The Moka Pot:  Italian Coffee Culture’s Most Beloved Icon

The Moka Pot: Italian Coffee Culture’s Most Beloved Icon

Although the first Italian coffeehouses opened in Venice in the mid 17th century, over the next two hundred years as coffee grew in popularity, few Italian households went through the time consuming process of brewing their own coffee. Surprisingly, even just prior to the early 20th century, most Italians still only had a few efficient and practical options to make coffee at home.

An 1820’s French invention embraced by Neapolitan Italians, the Napoletana flip coffee pot, aka the cuccumella, made the home brewing process less difficult and more feasible. However, with all the advances of the Industrial Revolution, life got easier, albeit busier, and many simply went to the local café, where large steam-powered espresso machines were in use, and a coffee was cheap.

However, the coffee world changed forever in the early 1930’s, when a Piedmontese Italian metal-worker Alfonso Bialetti and designer inventor Luigi di Ponti got together to bring an even easier to use device, to make espresso-style coffee, to the average Italian’s home. In 1933, the Moka Express, aka macchinetta, stove top coffee pot was born.

The Moka Pot derived its name from the Yemeni city of Mocha, a key player in the early coffee trade.

Simple in design and function, the Moka Pot is a stove-top or electric coffee maker that brews coffee by passing boiling water pressurized by steam through ground coffee. Water in the bottom chamber heats until it builds up adequate pressure, and is forced upward through a tube that enters the ground coffee filled middle chamber. The brewed coffee then spurts upward into the top chamber, where it can be poured out.  

With the invention of the Moka pot, Italians finally had a quick, simple, and inexpensive way of making coffee at home. This historic invention, that is still a staple in almost every Italian home, became an iconic and beloved part of Italian coffee culture. All Saravella coffees are perfect for the Moka pot brewing method.

After Word War II, the Moka pot spread all over southern Europe and became the method of choice for making coffee at home. With worldwide Italian immigration, the pot became popular in the rest of Europe, North and South America, Australia, and elsewhere.

Even today, with the advances of percolators, drip coffee machines, home espresso machines, et al, the Moka Pot still enjoys huge popularity. Great Italian ingenuity is truly everlasting.

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