The Bialetti Moka Express: beautiful, yes, but would you like to be buried in it?
The Bialetti Moka Express: beautiful, yes, but would you like to be buried in it? Jiri Hera/Shutterstock

Every morning, I make coffee in the same silver pot which I've owned for more than ten years. I bought the pot, a six-cup Bialetti Moka Express, at City Kitchens which, though it closed in 2013, will always be Seattle's best kitchen store. I don't remember the exact year I bought my Bialetti, but I do know that it's lived with me in four different apartments and houses, and has been an essential part of my life longer than my husband has.

I love my Bialetti for its simplicity. It's a squat little pot made of lightweight aluminum. I fill the base with water, fill the funnel with grounds, screw the top on, then place it on the stove and wait for its aromatic, low-toned burble to tell me that my coffee is ready. There's no fuss and it makes a fine, strong cup of coffee every time. At a time when I had developed a habit of spending close to five dollars every morning before I was even fully awake, the Bialetti marked one of my first big steps into the kitchen, the place that has become a source of comfort and nourishment (not to mention financial savings).

The Bialetti Moka Express was designed in Italy in 1933 by Luigi di Ponti, who sold the patent to Alfonso Bialetti, an aluminum vendor. Sales of the Moka were unimpressive until Alfonso's son, Renato Bialetti, took over the business in the 1940s.

Support The Stranger

Renato branded every pot with a charming and adorable character, l'omino con i baffi, meaning "the little man with a mustache," and aggressively marketed it around Italy. The Bialetti Moka is now a global icon and an estimated 330 million have been sold worldwide. (To this day, l'omino con i baffi is the brand mascot I'd most like to have a drink with. The Tapatío guy is a very distant second.)

Renato Bialetti passed away on February 11, 2016. He was 93. After cremation, his ashes were placed in a large Moka Express-shaped urn. The urn was blessed in a funeral mass, then placed in Bialetti's family plot in Omegna, Italy.

If you don't have your own Bialetti but would like to pay tribute to this great man, head over to Ballard's the Fat Hen, where they will brew you a pot of fresh coffee ("please allow fifteen minutes") in one of the many worn silver Bialetti Mokas that line a shelf behind the counter. I hear the baked eggs are delicious, too.