The 9Barista is an elegant and perfected take on the traditional Moka Pot. It is a stovetop espresso machine that can produce authentic espresso.
The 9Barista has been branded as ‘the first jet engineered stove top espresso machine.’ It is espresso made with the precision demanded from jet engineering.
However, if you are anything like me, you are somewhat jaded from impressive branding and lofty claims. So is the 9Barista worth sitting up to take notice of or just another overpriced coffee gadget?
We will seek to answer these questions in this 9Barista review.
Specifications of the 9Barista
Why the 9Barista?
The 9Barista is the brainchild of jet engineer and espresso enthusiast William Playford. Playford has an impressive history with an education from Cambridge and a PhD from Whittle Laboratory.
And so, after extensive experience in designing jet engines, he decided to give espresso machines ago. In Playford’s own words:
‘Like jet engines, a coffee machine requires high pressure, controlled temperatures and precision-engineered components. If I could build a jet engine, I realised I could probably build my dream espresso machine.’
Playford began this new endeavor on the basis of two convictions; that for genuine espresso, the two vital parameters are 9 bars of pressure and a water temperature of 93C. While this take is slightly simplistic, it is basically true.
And so the 9Barista is unashamedly a new and improved Moka pot. Like its predecessor, it is heated via stovetop and has no electrical parts or components.
But that is where the similarity ends. The 9Barista doesn’t just produce strong coffee but actual crema-rich espresso coffee through rather ingenious processes.
This espresso machine was first unveiled at the 2019 London coffee festival and then has gone from strength to strength. In particular, a positive review from coffee illuminary James Hoffman has springboarded them onto growing publicity.
9Barista espresso is not a bid to outdo the other espresso machines on the market but instead to provide a very niche espresso maker for certain coffee lovers. Again in Playford’s words:
‘It isn’t competing with high-use machines, it’s if you enjoy a certain ritualistic way of making coffee.’
How the 9Barista Works
From the outside, this does look like just a revolutionized Moka pot. But it is far more than that and really is ingenious in its design. As mentioned above, the design goal was a stove top espresso machine that could maintain 9 bars of pressure and 93C water temperature.
Playford managed to think up a rather clever way to accomplish these goals.
The 9Barista comprises three parts, the base, the middle water chamber, and the top. Around 110-120ml of cold water is placed into the base or bottom water chamber. Here, the water is heated to 179C, precisely increasing the pressure to 9 bars, effectively creating a high pressure boiler.
A release valve is then opened, allowing the water to travel up into the coil heat exchanger. Here the water is cooled to normal boiling temperature (100C at sea level).
The water passes through effectively a heat sink which again drops the temperature to the recommended 93C while maintaining the 9 bars of pressure.
At this point, the water is pushed through the coffee puck at the ideal temperature and pressure, thus extracting delicious espresso.
In practice, this process takes around 6 minutes from the point that you turn on the stovetop.
However, it is worth being aware that the dialing-in process with the 9 Barista can be somewhat involved and time-consuming. And the reason is that you won’t know if your grind and heat settings are correct until the brew is done. And because this is a 6ish minute process, dialing in isn’t much fun.
There are three parameters to play with in dialing in your espresso beans; the heat of the stovetop, the fineness of the grind size, and the dose. As with any other espresso makers, you probably will have some over and under-extracted shots before you get the correct parameters.
However, the strength of the 9Barista espresso is that once you are dialed in, it will produce incredibly consistent shots. Unlike something like the Flair or the Cafelat Robot, this espresso maker is not reliant on user skill but instead excels at consistency.
Of course, this may equally be a weakness for some if you like the hands-on manual process.
As noted, it particularly excels in making a single espresso shot. Certainly, it can make multiple shots back on back, but it is time-consuming.
How the 9Barista Espresso Tastes
Of course, the million-dollar question is how does it taste? Because it doesn’t matter how much else you get right, if it doesn’t brew delicious espresso, then I am not interested.
And users have been very open about the fact that this ‘jet-engineered’ espresso machine lives up to its claims. Put simply, when paired with delicious and fresh espresso beans that are ground with a quality espresso grinder, it can produce delicious coffee.
It produces a shot that is textured, balanced, and crema rich.
Of course, if you stuff up the dialing-in process, then this won’t be your experience. But yes, there is no doubt that this ingenious and innovative espresso maker can and does brew superb espresso.
How the 9Barista Looks
I have long held a conviction that coffee kit is about more than just functionality. I want to be excited about the coffee gear I have. I want to be able to show it off to other coffee-loving friends and curious visitors.
And so, while aesthetics does not play into the quality of the coffee brewed, it certainly does play into whether I am willing to spend the cash to buy it.
And in this regard, the 9Barista is all thumbs up. It is simply a beautiful and elegant espresso maker. Everything about it communicates quality and beauty.
The gentle wooden accents look incredible and give a soft elegance to the overall machine. It looks and feels niche like specialty coffee gear should.
It is compact enough to fit into the smallest of apartments (or hiking packs) and yet doesn’t look or feel cheap.
How the 9Barista is Made
A similar conviction I hold is that I am willing to pay for quality. I like coffee equipment that will last; that looks and feels well-built. I don’t like plastic and cut corners. I like my coffee gear, from my tampers to manual grinders and brewers, to be heavy and solid, not light and fragile.
And so, the 9Barista is undoubtedly a winner for me in this regard. Everything about it, from the materials used to the precision of the components, exudes quality.
It is certainly not light at almost 2kg, but the reason is that the best materials have been used in the construction. Solid brass is plated with food-grade nickel; silicon rubber is used for the thermal break and a basket cap for the upside-down portafilter. And FDA-approved PTFE and PEI are used for the other components.
Basically, this espresso maker is a tank that can be expected to last and endure even with regular and heavy use. It is simply a well-built coffee machine (as you would expect at the price point!).
Who is the 9Barista for?
So having rambled for some time, who would I recommend the 9Barista for?
Because it is certainly not for everyone. If you like milk-based espresso drinks, then just buy a semi-automatic espresso machine like the Breville Infuser. If you want precise control over brewing parameters, buy a Flair 58 or the Cafelat Robot. If you like the sound of this but can’t afford it, then maybe consider the Bacchi Carioca, which has a similar design.
But if you are looking for an espresso maker that is compact, elegant, consistent, and just satisfying to use, then there is a good chance that the 9Barista espresso would be a great fit for you!
This superb and innovative machine is unique, well built, and, best of all, lives up to its claim to deliver genuine espresso from a stovetop machine. Who would have guessed?
So if the idea excites you, you won’t regret purchasing the 9Barista, ‘the first jet engineered stove top espresso machine!’