If you weren’t already aware, coffee is life in Italy. Having an espresso in the morning is more than an activity for Italians to wake up to—it’s a treasured ritual. But you must be wondering, what’s the secret to making a great Italian coffee at home? Please welcome the stove top espresso maker, a.k.a. the moka pot.
The moka pot was invented back in 1933 in northern Italy by Alfonso Bialetti with the Bialetti Moka Express. Several decades later, the Bialetti company continues to be a major producer of the Art Deco octagonal-shaped percolator. The original Bialetti design is so iconic that it is in the permanent collection at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
Statistically speaking, three out of four Italian households have a moka pot in the kitchen as more Italians brew coffee at home, helping to usher the stove top coffee maker back into fashion. Globally, international designers have tried replicating the moka pot for both design and coffee lovers at heart. Alessi is another iconic Italian brand that comes to mind when thinking of the fine art of Italian espresso. Have you seen La Caffettiera con cuore e stelle? (Translation: coffee pot with heart and stars.)
The Italian moka pot was born out of necessity after the 1929 Great Depression when Alfonso offered Italians a way to enjoy top quality coffee in the comfort of their own home. Ask any Italian about coffee, and they will paint you a beautiful picture on the hallmarks of a good brew: Strong, intense, and flavorful coffee without the expertise of a trained barista. True caffeine lovers will point out that moka pots do not produce real espresso, as it lacks crema–a silky, almost creamy layer floating on top of an espresso machine-produced shot. However, according to all my Italian friends, a moka pot “espresso” can be used interchangeably, and who are we to argue with the founders of the espresso?
If you thought designer coffee involved a barista or a thousand dollar espresso machine, think again. Just add water to the bottom chamber of your moka pot, ground coffee in the middle, and turn on the stove to let it do its thing—a beautiful cup of moka pot coffee will appear in the top chamber in just a few minutes. Here are some options for the best moka pot that make for excellent kitchen decor on your stove top and a seriously good brew.
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