Capacity of stovetop coffee makers

Discussion in 'The Cafe'' started by HoratioCaine, Nov 14, 2009.

    I currently have a Bialetti "Class" stovetop coffee maker, which makes the best non-espresso coffee I have tasted - as full-flavored as a French press, but much cleaner tasting. However, at a 12-ounce capacity, it doesn't make very much at a time, and I am looking to upgrade to a larger size. The problem is, Bialetti designates their sizes in "cups" ("tazze" in Italian) rather than ounces, and I don't know how much a "cup" is. It is not 8 ounces, like in the U.S. Rather, they are referring to espresso-sized cups, and I don't know if those are 2 ounces or 3. Additionally, I don't know which size my maker is; it could be a 4-cup or 6-cup size. If I were intent on getting another Bialetti, I could just get the largest size - 10 "cups" - and forget about it. However, Bodum also makes a stovetop model, the largest of which is 24 ounces, effectively doubling my capacity, but at a significantly higher cost than the 10-cup Bialetti. Thus, I don't know if by going with a 10-cup Bialetti, I'll be getting a capacity of 20 ounces or 30, which will be the deciding factor in going between Bialetti and Bodum. Is anybody familiar with European "cups" enough to know the capacity of the Bialetti models? Thanks.

    Just for reference, here are the two makers I'm looking at:

    Bialetti "Class" 10-cup stovetop model

    Bodum (Chambord) 24-ounce stovetop model
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2009
  1. I decided to do a bit more research, but I haven't come up with anything definitive. I contacted, which sells both models I'm considering. The customer service rep I spoke to understood my question, but couldn't come up with an answer; I'll give him credit for trying, staying on the line with me for a good ten to fifteen minutes trying to figure it out. Ultimately, he suggested contacting the U.S. distributor, and I've also e-mailed the manufacturer in Italy. We'll see if either of them can come up with anything. I also found this website, which sells milk-frothing pitchers rated in tazze, and provides conversion to ounces. Their conversion suggests a tazza is approximately 2.6 ounces, but I don't know how accurate that is, since it appears they are rounding to standard ounce-capacity sizes. However, if their conversion is anywhere near correct, it suggests the Bialetter 10-cup maker is rougly the same size as the 24-ounce Bodum maker, making the Bialetti the better deal. It also means my current Bialetti maker is probably a 4-cup model, meaning the 10-cup Bialetti would be a substantial upgrade in size. But again, this isn't conclusive. If anybody can chime in, please do.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2009
  2. SiBurning

    SiBurning Contributor

    My favorite coffee as well. Unfortunately, I melted the gasket and am waiting for Bialetti USA to get them back in stock.

    Don't know which ones you're comparing, so I'll assume just the basic ones.

    There's no standard cup size. You need to compare the actual capacity in oz or liters, but even that's only approximate.

    The Bialetti Class (one of the stainless steel models) From
    4 Espresso Cup = 8.0 fl.oz / 230ml (max. boiler capacity)
    6 Espresso Cup = 10 fl.oz / 300ml (max. boiler capacity)
    10 Espresso Cup = 18 fl.oz / 550ml (max. boiler capacity)

    Bialetti's standard is the Moka Express (aluminum). I have the 6 cup model.
    1 Espresso Cup = 2.0 fl.oz / 60ml (max. boiler capacity)
    3 Espresso Cup = 6.5 fl.oz / 200ml (max. boiler capacity)
    6 Espresso Cup = 10 fl.oz / 300ml (max. boiler capacity)
    9 Espresso Cup = 18.5 fl.oz / 550ml (max. boiler capacity)
    12 Espresso Cup =25 fl.oz / 775ml (max. boiler capacity)

    Bodum's Chambord is sspecified in oz. They come in
    6oz (0.18L)
    12oz (0.36L)
    24oz (0.7L)

    Another option I hear a lot about is Bialetti's Brikka. By using more pressure, it makes coffee with a lot of crema, but still not espresso.
    2 Espresso Cup = 3.0 fl.oz / 100ml (max. boiler capacity)
    4 Espresso Cup = 6.7 fl.oz / 200ml (max. boiler capacity)

    You can see how the oz in a cup are just approximate for any of these.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2009
  3. Luc

    Luc Moderator Emeritus

    Can't help you much with those, mine is a 2 espresso cups stovetop coffee maker. I get a regular cup out of it, love it. Sure, I can't use it when I have guests but it makes the best.

    I tried the big one (12 espresso cups) and, same beans, same water, same time, same stovetop, coffee wasn't as good. The smaller quantity tasted better for some reason...

    That's the reason why I never bought a bigger one...
  4. Thanks, guys. SiBurning, that is just the info I was looking for. I had checked the Bialetti website before posting, but I couldn't find the site you linked to. Their stats definitely help steer my decision. The 10-cup Class probably isn't the way to go, since it would appear my current Class maker is the 6-cup model, meaning the 10-cup wouldn't be that much of a size increase. The Bodum would probably be the better choice, if I wanted to go with a stainless steel design.

    Do you (or anybody else) have an opinion on how much better stainless steel is than aluminum for a stovetop coffee maker? Bialetti's largest aluminum Moka pot is 25 ounces and sells for a good deal less than the 18 ounce stainless steel Class pot, and a whole heck of a lot less than the 24 ounce stainless Bodum. The Moka is also made in Italy, whereas the Class is made in India, and the Bodum is made in China, for whatever that's worth.

    Luc, that's an interesting point about the larger size not tasting as good. I wonder what accounts for that. In theory, if the proportions are the same, the results should be the same, even at higher volumes. Yet your experience clearly differs. Puzzling.
  5. Luc

    Luc Moderator Emeritus

    Agreed, from a logical point of view, same quantity of water/coffee, same temperature should give he same end-result...
  6. SiBurning

    SiBurning Contributor

    Nothing concrete here, just my rambling thoughts...

    Smaller pots are better for the same reason espresso machines only do a single or double. Espresso machines are timed to push steam through for a 25 second or so shot. These guys are designed for some other amount of time. A larger amount in either type would take longer and overextract. Same principle with any coffee maker. In a manual drip you need to adjust the grind to get twice the amount brewed in the same 3-4 minutes. You'd probably need to be an engineer at one of these places to figure out the right size holes, chambers, tubes, and pressure for a given amount of coffee. I think they just have to compromise in the larger ones. From what I hear, almost everyone says the 2 cup is a lot better in the brikka, and that's as close to espresso as these machines get. In the regular stove top pots, there's not as much complaining, but there is a little. I don't know--I only have the 6 cup moka.

    I'd much rather have glass or stainless than aluminum, but the aluminum pots work better because aluminum conducts and holds heat. They do say not to clean them out too much, probably to get a coating over the reactive aluminum. Although mine looks like it's tin coated, my understanding is it isn't. It's just made to look drippy inside.

    Check out if you want to spend hours brooding over your next brew upgrade. I do.
  7. Hi, I have found similar things to those mentioned above. Bialletti seem to use a 60ml cup size for their pots when most other makes are based on a 50ml one. However, the scale is not linear as the shot volume drops off as the shot number goes up. This has to do with over extraction and that more pressure is required to push the water up the funnel and through the coffee. The terminal height for moka pots seems to be about 25cm to the discharge tip, around 18 shots.

    The bigger pots produce good coffee but take a lot of drinking. I typically use a 6 shot to make coffee for two in the morning. My pots of 12 shot or greater only get used for dinner parties or brunches when I have help to drink the coffee. It is cheaper to buy smaller cups so they are full with less coffee than to buy bigger pots to fill your existing cup.

    I prefer the aluminium pots over stainless steel. The modern stainless pots have a lower coffee to water ratio and do not deliver the coffee strength of the aluminium ones. The aluminium needs to be proved before use by making 3 brews of coffee in them to get an oil film over the aluminium. Discard the coffee from the first two, put the coffee from the 3rd into the bottom without the funnel and re heat it. This gives a coating to the inside and stops oxidation that can occur with the reactive aluminium. After use they just need a good rinse with water.

    If you drink long blacks or Americanos the stainless would be the way to go as there is no need for additional water. I did a comparison on pots described as 2 shot and found that the stainless one had 50% more water but only about 10-15% more coffee over the aluminium one.

    I have a 4 cup Brikka and is it based on the 6 shot Bialetti pot and so uses 50% more coffee than a standard 4 shor moks does. It does give better flavour though and improved crema.

    The best moka coffee I have had is from the la Signoras. An Italian brand from the 50's and 60's. It is sweet smooth and better than the average espresso shot you get at cafe.
  8. Moka, thanks for your very informative post. You bring up some interesting points. I use my current steel Bialetti pot to make "standard" coffee that I drink from 12-ounce mugs. I actually like to drink out of a slightly bigger mug, but the pot I have can't make any more per use, which is why I was looking to get a bigger maker. I already have a La Pavoni piston espresso maker, which produces outstanding, true espresso, so I'm not looking to get anything that equates to that. But I like something stronger than drip coffee. Both my (now ex) girlfriend and I agree that the steel stovetop maker produces a good, full-flavored cup of coffee comparable to a French press, but less muddy tasting. If the aluminum pots make something stronger, that probably isn't what I'm looking for.

    My questions about size were answered by Steve's post, which was subsequently confirmed by Bialetti's reply to my e-mail (from their U.S. office). Since my current Bialetti is only one size smaller than their largest steel pot, it looks like the Bodum is the way to go if I want to stick with steel, unless it makes substantially weaker coffee than the pot I already have. Or I could go with the largest aluminum Bialetti and save some dough. Or I could just stick with what I've got and forget the whole thing. :wink:

    At any rate, thanks again.
  9. I am a big fan of aluminium stovetop espresso makers and have a full line of Bialetti Moka and Brikka. The are much cheaper than coffee machines, but having some experience you could brew a really tasty espresso. For more information check here
  10. ajkel64

    ajkel64 Moderator

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