Coffee may not be an Italian invention, but the country’s love affair with the beverage runs deep. 80% of Italians drink coffee, with the average person consuming 1.5 espresso-based drinks a day. And there’s no shortage of choice for where to get one because Italy is home to around 149,000 bars, cafes, and coffee shops slinging espresso (many for just €1.00 a shot).
So when the country shut down every single restaurant, pub, and apero lounge and standing bar in the country for 68 days between March and May of 2020, the greatest loss of normalcy for many people was the daily caffè at the local bar. And as of November 2020, coffee bars in Italy’s “red zones” of high contagion are closed again. In these trying times, allowed outside only for weekly trips to the supermarket or pharmacy, homebound Italians have rekindled an old love affair in search of a sense of solace. I am of course referring to the Moka pot.
The eight-sided aluminum Moka pot is simple and durable—and highly recognizable. Even if you don’t have a Moka pot, you’ve surely seen one. Available in a variety of sizes for brewing anywhere from one to ten cups at a time, it sits directly on the stovetop. The base gets filled with water, and a small basket of ground coffee is placed just above the surface. The upper chamber is screwed onto this bottom, which is then placed overheat. As the water rises to a boil, it brews the coffee, which then passes through a filter and a spout into the upper chamber. The result is a strong, espresso-like coffee that can easily be made at home.