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Bialetti Brikka vs. Moka Express Comparative Test & Review. Does Brikka make real espresso as pump espresso machines do?

Comments: 8↓ specifications & manual ↓

Most of Bialetti’s stove-top coffee makers (aka moka pots) have similar construction and varies only by design and materials. There are classic aluminium models like Moka Express that Bialetti’s factory in Italy has been producing with no changes since 1933. There is also a Bialetti Junior – same design and construction, but made in China and, thus, cheaper. There are many stainless steel versions: cone-shaped Venus or stylish Musa. And many more models including colorful Fiametta series. All of them have the same brewing system.

Bialetti Brikka TestedOne well-known model that stands apart is Bialetti Mukka (here it is at Amazon), which is designed to make cappuccino. However, there is one more less famous model – less known Bialetti Brikka. Despite the fact that it looks very similar to other aluminium moka pots by Bialetti, it’s unique because of the pressure valve, that changes the brewing process.

Brikka comes in 2 versions: for 2 cups (👉 see @ amazon) and for 4 cups (👉 see @ amazon). It’s 2 Oz and 4 Oz respectively – see measurements below.

Does Bialetti Brikka really make different coffee if compared to the classic Moka Express?

When I first met Brikka coffee maker it was not obvious to me that it makes different coffee than my usual travel companion (Moka Express for 2 cups) does. However first tests proved that even if the difference is not dramatic, it is still big enough to place the Brikka on the following chart closer to the real espresso machine:

scale-of-espressoness

Surely Brikka doesn’t make real espresso like a 15-bar pump espresso machine does. However, the result is much more similar to espresso than on any ordinary moka pot. That’s why now the Bialetti Brikka Elite is a compact coffee maker that I take with me while travelling. Officially, since 2014 🙂

I will summarise key differences between Moka Express and Brikka:

  • The crema. Brikka makes richer coffee foam. This is quite obvious if you saw some photos on the Web or read other reviews.
  • The coffee is a bit stronger. Quite obvious too, however, the difference is not dramatic, Brikka gives just a bit more caffeine than Moka Express does.
  • The taste! This one is not obvious at all (was not obvious to me, at least), however, it’s probably the most effective difference.

When you try coffee made on Moka Express (just after tasting Brikka’s one) you understand that Moka Express gives more watery taste, less rich. Sometimes even more bitter, overextracted flavor.

Bialetto Briikka vs Moka Express (crema test)

Even the ground coffee/water ratio is similar to real espresso. My measurements show that the Brikka for 2 cups is designed to brew 60ml (2 Oz) of coffee using 15 g of ground coffee.

Yes, I know that often on Amazon it is written to be 3 Oz. However, it’s a mistake. Lower bowl indeed can fit even more water (up to 100 ml/3 Oz), however, the special “H2O” level inside Brikka shows, that it is recommended to use 65-70 ml of water – output is slightly smaller because ground coffee absorbs some water. Classic moka pots use less coffee and more water.

2-cup 👉 see @ amazon 4-cup 👉 see @ amazon
Water 60 ml/2 Oz 120 ml /4 Oz
Coffee 15 g/0.53 ounces 30 g/1 ounce
Item model numbers 6188, 6782 (black bottom) 6184, 6784 (black bottom)
Height 17 cm/6.7 in 21.5 cm/8.5 in

Bialetti Brikka Ground Coffee Filter Capacity

However, when the third cup is tested (espresso shot made on a classic pump espresso machine, in my case it was Delonghi EC155M), then you realise that Brikka doesn’t make espresso. It makes strong espresso-alike coffee with rich crema and taste, but it cannot compete with pump machines.

Update. The speed of brewing

I completely forget to mention one more difference between Moka and Brikka. The later one is faster. I tested equal-sized models (both for 2 cups) on the same stove. In case of the Brikka it takes 2 minutes 36 seconds to make coffee, while Moka Express needs 3 minutes 50 seconds.

Brikka vs Moka Express

Why some other reviewers say the difference between Moka Express and Brikka is undistinguished?

Common problems with Brikka is possible reasons. Bialetti’s quality control system is not superb (no suprise for me since years ago we had a Fiat in our family). In case of Moka Express or any other ordinary moka pot the construction is simplier and frequent problems are widely troubleshooted. In case of Brikka the are more parts that could be defected and due to lack of information people couldn’t understand that their Brikka is defective.

The most widespread example is a defective funnel. Sometimes it has a tiny hole on the side where the punch is:

Defective Funnel of Bialetti Brikka

 

This leads to low pressure (because water partly goes back to the lower reservoir) and no (or not much) crema. In Bialetti they probably know about this problem, because a funnel for Brikka as a spare part has different construction: without punches and therefore without risk of getting a hole. However new Brikka moka pots come with old funnel, which can be defected (or can be not, the risk is not high, maybe 1 out of 100).

New funnles are sold on Amazon, however wider available funnels for Moka Express can be used as well. For example, a funnel for Moka Express for 6-cup can be fit into Brikka for 2 cups (as reported in this review).

Pressure/Crema Valve construction and How to Clean It

The method that Bialetti used in Brikka is not innovative. Manufacturers of pump espresso machines use it since 1990s – they discovered that if they will limit the pressure on the exit of the portafilter, then the espresso will have full taste and crema on top. This was particularly important for home users who use cheap preground coffee and do no tamp coffee well; on the espresso makers with pressure valves thay still can get a decent shot of espresso.

 

Today 99,9% home espresso machines come with pressure valve (aka crema filters). The only exception I know is the Delonghi EC145 and EC146.

Bialetti implimented the same idea. However in case of a moka pot where the water/coffee goes upward, the construction of pressure valve could be simplier than on espresso machine (where water goes through ground coffee downwards).

In Brikka it’s just a heavy metal lid on the exit of the upper funnel. When the pressure is low, the water can’t lift it. But as soon as pressure rises, the heavy lid moves up and let the coffee out:

Bialetti Brikka Valve for Crema

You should clean this valve system time after time. How to open/unscrew Brikka’s upper valve? I made step-by-step photos for you:

How to unscrew (open) upper pressure valve on Bialetti Brikka (step by step photos)

Spare parts for Brikka (current generation *)

  • New aluminium replacement funnel part numbers:
  • Repair Kit (3 Gaskets and 1 Filter Plate) part number:
  • Bialetti does not produce handles and pressure valves as spare parts.

*  Difference between “new” and “old” design is shown below:

Bialetti Brikka Old and New model

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Bialetti Brikka/Brikka Elite Coffee Machine Specifications:

Download manual: Download pdf manual
Machine type: Moka pot (stove-top coffee maker)
Width х Deep х Height: With handle: 14cm x 10cm x 17 cm (5.5 x 3.9 x 6.7 in)
Coffee used: Ground coffee
Grinder: No
Brewing group: Aluminium funnel (part number 0800116 for 2 cups, 0800117 for 4 cups)
Heater: Any external heater except induction stove/microwave
Max pressure: Approx. 2.3 bar as reported by samuellaw178 @ home-barista.com
Water container: Recommended amount of water 60-70ml
Bean container: 15 g
Waste container: No
Cappuccinatore: No
Peculiar properties: Two version: for 2 cups (0006188) and for 4 cups (0006184). Made in Romania.

Author: Dmitriy Yurchenko

14/05/2018

Have any questions? Please ask in comments below!

Have you bought this coffee machine? Leave a review!

8 comments:

  1. Do they make bigger Brikka pots? 3 oz it isn’t much coffee…

    Rob

    28 May 18 at 12:59 am

    Reply

    • Only 2 cup and 4 cup versions.

      3 oz in amazon description of 2-cup Brikka isn’t correct. You can fit 3 oz in the lower bowl, however the instruction clearly says to use only 60 ml (~2 oz). There is a special measuring mark in the upper bowl of the new Brikka Elite. The correct ratio of water and steam gurantess that the crema filter will work as it should. The 4-cup Brikka respectively will give you 4 oz of coffee.

      Dmitriy

      29 May 18 at 9:45 am

      Reply

  2. I am curious are there any actual differences between the elite and the one you have labeled “first generation”?

    Note that your “first generation” is actually the second generation, as there was an earlier model that had a plastic covering where the current window is, lacked the internal ledge indicating the appropriate amount of water (instead it shipped with a plastic measuring cup), and used an extra gasket internally for the funnel. I have both of these but have not seen the elite.

    Len

    18 Aug 18 at 5:34 am

    Reply

    • Thank you for the correction, Len! Probably I’m too young to remember the generation Zero 🙂 I saw the Brikka with a second rubber gasket on youtube, by the way, and was curious. However, it was ordinary Brikka (without plastic covering on top as you describe).

      Elite has a slightly (very slightly – 1 mm or less) different funnel diameter. Everyhing else looks the same for me.

      Dmitriy

      19 Aug 18 at 8:30 am

      Reply

  3. I have the generation zero with the knob in the middle of the lid. As the funnel or its gasket (or both) is different, can I get replacements for these? Thanks!

    Dave B

    13 Sep 18 at 7:55 pm

    Reply

  4. Please help to choose between elite and regular brikka – is the problem with the holes in the funnel is not present in elite version?
    Thank you!

    Boris

    23 Nov 18 at 5:13 pm

    Reply

    • Generally, construction is identical, just small changes in design. I don’t have any statistics how much defected funnels are installed on brikka and brikka elite. I would choose the cheapest 😉

      Dmitriy

      23 Nov 18 at 5:52 pm

      Reply

      • P. S. I’m quite sure that when you see in one shop “Brikka” and in other shop “Brikka Elite” it’s really two different versions. Most shops in most countries sell current version, some of them may forget to rename it (since the “Elite” prefix is not written on the box or on the coffee makers itself).

        Dmitriy

        23 Nov 18 at 5:57 pm

        Reply

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