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I'd like a cow with my coffee

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I love coffee, I especially love Italian coffee, and I especially, especially love espresso and cappuccino in Italy. This means that to really bring Italy into my home, what I need is a good Moka Express, or Moka pot, the stovetop espresso maker that is a staple in most Italian households.

We all know the original:

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Nothing wrong with that at all. But there have been some cool, new variations. In fact, when I was in Perugia in September, an entire store of coffee products from Bialetti, the original maker of the Moka Express, was just opening its doors. And some of the designs were fantastic!

I very much liked this cow-like creature. It's called the Mukka Express, both for its patchy appearance (like a Jersey cow) but also because the name "Mukka" is a pun on the Italian word for cow, "mucca."

In fact, this new product, the Mukka Express, is actually a step beyond our old friend the Moka Express and is apparently a full-on stove-top "cappuccino maker." Okay, it's not authentic cappuccino. But according to Bialetti, the Mukka combines the traditional stove-top style of the original coffee maker, with a larger-size pot for heating the milk at the same time. Interesting idea. Apparently, the water goes in the bottom of the pot as usual, with the coffee in the centre and the cold milk on top. As the water boils up and through the coffee, its steam rises up to heat and froth the milk. Ingenious!

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I can't find a photo of the design I really, really liked -- a solid red Moka Express, with black musical notes dancing all over. Here is a similar red, but in a different design from a different manufacturer. This is called the Typhoon Metro Red 6-Cup Espresso Maker.

I've also seen a cool, pink Moka Express designed as a fund-raiser for breast cancer.

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And I like this blue baby as well:

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The Moka pot was invented by Alfonso Bialetti in 1933 and while there are currently many manufacturers of similar styles, his company Bialetti continues to market the leading model. The original design was made from aluminium with bakelite handles.

Mokas come in different sizes, producing from one to eighteen cups of coffee. In fact, the design is so iconic that in September in Milan, Bialetti announced that New York's Museum Of Modern Art (MOMA) was adding the Moka Express to its permanent collection. Very cool!

I bought something similar to a Moka Express a couple of years ago at a Winner's outlet. But, as so often happens, this was a prime example of a false economy. The price was very low -- perhaps $10, about half what a real Bialetti would cost -- and I didn't realize right away that it was a knockoff. The thing never worked -- the rubber seal didn't function, so the boiling water shot out the sides instead of being forced up through the coffee grounds in the top half.

Live and learn. But I would sure like either a red Moka Express or a Mukka Express of my very own.......ah, dare to dream!


Comments (14)

I wake up thinking about my cappuccino every morning - I have a Breville cappuccino maker.

Now I have to make two as I caught Alessandro charging Maccers cappuccino and breakfast to my card every morning, now he is a full time worker.

So I make him one and put it in a thermos mug every morning.

Great post! I've had these on my radar since there was a thread on Slow Talk about them a while back. I have a French Press that I use on weekends, but on weekdays I use my crappy drip machine. I NEVER drink the coffee at my office!

I remember my first stay in an apartment in Venice...the kind landlord gave me a long lesson in how to use one that looked exactly like your photo #2. Maybe we need to bite the bullet and invest?!

They had some at both Ma Cuisine and Domus (although not they sexy red model).

What a fun post! I don't drink coffee but I like looking at these fun things!

I have seen some fun moka machines in Italy also. I have always wanted to buy one, but never had room in my suitcase. I have a small old original moka and a nice gaggia espresso machine.

I gave up coffee though recently (and really miss it). Because of my migraines, I have to either have caffeine daily or not at all.It was either give up coffee or give up sleep because of the insane traffic in the morning. Sleep won. Hopefully next August IF the road I live on is finally completed (they are adding an extra lane), the traffic will ease up and I can have my coffee again.

tourmama:

Sandra - I use my Mukka Express cow design cappucino maker daily, and love it! I bought it in Florence in 2005, for about half of what they are selling for at Williams Sonoma here! I've had to replace the valve and the basket, but it keeps chugging along, and does a lovely job of making the coffee that gets me started each day.

Judy

chiaro:

Hi sandrac,
I bought the cow pattern Bialetti Moka about 3 years ago.
Never got it to work, so it is put away.
I should go try it again, with a little patience.
I saw a lot of Bialetti products at the Bay or Sears this week.
I got my Moka at a small Italian grocery store, but I also saw them at Williams Sonoma and they were all the same price.

sandrac:

Leslie, that is so kind of you -- and shrewd! -- to make Alessandro his coffee. Actually, I also have a fancy, big Breville which was an expensive present from colleagues. But it is quite a lot of work to set up and clean, so I only use it on weekends when I have a lot of time (and patience!)

Annie, I think I missed the Moka thread on ST, I'll have to go back and check it out. The first times I used a Moka Express I did find it a bit difficult -- just different, really, from what we're used to in North America. But maybe when you're in Venice next month you'll find a really cool one to bring home! What a great (and so practical) a souvenir
to invest in.

Susan, what a terrible choice to have to make -- sleep or coffee!!! These migraines really are a dreadful constraint on your life. The little Moka Express can spit out a coffee pretty fast, maybe if you set it up the night before, turn the stove on while you're getting dressed in the morning, you could took an espresso with you for the drive!

Jerry, I think I'm going to head down to the Market on the weekend -- even the basic Moka Express would make a lovely Christmas gift (for me, of course!)

Chiocciola, sometimes that's half the appeal of coffee -- the cool gadgets that go with it!

Judy, I'm excited to hear that you've had such success with your Mukka Express! Is the milk section hard to clean? That's what bugs me about my Breville cappuccino maker!

Chiaro, maybe you do need to make friends again with your Mukka. I didn't realize that the Bay and/or Sears now carry Bialetti products. The Ottawa outlets aren't always very good -- shopping in Ottawa generally isn't great because so many people head to Montreal or Toronto. Still, I'll keep an eye out next time I'm in a mall!

Brad'll Do It:

Palma got one of these and was very impressed with how easy it was to make a "one-step" cappuccino. She's a latte woman; so, it's only used every so often. I love how you are inventing ways to bring more and more of Italy into your daily life. How do you prefer your coffee when drinking "Italian-style"? I prefer Americano, but with only about half the water used at Starbucks. There's just not enough coffee in a cup of straight espresso, and unless I go with the Americano, I could wind up drinking three of them, resonating with caffeine the rest of the day!

sandrac:

Hi Brad, it is so much fun to bring more of Italy into my home! But while I can happily knock back espressos in Italy, at home I seem to need a bit more milk, so I go for cappuccinos or lattes.

In Italy, it seems the espressos have way better crema on the top and while they taste powerful, they're not usually bitter. Unlike espressos here in Canada!

Gerri:

Hi Sandrac

I have been browsing through your wonderful blog.

I love Italy too!

I enjoyed your posts about Assisi, Spello, Bevagna and Montefalco. I used Assiss as my base for day trips to those towns using the trains and buses. It wasn't too difficult.

I wish i had kept better trip records. the 3 towns are all a bit of a blur in my mind and I couldn't remember which frescoes were in which places.

My favourite thing was to walk around the towns and out onto the white roads. I grow fruit and vegetables as a hobby and I loved seeing how it is done in Italy.

My name on ST is gerribol. I haven't visited for a while but I'm glad I found your blog today.

I also adore the milky coffee using the pot on top of the stove.

Gerri

tourmama:

Sandra - just happened upon your comment above. I initially thought keeping the gadget clean would be too much of a hassle - but I realized the following:

a. rinsing the milk vessel as soon as I pour my coffee, and then leaving water in the top as it cools down greatly reduces the schmutz that needs to be scrubbed off. (I usually remove the pressure valve and let it soak in the water, too, so it doesn't clog up).

b. it isn't necessary to get every speck of whatever off of the center post - I was trying to do this the first week or so and was driving myself nuts. Now I make sure I've cleaned it thoroughly and then just admire the patina that has come with age.

Overall, it is a quick and easy way to get my morning fix.

Judy

sandrac:

Hi Gerri, it's nice to hear from you and I know your name from Slow Travel!

Isn't that part of Umbria beautiful? You must have loved the small towns and their markets with beautiful fruits, vegetables and flowers! Even the fall, when I was there, everything still looked so beautiful and lush.

Any plans to return to Italy?

Judy, thanks for Mukka tip! It really sounds like an easy (and so cute!) way to make a cappuccino.

I have had a Jura Capresso Impressa E8, their cheapest, about $900, for about three years. It makes the most wonderful espresso, always with a thick crema. I always loved using Mokas when we stayed in Italy. Brings back great memories.

Aloha,
Ellie

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