Moka Coffee Machine Reviews
Moka Express Hob Espresso Maker 9 cup
~A quick and easy way to make yourself a fresh expresso~ ******************************************** If looking for a quick, simple and reliable way to make yourself a fresh and steamy cup of expresso for those moments when nothing else will do, then read on as you could do far worse than invest in one of these hob based ... expresso makers. When looking for a suitable product I wanted something to make enough expresso to fill one or 2 normal sized coffee cups rather than the smaller more traditional expresso cups you can buy and after a look at what was on offer I ended up with one of the larger sized 9 cup Bialetti Moka expresso makers.
I have found that in use the product is easy to handle, washes well and performs as required, giving you a slightly less fluffy/ creamy textured hot drink than you get with more bulky shop style machines. The general quality of the product is good, with the expresso maker being made from durable materials that react well with heat when in use in order to allow you to make a relatively quick expresso on the go. This larger sized version of the product works well when placed directly onto a gas hob as it balances well, with there being a slightly larger area to the base of the expresso maker meaning it sits over the burner with greater stability ( meaning there is less chance of knocking it over).
~Ease of use~
The way you fill the expresso maker with both coffee and water in order to use it is easy to get to grips with, as the system works in such as way that you fill the bottom part of the expresso maker with fresh water first before having to handle your coffee. I have found that although the instructions mention filling this with fresh cool water you can speed things up a little by adding freshly boiled water form the kettle instead. This not only results in you having a nice hot expresso in less time than when filling with cool water, it can also give you a slightly smoother and less tangy/ bitter tasting drink as the end result as long as you keep and eye on things.
Having used this with a variety of coffee products from various brands I have found that you can use this expresso with finer grades of coffee to give the more pleasing results if you like a smoother result. When using the expresso maker to fill 2 full sized coffee cups I tend to use my own judgement as to how much coffee I need to use using a teaspoon as my measure. Once filled with the right amount of coffee you can set the expresso maker on to the heat and allow it to do it's magic giving you 2 nice double expressos at the end of the cooking time.
One thing to note when using the product with pre boiled water rather than cool water is that due to the metal make up of the product, parts of it can and do become hot to the touch. This means that care should be taken if using boiled water to fill the base of the product with as the outside of the casing will heat up even before you set the expresso maker on to your hob in order to use it. A clean kitchen cloth should suffice as light protection from transfered heat when fitting the parts of the expresso maker back together in order to use it/ or when taking it apart after use. Allowing the coffer maker to cool slightly before taking it apart to clean it will help too.
There is also a nicely formed and easy to use handle fitted to the top part of the expresso maker that works well enough, although one again here there is a chance that it will become quite hot when the expresso maker has been placed over a hot gas burner. This means that you should take care when picking it up to pour from it straight from the hob and if it feels too warm to the touch, the same cloth used when filling with hot water prior to use can be used to help protect your hands should it be required.
The pieces of the expresso maker fit well together when in use and are fairly easy to clean after use. I have found that a light soak in hot soapy water will keep any staining from the coffee used to a minimum, although 3 times out of 4 all that is needed is a quick wash and rinse. The aluminium used to make the expresso maker has a nice new appearance when the coffee maker is new out of the box, however over time this effect will dull a little and light scratches and scuffs do appear. These scratches and cuffs don't make for an unattractive look to my mind, as you end up with an almost brushed metal finish which I feel looks quite nice.
~Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble!~
When the expresso maker is in use over the heat it will bubble and splutter which is to be expected with this type of product and the only way to avoid making a mess on a clean hob is to keep the lid closed and keep an eye on things. There are pros and cons to keeping the lid down though as towards the end of the cooking time when most of the water has risen to the top chamber, leaving the lid down and the expresso maker over the heat for too long can result in a certain degree of expresso rising too far over the lid area. Over time with more regular use you do come to know how long is enough for the particular blend and number of cups you are making and can adapt to adjust your timings accordingly.
~How many cups of expresso can this make?~
When thinking about what size of expresso maker to buy you do need to take in consideration the size of your coffee cups and number of persons requiring a hot drink. As this is a 9 cup product you may think it makes 9 cups of expresso, although in use I have found this is not the case if you are generous with your servings. If using this for 2 people who like a larger double expresso each in a full sized coffee cup then filling it up will give you a fair amount of hot steamy expresso for two. If using this with just 1 to 2 traditional smaller sized expresso cups, you can halve your water and coffee if wanted and still end up with 2 well sized traditional single expresso drinks. When using this for the same smaller sized expresso cups for between 3 to 4 drinkers you can fill the expresso maker and still end up with 4 generous expresso sized cups of coffee.
~Rating and price~
With this product being a rather well known brand you can some times end up paying a little more for one of these expresso makers which is perhaps to be expected. I have seen these on sale from £15 to £20 when reduced in sales etc, up to £30 to £35 in some of the more exclusive and pricier up market stores that cater to more selective coffee drinkers. As with everything it is best to shop around as it is more than possible to pick up one of these even in this lager size for between £15 to £20. As far as rating this product goes I feel it is something that once bought and used, it should last for some time when well cared for, which is why I want to give this a 4 star product rating.
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Moka Express Hob Espresso Maker 6 cup
I was first introduced to this style of coffee maker when my mother bought me a cheap imitation from Thailand. It produced horrible burnt tasting coffee so got put into the back of the cupboard and forgotten about. A few years later I was showed how good the coffee from one of these can be by a friend and decided to invest in my ... own.
A little research on the internet showed that Bialetti was widely considered the best brand to buy. Bialetti have been making and selling these coffee makers since 1933 and have to date sold 330 million units so these guys know what they're talking about. There's plenty of imitations out there so if you're looking for a Bialetti keep an eye out for their logo and mascot, "l'omino con i baffi", "the mustachioed little man". A caricature of the son of this pots designer he holds his finger in the air as if ordering another espresso. The six cup modal costs around £20-25.
This coffee maker is very simple in design. It's got a lower and upper chamber with a basket for coffee in between. You put your cold tap water in the lower chamber, fill the basket with ground coffee, securely screw on the top. You then place the whole thing on the stove and the pressure from the steam trapped in the lower chamber forces the water up through the coffee into the top chamber, ready for drinking. It can be used on gas and electric stoves but is not suitable for induction hobs.
I will now talk about each of the criteria dooyoo ask me to rate the product on:
This is a very well made coffee maker. Yes, it's simple and doesn't have all the bells and whistles found on some espresso machines but that is the beauty of it. The main body is made of aluminium and there are good quality rubber seals. The downfall of many imitation coffee pots is in the quality of the seals. If they aren't secure enough then the steam pressure cannot built and and the coffee will end up burnt as it coughs and splutters through the machine. There are no such problems with the Bialetti and the coffee seeps through gently. Rubber degrades over time so the seals will inevitably become less effective. Spares are widely and cheaply available so new life can be brought to your pot as it gets old. The coffee basket can also be replaced.
Because it's so simple this pot is very reliable. It doesn't even need electricity so it's great for taking camping or on holiday. I personally have taken it climbing in the mountains of Snowdonia with me and still had great coffee. There aren't many espresso machines that can claim to do that! It takes a bit of practise getting the perfect brew every time but that's merely a quirk of this style of coffee maker.
Ease of use 4/5
This is a classic example of easy to learn, difficult to master. Making your first coffee in this couldn't be simpler, just fill the tank to the fill line, fill the basket with coffee, screw it together and heat it up. Making a consistently excellent brew every time is more fickle. Unlike a expensive counter top coffee machine there are not thermostats or electronic gismos to ensure everything is the same every time. It's down to the user to apply the right amount of heat for the right amount of time and to add the right amount of coffee. There's lots of advice on the internet about the "best" way to make coffee in one of these but it's all just practise. A bit of perseverance will pay off.
This isn't a fully featured coffee machine. If won't froth milk, make a perfect cappuccino or butter your toast. What it will do is make great coffee with minimal fuss. I've grudgingly given it 3 out of 5 for features. Grudgingly because I want to give it 5, not 3, but that wouldn't be completely fair. It does have every feature it needs to get the job done safely and well. It has a good quality pressure valve on the lower chamber to stop it exploding and is well made. What other features do you really need?
The beauty is again in the simplicity. This machine only has three parts so there are only three parts to clean. I tend to wipe it out with a wet cloth and rinse the basket under running water. It's best to avoid detergents as the flavour can run over into the coffee and removes the layer of oil that gets built up which can diminish the flavour. Cleaning is an easy job even if like me you're lazy and leave it dirty until you next want to use it. It can at times be a little fiddly to get into all the corners and you can't really get inside the spout of the basket to clean in there so only 4 out of 5, although perhaps it should be 4.5/5
As I said earlier this is a well made piece of kit and mine is looking good as new after several months of use. The only small fault I might mention is the knob on the top has come a little loose, although this is my own fault for using this knob to screw the lid on when it's hot. This is 30 second job to fix. Just a turn of a screwdriver and it's done so I'm going to keep the score at 5/5.
I own the 6 cup moka pot. This translates to about a mug full of espresso which is more than enough for most people. It will happily do you 2 good strength americanos (espresso and hot water) and maybe more if you prefer your coffee weak. You can buy smaller and larger models depending on your need. The 6 cup does my partner and I very well. If there were more coffee drinkers it may become impractical in this size.
So, to conclude we have ourselves an excellent little coffee machine. It's solidly built, withstanding being carried around mountains in a backpack and reliable. It also looks great, considered by many a fashionable accessory even if you don't like coffee! At around £20 this really is a bargain. It will last many years even if you abuse it. It's not idiot proof like some coffee machines but then for other espresso machines you could easily pay over £1000.
The only downside I would mention is that it takes a lot of ground coffee to fill the basket. If you were having several cups a day it could prove expensive in coffee beans. For occasional use this shouldn't be a problem. You also have no control over the quantity of coffee produced.
If you like coffee and have a bit of patience you really can't go too far wrong with a Bialetti Moka pot.
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Moka Express Hob Espresso Maker 3 cup
This review is for the Moka Express coffee maker, the three cup version. It is also available, for just a few pounds more, in a six cup version as well. The product is made by Bialetti, who are known for their quality coffee makers, many of which are of course substantially more expensive. The quality of this item is more ... than reasonable given the price, and mine has remained robust.
This machine is a espresso maker, so when it refers to three cups, it refers to three cups of espresso, so make sure that will be enough for you. You can alternatively use it as a coffee maker, and there is space to make around one cup with this model.
In terms of the quality of the espresso that it produces, I was pleased with the taste, and it's a consistent taste which I strongly approve of. One thing that never occurred to me though was that it needs washing and using a few times to get rid of the taste of the machine, so maybe make a few cups without drinking them, to help break the machine in so to speak!
The machine also appears to me to be quite fast, I've limited experiences of other machines, having had this for a while, but it certainly speeds up the whole process of coffee making up!
This machine doesn't come with a milk frother as standard, but you can purchase this separately. This doesn't interest me personally, but many purchasers might well like to have this addition to make the most from their machine.
In terms of cleaning, the machine is easy to clean, although it's worth noting that it's sensible to keep it clean, as the water holder can pick up signs of staining and marks, and inevitably the machine will mark from the coffee, but this arguably adds to the taste of the coffee.
As mentioned above, the quality of the item is good, from a reputed manufacturer. If I had to pick fault at the construction of the machine, I'd suggest that maybe the plastic handle isn't of such good quality as the rest of the espresso maker. Given the price of the product though, it's not surprising and doesn't really detract from the machine.
I referred at the beginning of the review to the six cup version, and to be honest, this is probably a better purchase for many people, as it's only a couple of pounds more to purchase, and of course has twice the coffee making potential. So if you have guests, it's a much quicker solution.
The machine retails for 19.99 pounds, and is currently available new for 18 pounds including postage from Amazon. if you're happy with a second hand machine, these at the time of writing can be had for about ten pounds including postage on sites such as eBay.
Overall, I like this model, it's well-built, good value and remains robust despite frequent use. The only real disadvantage that I can say in buying this is that it might make you drink far more strong coffee than you otherwise might have done!
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Moka Coffee Machine
Manufacturer: Moka / Coffee Machine / Type: Manual / 3 Cups
Manufacturer: Moka / Coffee Machine / Type: Manual / 9 Cups
Manufacturer: Moka / Coffee Machine / Type: Manual / 6 Cups
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