Troubleshooting Problems with a Bialetti Stovetop Espresso Coffee Maker
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.