The Bialetti Moka Express is in 90% of Italian homes. The hexagonal 1933 art deco design ranks it with the Fiat 500 and the Vespa as enduring Italian style icons.
More importantly, it makes simply gorgeous espresso. There are lots of fake Moka Expresses. You can tell an original by the ‘ little man ‘ – a caricature of its inventor Alfonso Bialetti (with his finger raised as if ordering a coffee).
Apart from also being the grandfather of the current Alessi CEO, Mr Bialetti is credited with social change by attracting Italian men back to the family home because there was no need to go out for a good brew anymore.
Mr Bialetti’s famous machine delivers a very fine coffee indeed – with a unique flavour. It has caffeine extraction and flavour profile midway between drip coffee, and commercial espresso machines.
Even now, the simple method of making a Moka coffee still fascinates : water is placed in the bottom chamber, and ground coffee into the removeable middle funnel. When screwed up and placed on a medium heat, some water in the lower chamber turns to steam, and drives the remaining hot water upwards through the coffee grounds, and into the upper chamber.
In only a few minutes before a gurgling sound announces the arrival of espresso into the upper chamber. Like magic !
The process causing the gurgling sound even has a name – the strombolian phase. It’s the sign that the machine should be taken from the heat source before over extraction occurs.
Travellers may even wish to check out the original blueprints of the Moka Express at The Science Museum, London.
Until 1940 you had to go to the local Piedmont Weekend Markets in Italy to get one of these. It’s easier nowadays.
– listed in Phaedon Design Classics anthology.
– made in Italy – stay cool bakelite handle
The famous Moka Express comes in many sizes : 3cup = 200ml; 6cup = 300ml; 9cup = 550ml; 12cup = 775ml .