The Story of the Bialetti Moka Express

Coffee and Aluminum: Icons of Modernity

While both caffeine and aluminum were isolated (or discovered) in the early to mid 19th century, it was the fascist drive to make Aluminum the national metal of the Italy in the 1930’s that brought these two materials together in a way that would effect every Italian home! In 1933, Alfonso Bialetti fashioned and crafted the first Aluminum Stovetop espresso coffee maker. This coffee machine, The Moka Express, would find itself in 90% of all Italian homes (as well as in the Guinness Book of Records) thus changing the essence of Italian coffee culture.

Bialetti changed not only coffee brewing technique but also the Italian social fabric.

Coffee was generally consumed publicly. Public coffeehouses dominated the coffee trade in all aspects from buying and selling to roasting and consumption. They were the birthplaces of many ideological and political movements throughout Europe. Public coffee consumption was the realm of the male who made the coffee bar his home away from. Consumption of coffee by women was associated with their move to emancipation.

Inventors sought how to use new developments in technology to create better and more powerful coffee machines for the public sphere. The coffeehouse was associated with the developing modern psyche. (On the other hand, domestic coffee machines remained quite “tame”, being simple and basic.)

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