There are four crucial ingredients to this design story:
As a young country, Italy has sought modernity through design.
Design and Italy are naturally associated.
- The metal.
Aluminium was considered one of the most modern materials, and Italy became one of the heaviest investors in this ‘metal of the future’ — low corrosive properties, strong and yet soft and lightweight.
As with all warm Mediterranean countries, there is a strong social scene built up from Espresso Bars, torrefazione and caffè culture. Italians love their coffee!
Italians are also known for being family-oriented.
Now, put all these together — the aluminium, the design, the modernity, the café culture and the family home — and you arrive at the Moka Express!
‘True’ espresso is made using complex engineering and technologically advanced high pressure-lower than boiling water machines by companies such as Gaggia. It is a serious business indeed.
- But in 1933, Alfonso Bialetti told Italy that for the first time, ‘without requiring any ability whatsoever’ one could enjoy ‘in casa un espresso come al bar’ — ‘An espresso in the home just like one in the bar’.
Bialetti’s Stovetop Espresso machine was simplicity itself. His aluminium Moka Express was designed to be like the popular but expensive silver coffee services of the time, so it was an instant hit.
To this very day, the design has never changed — the Moka Express is still widely available all around the world — so it’s easy to get replacement parts (mind you even cheap copies use the same parts and most are interchangeable).
Bialetti’s Moka Express has a detachable red ribboned label with his little man with the moustache brand — an icon in itself! ‘L’Omino‘ is also printed on the side of the Moka Express, but he is soon washed off!
- caffè — the standard espresso, a small cup with an even smaller dash of strong coffee;
- caffè doppio — a double espresso, same small cup, but topped up with coffee;
- caffè stretto — an espresso with less water;
- caffè marocchino — espresso with a dash of hot milk and cacao powder;
- cappuccino — espresso infused with steamed milk, dusted with powdered chocolate and drunk in the morning, but never after lunch or dinner. Named because the froth and dust resemble the hoods worn by Capuchin Monks;
- caffè macchiato –espresso ‘stained’ with a drop of steamed milk: small version of a cappuccino;
- caffè latte — hot milk mixed with espresso and served in a glass for breakfast;
- caffè freddo — iced coffee;
- granita di caffè con panna — frozen, iced beverage (similar to a slush, but ice shavings make it authentic) and topped with whipped cream;
- caffè corretto — coffee ‘corrected’ with a shot of grappa, cognac, or other spirit;
- caffè Americano — espresso served in a Mug and topped up with hot water;
- caffè Hag — decaffeinated coffee.