Coffee Lesson: The History of The Moka Pot

history of the moka pot

The moka pot is a significant characteristic of Italian cafe culture. It is used in 90% of Italian houses and is the most popular method of brewing coffee at home in Southern Europe. Since its introduction, more than 300 million Bialetti Moka Devices are being shipped, and it has become a fashion classic.

The moka pot is a gas stove coffeemaker that brews hot, espresso-like coffee using steam-pressurized water. The moka pot was named for the Yemeni city of Mocha, that was a big coffee supplier to Europe. It is also used as a cafetiere, macchinetta, or stovetop espresso machine.

The Art of The Moka Pot

The moka pot is on view at many fashion and craft galleries and museums, including the Design Museum in London and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. However, the moka pot is something more than just Art Deco style and good coffee.

Who Made It?

The Moka Pot is a stovetop coffee machine invented by Luigi De Ponti in 1933 for Alfonso Bialetti. This modern art deco coffee maker was rapidly supported across Italy.

People praised it for bringing popular espresso-like coffee to the existing household, easy and quickly!

The Homemade Espresso became Famous!

The Moka Pot represented a cultural change from espresso as an out-of-the-house-only cocktail to one that can be visualized at home, which contrasted beautifully with Italy’s 1930s economic collapse.


Remember that espresso made in marketing devices is brewed at a far higher pressure (9 bar) than the heating water in a stovetop pot could offer.


The Perfect Design of the Moka Pot

How a Moka Pot Works?

To brew, water is poured into the pot’s lower region (starting with very hot water to “bake” the coffee grounds until extraction starts), and drip-sized ground coffee is evenly spread in the coffee tank.

The pot is then positioned on a heater with the lid open, and water warmed gradually over medium-high heat is allowed to boil and rise through the coffee, removing it and bringing it up to babble!

The First Moka Pots

Milanese VS Napoletana

To make espresso in Italy, two machines were widely used. The Milanese and the Napoletana.

⦁ A Napoletana is a pot that could be used both ways. The first container is full of water and placed on the flame; as the water heats, the whole system is rotated so that the hot water runs via the coffee grounds and falls in another tank.

⦁ Water is heated in a Milanese till it flows into ground coffee in a coffee filter at the top of the machine. These devices do not brew coffee under pressure like espresso devices and produced a quite different type of coffee.


Futurism and Art Nouveau Italian Style

What was Moka Pots Role?

As a result, Alfonso Bialetti’s Moka Express isn’t the first step into home-brewed coffee. However, it was the first unit capable of generating the same cafe and bar-style coffee at home.

What was the Idea of the Moka Pot?

His architecture intentionally tried to fit the true nature of La Pavonis espresso devices into a gas stove system such as the Napoletana.

How Luigi Created the Famous Moka Pot?

He designed a version that mirrored the already famous silver coffee products by high-end brands such as Hénin and Puiforcat. In doing so, he combined architectural features from Futurism and Art Deco into a system that is still commonly used today.

Moka Pot made in futurism!

So…what futurism has to do with coffee?

Futurism was a famous art movement in Italy during the early twentieth century that promoted technology, wealth, and modernity.

The revolution promoted the birth of new innovations through the annihilation of older cultural structures. Futurists used to have an irresistible thirst for modernization, reveling in the elegance of the machine, power, brutality, and change.


That’s why the Moka Pot is super stylish and modern!


The Aluminum Moka Pot

history of the moka pot

Why Moka Pot chosen to Be Aluminum?

Mussolini provided the ideal scenario for the creation of the moka pot. Italy had a huge supply of bauxite and leucite, which are used in the manufacture of aluminum.

The New Era of Italy

Futurism’s enthusiasm for computers, science, and metallic modernity, mixed with fascist ideology, resulted in aluminum becoming Italy’s national metal.

How Moka Pot Became Famous?

The moka pot, on the other hand, was not instantly successful. Alfonso Bialetti originally sold the Moka Express at open market in the Mountain regions or to dealers from his factory, and it was only one of many items he manufactured.

 He never tried to globalize or expand the operation on a global, much less multinational level.

The World War influenced The Moka Pot

Bialetti only made around 70,000 moka pots during the invention of the Moka Pot and the outbreak of World War II.

Why Moka Pot Was Forbidden?

During World War II, aluminum was only used for military purposes and was forbidden for use in consumer products.

Shipments were largely eliminated, making it impossible to buy coffee. During the war, Bialetti’s shop was forced to close.

The Moka Pot is Finally on Market For everyone!

Renato, Alfonso’s son, was already imprisoned in a German Concentration camp but returned home in 1946 to take over his father’s store. Renato is mostly to thank for the Moka Express’s popularity. Following World War II, there’s a shortage of factories and experienced manufacturers.

Renato made the decision to concentrate entirely on the Moka Express and started mass manufacturing.


Is Moka Pot the Same as Espresso?

Although the coffee from a moka pot is solid and sometimes contains a crema, which is not exact as espresso as most currently know. A moka pot brews under pressure and produces coffee with a processing level identical to espresso.

Moka Pot vs Espresso

history of the moka pot

Modern espresso machines have a typical pressure of at least 9 bars, while a moka pot extracts coffee at a pressure of 1,5 bars.

A moka pot can also achieve temperatures of about 100°C, while an espresso machine usually brews at 93-96°C. However, if you obey a few brewing tips, the thick, concentrated coffee is not a poor home option. In reality, the operation of a moka pot is close to that of the first steam-driven espresso devices.

Bringing the Espresso Bar to Your Home

Coffee has been a popular tradition in Europe since its introduction. The rich consumed coffee in crowded locations. Coffeehouses became places where people could discuss the breaking gossip, argue politics, art, and literature, and perform sales.


In reality, several modern economic service companies in London, such stock markets and Lloyd’s, began as coffee shops.


People’s Opinions

Though it isn’t for everyone—many claims that slow extraction and metallic flavor are some of the Moka’s flaws—it is a form of brewing admired by many and deserving of appreciation in the ongoing history of coffee discovery and creativity.

Last Thoughts

A drink strongly inspired by Futurism and largely created by Fascist policies continued to make espresso at home available to people of all income levels, effectively democratizing a luxurious experience.

Italian coffee evolved from a mostly social coffee drank in bars to an informal activity in private homes. A tool that is accepted in so many people’s everyday lives is truly a rich brew of big historical movement.

Related Articles