I have used Bialetti aluminum Moka Express pots for years and have been a huge fan of Bialetti. When I decided to upgrade to stainless steel, I didn’t even consider another brand. Unfortunately I was in for a very unpleasant surprise. The first time I used it to...
I have used Bialetti aluminum Moka Express pots for years and have been a huge fan of Bialetti. When I decided to upgrade to stainless steel, I didn’t even consider another brand. Unfortunately I was in for a very unpleasant surprise.
The first time I used it to brew the discard batch to season the device, I used relatively high heat, which isn’t recommended for best taste, as it extracts bitterness. Since this one was not for drinking, it didn’t matter. The coffee brewed relatively fast but the process was very different from Bialetti aluminum pots: the aluminum Moka Express quietly shoots up the coffee and sputters only towards the end; Venus sputters loudly all throughout producing coffee, while also producing steam that escapes through the lid hinge near the handle, where water leaks down the handle. The brewing process was also accompanied by putrid burned coffee and metal smell. The coffee was done in approximately 7 minutes.
The second time I was brewing coffee to drink. I used the same grind as the first time but lower flame, same as I normally use on my aluminum Bialetti. And… nothing happened. It boiled for 17 minutes with a strong burned metallic odor, but no coffee came out at all. I increased the flame, but still nothing happened. I finally turned it off. The smell was horrid. When the pot cooled off, I disassembled it to find some of the coffee on the bottom wet, while the top portion was dry. Somehow the water couldn’t get through, and it was neither a fine grind, nor was it tamped down.
The third time I added slightly less coffee and increased the flame. The coffee was done in 8 minutes, but the unit overheated and the coffee in the top chamber was bubbling. The coffee had a bad burned aftertaste.
The fourth and final time (I returned the unit afterwards) I took the pot of the gas a little sooner. I had way less coffee and it wasn’t burned, but it still had a bad aftertaste.
My conclusion about Venus is that you can either have burned coffee, or no coffee at all. I suspect it may have something to do with two things: (1) the diameter of my burner, and (2) the diameter of the filter and coffee chamber pipes in Venus. I’m sure it also has to do with the size of coffee grinds, but given that it’s never been an issue with my aluminum moka pot (only flavor gets impacted), I will not focus on it. All I know is that my Bialetti aluminum brews coffee EVERY time regardless of the grind size or gas burner diameter, and the coffee is good, in contrast to Venus, which brews bad coffee and only sometimes. I wonder if my unit is defective somehow.
(1) American gas stovetops tend to have larger diameter burners than European ones, and even the smallest burners have flames too far apart. I found with my Bialetti aluminum pot that the closer to the center the heat is concentrated, the better the outcome, which is why it works so amazingly on a camp stove. I suspect lack of more concentrated heat contributes to not enough pressure buildup to shoot up the water.
(2) I disassembled both the aluminum and the Venus coffee pots to compare the design and found that not only is the filter basket stem smaller in diameter in Venus, but the pipe that the coffee shoots through is a narrow long straight tube in Venus, while it has a large-base conical design in the aluminum Moka Express. That would explain why it''s so much harder for the water to pass through. Please refer to the attached photos to see the difference.
Summary of pros and cons:
1. Beautiful, aesthetically pleasing design.
2. Ergonomic to hold and to pour, much more than its aluminum counterpart.
3. Stainless steel.
4. Despite of not having a spout, it pours nicely without spilling.
1. My particular unit is not able to produce coffee on medium or low heat on a burner with a large diameter (yet still within bounds of the base). It can produce coffee on high heat, but then the coffee burns and has a bad aftertaste. It has a bad aftertaste even if it doesn’t burn. It may be a design flaw – see more details above.
2. The steam condensates around the lid hinge and water keeps dripping down the handle during the brewing process.
3. The top chamber has a bizarre and impossible to clean design (see photo). Unlike the aluminum Bialetti that has a flat chamber around the middle spout, Venus has a shape that’s a mirror image of a filter basket with crevices between the protrusion and the unit walls. Given that there is almost always some sludge on the bottom, I see it as a disadvantage for keeping it clean.
I would not recommend this unit. With varying conditions I can always make better or worse coffee with an aluminum Bialetti Moka Express, whereas Venus will SOMETIMES make coffee if the stars align, and the coffee doesn’t taste good. This is not acceptable to me.