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Bialetti Stainless Moka Pots - Donald Varona's Review
Posted: June 24, 2008, 2:34pm
review rating: 9.5
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
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Arrow The Bialetti Stainless Moka Pots has 2 Reviews
Arrow The Bialetti Stainless Moka Pots has been rated 8.70 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since October 24, 2007.
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Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Donald Varona 9.50
David Bro 4.00

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 9.0
Product Reviewed: Musa 10-tasse
Manufacturer: Bialetti Quality: 9
Average Price: Varies Usability: 8
Price Paid: $53.00 Cost vs. Value 9
Where Bought: Sweet Maria's Aesthetics 10
Owned for: 1 year Overall 9
Writer's Expertise: I love coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned: generic Aluminum moka pot
Bottom Line: A modern-looking and well-functioning implementation of the time-tested moka brewing method.
Positive Product Points

Elegant stylish look
All-stainless steel construction
Can be brewed with the lid open so watching the brew start is easy

Negative Product Points

Has some tight corners that are hard to clean
Like most moka pots, best at making only one (full pot) amount of coffee; lesser amounts require different pots
And also the other caveats of moka-pot brewing in general

Detailed Commentary

I have to say I am thoroughly satisfied with this product.  My prior moka pot was a generic aluminum contraption that tended to discolor to an unpleasant gray color inside the lower heating bowl; the water that remained in the bottom was unpalatable and also discolored.  This made me wonder why I should imagine that the brew it produced was acceptable.

The Musa 10-tasse moka pot is a all brushed stainless-steel moka pot with a somewhat conic shape.  The "tasse" is really a demitasse size of just over 2oz, so the whole pot makes about 22oz or about 1 1/2 large mugs.  For an image of what it looks like (the image shown on the review doesn't quite match) visit the link here at Sweet Marias:  http://www.sweetmarias.com/prod.brewers.mokapot.shtml

The unit consists of 5 simple parts:  a water reservoir on the bottom; a basket with a stem to hold coffee grounds; a thick, heavy rubber gasket; a screen for the top of the grounds basket; and the upper chamber that holds the brew.  The top and bottom are screwed together with the coffee parts in between; a tight seal is required.  During brewing, the boiling water in the bottom is forced up through the grounds basket, and into the upper chamber via a stem.  A small amount of water remains in the bottom reservoir after brewing.

Realize that a moka pot brew is a different kind of brew from drip, closer to espresso but not really even the same as that.  It is a deep-flavored drink that drip-brew drinkers may require getting accustomed to; my Mom certainly wouldn't like it too much.  It does well with a fuller-roasted coffee and with heavy-bodied coffees such as those from Indonesia.  More acidic coffees I don't enjoy so much with this type of brew.  And also realize that, since the extraction method is different, you get a different flavor profile; what might be your favorite bean for drip or vacpot will provide a different experience here, so be prepared to experiment.  Because the filter is a screen and not paper, you get a "chewier" brew.

Brewing with a moka pot is relatively straightforward, but not as brainless as drip:

  • Fill the lower bowl with water; I preheat mine and prepare the basket while it heats up
  • Measure out about 3.5 - 4 standard SCAA scoops of whole beans.  4 seems to be a bit too much, while 3.5 is just a bit scant.
  • Use a good grinder; whirly-blade types produce too much dust and will likely choke the pot.
  • Grind slightly finer than drip.  Don't grind too fine, or the this will also choke the pot and it won't brew.
  • Fill the basket level to the top with grounds.  Don't tamp hard, or again you'll choke the pot.  Don't overfill, or you'll choke the pot.  Notice a recurring theme here :-) ?
  • Place the basket in the bottom reservoir.  Be sure to brush any stray grounds back towards the basket, or they can worsen the seal.
  • Place the gasket and filter screen at the bottom of the upper chamber (they'll hold themselves there).
  • Screw the top and bottom together, being careful not to burn yourself; thick kitchen towels or a good bathrobe will help a lot here.  Be sure to assemble tightly enough to prevent steam leaks.
  • Place back on low heat, or high heat until the brew starts.  
  • When the brew starts (you'll see coffee coming out the stem top) turn the heat to low.  A nice design touch here over my older moka pot is that the stem top directs the brew downwards, so the brew doesn't splash everywhere when the lid is open.
  • Let the brew finish.  You'll hear sputtering as it completes; when the sputtering reduces to a low sound, you're done.  Remove the heat.  The total time for brew is less than four minutes or so, depends on how high the heat is.

Problems with the pot often are:

  • Hissing at the relief valve?  Grind is probably too fine
  • Hissing or leaking at the seal?  Too much coffee grounds, and they're preventing the gasket from sealing; or not screwed on tight enough
  • A light-colored brew?  Grind too coarse
  • A bitter or astringent brew?  Grind too fine (just not fine enough to choke)

Other things you don't have to deal with in other brew methods

  • Removing the gasket/top filter screen for cleaning can be annoyingly difficult; running hot water through and over the top part helps as this expands the metal and loosens the gasket.  Or you can just try to pull it out by grabbing with your fingernails.
  • The pot is made from mostly stamped and rolled plate metal.  The effect is that it has some tight places that are a little difficult to clean, yet need cleaning because they have coffee sitting or brewing through them.  The bottom of the top chamber has a channel around the edge that is hard to get a sponge into and the lid gets in your way; the stem is also narrow.  I usually use a paper towel wrapped around a chopstick or a Q-tip to clean these parts.
  • Since the filter basket is permanent you have to clean it thoroughly, but this is not any more difficult than any other permanent filter.

In any case, I have found this to be an excellent addition to my brewing collection.

Buying Experience

No problems whatsoever with Sweet Maria's.  Perhaps you've heard of them.

Three Month Followup

It's been more than 3 months, but the page requires something here.  The 1 year followup has new details.  I have owned this for about 3 years at this point.

One Year Followup

An easy way to create a more filtered brew is to wet an Aeropress filter and stick it to the underside of the grinds chamber top plate.  This will give a less "chewy" brew.  You will probably have to rise the flame or heat source somewhat, and the extra pressure changes the flavor profile slightly, but it's still good.  A round cutout from a #4 or other drip filter would probably also work, but those are thicker than Aeropress filters and you would need to raise the heat slightly more.

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review rating: 9.5
Posted: June 24, 2008, 2:34pm
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