Bialetti Brikka 2020 review

by Updated: Aug 28, 2021diy-coffee14 comments

Brikka 2020 stovetop review

How to clean and fix guide

In mid 2020 Bialetti introduced its new Moka pot Brikka models of 2 cup and of 4 cup.

Brikka 2020 2 and 4 cups

The new models of this stove-top Caffettiera are equipped with a new column design with a pressure valve system that uses a small silicone pressure regulator instead of the famous Brikka weight mechanism.
Bialetti claims the new valve is “…designed to enhance coffee creaminess”.

DISCLAIMER – Important!

Let’s examine and get familiar with the new 2020 Brikka’s parts.

See the drawing.

 

Unboxed image of main parts.

 

The valve system:

The valve system is screwed to the top of the column/coffee pipe and has an “O” ring that seals it to the column.
Its shape somehow reminds a traditional moka pot column’s tip, but it is differ as it has a special internal structure with a silicone regulator.

 

Though Bialetti writes in the manual: “Never unscrew the valve system (2) from the column.“, I doubt it, as the very small slot of the silicone regulator might get clogged with time. Coffee grinds/oil residue and/or scale might build on it and will change the product’s normal operation.
In addition, the “O” ring will get dry and break with time under the existing heat and pressure.

Body and overall construction:

Both models lower and upper containers are made from aluminum, not suitable for induction stove unless you use an induction stove adapter. It has a matt black painted heater container, an open lid design which includes a small lid handle as found in earlier models.
The funnel/coffee basket is made of a very thin aluminum with no gasket, similar to the funnel found in latest models.

The products I received were made in Romania and Bialetti cared to write on the box “Developed and designed in Italy”.

Both the 2 cup and the 4 cup models don’t have the H2O bar in the upper container, nor any engraved water level sign inside the heater container.
Instead, Bialetti supplies a 200 ml. cheap looking plastic measuring cup that has only milliliter scale engraved on it. The exact same measuring cup is supplied for both models.

 Gasket dimensions and water amount:

Brikka 2020 measured filter gasket dimensions are:
Model 2 cup: ID= 50.0 mm. OD= 65.0 mm.
Model 4 cup: ID= 55.2 mm. OD= 71.5 mm.
It is the same as used in previous models.

If needed, use replacement gasket designated for Brikka, or use a standard 3 cup or 6 cup Bialetti gasket accordingly.

The recommended water amount for these models is different and a little higher from older models:
For the 2 cup: 120 ml.
For the 4 cup: 180 ml.

Using the Brikka 2 cup, from 120 ml. of water I measured 80 ml. of Moka without the crema. This is ~33% more than 2 standard cups (60 ml.= 2 fl. Oz.).

Taking care of your Brikka 2020:

Taking care of the 2020 model is easy and not different  from older versions. See my guide on how to clean and fix Brikka.

חשוב! עדכונים Remove the coffee puck with a spoon, don’t knock it as it is made from a very thin aluminum and is easily distorted if excessive force/knocking is applied to it.

Rinse all parts with cold water after each use and dry it with a paper towel, including the inside of the heater container.

Taking the Brikka 2020 apart:

Taking the Brikka 2020 apart for periodic cleaning and/or maintenance is easy and similar to older versions.
Take apart the filter gasket and metal filter (pay attention to the filter’s side that faces out), inspect the gasket for cracks and replace it if needed.
With proper care it will last several years, depending on usage.
Clean the filter with coffee oil remover soap and soak it in citric-acid solution for 1-2 hours to remove any scale buildup.

In case you need to disassemble the valve system, take it apart by unscrewing it Counter Clockwise (CCW).
Use a 10 mm. open wrench to unscrew it, as it is assembled tightly.
Remove the silicone cap. Pull it out and clean it. Inspect the “O” ring for any cracks and if needed, replace it with compatible new “O”ring.
Dimensions of the “O” ring are: ID=8.0 mm. OD=11.0 mm.

This disassembly will be needed only if you believe the valve is clogged or not functioning as normal.

Pros:

– New overall look with matt black painted  heater container while keeping the familiar traditional Brikka design.
– New valve system which does not protrude to the column sides, so it allows easier cleaning of the container.
It is said to be maintenance free compared to the weight system that needed to be disassembled and cleaned from time to time.

Cons:

Painted heater container. It looks nice when new, but after some use the paint will be scratched and worn out.

The thread of the heater container is partially painted while it should not be!
This causes the two main parts to get stuck. The painted thread does not allow proper tightening of the parts and steam will leak. It took excessive force to release the parts. Only after few step-by-step tightening and un-tightening, the paint over the thread got peeled off and after cleaning the residue from the threads of both parts, I managed to properly tighten the heater container to the upper container to allow smooth operation.

– The new valve’s body is probably made by a milling machine and it has some unpolished faces with sharp edges that might hurt your fingers while cleaning.
Be careful!

Very thin aluminum funnel /coffee basket without a gasket. This requires the funnel to fit precisely in its designated recess of the heater container and any distortion of its shape will affect the sealing.  Since it is so thin and sensitive to distortion, you can’t knock it to remove the coffee puck and extra care should be given to this part.

The plastic water container has NO 2 cup/4 cup marking on it, nor fl. Oz. scale or any marking of the plastic material it is made of. (perhaps it is an EU version, but I doubt it)

The Instructions for use/manual is unclear and not user friendly.
For the water amount it has the following drawing which the (*) says:
Indicative value: it can vary based on the amount of water or coffee, the type of coffee blend, and its grinding (see table).

water anount table taken from manual

Go figure out from the drawing how much coffee you’ll get?
The drawing (as I understand it) suggests it uses 120 ml. of water for the 2 cup model to produce 100 ml. of Moka which somehow turns into 15ml. in the cup.
15 ml.? How come a 2 cup Brikka produces only 15 ml. (half a shot)?
How come a 4 cup Brikka produces only 30 ml. (one shot)?
Somehow the numbers do not add…

Another guess is that the 15 ml. and 30 ml. represent the crema. Nothing is mentioned about it in the manual though.
A 1:1 coffee to crema ratio? This sounds odd, unless the coffee consists high percentage of robusta and perhape some baking soda. I doubt those numbrs represent the crema of a standard 30 ml. of coffee nor my tests showed that.
Perhaps those figures represent the crema of the whole coffee output?
15 ml. for 2 cups and 30 ml. for 4 cups, which means 7.5 ml. of crema for each cup?
Maybe, but if it is, the graphics and its explanations are poorly presented and are not clear.

This manual is a very poor example of user experience.

tip Tip: My suggestion for the water amount is to forget the plastic water measuring cup, forget the instructions and stick to the basics: fill water to just below the safety valve. This will be ~120-130 ml. (~4.0-4.4 fl. Oz.) for the 2 cup model.

Bialetti marketing strategy and the graphics of the box are misleading.
Box indicates in English: “THE ESPRESSO COFFEE” and in Italian: “L’ESPRESSO COME AL BAR” (translation: “ESPRESSO AS AT THE BAR”) in a very noticeable place while it is surely NOT a product that produces Espresso!
It does not create 9 bar of pressure which is needed to produce Espresso, not to mention other parameters that are part of the Espresso formula.
This is only a Moka pot!

In another place of the box it is written in a very small letters “The moka aroma, the espresso cream
Moka is not Espresso and the crema this new pot produces is not significantly different from old Brikka, it dissipates after a short time, depends of course on the coffee that is being used.
This graphics is BTW the same as was used in latest Brikka with weight system that has a black heater container.

It is surprising and disappointing that Bialetti uses these misleading phrases for its new Brikka Caffettiera, and not only.
I would expect more decency and a lot more respect towards Espresso from an Italian company.

Brikka 2020 box

In latest models of Brikka with the weight system, a ‘fancy’ ribbon was attached to it saying “ESPRESSO coffee” and on the box of it there is a ribbon graphics that says: to make ESPRESSO, both are of course NOT true!
Luckily the Brikka 2020 does not have this ribbon which probably saved the company some cents…

This ribbon proves that Bialetti’s approach of presenting the Moka as Espresso is not new and goes beyond this model to several generations of this stove-top Moka pot.

Conclusions:

In general, my impression of the 2020 models is very disappointing. It is no more than a partial re-design of previous models and a marketing move.

The design objectives were probably to redesign and reduce cost by:
1. Saving of materials and cost of tools:
– Of the weight parts and materials. (cheaper and less material)
– Of a water level marking. (less material and tooling)
– Of the material type and thickness on the funnel. (less an cheaper material)
– Of the material thickness of the heater container. (less material, 170 Gr. vs. 206 Gr. of older Brikka)

2. Allegedly designing for a “Planned obsolescence” product.
The new valve with its silicone cap, the “O” ring, the very thin funnel and the painted heater container allegedly suggests those parts will be worn and/or become un-functional in relatively short period of use.
I know this sounds like a serious claim, but reviewing this design leaves me no doubt it was designed that way in purpose.

3. Bialetti patent of the Brikka weight system was filled in Dec. 1996 and it expired but might still be covered by other Bialetti patents that includes “valve”.
A new patent was needed for this line of products to keep the momentum, the marketing vibe and patent rights of this successful product to keep the dominance in this market segment.

Final thoughts:

The Brikka 2020 models produces slightly better crema (depends on the coffee used) and increased amount  of coffee beverage, compared to older models, but those changes are not such that justify preferring it over previous models that are still being sold.

If you have an older Brikka, Brikka2 or Brikka-Elite model or can get one, keep it!
It will last longer and over the time it will look better than the new 2020 models.

As for using the term Espresso regarding this product, don’t be fooled by the misleading phrases Bialetti uses to promote its Brikka 2020 models.
Moka beverage is fine if you like it, but if you crave for Espresso, buy an Espresso machine, not a Moka pot as Espresso has a different coffee experience.

Enjoy your coffee,
Avi

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14 Comments

  1. José L.A.

    Thank you for your very detailed explanation of the 2020 Brikka model.
    I am a coffee amateur, and am not being able to get the crema on my Brikka as seen on other posts.
    You hint it might the coffee type.
    Could you elaborate a bit more on the coffee type to get more creama with the Brikka?

    Reply
    • Avi Schneor

      Thank you José for the compliments.
      The fresher the roasted coffee is and the higher the Robusta percentage of the blend will cause increased crema.
      So, get yourself a fresh roasted coffee that has 10% or more Robusta beans in the blend.
      Do remember that Brikka’s crema dissolves quickly. It is not the crema you get from a decent espresso machine.
      Good luck

      Reply
  2. gary

    I just purchased the previous 4-cup model to this one, before they sell out.
    I was not convinced the 2020 model was any good.
    I prefer my 9-cup Moka, but purchased the Brikka mainly as a thing to keep as part of a collection of coffee paraphernalia.
    None of the Bialetti pots are “Espresso”. And “Espresso” itself is a cynical marketing move anyway.
    In the end, it’s not what the coffee looks like, but how it tastes that counts.

    Reply
    • Avi Schneor

      I agree 100%!
      thanks Gary, you summerized it very well.

      Reply

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Disclaimer

1. Brikka coffee pot works on heat and pressure.

Any modification made to your Brikka may cause damage to your equipment and harm to yourself or to others. 
Any modification made to your Brikka will void manufacturer warranty.
None of the following steps is recommended by me nor by the manufacturer, Bialetti. 
This post show only my personal experience and know-how.
If you follow any of the steps, you do it on your own risk and responsibility.

2. Copyright © 2011 Avi. All rights reserved. 

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