Not so long ago, we offered you a list of typically Italian Christmas gifts that included the iconic Bialetti Moka pot. If you haven’t bought one yet and you are planning on getting one, it looks like you are going to need to hurry up, because the company that produces it is currently teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. What will happen to the traditional Italian coffee-making ritual? A buyout is definitely more likely than an abrupt disappearance, but this moment will still mark a momentous change in coffee history, one way or the other.
Who stole Bialetti’s crown?
Once unrivalled rulers of the coffee industry (or rather, the coffee-related industry, since the company was never involved in the production of actual coffee), the makers of the Bialetti Moka pot now claim to be suffering the blows of competition from multiple directions. Most of the world is now relying on coffee shops and large franchises for their morning caffeine intake, and would rather walk a block or two to the nearest Starbucks for a caramel macchiato than brewing their own coffee at home. Those who still treasure the moment of perfect bliss of sitting down to sip a shot-sized coffee in their own kitchen in the morning, are increasingly turning to capsules – despite warnings of the unsustainable nature of this particular variant of coffee-making and the alarming amount of non-recyclable waste it produces.
Who will save the Bialetti Moka pot?
After ending the year with a disastrous loss and millions of Euros’ worth of unpaid salaries and taxes, Bialetti announced a last-ditch attempt at saving their iconic Moka pot. Help may be coming in the form of an American hedge fund, that seems ready to invest over 30 million Euros in this pillar of Italian business and design. Of course, survival might depend on more than a hefty injection of foreign money: Bialetti will have to adapt to the market and some sources are suggesting it should branch out into some of the market trends that are threatening to undo it. A proactive approach, after all, might be a better way of tackling the current issues than a defensive one.
In the beginning, there were coffee shops, then came the moka
What many coffee enthusiasts ignore, is that coffee shops preceded the Bialetti Moka pot by decades. In 1933, as Italy and most of western Europe were going through a devastating recession, the habits of the average Italian consumer had to change drastically, cutting back on all expenses that were not strictly necessary. That left many Italian coffee-lovers in a bit of a pickle. Sure, there were more pressing problems to be dealing with, but anyone who has ever met a born-and-raised Italian will tell you that coffee is, for most of us, not a luxury, but an absolute necessity. And yet, back in the early ‘30s, visiting the glamorous cafes that had been the centres of social aggregation and artistic and political debate since the previous century was beyond the means of all but the richest Italians. Where were they to get their coffee? That’s when the famous Bialetti Moka pot came in. Patented in 1933, it allowed every family to replicate their favourite ritual at home, with a simple and immediately enjoyable process.
Get your Moka boiling!
If you happen to own an original, Bialetti Moka pot, it may be wise to hold on to it. In a few years’ time, it could be a prized vintage piece. Or the only way of getting a proper home-brewed coffee the Italian way.