Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Breaking in Brikka

The previous entry gave a brief rundown of receiving the Brikka and running some "break-in" pots. It's pretty obvious that I was excited, but I did want to expand on getting familiar with it.

As I wrote earlier, the Bialetti Brikka 2-cup had to be ordered from Italy. It ordered May 22, was shipped May 29 and the first delivery attempt was June 4. Whoa, that's pretty fast for the actual delivery time. Not sure of the delay in actually shipping it out, but it's not of great concern.

The packaging was a cardboad box of medium strength and durability. You may be able to detect that the right side was somewhat crushed. It didn't affect the product, and I certainly understnad that being delivered through the postal system, gentle handling is not guaranteed.

No duty or taxes were assessed, which didn't particularly surprise me, but was certainly welcome.

The packing material was crumpled newspaper. Since the Brikka itself was in its retail box, this proved to be adequate but not ideal. Given the rough handling in transit, newspaper for packing material didn't give much protection; the retail box had a tear in it, which may be the result of less than ideal packing material. Without a sturdy inner box, the Brikka itself might have been marred if not damaged.

You can't see the tear damage in this shot. But it is an attractive box. I'm storing it away for safekeeping; I don't throw out boxes for appliances.

The 2-cup Brikka is positively tiny. It's a little jewel, IMO. Next to the Turkish grinder, it looks so diminutive you wonder if the amount of café that can be made is worth the effort. More on that later.

The instruction leaflet is packed in the box. Opening up the lid (note the lid has a window in it, something I was not expecting in the 2-cup version,) you find the water measuring cup, a notice tag and a very small quick guide to the use of the Brikka.

While this quick guide has a cute format, what caught my eye was under the "Absolutely Don't Forget" heading. Keep the lid open? That certainly isn't intuitive, but when you follow this guidline you see there isn't any danger of hot, black liquid shooting out and inflicting 2nd degree burns on your face. So this begs the question, why the window in the lid? Granted you need to close the lid when you pour the coffee, but at that point the see-through window doesn't seem to have much utility. Any ideas?

After pouring the correct amount of water into the boil pot, grinding some beans and loading them into the grounds filter, I screwed the receiving chamber onto the boil pot, placed the unit onto the stove and adjusted the flame to not extend beyond the circumferance of the pot. Now it was wait time. The instruction leaflet indicates prep time is 3-4 minutes. I didn't keep exact time, after all I was anxious plus focused on capturing creama production with the camera.

And there it is ... the "pre-produciton run" of Brikka coffee ... with crema indeed! Some comments online have stated that Brikka crema will dissipate quickly, especially if not poured immediately. I didn't notice the former, but the may dissipate quickly in the cup. I say may because I don't own any espresso cups, so poured into a normal-sized coffee cup. My theory is that enlarged surface area of the relatively large diameter of cup will hasten crema dissipation. OK, so there's something I didn't think of when buying the Brikka, grinder, etc.... you really do need proper cups!

The next two preps produced roughly the same results, so the Brikka is now officially prepared for full production. I've purchased some beans from Finger Lakes Coffee, and tomorrow morning will be the first "real" pot. Due to a recent kitchen reno, I couldn't find the sugar when I ran the condition runs, so even if I'd had good beans for that, any taste experience would have been less than optimal. Some people may take their espresso naked (I don't add anything to "regular" coffee), but not me!

The only drawback so far is that amount of cafe produced will be enough for one person. When I have guests, this will be a problem, since the pot has to cool down before you unscrew the two parts. If only the 4-cup model made crema as well as the 2-cupper. Oh well, such are the laws of physics; but so far the results justify the choice. If Santa were to bring me a 4-cup model, I certainly could compare results...


DAIGO said...

Wow, what a nice entry! I never read a Brikka article begining from the postal packaging. It's very informative.

About the lid, my guess is that they did not change the instruction from the previous model. The previous model did not have the window on the lid, and it was not possible to visually notice when the coffee comes out.

Now you've got to buy a nice cup (and saucer) made for espresso ;) It makes difference.

WeeDram said...

Daigo: Thanks for the comment. Since others might want to order from Bella-Italia, I decided that I would include the entire ordering experience. We're not talking about a super-expensive item, but ordering directly from Italy is a bit of adventure, so that was another reason I included it.

Thanks for the explanation of the instruction to keep the lid open; seems quite logical. I'll keep it closed the next time and see if there's any difference in the result.

I was browsing the net for espresso cups today and the CFO said "You're obssessed!" Sigh. But then, I ignore her regarding the proper wine glasses to match whatever wine I'm serving. Yes, it DOES make a difference!

Webs said...

It certainly makes a difference. You wouldn't have a nice wine in a cup, why have a nice cup of crema in a cup? My favorite picture was the one with the coffee grinder. That is the coolest coffe grinder I have seen.

Alexandre said...

Nice write-up. Apart from Daigo's Brikka Lovers, you might take a look at this CoffeeGeek thread on Brikka.
As it so happens, my own Brikka was purchased locally, in Montreal. Are you in Ottawa? If you need other Brikka pots or spare parts, you might want to call Café Crème in Montreal as they do carry the Brikka line.
As for cups, yes, the cup makes a difference. In part because of heat dissipation.



WeeDram said...

Alexandre: No, I am not in Montreal, but thank you for referring that shop as another source for the Brikka and parts.

I ended up buying some Bianca espresso cups from Trudeau. They work pretty well for me; one Brikka 2-cup pot is the exact amount for a Bianca.

Eyton J. Shalom, M.S., L.Ac. said...

Hi. i have a moka, and am gonna buy a brikka, now that i read how much better it is.
i make cappucino in the a.m.
re: the amount of espresso that the 2 cup makes, is it about the amount for one italian style cappacino, or 2 cappacinos?
p.s., re: your quandry about when you have guests, i guess you just need more than one 2 cup machines, since there are 4 burners on your stove!

WeeDram said...

eyton: The amount is a standard "double", I think. I'm not an expert on cappucino, but I think that's the standard amount used, right? I've never made a cappucino at home, as I don't have a frother. But I do have a Braun stick blender, so I could heat the milk and froth it that way. Maybe I'll try it tomorrow morning and see how it works.

WeeDram said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Fabio Sirna said...

Stuart said...

You leave the top open to allow steam to vent rather than condense back into pot and dilute crema

WeeDram said...

Stuart: Thanks for stopping by and explaining that. It makes perfect sense!