In praise of Moka

Once upon a time there was a small restaurant on Pioneer that was tended to by an old lady by the name of Morita. She served nothing but set meals, which involved an arugula salad with pomelo drizzled with orange vinagrette, followed by the most succulent slow-cooked chicken not served at home. Unfortunately, Morita set her price point too high and not everyone shared her taste in food. So, after a few years of heartbreak, Morita’s finally closed shop last year (or so).

On the same site, an establishment that goes by the name of Swiss Deli has set up shop. Now Swiss Deli has some of the cheapest sausage this side of the Pacific and  to my surprise, a substantial supply of affordable ricotta.

The real surprise, however,  lies on the second floor: there you can find the Gourdo’s surplus shop.

There, my wife Iya found my moka pot. It was on sale, too, because apparently people didn’t like the fact that the aluminum had some oxidation stains. They never even considered that it was an otherwise functional machine. Bearing in mind what they say about one man’s trash, I said yes almost immediately.

Once again, my wife and I fell in love at first sight.

The moka pot was invented by Alfonso Bialetti, and his machine continues in a company that still manufactures these pots under his name. The moka express was an attempt to bring the virtues of espresso (which is made under extreme pressure in a specialized machine) to the ordinary home by placing all the components into something that can fit on a stove top.

In this method, coffee is made by using pressurized water vapor to extract coffee from finely ground beans. The pressure is generated by having the water heated by an external element such as a stove’s open flame. As the pressure builds, the coffee gushes out of the top of the machine and gradually fills the coffee container. Eventually, the water comes to a boil  and it is at this point that the pot must be removed from the flame to keep the coffee from turning bitter.

The design is simple: the entire pot – filters, tubes, and all –  is made from cast aluminum. As a result, it is relatively cheap for Italians to make and it has been estimated that 90% of Italians own at least one moka pot. I myself was introduced to the joy of moka by a visiting Italian archaeologist who just happened to be spending some time in our Matuod home.The extruded coffee is somewhere between drip coffee and espresso. For most, the strength is sufficiently strong enough to consider the resulting beverage as espresso. Bialetti in marketing his product, claimed as much.

For me, I don’t care if its not as strong as espresso, it’s something entirely different. It’s leaps and bounds better than the drip coffeemaker I’ve been using since time immemorial. I have since spent the past few days enjoying the best coffee I’ve ever had the pleasure to enjoy at home.

Goodbye, “coffee” maker. You suxx0rz.
No way am I ever going to go to a Starbucks or Seattle’s Best for their coffee unless it’s really important or unless it’s to get fresh beans for my beloved moka pot.


3 thoughts on “In praise of Moka”

  1. i bought mine in this street market in rome. i proudly showed it to my boyfriend when i got back to germany. he started laughing when he held the box and pointed at the bottom. i followed his finger and it said “made in beijing”… :p

  2. Don’t worry about it. Apparently, most of the things sold in Italy that used to be made by Italians are now made by the Chinese. I hear it’s a big issue over there.

    The main thing is that it works, right? I miss using my moka pot.

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