Have You BEAN Around The World?

by Shelli Stein

People say I’m passionate about coffee. They know me well! And coupled with travel, I’ve taken to exploring and writing about the coffee scene wherever I roam. I have a passion for supporting local roasters and coffee houses. So when I heard about Italy, espresso, and UNESCO lists, I had to learn more.

Italy and espresso: it’s the classic combination. Have you ever wondered how an entire nation manages to brew strong, delicious coffee at home—without expensive espresso makers, or newfangled contraptions that look like a mad scientist’s laboratory equipment?

You might be interested to learn that Italy’s unique espresso culture was actually nominated to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list!

Who knew there was even such a list?

What’s The Secret Weapon in Espresso Making?

The Italians have a secret weapon in their espresso making arsenal: 9 out of 10 households use a stovetop Moka pot to satisfy their daily coffee habit. They take the question of how to make Italian coffee seriously!

The Moka pot (caffettiera in Italian) has a fascinating history. The original Moka pot was designed by Luigi di Ponti in 1933, and manufactured by Alfonso Bialetti in the mid-1930s.

What’s A Moka Pot and Why Is It So Special?

As the story goes, Bialetti got the idea for the pot by watching how his wife did laundry using a pressurized system of boiling soapy water and steam. Inspired, Bialetti created a system where the hot water in a lower chamber pushed up through a metal filter containing coffee grounds. The resulting coffee mixture in the upper chamber released just the right flavor and aroma, and kept the coffee from burning.

You might also notice an “art deco” appearance on the pots. The hourglass, 8-sided shape resembles the form of womens’ pleated skirts (which first made their appearance in 1925 at the Paris International Exposition).

The invention of this simple, elegant coffee maker occurred during the fascist rule of Mussolini. Italy had strict controls on exports and imports. Conveniently, their colonization of Ethiopia meant they had access to coffee beans, plantations, and labor. A coffee culture was born.

Today Bioletti continues to manufacture Moka pots, and many other companies have joined the market.

How to Make Italian Coffee: The Best Espresso

Italians are particular about how to make the best cup of stovetop espresso in their Moka pots. A few tips to remember include starting with good water, and a medium-to fine ground (and don’t tamp down in the metal filter).

Heat over a low, slow heat source for best results. To fully appreciate your espresso, drink it within 2 minutes.

Just so you know: if you were a true Italian espresso connoisseur you could enjoy several servings every day… but never drink cappuccino after breakfast—too much milk!

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Have You BEAN Around The World? – Travel Blogs July 2, 2022 - 1:30 pm

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