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I have a Brikka and I'm trying to improve the coffee I make. I have seen this post, but am using an electric stove instead of a gas range.

Q1: Does anyone use one with an electric element as opposed to gas? What kind of heat setting do you use for it? What I tried today was, after boiling the water initially, setting the element at about 40% of maximum, and once I saw the first bit of coffee appearing in the upper chamber, reduced to it to about 15%.

Q2: if I end up with a violent frothing action (which I understand makes the coffee more bitter, and is to be avoided) does that mean I have done something wrong?

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I have used a regular old Moka Express (the simpler version without the "crema" thingie) for years, and always on an electric stove. But the same should apply for your Brikka.

1. An electric stove is fine.
If you are starting with boiling water, go medium-to-low, reduce heat to a minimum once the coffee starts to rise/appear - or even turn it off, see 2. below. If you are starting with cold water (I can't be fiddling with a hot metal vessel after a short night and without sufficient caffeine in my system - see here and here),initially go full-speed to minimize the not-so-hot water trickling through phase, then proceed as described above.

2. Violent frothing may be a sign of different things.
My first suspicion would be you missing the sweet spot of turning the heat down in time - or too much residual heat in your stove top. Note that electric plates are a lot slower to react that gas, where you can instantly cut the heat. Learn to "play" your specific stove, and as an emergency measure, simply lift the Brikka off the stove.
A second issue could be the grind. While a Moka needs a finer grind than drip, a true espresso grind is too fine (and a common beginner's mistake when making "stovetop espresso"). In the best case, a too-fine grind will just be over-extracted and give you a lot of dregs in the cup. But the fine grid will also compact more, so that your machine will be working at a higher-than intended pressure. It may be enough to trigger the valve, but it may also be ever so slightly below the critical value, still giving you a rather forceful "volcanic action" (as I observed in the context of this question).

  • Thank you very much! I have had some dregs in the cup in the past so that is also a good thing for me to refine. – seroster Jan 4 at 15:12
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Agree with what Stephie has written -

i'd add just a couple other things you may wish to explore - based on the linked post about gas with moka pots.

  • There's kind of a debate in the moka pot community about whether to start with cold or hot water. I don't know why some folks like to start with really cold water. If you start with hotter (not boiling) water, you need less time to get the pot to get up to pressure. This is a good thing: less time means you're not heating up the beans overly long (some folks may say hey they've already been roasted - so what's a little more heat)

If you use boiling water - in my experience the thing gets to pressure too fast and too hard and can't control it.

  • as for the frothing all over the place - that can be heat and speed creating that wild spew. But even on gentle temps grind size can have this effect - but not only going too fine: going a little larger can also have this effect for a similar reason - here the coffe will be taller in the funnel and get pressed down because dealing with slightly bigger particles - think about shutting the trunk of a care with a few big things verses the same number of smaller things.

  • as for taste - the spew is not necessarily going to cause an issue with taste - grind size is often more of the culprit there.
    one thing to check: how LONG does your brew take? A kind of good heuristic is: however long it takes your pot to get up to pushing out coffee - how long does it take to more or less finish?

for a "three cup" - a smaller pot - generally speaking one minute to a minute ten seconds is in the zone. For me - no matter what kind of heating element (and i use induction mostly) - kill the heat at about 30secs - assuming its pushing out coffee. Pending how hard it's going either move it right off teh burner - or leave it on if it needs energy from the cooling element.

And then - just check flavour -

so you have a few things to test - one at a time:

  • grind size for flavour
  • time to fill
  • when to kill the heat to get the easiest non-spewing flow you can
  • grind size - find what size works best for your pot and see if that matches up with flavour

One other wee tip: base cooling. if it's done - before the output goes from coffee gold colours to white (blonding) you can test out putting the pot in a bowl with some water in the bottom - enough to cool the base to stop spitting out coffee.

awesome tools these things. best m.c.

  • I've started recording my brewing results in a text file - not very scientific I admit. I watched a video – seroster Feb 1 at 18:50
  • Sorry: video in which people measured the temperature inside the moka pot. I have switched to room temperature water which certainly seems fine. The biggest issue I think I have right now is insufficient pressure is building to move the Brikka's weight on its own, although this morning it worked properly, starting to pour out right around 8:00 – seroster Feb 1 at 19:08

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