Renato Bialetti, who brought the Moka coffee maker to the world, dies at 93

bialetti funeral
via Twitter

Almost every time we write about coffee pods there is a mention of "our beloved Bialetti Moka" as the better alternative. Melissa described it:

Designed by Luigi di Ponti in 1933, the Moka Pot is produced by Bialetti and is of such classic design and style that it might make you happy just to see it on your stove. The aluminum, pressure-driven stove-top coffee brewer is one of the most popular in the world, and with good reason. It is simple, stylish, requires nothing but water, coffee and heat, and makes a fine cup of coffee with a nice kick.

It turns out to be multifunctional too; Renata Bialetti, who had run the company since 1946, died recently and had his ashes interred in one.

bialleti ad© Bialetti

Renato was the son of Alphonso Bialetti, who the New York Times credits with designing the Moka, but who actually appears to have been a metal machinist who put it into production. Renato took over the company after World War II;According to the Times,

After a moving to a new factory in 1956, the company began turning out 18,000 coffee makers every day, or four million a year. Over the next 60 years, according to the company, more than 200 million were sold internationally. In Italy, a Moka can be found in 90 percent of all kitchens. As a national symbol, the Moka Express ranks on a par with the Fiat 500, the Vespa scooter and Nutella.

It is truly a design icon:

The Moka Express, whose design was based on a silver coffee service popular in wealthy Italian homes, became an emblem of Italian modernism. It can be found in collections of the Museum of Modern Art; the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; and the Design Museum in London.

bialleti instructions© Bialetti

TreeHugger loves it because essentially it is an aluminum coffee pod that you fill yourself. Fill it with water, screw on the top section and put it on the heat. When it gurgles three or four minutes later then you know it's done as all the coffee is now in the top section, driven up there by steam pressure. Easy, fast and the only waste is a little coffee for your compost.

Some have complained of a metallic taste from the aluminum; they now make a stainless steel version, although it is not in the iconic shape. They also make an electric one now that is even more convenient. In any version, it is a lot less wasteful than a coffee pod machine and not much less convenient.

nespresso turinIn Turin. Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

Yet even in Italy, the pod people are taking over. But I can guarantee one thing: You will never see anyone with their ashes interred in a Nespresso machine.

Tags: Coffee | Designers | Italy

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