for the Moka pot. Anywhere from a 1-cup option up to an 18-cup option—basically a size for almost any situation.

And here would be a great place to mention a couple of things…

There’s often some confusion surrounding the capacities of these brewers.

Because of its Italian origin, a “cup” in Moka pot terms refers to only a 2-ounce serving. That’s basically a double espresso shot. So with a 6-cup Moka pot, you’re only talking about around 12 ounces of concentrated coffee—very strong coffee, but not as strong as espresso or as weak as normal brew coffee.

Also, choose the Moka Express with the capacity that’s going to be right for your situation the majority of the time. Largely because the Moka pot is designed to brew at full capacity. Attempting to brew at less than full capacities will yield undesired results (always fill the water level to just below the safety valve).

Quality and Durability

The Bialetti Moka Express coffee maker not only brews great coffee, but it’s also built to last. Made in Italy and constructed of heavy-duty aluminum, it will withstand the test of time with proper care.

It comes in a variety of colors and finishes to match your kitchen décor. It’s also one of the more aesthetically pleasing coffee makers on the market. Its classic octagonal form and expert Italian construction make it a focal point you can proudly display in your kitchen.

If that’s not for you, it’s also small enough to stow away in even the smallest of cupboard spaces.

Stove Type Compatibility

Closeup of a gas flame stovetop
As mentioned, this aluminum coffee maker will not work on your induction stove, but Bialetti has also created a stainless steel Moka pot that is induction-compatible that performs just as well. However, you might want to consider this stainless steel Moka pot by Début. It’s made of high-quality stainless that won’t corrode over time. You can also purchase an induction adapter plate that will make your aluminum Moka pot compatible with your induction stove.

Maintaining and Cleaning

You can disassemble the Moka Express with ease—making maintenance and cleaning a cinch. The top chamber quickly unscrews from the bottom chamber, allowing you to get to the coffee grounds funnel, filter, and rubber gasket.

Always wash your Moka pot by hand with warm water and mild soap, rinsing it well so it doesn’t leave any soapy taste in your coffee. Never wash your Moka pot in the dishwasher!

Bialetti also suggests making two or three full cups of coffee for proper seasoning of your new stovetop espresso maker before using it. All your old, stale coffee might come in handy for this step.

Value

The Bialetti Express delivers some of the best-tasting coffee you can make without using an electric espresso maker. You’d be hard-pressed to find another coffee maker that competes with the taste and convenience at this price point. Coffee lovers rejoice!

This stovetop espresso maker is affordable, easy to use, and produces very good coffee. If you are looking for a budget coffee maker without sacrificing taste, look no further.
The Good
  • Great-tasting coffee
  • High-quality & durable
  • Portable
  • No electricity required
  • Easy cleanup
  • Exceptional value
The Could Be Better
  • Not dishwasher safe
  • Monitoring brewing required
  • Longer brew time
Wrapping Up: Bialetti Moka Express
The best large Moka pot winner is the Bialetti 12-cup Moka Express.
The Bialetti Moka Express is the perfect Italian experience right in your home. The 6-cup capacity is just the right amount for 1-2 coffee lovers.
➔  Get Yours Today

Bialetti Moka Express Alternatives

If we haven’t convinced you that the Bialetti Moka Express is the right stovetop espresso maker for you, here are a few other great “espresso-like” options:

AeroPress

The AeroPress brewer is an affordable and amazing immersion brewing device.
I can’t say enough good things about the AeroPress and for the same price tag, the AeroPress is a great alternative for brewing something comparable to espresso.

If you’re unfamiliar, the AeroPress is a tube-like device you put your coffee grounds into, then pour hot water upon. After 45+ seconds of steeping, you “press” the plunger down, forcing the water through a paper filter and into your cup.
It makes an amazingly smooth cup of coffee and honestly, it’s hard to mess up. I take this camping with me every year because it’s so easy to use, easy to clean, and tucks away nicely (and it sure beats lugging along an espresso maker).

The AeroPress also allows you to enjoy other brew methods. Simply adjust the grind size and steep time of your brew and you’ll be on your way to other types of tasty coffee such as cold brew and French press.

Check out our full AeroPress review.

Wacaco Minipresso GR

Wacaco Minipresso GR
The MiniPresso GR is an excellent travel espresso maker. Small and lightweight, this versatile little machine can use any variety of coffee beans/roast to pump out some very convincing espresso.

Using the coffee beans of your choice also gives you maximum control over taste, letting you customize your shot just the way you like it.

The Minipresso is simple to use—crafting delicious, portable espresso in just a few simple steps. This clever little brewer is definitely ready for your next espresso craving wherever it may arise.

De’Longhi Alicia Electric 6 Cup Moka Pot

The DeLonghi electric Moka pot is a quick means to genuine Italian espresso.
This DeLonghi Alicia EMK6 Moka pot is a great option if you prefer an electric Moka pot over a stovetop model—also great if you’d rather not concern yourself with finding a pot that’s compatible with your induction stove.

It comes with the advantage of keeping your brewed coffee hot for up to 30 minutes in the upper chamber.

The EMK6 also immediately shuts off when you lift it to pour your coffee and when it’s finished brewing—a significant safety feature for absent-minded individuals who “squirrel!” out often.

However, this electric pot doesn’t have as many size options as the Bialetti Express, so if you’re frequently brewing for larger groups, this may not be the best choice.

In Summary

The Bialetti Moka Express is one of the most popular stovetop espresso makers on the market and for good reason.

It’s an inexpensive way to brew delicious “espresso-like” coffee at home, the kind served in expensive specialty coffee shops. It’s fun to use, and perfect for keeping you awake and productive. Plus, it will fatten your wallet in the long run!

We really hope you have found our Bialetti Moka Express review informative and useful and wish you luck with your Moka pot adventure!
Clint Doerfler
Clint Doerfler is the founder of Coffee Gear Gurus® and has been obsessed with everything coffee since a very young “growth-stunting” age. He is passionate about helping fellow coffee lovers make amazing coffee at home, no matter what their level of experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size coffee grounds for a Moka pot?

We recommend using a medium-fine grind with the Bialetti Moka Express (other Moka pots too). This will be slightly finer than sand and should fall somewhere between an espresso and drip coffee grind.

Never tamp the grounds.

How do you know when Moka pot is done?

When the flow of coffee slows and your pot starts making a hissing sound, your Moka coffee is finished and should be immediately removed from your heat source.

Even better, try to remove your pot from the heat a little before this point and let the heat inertia finish the brewing process. Immediately cool your pot with a wet towel or cold running water to cease the brewing after removing from heat.

It’s important not to leave your Moka pot on too long, as this will lead to burnt tasting, bitter Moka coffee.

Can you use a Moka pot on an induction stove?

A standard aluminum Moka pot like the Moka Express will not work on an induction cooktop.

Induction creates heat by using magnetism, so aluminum will not work because it isn’t magnetic.

If you have an induction stovetop, you will either need a stainless steel Moka pot or an induction adapter to use your aluminum Moka pot. You can purchase an induction hob converter for Mokas up to the 6 cup size.

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