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Review: The Bialetti Moka Pot

Like all caffeine hungry people, my search for the best coffee machine has been a long one. When Freud spoke about the ‘paradox of choice’ I have no doubt that he was talking about this very thing. The eternal question of how to make a good coffee from the comfort of your own kitchen without compromising on taste, price or usability remained a tough nut (or bean) to crack. So when a friend bought me a Bialetti Moka Pot a few years back I was, admittedly, sceptical but ready to give anything a try.

Bialetti Moka Pot

Features

Based on the original Moka Express model created in Italy in 1933, the Bialetti is strictly
speaking a percolator although is seen as closer to an espresso maker because of the strength of the coffee it makes. Its three components include a thick-bottomed ‘water reservoir’ which sits on the heat, a ‘filter’ which holds the ground coffee and draws the water upwards and the ‘coffee basket’ where, after 4-5 minutes , the finished product comes flowing forth. This hob-top machine works with electric or gas and preferably in combination with a Bialetti diffuser which ensures even heating and prevents tarnishing of your pot.

A Design Classic


Owning a Bialetti has much to recommend it. Its well-made, strong frame means it runs rings around the competition in terms of longevity and durability (much to the consternation of my inferior brand owning friends). Multiple London moves, numerous camping trips and not just a few kitchen incidents later and my Bialetti is still going strong.

Bialetti Moka Pot Photo 5 - coffee pouring

User Friendly

It is also simple, straightforward and quick to use. First fill the reservoir with water to just below the valve, add your favourite grind to the filter then screw the coffee basket on top before placing on a gentle heat. It’s low maintenance (simply remove coffee and rinse), very low investment (RRP around £20) and is infinitely portable (nothing like a fire-side brew).

It Packs A Punch

But most importantly, and after a few practice runs, it produces a rich, dark, strong flavour which is utterly customisable depending on your chosen roast and bean. My Italian friend still delights in his morning ritual of preparing his Moka pot and manually piecing the components together, then waiting for the first scent of the coffee to come.

Bialetti Moka Pot Photo 3 - Coffee cup (with filter)

Negatives?

However the Bialetti, like all coffee machines, does have its dark side too. Its flavour can be unpredictable and sometimes downright unpalatable. At it’s worst the Moka Pot produces bitter, metallic tasting coffee that makes you wonder why you didn’t just trump for the instant (heaven forbid). The reason for this is usually down to using too thick a grind in the filter, tamping down the coffee too tightly so the holes are blocked and most importantly heating the pot too quickly so all the water evaporates before boiling point has been reached.

But with a little experimentation when making your coffee it is possible to improve results. Grinding the bean more finely (or choosing a different coffee), tamping it down gently in the filter and removing the pot at just the right moment (you’ll soon learn when) will all help to produce a more consistent and smoother cup.

If you had to choose…

So how does the Bialetti compare to other coffee machines both in its class and otherwise? Well this is of course a question of taste and expense. The French Press is a close neighbour which is similarly low cost and low maintenance (filter papers aside), however for espresso drinkers looking for that strong flavour the higher water content of the cafetiere will not compete favourably with the Moka pot.

Then there’s the auto-drip option which I have in my time enjoyed many a good coffee from. Against these machines the Moka pot, understandably, does less well. The Cuisinart Grind and Brew filter and auto-drip coffee maker is a great all-rounder producing a freshly ground, full-bodied cup with the option to choose the strength (something you miss on the Bialetti) and cup size (up to 12). Its thermal plate also ensures that leftovers are kept warm for hours.

The Low-Fi Choice

But when counter space and budgets are tight, the filter papers have been left unordered and the grinder uncleaned and blocked, the footloose and fancy-free Bialetti is still on my shelf waiting morning after morning to deliver the low-fi hit I need.

Review by Claire Moran

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Review: DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM 4200.S

Rather than fill up Roasting House with many different coffee machines, we’ve asked coffee lovers to review the coffee makers they use to make their perfect brew at home. First up – the DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM 4200.S

delonghimagnifica1-edited

The DeLonghi Magnifica is an essential piece of bean to cup kit for coffee connoisseurs. Not only does it grind beans on the spot for an intense, rich flavour, it has a smart energy saving function too so you can save the planet while making your morning espresso, latte or cappuccino. With this in mind, here is a run down of the pros and cons of one of DeLonghi’s most popular models. If you are looking for a serious step up in your morning coffee, this machine could well be the investment for you.

A Great Option for First Time Buyers

If you are buying a bean to cup machine for the very first time, the DeLonghi Magnifica is the perfect choice. Compared with some of the best coffee machines out there, the DeLonghi Magnifica is exceedingly easy to use when it comes to making coffee. Simply switch it on, select from the one cup or two cup buttons and the machine does the rest for you. It is packed full of fantastic features that allow you to create a coffee that is full of flavour in seconds and is also affordably priced. It lets you know when it needs cleaning and even collects the grounded coffee in a separate compartment so that it can be emptied periodically.

Café Quality Coffee In An Instant

Freshness means a lot when it comes to making the perfect cup of coffee. One of reasons that this machine is so popular is its ability to create coffee of the highest quality at the touch of a button. It also uses freshly ground beans for each new cup of coffee so you always get the freshest taste. This bean to cup machine is an excellent choice for those who want that authentic coffee shop taste at home. With a milk frother and an adjustable spout to allow you to use cups of all sizes, this machine really does put you in control of your coffee.

A Tailored Coffee Experience

One of the standout features of the DeLonghi Magnifica is its ability to tailor your coffee experience to suit your individual requirements. Thanks to its high-tech features, you can adjust the quantities of both coffee and water to achieve the ideal coffee.  With the DeLonghi Magnifica, you can tailor everything from the temperature to the strength of your coffee. Espresso lovers will fall head over heels for the advanced boiler system that ensures you get the perfect temperature every time.

 

DeLonghi coffee makerHigh Performance Low Maintenance

With a 15-bar pump pressure, there’s no denying that the DeLonghi Magnifica is a high performance piece of kit, but is it low maintenance? This coffee machine is exceptionally easy to clean thanks to the fully removable brewing unit and built in drip tray. Not only does this machine practically clean itself the moment you switch it on, it boasts automatic descaling, cleaning and rinsing programs.

Style and Substance

Sleek and shiny, this machine is not lacking in the style department. Compact with a sophisticated silver finish, this design is versatile and will complement every style of décor. However, the DeLonghi Magnifica isn’t just a pretty face. It is packed to the brim with fantastic features that make creating the perfect cup of coffee a breeze. There are clever little features such as the plate on top of the machine that is designed to keep your cups warm and it is small finishing touches like these that really set the DeLonghi Magnifica apart from the rest. The silver finish makes it a popular choice, as it will look great wherever you decide to put it in your kitchen.

Any Negatives?

The DeLonghi Magnifica ticks almost every coffee lover’s box. However, if I were to turn my attention to the negative aspects, there is one slight drawback with this machine. The bean to cup model does make a cracking cup of coffee but it certainly isn’t quiet about it. The grinding of the coffee beans and the frothing of the milk does tend to make a racket but in my opinion that is a small price to pay for café quality coffee.

So, there you have it, a review of the DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM 4200.S. In short, this is a serious piece of kit that brings the coffee shop experience into your own home without breaking the bank. With excellent results on all types of drinks, this machine boasts the perfect balance between quality and convenience. Have you tried the DeLonghi Magnifica? We’d love to hear your thoughts.


 

This is part of a series where we ask coffee lovers to review their home coffee making equipment – crowd sourced coffee maker reviews you might say. Want to submit a review? Email coffee@roasting.house

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Five ways to brew coffee while camping

It’s summer and that means camping season is here, Whether you’re off for a week in the wilderness or hitting the festivals you shouldn’t have to forgo your morning brew just because you’re packing light. Here’s some ingenious ways to brew up while camping:

GSI coffee brewerCollapsible coffee dripper

If you regularly like to get in the outdoors and spend the night under canvas, it’s worth investing in a lightweight coffee dripper that collapses down flat when not in use. The GSI Collapsible Drip Coffee Maker folds to a slim disc so it won’t take up any space in your bag. Alternatively, the Ultralight Javadrip is a fabric filter which clips on to your camping mug so you don’t even need to take filters, handy for those who are wild camping and don’t have any facilities to dispose of used coffee filters. Being fabric, it also packs down nice and small

Handpresso Wild Hybrid

I have been crushing on the Handpresso for a while. The Handpresso is the lovechild of a bike pump and an aeropress. Seems like an unimaginable mix, but it is very much real and a fun way to make espresso on the go. You add in the water and the coffee grounds, pump to get the right amount of pressure, and then pour a perfect espresso. You can get pre-prepared coffee pods or an adapter to use your own coffee which is far better for the environment.

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Aeropress & Porlex

Of course no portable coffee list would be complete without a mention of the aeropress, It’s a little bulkier than the dripper or the handpresso, but it is very affordable, lightweight, and makes a reliably good cup of coffee every time.  If you’ve gone to the effort to pack good coffee for your trip, you don’t want to ruin it with pre-ground coffee. Fresh is best! The Porlex mini grinder is one of the most compact available and is fairly lightweight. Conveniently, it also fits inside the plunger of the Aeropress making them the ultimate coffee camping combination.

 

 

Moka pot
Image from Wikimedia Commons

Mokapot

If your morning brew of choice is a dark, rich espresso then pack a mokapot. They are slightly bulky but very lightweight and easily fit on most camping stoves and you’ll be rewarded with a really strong cup of coffee in the morning.

 

Cowboy style

And if even the weight of filters is too much for you, you can brew your coffee straight in to the water for cowboy style. You’ll need to ensure the grounds have sunk to the bottom fully before drinking and don’t knock it back to fast or you’ll up with a mouth full of grinds. Not for the faint of heart but there is something satisfying about being in the middle of nowhere and drinking your coffee rough and ready.

How do you brew up when you’re camping?