Bialetti makes several coffee makers marketed as espresso makers in the United States. This is technically incorrect as they don't make true espresso. The Italian brand is called moka makers in Italy. If you like rich, European style coffee without the oils filtered out, this may be the coffee pot for you.
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Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Maker
Bialetti makes several sizes of these coffee makers. The 3, 6 and 9 cup sizes are popular. They all work the same way, and the only difference is size. The cup size refers to demitasse cups, or about 2 ounces of coffee. A 6 cup size would be necessary to fill an American mug. The coffee makers are made of polished aluminum and heated on the stovetop to make coffee. The Bialetti Moka stovetop maker doesn't make true espresso, but it does make a very good cup of coffee. All Bialetti models look similar, the 6 and 9 cup are bigger versions of the 3 cup coffee makers. They are made of aluminum and don't rust, but will corrode.
While not espresso, the coffee is made under pressure. To make a pot of coffee, some users preheat the water to shorten the time on the stove. Pour the water in the pot to the line just under the relief valve. Fill the basket to the top with coffee and screw the upper and lower reserviours together.
Be careful using preheated water as the pot is aluminum and heats up quickly. Be careful not to get grounds on the rim where the two sections screw together as this may cause a leak when the pressure builds up. If they aren't screwed tightly together, they may leak.
This coffee maker needs to have a pot of coffee brewed to initially season the pot. The flavor gets better with a few uses. Put water in the lower reservoir lower than the relief valve. Use a medium coffee grind and don’t pack the grounds in the coffee pot. As always, adjust the amount of coffee to suit individual taste. Some users recommend to experiment with different roasts for desired taste. The goal is to make coffee in 4 to 5 minutes. Slower works best, and brewing may take adjusting the heat to reach that goal. Leave the lid up to see when the coffee starts coming into the upper reservoir. Take it off the heat when it is almost to the top of the tube, then shut the lid.
Hand wash with warm water and dry the Bialetti coffee makers by hand. Don’t scrub the coffee patina left from making coffee as this may give the coffee a metallic taste. Push the button on the relief valve to help keep it active. Leave the pot completely apart to facilitate drying. Don’t use soap and don’t reassemble until completely dry. Be sure to rinse all the grounds away as they may cause an imperfect seal.
The two reservoirs screw together and pressure forces the boiling water through the coffee to make the brew. The relief valve in lower reservoir is a safety feature to prevent explosions. Aluminum transfers heat quickly and can give severe burns.
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Bialetti 3 Cup Maker
The 3 cup maker makes about 6 ounces of coffee for 3 - 2 ounce cups. This maker is 5 x 4 x 4 inches and weighs 10.9 ounces.
Bialetti 6 Cup Maker
The 6 cup Bialetti maker makes 12 ounces of coffee for 6 – 2 ounce cups of coffee. The 6 cup is 4 x 4 x 9 inches and weighs 1.6 pounds. This is a good size for one mug of coffee.
Bialetti 9 Cup Maker
The 9 cup Bialetti maker makes 18 ounces of coffee for 9 – 2 ounce cups of coffee. This Moka measures 4 x 6 x 9 inches.
The Bialetti stovetop makers make excellent European style coffee. If this sounds like something you may like, Bialetti may be for you.