Troubleshooting Problems with a Bialetti Stovetop Espresso Coffee Maker

Updated on June 2, 2012
Bialetti Moka Pot. © Redberry Sky
Bialetti Moka Pot. © Redberry Sky

Whether your moka pot is hissing and spitting steam, or your coffee is too weak, these are the common problems - and fixes - to make sure your morning brew is everything you expect.

  • A jet of steam is shooting out of the safety valve on the lower, reservoir part of the Moka Pot: either the safety valve is clogged, or you’ve filled the reservoir above the fill line, or the filter may be clogged up so that the water isn’t escaping into the jug part of the pot as it should. Take the whole pot apart, including the gasket and filter, and rinse thoroughly, wiping off any stray or stuck coffee grounds with a sponge. Also check to see if your safety valve has a tiny protuberance like a little metal stick that you can push from the inside – some of my older pots had this, but my newer one doesn’t – and pushing this in a few times (it springs back again) might dislodge the blockage. But if the problem continues, you might have to send the pot back or buy a new one, depending on whether it’s still under warranty.
  • Only a trickle of coffee is coming through into the jug part of the pot: either the pot isn’t sealing properly, so that there’s not enough pressure to force the water through, or there’s a blockage in the filter or even the basket that holds the coffee grounds. As with problem (1) above, take the pot apart completely, clean each part with hot water and a sponge, and check the filter and gasket and replace these as necessary.
  • Your coffee tastes odd: If you’ve cleaned the pot too enthusiastically you might have scrubbed the ‘seasoning’ coating off, which can result in a metallic sort of taste to the coffee, in which case re-season the pot by making a couple of pots using cheap coffee grounds and throwing the resulting coffee away. You'll get the same problem if the pot is brand new, so use the same 'fix' and season the pot by making a few pots of coffee in it (and again, throw that nasty coffee away).
  • The coffee tastes very weak: try putting more grounds in the basket when you make the coffee (though if you fill the basket to about three-quarters full, this should be sufficient); make sure you’re only filling the reservoir up to the fill line – about a half a centimetre below the safety valve; use a ‘dark roast’ coffee, which has a fuller, richer flavour.
  • Coffee is spilling out of the pot onto the hob as it brews: this means your coffee is boiling, turn down the heat when you put the pot on the hob and this problem will go away.
  • There are black 'bits' in your coffee: if the bits are tiny, they are just a few stray coffee grounds that rise into the pot with the steam and hot water. If there are lots of them or 'clumps', changing the pot's filter will halp, but a few tiny grounds is normal in any freshly-brewed coffee. If the 'bits' are larger - flat pieces of solid coffee - these are flakes of built-up coffee from the inside of the pot. Give the inside of the pot a good hard wipe with a dish sponge, but don't scrub too hard, because you want to keep some of the natural coffee oils as 'seasoning' so that your coffee doesn't taste metallic.
  • Liquid is hissing and spitting out where the top ‘pot’ part of the Moka pot screws into the bottom ‘reservoir’ part: check that there are no stray coffee grounds in the grooves of the screw parts of the reservoir and pot, and replace the gasket.
  • Only water is coming into the pot when you make coffee: you’ve forgotten to put coffee grounds in the basket. Equally, if no coffee at all is coming through into the pot after a few minutes of being on the hob, you’ve forgotten to put water in the reservoir. We shall say no more about it. Because we are classy.

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Lina 2 months ago

        after i prepared the coffee, i cannot open it to clean it. What shall i do?

      • profile image

        Cooper Robards 3 months ago

        Coffee is not emerging AT ALL into the upper chamber. I have a new gasket and filter and have a stainless steel GB pot, which hasn't been used that often. What's wrong?

      • profile image

        john 3 months ago

        my pot doesn't whistle as it finishes

      • profile image

        JillEH 4 months ago

        I think I do everything the same when I make a pot of espresso on the stove top, but sometimes I end up with some espresso (or brown water) in the bottom reservoir. What's happening?

      • profile image

        Jeff 7 months ago

        Where can one buy a replacement air valve?? I have tried cleaning, boiling, scrubbing.....nothing works... I can find every replacement part but the air valve???

        Thanks

      • profile image

        Steve 17 months ago

        My pot doesn't seal right I have changed the gasket it still leaks steam it never makes a full pot please advise

      • profile image

        ptmalloy 21 months ago

        I have a bialetti 6 moka. It has worked perfectly for year; this week I changed the metal filter and gasket (wi/a bialetti kit) and now it no longer works!

        Rather than my delicious coffee smoothly surging out of the pipe, I get only steam, lots of steam. Eventually coffee will spurt out, but not much.

        It does not seem to be leaking steam from the gasket area--no steam venting form the side, or coffee dribbling down. The coffee grounds are not compacted. So I think the pot is not generating enough pressure. But enough to put off a lot of steam.

        One thing I have noticed, I cannot screw the two parts together as tightly with the new gasket.

        This is making me very grumpy as I am missing my coffee!

        Might you have any suggestions?

      • profile image

        jb 21 months ago

        We have a vintage coffee maker and are unable to screw off the top from the bottom. We have tried everything. Any suggestions?

      • profile image

        monika 2 years ago

        Dave, I've had that happen if I've left the seal too long between changes (been using the same pot for almost 20 years) or overheated the pot - I get distracted so easily. Mine is a stainless steel pot, so I ended up using a stainless scourer to get the residue off, but if yours is an aluminum pot you might want to start with a nylon scourer instead.

        Now, does anyone happen to know a supplier that stocks safety valves? I've got stream coming out of mine and a clean hasn't helped, so I'm thinking maybe the spring is worn or the ball bearing pitted or something. I believe they are a standard fit, but mine is an 8mm head in brass if that makes any difference.

      • profile image

        DaveB 3 years ago

        Hi

        I have had my stove top espresso maker (Bialetti 3 cup) for many years. i went to change the gasket but it has completely adhered to the inside rim. i scraped out what I could but there is still a thin layer of the rubber gasket clinging to the inside surface of the base. Any idea how this happened and how it can be removed?

        Thanks

      • JaneyKay profile image

        JaneyKay 3 years ago from Paris, France

        Just wanted to say thank you.

        followed your advice and got it working again.

        I think it was either the valve push trick or cleaning arouns the seal that made it work.

        I'm rather disappointed though as my previous moka maker of unknown name worked perfectly for 4 years with no TLC at all.

        Thanks again.

      • profile image

        Steebke 3 years ago

        I had a good working one, need to replace the filter and rubber seal as it was falling apart. I do this every 4 years, I use it every day. But now, it didn't give me good coffee anymore. I found the problem, I removed the safety valve and cleaned it, now all is fine again, enjoying my coffee as we speak ;)

      • Redberry Sky profile image
        Author

        Redberry Sky 4 years ago

        Hi Dave2002, I get the metallic taste thing with new pots - what I do is make two or three (or even four or five) pots using the cheapest ground coffee I can find (the fineness of grind doesn't matter for this - I throw the coffee i make with it down the sink!) - the coffee will coat the pot and the inside of the reservoir so that the metallic taste goes away. The longer and more often you use the moka pot, the better the coffee will taste (in my experience). When you make moka pot coffee for real (not just to coat the pot), an espresso grind gives a richer flavour; less fine grounds will be weaker. The slightly odd taste will go away after a few pots, it takes an hour or two's persistence :) Hope this helps :)

      • profile image

        Dave2002 4 years ago

        hello ,

        My Bialetti is about 4 months old and I have never made a good cup of coffee. I'm just putting up with it until I found this website.

        I use quality coffee and have tried 2 different grinds if coffee, espresso and a less fine grind.

        When I purchased it I brewed 2 cups and threw them out. I've cleaned it with cold water and a sponge. I still have a metallic taste, not a rich flavor at all .

        Super frustrated , help!!!!!

      • profile image

        Velda 4 years ago

        Thanks so much. I will try this. And if that doesn't work out I hope I can return it. Well I should be able to return it.

        Best

      • Redberry Sky profile image
        Author

        Redberry Sky 4 years ago

        Hi Velda,

        You might have been unlucky and got a faulty one - I'm not sure how long the guarantee is for the moka pots but you might be able to return it and get a replacement. But before you do, you could try taking removing the rubber seal and the filter plate it holds in place on the bottom of the 'pot' part (you can tease the rubber seal out gently using a sharp knife and the filter plate will come out easily then) and thoroughly rinsing everything separately in case there are some coffee grounds stuck somewhere and making the parts not fit together tightly enough. I suspect you have a faulty pot though - I get a few coffee grounds in my coffee, but for a lot to come through there would have to be a gap somewhere, and that shouldn't be happening if your moka pot is new.

        Hope this helps

      • profile image

        Velda 4 years ago

        Hi,

        I'm getting a lot of grains in my coffee. The pot is quite new and I know how to use it. But I keep getting a lot of small grains in every cup. Can I do something to avoid this? It's a lot, not just a few.

        Thanks

      • Redberry Sky profile image
        Author

        Redberry Sky 4 years ago

        Hi curious, I've made half-pots in a moka pot, but it turns out much weaker. I have a six-cup size and you get less espresso than you think out of it (but I take my coffee very strong!). I've also used non-espresso ground coffee in my moka pot - it's kind of ok, but very weak - espresso grind is very tiny, filter grind is coarser, and using coarser grinds in a moka pot gives very weak coffee. A French Press might be better for you - you can make smaller amounts more easily without getting a weaker cup of coffee, or use the same pot to make a larger amount if you have friends over.

      • profile image

        curious 4 years ago

        Hi, I am thinking to buy a Moka pot but I wonder what size should I buy. I only drink one cup at a time and therefore would only need a small pot but this would bring problems if I have quests over and I would have to make the coffee several times...so, it is possible to buy a e.g. a 4 cup pot and fill it only half full when I'm making coffee just for myself? (I don't like the idea of wasting delious and expensive coffee). Also can I use "normal" coffee grounds in Moka pot? I know it won't make espresso but can the Moka pot be used for making normal coffee as well?

      • Redberry Sky profile image
        Author

        Redberry Sky 5 years ago

        Irishmazza – most interesting moka problem *ever*!

        The only things I can think of is to soak it in water or cooking oil, and then try to 'pinch' it out with a pair of pliers – or, because it sounds like the inner basket might have become a little mis-shapen, try to stick the blade of a slim knife between the basket and the pot if you can find a little gap, and then lever it out.

        BUT !!! One of the earlier commenters said that his moka pot had become a bit mis-shapen because he knocked it onto the side of his bin when he emptied it, and that made it stop working properly – which makes me think that if you do try the brute-force method to free up your stuck pot, it might damage it (which might not matter to you if the basket's irrevocably stuck).

        Good luck – hope you manage to free it up and get your morning coffee. I have three bialettis, all the same size, that I've bought over the years – and when one dies, I mix-and-match the different pots, baskets and reservoirs until I get a combination that gives me a working coffee pot, so if you do end up buying a new one, it's worth keeping the old one for parts and buy the same size and model.

      • nArchuleta profile image

        Nadia Archuleta 5 years ago from Denver, Colorado

        My sister had one of these -- it exploded its contents onto her stove about once a week. It was so complicated to get the measurements just right, and it still spewed regularly. She finally gave up and bought a machine. Too bad she hadn't seen your Hub first! Thanks for sharing.

      • Redberry Sky profile image
        Author

        Redberry Sky 5 years ago

        Zafra - to me, it sounds like a pressure problem, but I don't know why it would only start after you changed the gasket. I've only had this problem when the valve on my moka pot has been faulty, or if the threads where the base screws into the top part have been clogged with coffee grounds. If your old seal (gasket) was perished, have you checked that there's no old rubber stuck to the pot that could be causing it to be not quite sealed? Having said all that, sometimes I can't find a reason why my own moka pots stop working - when I buy a new one I always try to get the same make and model so that the parts are interchangeable and I can mix and match them when the start to give me trouble. I hope you find the answer - I too hate to go without my morning coffee, so I empathise! :)

      • profile image

        Zafra 5 years ago

        Here's a puzzle for you.

        Hi there,

        I have been using my moka pot - no idea what brand it is but it's quite old - for more than 4 years with the same gasket and the same everything. I put coffee and sometimes ground cinnamon in the basket, don't tamp, fill the bottom chamber with water past the escape valve (I know they always say not to do this but I've been doing it for years with no problems at all) and it comes out perfect every single time. Finally, the rubber gasket became so corroded that pieces of it started falling off and the pot started to leak a bit at the connection between the top and bottom chambers during brewing, although it was still producing a good pot of coffee. I went ahead and replaced the gasket with a brand new one which is the correct size. First pot came out perfect. Then suddenly it started brewing less than half a pot and the rest of the coffee stays in the bottom chamber boiling. Or sometimes nothing but steam comes up. I have taken the entire thing apart and cleaned every part, including pushing a pin through all the little holes in the filter plate that looked clogged. Still no luck. The only thing that has changed is the gasket. I've searched the internet and found no useful information. I'm at a complete loss and getting quite desperate because that daily coffee is, well, non-negotiable if you know what I mean. If you have ANY idea what could possibly be going on and what I might try to fix this problem I will be eternally grateful.

      • Redberry Sky profile image
        Author

        Redberry Sky 5 years ago

        Eileen - Bialetti Moka Pots are made of Aluminium (U.S. Aluminum) and it's not possible for them to rust in any way. They do develop a coating of coffee on the inside, which is dark brown and can flake off and might look a little like rust - to prevent or cure this, wipe the inside with a dish sponge every week or two and the coffee coating will come off (mostly - but it sticks stibbornly in the metal creases, which is fine and is not harmful). If you wipe all the coffee coating off quite agressively, the next pot of coffee might taste a bit sour or bitter, so throw the first pot or two of coffee away after giving it a good scrub.

      • profile image

        Eileen Goodall 5 years ago

        I had one of these and it kept going rusty, kept reseasoning it and still it would rust on the inside - threw it away eventually - very disappointed

      • profile image

        Guy 5 years ago

        I had the same problem. I replaced the filter and rubber gasket. No change.

        I had to also replace the funnel that holds the coffee. I used to tap the coffee out of it on the side of my waste bin. This alters the shape over time. The steams was escaping along the side of the funnel and past the gasket resulting in the bubbling sound and no coffee.

      • profile image

        urbanangel 5 years ago

        thanks for the info...the last one cracked me up:)

      • Redberry Sky profile image
        Author

        Redberry Sky 5 years ago

        Hi Emad, I’ve had this happen to me a few months ago. Try first taking the whole pot apart – including removing the metal ‘sieve’ and rubber gasket on the underside of the main pot where the coffee bubbles up into, and wash everything separately in warm soapy water, rinse it all off and see if that works (it could be coffee grounds stuck somewhere and clogging the pot up). If that doesn’t work, it could be that the rubber gasket isn’t forming a seal properly between the top coffee pot and the bottom water reservoir – you can get a pack of replacement seals quite cheaply off Amazon, and that often works because the rubber seals only last for about 3-4 months before they get too frayed. The only other thing I can think of (and this happened to me) is that the pressure valve on the side of the bottom water reservoir is clogged or broken – I could find nothing at all that could help with this (some of them are on a spring and you can push it in and out a few times from the inside to try to clear it) and I think the inside mechanism was just bust – I don’t think the safety valve can be replaced and I had to buy a new moka pot, but try everything else first (dismantle the whole thing and clean any stray grounds off, and replace the seals and possibly the little ‘sieve’ plate – you can buy these and the rubber gaskets in packs together). Two more things are to make sure you don’t pack the coffee grounds in when you make a pot – if they’re packed down tightly they won’t let the steam get through to bubble up; and also don’t fill the reservoir up too much with water, it should be below the safety valve on the inside of the bottom chamber of the pot. Sorry for the very long reply, I’m trying to think of anything you can try that might work! Good luck, hope one of these helps – it’s hugely frustrating not to be able to get your morning coffee :)

      • profile image

        Emad 5 years ago

        My pot is steaming, so there is steam jetting through but zero to minimal coffee enters the pot, and there is no hissing bubbling sound. Plz help!

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