A design classic to give you barista quality coffee at home during lockdown. Number 1. The Bialetti stove top Moka coffee maker.
This is a perfect piece of design. Not simply because it looks great; It is also easy to use and makes the best coffee that you will have outside of a first rate Neopolitan coffee bar.
During lockdown many friends are grumbling that they cannot visit their favourite barista, and cannot make a reasonable coffee at home, whatever machinery or lack there of they possess.
It makes an espresso far, far better than many chain stores can. Also it is quite simply in a different league to pretty much any home espresso machine, especially those incredibly environmentally unsound nespresso machines.
There is a reason that you will find one of these in just about every Italian home.
This post is a homage from a lifelong fan…I have had one of these since my worldly aunt bought me one for my 16th birthday.
The stovetop Moka maker was invented in 1933 by Mr. Alfonso Bialetti as a completely new way of brewing coffee in the home. He sold about 10’000 units a year until 1946 when his son Renato came to help in postwar. Production then ramped up to 1’000 units daily! From 1953 things really exploded, and Renato created the famous Bialetti logo… He said it is symbolizing a friendly older Italian patriarch jovially raising his hand to order an espresso. Since then over 300 million have been sold by Bialetti! This I can believe.
I am one of the converted, and have 6 of various sizes at home. Our Bialetti Family is lovingly housed in a birch ply wood display case that I made. You can also see just a few of the espresso cups here that I have gathered from around the world to keep them company.
We even take the 4-cup away on holiday with us… in case there is not one where we rent. The plug in ‘Bialetti Elektrica’ comes with me on site, so I can brew myself an espresso before we have finished installing the kitchen.
What makes it so good…..other than the pleasing design and great coffee? Making a coffee becomes a little ritual. In the early morning we make a larger pot, which takes about 4 minutes to boil… so when toast is done, buttered and jammed it’s good to go. It unscrews in half. Water goes in the bottom, up to the level of the safety valve. The funnel popped back in, coffee then spooned in loosely (never squished down like a coffee bar espresso machine), then the top screwed up. As the water boils it’s forced from the bottom through the coffee filled funnel, and then into the top half. When it emits its friendly bubbling sound all the water has come through, is now coffee and you’re good to go.
Mid morning when just a single espresso is wanted for a top up the ‘beach shower’ model is used. This is a clever design that pours the coffee directly into the cup. Since the cup rests on the pot’s platform it is warmed by the stove heat, making sure the ½ cup of espresso is served hot, not tepid like Starbucks.
There is even a double beach shower model if a friend pops over for elevenses (or if like me you sometimes need a double shot).
The octagonal shape means it’s easy to assemble and dismantle. It’s made from aluminium, which means that the coffee oils stick to the inside. This forms a film preventing the metal coming into contact with the brewed coffee, so no metallic taste. The pot should only be rinsed, never washed with fairy liquid, or you will remove these precious oils.
When we have finished a building project we like spread the gospel and give a Bialetti for the client to use in their new kitchen as a thank you and moving in present! It has to be an original Bialetti.
Both of these pots are the stainless steel models made by Bialetti, so they will work on the installed induction hobs.
Also what is great is that spares are widely available, handles filters gaskets…so they are designed to last for a very long time. A green product from the 1930’s!
Where can you get one? Sure, they are readily available from Amazon, but if you want to shop local so much the better. Near us in Muswell Hill I’d recommend Martyn’s in Muswell Hill, at 135 Muswell Hill Broadway N10, who have a modest selection. Salvino’s at 47 The Brecknock Road, Kentish Town N7, has a large selection, with all the spares (and possibly the best Italian Deli in London). Finally, there is the Algerian Coffee shop at 52 Old Compton Street, Soho W1. They sell all of them (really), every size and model.. along with superb coffee.