Last Updated on May 5, 2022 by John Moretti
Unlike politics and religion, an open chat about coffee preferences is unlikely to end in a shouting match or come to blows. It’s possible to air your views, preferably with plenty of sampling, in a relaxed atmosphere of mutual respect with plenty of humorous anecdotes adding to the fun. Even a discussion on Moka (Mocca) coffee pots is not immune.
Bialetti Moka Pots are made better than Primula but at a much higher price. Edges are smoother, the handles are impervious to heat, and Bialetti has impeccable service with agents in many countries. Primula Pots are easy to use and are made from aluminum. The brew from each is indistinguishable.
For some people, coffee is a religion, and as such, there can be no deviation from the norm – from the way things have been done for many years. In this time of internet enlightenment, however, most folks are perfectly willing to try new routes to the same destination or even alter their destination totally.
Choosing A Great Moka Coffee Pot
It’s ridiculous to imagine that your Moka pot, regardless of brand or cost, will make a good espresso or a creamy pour-over. They’re simply different techniques and require specific equipment for their creation. A Moka (or Mocca) pot does, however, make a darn fine Cup o’ Joe and certainly deserves its place in the modern kitchen. (Or pretty much anywhere else).
Point of Origin
This is very important. The chances of a unit from Italy, for example, being of good quality are very high. Their standards and regulations are top-notch, and they take coffee very seriously. Conversely, a pot from China does not carry the same confidence level.
Make no mistake, China has every ability to produce superb craftsmanship, but the west has, for many years, been forcing their prices lower and lower when placing orders. The only way they can effectively comply is to reduce quality, size, color, etc., which they freely attest to. This means that cheaper products from China cannot be expected to work as well or last as long. You get what you pay for in this case.
If you’re making just one or two cups at once, avoid the bigger pots as they will take longer to boil each time, and energy costs will be far greater.
My own experience with Moka Pots over 20 years is that there is no real difference between aluminum and stainless steel. Still, when mine finally got handed down the line to a younger relative – these pots never seem to die if you buy well – I plumped for a stainless-steel replacement: Purely a whim.
Many folks now use induction stoves, and some pots might not heat up at all, so check this vital aspect if you have an induction stove and buy accordingly.
Price is a good indicator of quality, but if you can’t see the value in the higher-priced item, why pay the extra?
Bialetti Vs. Primula Moka Pot
Moka Pots offer you a significant coffee variation that can be created quickly. There are some ceramic pots, but most are aluminum or stainless steel, with the former brewing the quickest and the latter easiest to clean. Bialetti is the world leader, with good reason – since inventing the pot in the last century, very little has changed in the design.
This design is so classic that it was replicated by Primula, who took the eight-sided pot and silver color and created their own, far cheaper version. The Chinese company has brought out a pot of comparable size for less than half the price when landed in the US. I found the Primula cheap to look at and not as well made as is the Italian pot, but the coffee brewed was delicious.
The handle is known to heat up rather quickly, so brewing coffee on a campfire is not recommended, whereas the Bialetti’s handle is protected somewhat by a broader base, so it never gets too hot.
The Primula is an aluminum pot with no plans for a stainless-steel version and is perfectly fine for an entry-level pot or students on a budget. For those considering the longevity of a Moka Pot, you might want to spring for the Bialetti and know that you have the best available.
Caveat Regarding Cleaning And Servicing Your Moka Pot
No matter how much you spend on your Moka Pot, where it’s imported from, or which celeb has it featured with them in the latest magazine, the fact remains that your unit needs cleaning and servicing regularly. The service is basic and can be done at home, but it should not be avoided.
As most of us know, Bialetti is the most famous of all the Moka pots. Still, even the Italian maestros cannot account for human laziness: I was camping in a log cabin several years back and heard a primal scream like a raped ape from the kitchen. I rushed in, expecting to find murder and mayhem, but all I found was that one wall and the ceiling of this whitewashed kitchen had turned brown, and the steamy liquid was dripping everywhere – my Bialetti had blown its top!
I’d noticed that the rubber gasket was wearing in places and had tightened the top down hard on the bottom half to allow less air to escape.
Lesson 1: Never overtighten a Moka Pot – screw the two pieces together firmly.
My fundamental error was never to clean out the pressure valve. That day, as the pressure built up, there was no way to release the excess, and immense pressure was generated in the small pot.
What happens when there is nowhere else for pressure to go?
Once the pressure built up, it shot the water in the reservoir up the pipe into the top section, where it smacked the lid open and redecorated the kitchen with coffee grinds!
Lesson 2: Always keep the pressure valve clear of any dirt or obstructions
This also applies to pressure cookers, etc. Just use a pin from time to time to clear out the valve.
Most of the new Moka pots no longer use rubber gaskets but change it at the first sign of degradation if yours does.
Lesson 3: Worn gaskets must be changed immediately.
This seal will not cause too much of a headache for you but will increase brew times, resulting in higher energy costs over time. (Brew times might increase by as much as 30%)
Most Moka pots will do a very similar job. My own feelings are that a Bialetti will last as long as I will and has only blown its top when I failed to care for it correctly. It wasn’t cheap, but I have dropped it several times, and it has never failed to present me with a great coffee.