The Moka: a classic until the end

February 28, 2016

Two weeks ago, the son of the man who invented the Moka coffee pot died in Switzerland aged 93 and received a fitting send-off.

As a tribute to his gift to coffee lovers, Renato Bialetti’s ashes were placed in an over-sized replica of the famous coffee pot at his funeral near Milan. His father Alfonso invented the aluminium, eight-faceted stovetop coffee pot in 1933 and Renato took over the business in 1946. Soon afterwards, he mounted a marketing campaign so successful it took the Moka from the markets in Piedmont to kitchens throughout Italy.

The result? Nine out of ten Italian households own a Moka and over 300 million have been sold worldwide.

Screen shot 2016-02-27 at 6.53.54 PM
Up until then, coffee drinking in Italy took place in cafes or other public places before the Napoletana (drip) stovetop coffee pot was invented in the late 19th century for home use. I love the Napoletana (see my previous blog post for an explosive memoir) and it does a fine job but for those who like their coffee espresso-strong, nothing beats the Moka.

I applaud the use of ashes contained in something special associated with the deceased. I wonder if the Italian inventor of Nutella, Pietro Ferrero ended up in a large, branded jar of the chocolate hazelnut spread when he died in 1949, but it would have been a fitting send-off too.

This is so much more creative than a cardboard shoebox. Except possibly in the case of the late Italian shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo.

I’m not sure if Renato Bialetti requested the funeral-sized coffee pot or if it was his children’s idea, but for the record, I’m liking the idea of a large marmalade jar for my remains. The label should read ‘Ambrajambra’ Mandarin Marmalade Queen.

But back to coffee. I’m raising a cup to signor Bialetti with my current drink of choice – a Caffe Shakerato (iced, strong, sweet black coffee) – to beat this hot humid Sydney summer weather.




  1. what a great blog, Ambradambra! Even better as a start to the day than a long black.

    • Thanks Lyndal. Takes me three coffees to get going in the mornings.

  2. Wonder if they put the ashes in the middle bit and percolated them through? That Nutella image will stay for me forever…

    • Well I’m glad you brought that up Colin (about the middle bit …) as the type of grind is just one of the factors to a good brew!

  3. When I first read about this I thought it was a joke, but then I saw the funeral fotos. I think it was very fitting

    • Yes I agree, very fitting. But I thought it was a joke too at first.

  4. Great blog and a good read

  5. That was so sad and good at the same time. Let’s here it for Bialetti. Hope all well. Love the Ambrajambra you are onto something there. Many years Eli chased all over Sydney getting me a Bialetti. Of course in those days the only place was The One on Oxford street, maybe still is. B

    Sent from my iPad


    • Bialetti is readily available around town these days Bernice. There’s even a style called ‘Mukka (cow) Express’ which has a cowhide pattern top and froths milk. Genius!

  6. To think I don’t own one of those little coffee pots — well, that will just have to change and I can salute Signore Bialetti every morning — after the coffee kicks in and I’m awake. Great tribute Ambra!! Buona giornata.

    • Thanks Marisa Franca. They really are gems.

  7. I remember my grandparents having this pot. Thanks for the info on the inventor. Interesting.

    • Thanks Jovina. I always enjoy writing about one of my favourite things in life: coffee

  8. […] Sourced through Scoop.it from: ambradambra.wordpress.com […]

  9. Thank you for your all that great information. I use this remarkable pot every day, it is such a joy in my life I actually go to bed looking forward to putting the pot on in the morning. It gets me up and going at all early dawn with a extra beat in my heart. So many thanks to
    Signor Bialetti he will definately be toasted tomorrow morning

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Laura. And good to meet another happy customer. The Moka certainly has a lot of fans. cheers

  10. How fantastic. It’s got me thinking about what I’d like my ashes in although I’ve always quite liked the idea of being buried – all that rotting down into the earth is appealing!

    • Mmm, rotting into the earth does have some appeal. But then again so does floating on the calm waters of a local bay. Thanks Vicky.

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