10 interesting facts about the moka coffee pot, which is 90 years old

Oct 13 2023, 16:29
Heaped mound of ground coffee: yes or no? Renato’s moustache and Ada’s silhouette. The moka turns 90, we encapsulated her life in 10 tidbits

It was 1993 when Alfonso Bialetti patented the coffee pot that would soon become the emblem of the Italian lifestyle. Ninety years have passed and the moka is still the favourite household method for making coffee, a must-have in any Italian kitchen: no matter whether you use it or not, the moka is there, beautiful and nostalgic, reminding us of one of the most fascinating rituals of all time. To celebrate it, today, we share a series of coffee curiosities.


10 interesting facts about the moka coffee pot

The son's moustache, and the wife's silhouette

The father of the moka pot is Alfonso Bialetti, but the moustache of the legendary little man depicted on it belongs to his son Renato. Legend has it that the shape of the coffeemaker was inspired by the figure of his wife Ada, who used to wear wide skirts and bend her arm at the side, a position that is said to have provided inspiration for the moka's signature handle.


Dedication to coffee in the name

Mokha is a city in Yemen, one of the largest coffee-producing countries. It is to this that we owe the official name of the coffee maker, invented by Renato Bialetti. Moka Express to be precise, underlining the reference to the bar-style espresso, in the home version.


The inspiration of the coffee pot

There are several stories about the origin of the moka pot. One of the most credited theories is the laundry one, which maintains that Alfonso had the brilliant intuition while observing his wife struggling with the leach machine. It was a kind of bucket with a perforated chimney that was placed over the fire: water was poured into the basin underneath, which was boiled and, by pressure, passed through the central tube that fell onto the laundry. A system very similar to the one created by Bialetti.


A record-breaking pot

How to make 100 cups of coffee in one go? With the moka, of course! A Guinness World Record-breaking coffee pot has been created. Standing 102 metres tall and weighing 125 kg, the giant pot served 100 people at Sigep 2013.


A museum piece

For years, the legendary moka has been in art collections at MOMA in New York: a permanent exhibition for the most famous household coffee pot ever.

Limited editions

Tricolour, decorated by Dolce & Gabbana, Valentine's Day themed, dedicated to the Alpini corp and then dyed in bright colours, from light blue to coral. The classic one remains the most charming, symbol of Italy in the world, but the themed limited editions can be a perfect gift idea.


Goodbye, heap

It is possible to make a good moka pot by following a few tricks. For example, it's time to ditch the heaped mound of coffee powder in the filter. When assembling the pieces of the coffee pot, the powder settles on the edges and ends up on the gasket: without a good seal between the two parts, the coffee is extracted badly.


Brew ratio

A complicated-sounding word that simply means the ratio of water to ground coffee: for a 3-cup moka, the ratio is usually 1 to 10. So about 15 grams of coffee powder per 150 millilitres of water. This is also why it is good not to pile the coffee in a heaped mound: by increasing the amount of powder, the ratio is reduced.


Listing on the stock exchange

The current company was officially born in 1998 from the merger of Rondine Italia, a cookware manufacturer, and Alfonso Bialetti & C. It was immediately busy in terms of acquisitions: first Girmi, the small electrical household appliances company, then the Turkish CEM, specialised in cooking instruments, and again Aeternum, a steel production brand. It then entered the stock market in 2007, with a 74% share of the coffee maker market.

That lying gurgle

By the time your moka starts to gurgle, it is already too late. That unmistakable, intense, familiar scent that begins to waft through the house has been lost: it will no longer be found in the cup. Ideally, you should stop the extraction just before the noise, when the beverage reaches 3/4 of the pot, in order to retain the aromatic component.

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