In every single Italian house there is – at least – one. More often than not, many of them, in different sizes. For millions of Italians, it is perhaps the first cooking “tool” (let’s put it in this way) they use as soon as they get up, half-way through the morning, after lunch and sometimes, after dinner. It’s the moka /ˈmɔka/, (small capital) a coffee maker whose supremacy is being jeopardized by those stylish though bulky coffee machines that glamorous actors advertise worldwide. Despite George Clooney’s efforts, moka still holds the record of the most popular coffee maker.
There are many moka manufactures, but in my personal opinion, only the brand showing “l’omino coi baffi” (“the guy with a mustache”) gives the best performances. Its octagonal shape made it an icon of the Italian life style, it hardly needs maintenance and it may last for decades, provided that you follow some basic precautions. When buying a new one, perform a sort of “priming” with water only. Then, after each use, rinse well the upper part (the “collecting chamber”) but do not use any soap or detergent, otherwise the coffee flavour will be completely spoiled. If you want to be sure to have a homogenous taste, stir the coffee before pouring it into the cups.
How do you know when coffee is ready? When the kitchen is filled with a funny gurgling noise and the air smells of roasted warm coffee, you know that, whether you are in Bora Bora or in Reykjavik, in Venice or in Buenos Aires, you will always feel at home (if you’ve been clever enough to put a moka into your luggage).