How The Moka Pot Brought Freshly Brewed Espresso Into The Home

We're going to let you in on a little secret. Are you ready? Come in close so you can hear. Here it is: you don't need an expensive espresso machine to make espresso at home! It's true, we swear! Okay, okay, if you're a purist with cash to spare, by all means, go ahead and spend $5,000 for a countertop La Marzocco and pull as many café style espressos as you like. But for those looking for an affordable, easy-to-use coffee maker that will brew something as close to espresso as you can get in your own kitchen, there is nothing better than the iconic Italian creation, the moka pot.

Discerning coffee lovers, like those at Java Presse, will tell you that the brew you get from a moka pot isn't true espresso because the pressure moka pots generate comes nowhere close to that of a proper machine. But you still get a strong, "espresso-like" cup of coffee, so consider it an entry-level device. The moka pot democratized coffee by bringing into the home what, at the time of its invention, could only be had at a café, per Serious Eats. And yes, for this article, we're calling the coffee that comes from a moka pot espresso. Sound good? Okay, moving on.

Moka brings espresso home

According to Serious Eats, the moka pot was invented by an intrepid Italian named Luigi di Ponti in 1933 and was put into production soon after that. However, it is not just the name but the figure on the moka pots that everyone remembers. Alfonso Bialetti is the man who first machined the bold, octagonal devices and whose caricatured likeness engraves the side of every Bialetti Moka Express sold. The timing of the moka pot's invention was fortuitous, as Italy's economy during the 1930s was in a slump and making coffee at home was a much more affordable option. 

The allure of the moka pot, as Bon Appétit explains, lies in its affordability, portability, and low-tech quaintness. You don't need any special equipment, other than the pot itself, to make a strong cup of semi-espresso. All you need is a heat source. There are several videos, including one from James Hoffmann, barista and coffee consultant, about how to perfect your moka pot technique. But, unlike the exacting preparation associated with high-end espresso makers, the moka pot isn't about perfection. It's a straightforward machine that brews a strong coffee, perfect for home or on the go. And while some speak to its faults (poor extraction, metallic taste), according to Serious Eats, there is no arguing that it is an enduring Italian symbol of coffee for the everyman.