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:
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!
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.
And I like this blue baby as well:
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!