If you visit an Italian household, you will find they are brewing their coffee not with an expensive espresso machine but with a Moka pot. Found in 90 percent of Italian households it is the standard way of making coffee in Italian homes. All our family and friends in Italy use Moka pots (also known as a caffettiera). Made of stainless steel or aluminum to withstand the heat from the stove and resist rust, the Moka pot has a coffee basket that sits above a water chamber. The basket is filled with coffee and the tiny holes in the coffee basket allow the steam to rise from below and fuse with the coffee grounds. The steam extraction with the aroma, oil and acids from the coffee grounds slowly drips down to the water chamber with a classic gurgling noise.
Unlike an American style coffee maker using a Moka pot requires a certain amount of finesse. As soon as you hear the gurgling noise, the Moka pot should be taken off the stove and the base of the pot put under cold running water. The gurgling happens when steam begins to rise through the coffee grounds, which will lead to a bitter cup. Running the bottom chamber under cold water quickly stops the brewing process by lowering the temperature, condensing the steam and lowering the pressure in the pot.
The first Moka pot was designed in 1933 by Luigi De Ponti, the CEO of Alfonso Bialetti & Company, gaining in popularity during post-war Italy. De Ponti's "aha" moment was said to be inspired by the Lessiveuse, a washing machine with a boiler and funnel.
The distinctive 8-sided Bialettil Moka Pot remains the most notable model in use in Italy today. Its iconic design is displayed in modern industrial and design museums throughout the world as a symbol of Italian coffee culture.
Photo Credit: The Social Kitchen from Diesel Living with Scavolini features