In Praise of the Humble Moka Pot
It turns out, one of my most favorite possessions, something I often think of as a perfect of example of thoughtful modern/deco design, was not made by a designer, or even anyone who would consider themselves a designer.
It is the moka pot.
I started thinking about my trusty moka when recently asked about my morning routine. I’ve been making coffee in these pots, or some version of them, since I was 18 years old. At first I appreciated the simplicity, and the thick, high-test coffee that came out.
Overtime, I guess it’s also the reliability and consistency that I’ve come to appreciate. I’ve made coffee over fires at campsites with one, thrown them in boxes during moves, and dropped them on the floor as well. Never a problem. Occasionally, maybe once every few years, I replace the rubber seal, but that’s it. Meanwhile, at a shared family home, we’ve gone through at least half a dozen electric coffee makers, which only seem to spew a particularly anemic form of coffee anyway.
Alfonso Bialetti invented the Moka Express in 1931 (or 1933 depending on who you read), and they’ve evolved into many different forms, some better than others. 80 years later though, the original design pretty much endures.
For whatever reason, I’ve never switched from the moka. I’m not the kind of person who usually sticks with something this long, but I’ve almost never ever felt the desire to try a new coffee pot. Briefly, I flirted with a french press, but the grounds I found in my cup and my mouth, quickly drove me back to the moka. That was enough experimentation.
I know enough to know that everyone has their own preferred coffee maker, and ranking them is a worthless task. So I won’t pretend to suggest that this is the one for you, but it is still, in my mind, just about as close to perfection as something can get. And that the moka never really was properly “designed,” only makes me appreciate it more.