A ubiquitous fixture on most Italian and Italian-American stovetops, a Moka Pot, also sometimes referred to as a Moka Express, acts as a constant – dispersing hot, fresh espresso (please don’t pronounce it “espresso”) knowing it’s will be practically always on the stove. There’s comfort there beyond the sharp caffeine jolts (and health benefits), especially knowing that this tool is available to you virtually anytime you want. There’s never a need to rummage through your cupboards, be tossed about in a cascade of plastic storage containers like those decades-old infomercials, or haphazardly use a cumbersome espresso machine. Moka Pots are a durable and consistent product, steeped in years of “old world” use and tradition, and now just as functional here in the United States.
Reputed by Blue bottled coffee As an “Italian-made compact eight-sided marvel”, the ingenuity of the Moka pot (pronounced as “mocha”) lies in its operation, its small size, especially compared to modern behemoths of espresso machines, and its relatively low price. There’s a clear European sensibility to the process, delivering nothing but a pure, smooth hit that’s crisp, strong and precisely what espresso is supposed to have. To put his iconic statue in context, The New York Times notes that “9 out of 10 Italian households own a Moka Espress”, and it has even been featured as an exhibit in various art museums.
The History of the Moka Pot
Bialetti – the company that originally produced and still owns Moka – proudly describes its product as something that “represents our country’s joy, daring, creativity and, of course, its friendly way of life”. Beautiful!
The product was introduced by Alfonso Bialetti in 1933 during a particularly difficult economic period for Italy. For some, coffee (and espresso) was strictly something to be consumed on the go or when socializing with friends, but the invention of the Moka Pot and new financial restrictions helped coffee become a pleasure at home. home.
Blue bottled coffee continues, noting that “the elegant three-chambered pot relies on the pressure generated by simple steam on the stovetop, which collects in the lower chamber and pushes through the coffee grounds”. Bialetti’s inspiration for this new idea was none other than his “early” household laundry appliance, which at the time used a virtually synonymous system (except with detergent and soap suds instead of coffee grounds , but both embracing the potency of the chambers of the vessel, as well as boiling water and steam.) Bialetti worked with steel and metal and chose to use the lighter aluminum in the construction of the Moka Pot prototype. Bialetti’s official website notes that the name comes from “the city of Mokha in Yemen, one of the main and most famous coffee producing areas in the world”.
The New York Times reports that 20 years later, as the product grew in popularity, Bialetti worked with an Italian artist to help create a the omino coi baffi (little mustachioed man) that was printed on the side of the machine, helping to further mark the ownership of the Bialetti family on the cherished product. (While many thought the man looked like Bialetti, it’s said the mustachioed man may actually represent his son, Renato). This archived article from Disegno Daily – written by Bialetti’s grandson – actually notes that it was Renato who helped transform the household staple into a mass-produced product in the 1950s…and as they or they say, the rest is history.
While Bialetti has continued to expand and release amazing espresso products over the years, the simplicity of their original Moka Pot continues to hold a place in cultural discourse – as well as on many, many stovetops.
How to properly use the Moka Pot
While sourcing and grinding the beans can be a little tricky for some, the ease of the Moka Pot itself helps produce consistent, rich, strong espressos that have energized users for nearly a century, both in Italy and in the world. The device has a certain ease and practicality that has become dear throughout Italy and the world. The Moka Pot itself should have boiling water in the lower chamber, followed by ground espresso beans in the funnel, then the lid should be tightly closed. Let the Moka Pot do its magic over medium-low heat, essentially keeping the heat range about as wide as the pot itself. You don’t want to put the heat on really high, which then might make it impossible to touch the handle.
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In addition to its nostalgic relevance, the Moka Pot is also sustainably healthy, as long as the coffee grounds are recycled or composted. Plus, there’s no need for soap or detergents, as the Bialetti noted. website: “simply rinse your Moka with hot water after use, no dishwashing liquid needed.” Finally, the site also notes that it is “designed to last a lifetime” due to its 100% recyclable aluminum. Clearly, the Moka is more than just old-fashioned comfort; it’s also perfectly in line with today’s sustainability efforts and, at its core, still produces amazing espresso. There really is no downside to using the ship. If there were, some espresso aficionados might not like that Moka Pot espresso shots didn’t have the required “crema” that acts as a sheath over the darker espresso, but c is a minor inconvenience, if you can even call it that.
In conclusion, it should also be noted (in a somewhat macabre, but clearly reverential way) that the aforementioned son of the creator of the Moka Pot – Renato Bialatti – actually chose to have his ashes “buried” in a replica of a Moka Pot. Jar. He died aged 93 in 2016 and history went viral, with images of a gigantic Moka Pot at the front of a funeral religious service. Stranger than fiction, but oddly sweet?
In a fast business article on a redesign of the Moka Pot in 2019, British architect David Chipperfield talks about the importance of the Moka Pot to him: “the noise of screwing it and unscrewing it, the rumble it emits when the coffee is ready, these daily events take root in your memories… I wanted to preserve its most important qualities: the material, the sound, the essential shape of its corners.” That’s about all, huh? Much more than just a coffee, the Mocha pot is a symbol of endurance, reliability and everyday life, not only for Italians but for all those who have ever had the pleasure of using this ingenious device.
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