Good deal on a stovetop espresso maker

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These are nice; we used one at home when I was growing up.

I just had a MAJOR score myself; found someone selling a Faema Contessa for $30! Haven’t tested it yet, but even if it doesn’t work it shouldn’t be more than a couple hundred to repair, to get a machine on the level of a Rancilio Silvia. It also has a conical burr grinder; basically a home machine with commercial grade parts.


For the interested, those are called moka pots, made famous by Bialetti.

The whole history of the pot, and the company, is kind of cool. I personally think it’s worth springing for the original, even though it’s a bit more dear. It’s neat to be able to own something that’s a universally recognized design icon for around $25.


The cheap no-name ones supposedly have a habit of exploding as well. So I definitely think they’re the sort of thing where its better to pay a bit more for a name brand.


The linked ones are aluminium, and I did read somewhere that you should really use stainless steel ones instead: any truth in that?

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I don’t know about any health concerns, though that’s what I’ve heard, that there are concerns.

What I DO know is that the stainless steel version is easier to clean than my older aluminum one, and is less discolored over time. I believe that the difficulty with cleaning has to do with calcium deposits from hard water.

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The one I’ve got is cuter…

The hot plate it is sitting on is actually an electric heating unit for a chafing dish (meant to replace the open flame gel-fuel thingy).
IIRC, it was around €10 or so. They usually come mounted on a spring (to press the hot plate against the bottom of the chafing dish) which can easily removed.


I have the Alessi 9090 which although pricy is a thing of real beauty in my kitchen.

I have a more beaten up moka pot which I have used for camping - I justify the extra weight in my pack by using it for hammering in tent pegs :slight_smile:


I wouldn’t call it espresso

Have you ever checked out the Bellman CX-25? That thing makes great stove top espresso. It even has a built-in milk frothing wand. I like to take it mountain climbing and really freak people out at the summit with a freshly made cappuccino.


Tactical espresso:


Aluminum cookware can melt/fail if overheated, and its much softer and more prone to dents and so forth. Probably a general longevity sort of thing.

There are also newer models of Moka pot that hit higher pressures and cut closer to espresso. Bialetti’s is called a Brikka pot.

If you want posh:

Other way around; we have a bunch of moka pots from steel, aluminum, even one from aluminum and ceramic, the aluminum ones uniformly outperform the stainless ones. Harder to keep clean, however.

The bigger problem is that it can be hard to find replacement gaskets for the off-brands. Pretty much all the Italian brands have adopted the Bialetti standard, but we have a couple of off-brand pots bought in a pinch where the standard gaskets fit loosely or not at all.

That was a good machine back in the day. Most of the consumable parts (like gaskets) are interchangable with Faema commercial machines so available from the usual espresso parts places, and the boiler is brass so with some elbow grease will be as good as new. You might have to replace some tubes and wire (generic and cheap) and probably will need a new pump, which is a commodity and shouldn’t cost more than $60.


Do NOT buy a cheap one. They explode. Get a Bialetti. It’s 3 times the price, but it’ll last forever without injuring you.

Quite spectacular when that happens, though.
The extractor hood over the cooker took the brunt of it, but it was a bit messy.

Why do you need the conical filters if you’re using a moka pot? Or are those for size comparison purposes?

(Striking design, photographically speaking!)

Tactical Espresso is the name of my new band.

Also, Italian trivia of the day: I’ve been studying Italian for over a year now, and from what I’ve been told*, Italians don’t generally use the word espresso, they usually just say caffè. Because coffee is assumed to be espresso, instead of the brown water we drink over here.

*which means I may be wrong, of course



ETA: if you want a coffee, ask for caffè americano.
Me, I’ll have a cppuchino in three weeks or so at the best gelateria there is.

Nah, I just re-used a pic I made last year or so for a thread discussing coffee-making equipment. Different tools for different jobs. Not shown: the tea-making equipment.

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An Americano is an espresso shot or two watered to about the strength of American drip coffee. Its meant to approximate a drip coffee, originally to cater to Americans. I don’t recall what the term for actual drip coffee is.