Bialetti Brikka Review: Better than the Moka Express?
The Bialetti Brikka is a modern alternative to the Bialetti Moka Express, the famed coffee maker. Moka Express has been popular in Italy and around the world for generations. With the addition of a pressure valve, Bialetti Brikka promises to yield the expected rich, espresso-like coffee AND a frothy layer of crema.
But does it work? And is it an improvement over the Moka Express? That’s what we wanted to find out, so our team of experts put it to the test.
We dug deep into how this stovetop espresso maker works, the quality of coffee, its longevity, and its value for money. Read this Bialetti Brikka review to determine if it’s worth adding to your coffee arsenal.
Summary: The Bialetti Brikka
- Stovetop espresso maker with an added pressure valve designed to mimic crema
- Quality aluminum build, available in 2-cup and 4-cup sizes
- Despite a more advanced design, it’s as easy to use as any stovetop espresso maker
I’ve used a regular Bialetti moka for years. The Brikka took a little getting used to, but I will say I like the coffee it makes better.– John R.
The Full Bialetti Brikka Review
The Bialetti Moka Express is an iconic symbol of Italian coffee making (1). First devised in 1933 and named for the historical coffee center of Mocha, Yemen, the simple but effective design has changed very little in the nearly 100 years since (2). Moka pots are far away from Italy’s most famous at-home brewing method, and the Bialetti company produces some of the top stovetop espresso makers.
So why mess with a good thing? Is the new Bialetti Brikka an improvement on the original Moka Express? Or has the company set out to solve a problem that never really existed? That’s what we decided to find out in this Bialetti Brikka review.
Ease of Use – 4/5
Using a Moka pot is not as simple as using a drip coffee machine; it’s more hands-on. You can’t just set a timer and have your coffee waiting when you wake up in the morning. But using the Bialetti Brikka is on par with any other manual method of making coffee, like a French press or pour-over dripper – and far easier than a real espresso machine.
Using Bialetti Brikka is identical to using any stovetop espresso maker. The addition of the valve system doesn’t change the user experience.
The basic technique is straightforward, and a few handy tips and tricks will help you make an even more delicious cup of coffee.
Brewing With the Brikka
First, fill the bottom chamber with water to below the level of the pressure release valve. This safety valve ensures that the excess water pressure vents as harmless steam if you overfill your Moka pot. The alternative would be an exploding coffee maker!
Second, place the filter basket in the lower chamber and fill it with finely ground coffee. The Brikka is sold with a plastic measuring cup for this purpose. Preparing the coffee for a Brikka is simpler than for an espresso coffee machine. You don’t need to get too picky about dose and distribution, and there is no need to tamp.
Finally, screw on the upper chamber and set it on a heat source, like an electric or gas stove. The Bialetti Brikka won’t work as sold if you have an induction cooktop. However, Bialetti does sell an induction adaptor for this purpose. Just make sure you make room for it in the budget.
The Moka Express has a reputation for yielding over-extracted, bitter, or burnt tasting coffee, and this is just as much of a concern with the Brikka. While it is true that this brewing method makes it easier to “over-cook” your coffee, you can avoid the dreaded bitter brew with a bit of care.
Resist the desire to plop your Brikka straight onto high heat. I know you want that good cup of coffee asap, but I promise it’s worth it to let it heat slowly over medium. Then be sure to take it off the heat as soon as it nears completion so that it can cool. James Hoffmann, the world-renowned coffee expert, says that this step is even more critical with the Brikka than with the Moka Express. In his words:
I would definitely want to stop this as soon as it got to sputtering, because it was getting really angry. And cooling it down there will definitely reduce the bitterness.
You can even run the Brikka under cold water to cool it down faster.
Brewing Capacity – 3/5
The brewing capacity distinguishes the Bialetti Brikka from a standard stovetop espresso maker, so we will take our time and go in-depth in this section.
The Brikka includes a pressure valve system that ensures it will produce a foamy layer of crema on your excellent cup of coffee, something resembling a proper espresso. The valve system is designed to stay closed until a certain pressure level builds up, and excellent coffee then bursts through the valve, creating a rich and frothy brew. This is the same concept used in pressurized filter baskets for espresso machines.
The original Bialetti Brikka worked on the same principle but had a different valve design. Many reviewers declared this system flawed, and Bialetti agreed because they completely reworked the valve in 2020. So if you’ve been reading older reviews of the Brikka, take them with a grain of salt.
The new model is much better from a design standpoint, and it’s simpler, cleaner, and cheaper to manufacture. But it still suffers from an inherent flaw in the concept: it is challenging to create great-tasting coffee and a foamy crema using a stovetop espresso maker. It takes about 1 to 1.5 bars of pressure to open the valve in the Brikka. As pressure builds up behind the valve, some of the waiting coffee is inevitably becoming over-extracted.
So, should I buy the Brikka?
That doesn’t mean no one should buy a Bialetti Brikka. As always, coffee is a personal taste, and it just depends on what you enjoy. For one thing, it delivers on its promise of a frothier coffee. Though not as long-lasting as the better crema you’ll find on a proper shot of espresso pulled at 9 bars of pressure, if you enjoy the texture and mouthfeel of a foamy coffee experience, the Brikka will not disappoint (3).
The Brikka produces a more intense coffee than the traditional Moka Express, and a much more intense coffee than a standard drip brew.
If you enjoy the taste profile and mouthfeel of a classic Italian espresso – I’m talking medium-to-dark roast, maybe with some Robusta in the blend – this is the best way to mimic that gut-punch of bittersweet flavor (4). On the other hand, if you prefer lighter roasts, the brightness and acidity are apt to overwhelm the palate if you’re making coffee with a Brikka.
Lastly, the Brikka is an excellent choice if you’re brewing a small shot of coffee as the basis of a milky drink, like a latte or cappuccino. That extra intensity allows the coffee to hold its own against the dairy.
Build Quality – 4.5/5
Given that Bialetti was originally an aluminum manufacturer and not a coffee company, it should be no surprise that the Brikka is very well made. Combine that with its simple and functional design with very few parts, and you can expect many years of loyal service from a Moka pot.
Brikka’s silicone valve is another point of failure compared with the Moka Express, but this has yet to be a problem in the years since its introduction.
Bialetti Brikka vs Moka
The Bialetti Brikka has a few aesthetic differences from the Moka Express. It lacks the classic octagonal base, replaced by the round bottom. But don’t worry, this impacts only the appearance, not the function. The Brikka keeps the iconic Bialetti logo, the instantly recognizable mustachioed man (5).
The Brikka sports a cut-out top, presumably so you can watch the frothing action without lifting the lid. This seems like a perfect example of a solution lacking a problem. Lifting the lid to watch the delicious espresso coffee brewing is easy. Now there is no way to close the lid if the coffee starts sputtering everywhere – which is not uncommon with this brewing method if you find yourself distracted. A transparent lid might be a worthwhile improvement for a future generation of Brikka.
The Brikka pot is available in a 2-cup and a 4-cup version, both of which have a stainless steel upper and matte black base. The Brikka 2-cup model brews 3.4 ounces of delicious espresso, and the 4-cup brews 5.7 ounces – so essentially a double shot and a lungo. Opt for the Brikka 2-cup if you want to prepare milky drinks like lattes, and go with the 4-cup for Americanos. The Moka Express is available in far more colors, designs, and sizes.
Cleaning and Maintenance – 3.5/5
Stovetop espresso makers have an unfounded reputation of being difficult to clean. An experienced coffee lover would argue that they are easier to clean than a French press and certainly easier than an espresso machine. They take a few seconds longer than making coffee with methods that use a paper filter because you can’t just lift the filter out of the machine and toss it. With the Bialetti Brikka, you’ll have to knock the wet finely ground coffee out of the filter basket into a knock box or the compost before cleaning. That’s it, and a knock is the only extra step. So don’t let fear of clean-up dissuade you from this great style of a brewer!
Then it’s only a matter of washing the three parts with warm, soapy water. As an aside, it’s an old wives’ tale that you shouldn’t use soap on a Moka pot. An entire generation mistakenly believes that it should be “seasoned” with years of rancid coffee grime, and this is false. Wash your stovetop espresso maker!
The Bialetti Brikka does require a bit more care than the Moka Express because of the added valve. Every few weeks, it’s worth taking the two valve pieces apart to give them a quick clean and make sure no coffee grounds stuck in the silicone.
There is very little to worry about when it comes to maintenance. Moka pots are incredibly durable, so you’ll find them in Thrift Shops and yard sales so often. They never die; they keep getting passed along. The silicone gasket that seals the upper chamber to the lower will likely be the first point of failure, but you can replace it.
Value for Money – 3/5
When it was first released, the Bialetti Brikka was significantly more expensive than the Moka Express, and many falsely believe this continues to be the case. In fact, with the less expensive valve design, the price of the Brikka has come down. At this point, a Bialetti Brikka 2-cup is almost the same price as a 3-cup Moka Express. So if you want extra froth in your coffee or want to make milky drinks, there is no reason the price should dissuade you.
For the little extra cost, the Brikka isn’t making better coffee. One could even argue that the coffee’s rich flavor suffers compared with the Moka Express. So if you’re planning to drink it straight or make an Americano, the 3-cup or 6-cup Moka Express is a better value choice.
Don’t Buy the Bialetti Brikka If…
- You don’t need foam atop your coffee: If the airy foam promised by the Brikka holds no appeal, you can save some cash by opting for a classic stovetop espresso maker. Check out our Bialetti Moka Express review to stick with the Bialetti brand. For a classy-looking alternative in larger sizes, read the Cuisinox Roma stovetop espresso maker review.
- You want an electric coffee maker: Maybe you want a coffee maker for the office where you don’t have access to a stove. In that case, check out our DeLonghi Alicia review. This cleverly designed Moka pot comes with its own electric heating element, plus a few other neat perks like being easier to use and having the option to keep your coffee warm.
- You want true crema: For true crema, you need true espresso, which means 9 bars of pressure (6). However, you don’t need a big, fancy coffee machine. Manual espresso makers like the Cafelat Robot, Rok, or Flair are perfectly capable. While not as inexpensive as a stovetop espresso maker, they are much more affordable than electric espresso machines.
This Bialetti Brikka review promised to tell you if the Brikka was better than the Moka Express. The verdict is no; it’s not inherently better. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t the better choice for some coffee lovers.
If you want a foamy froth atop your coffee, you’ll enjoy the Brikka. And the fact that it brews an even more intense shot of coffee makes it an ideal choice if you want to prepare milky drinks like lattes and cappuccinos. If neither of those cases applies to you, save your money and stick with the Moka Express.
- Campana, M. (2021, December 21). The Long History of Instagram’s Famous Moka Pot. Retrieved from https://www.mashed.com/714382/the-long-history-of-instagrams-famous-moka-pot/
- Mills, T. (2022, January 7). The Bialetti Moka Express: The History of Italy’s Iconic Coffee Maker, and How to Use It the Right Way. Retrieved from https://www.openculture.com/2022/01/the-bialetti-moka-express.html
- Petrich, I. L. (2020, April 21). Crema: How It’s Formed, What It Tells Us, & How to Learn From It. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/04/crema-how-its-formed-what-it-tells-us-how-to-learn-from-it/
- Meister. (2018, August 9). Whose Espresso Is Better: Third-Wave Cafés or Traditional Italian Espresso Bars? Retrieved from https://www.seriouseats.com/which-espresso-is-better-italian-third-wave-cafes
- Leveille, D. (2016, February 22). Remembering ‘the little man with the mustache’ who made coffee for all. Retrieved from https://theworld.org/stories/2016-02-22/remembering-little-man-mustache-who-made-coffee-all
- Seven Miles Coffee. (2021, November 23). What is the ideal pressure for espresso? Retrieved from https://www.sevenmiles.com.au/editorial/espresso-pressure/