The Moka

I read that yesterday Renato Bialetti died at the age of 93. He is the man that made the stove-top coffee machine known as the “Moka" famous, although it had been invented by his father in 1933, and thus created an essential kitchen gadget which could be found in just about every Italian home. It has been imitated, re-designed by others in luxury and coloured versions - even by the Bialetti company itself after the family sold it in 1993 - but the original Bialettis in all their sizes are still sold everywhere, including China.

He became famous as a character in advertisements on television, with enormous moustaches and his slogan “Sembra facile…”, or “it looks easy…" to make a good coffee. The owner as a brand. Renato Bialetti can be seen here caricatured on the smallest model in the range, with his black moustaches visible high on his extended neck beneath massive cheeks.

The Moka turned me on to coffee when I went to live in Italy, and I have used one nearly every day since. Nowadays expensive electric and automatic coffee-makers are common-place, and expert “baristas” pontificate about good coffee, but I still prefer the result with the Moka unless I can get to a real Italian bar. 

The key is in the quality of the beans, always arabica, freshly ground, with good quality water and the correct heating time.