The Moka pot is the iconic stovetop espresso machine found around the world. It was first made from aluminium with bakelite handles, and it is relatively easy to find models today that are almost identical in design to the original 1933 design. Newer models of this Italian staple have taken the physics and thermodynamics of the design onboard and experimented with new materials. Copper, steel and even titanium are now used to take example of improved designs and thermometric properties.
Alfonso Bialetti patented the design in 1933 and is responsible for its iconic design, a rare example of form and function. Such is the importance and influence of the 8 sided coffee maker design the blueprints of the original are on show in the esteemed London Design Museum. The original design is as popular as ever and is even featured in the Guinness book of world records.
The Moka pot is a staple of many Italian households not to mention around the world, and rightfully so, it produces a wonderful end product.
The Moka pot consists of three parts. The bottom chamber is filled with the water while the middle basket is packed with ground coffee. An internal tube connects the water in the bottom chamber to the top chamber where the finned coffee will eventually end up. When water in the bottom chamber is heated, the liquid expands into the only direction it can, up. The hot, expanding water seeks a way out up that tube that passes through all that packed coffee and continues up through the top tube spilling gently into the empty upper chamber. That water has now been infused with the essential water-soluble flavours and chemicals and the pressure pushed any oils and terpenes along with it into the final tasty brew.
The handy and tough little pot made a strong drink available anywhere, even the front lines. As soldiers returned home, the little Moka pot was traded, sold on, and passed around to all the corners of the world. This little pot was packed in the bags of Italian post-war immigrants who arrived on the faraway continent of Australia. The unfamiliar pot was soon found brewing up some of the countries first espresso and certainly the most convenient. A strong cuppa was an incredibly important thing when traveling in the outback of Australia, and the problem with a lot of other methods of brewing coffee lay in the fragile nature of most other designs. Glass and ceramics jugs have the nasty habit of shattering whenever a caravan ran over an armadillo, whereas the sturdy aluminium and bakelite handle had the kettle and the collection jug in one, saving not only hassle, but also space and weight. Today, the Moka pot is still found in Italian corner shops throughout Australia.