In 1933 the Italian economy wasn’t doing much better than today. Coffee crazed Italians were forced to limit their usual trips to the coffee bars because they were running out of money. That’s when Alfonso Bialetti invented the Moka Express! A personal stovetop espresso machine provided excellent coffee and looked pretty damned good too! The Italians were sold and now 9 in 10 Italian households own a Moka Express. The iconic object has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and the London Design Museum. By 1953 there were so many copies of the Moka Express around that Alfonso commissioned the Italian Artist, Paul Campani, to design a mascot for his beloved coffee maker. L’omino coi baffi or “the mustachioed little man” was born. Today you can find the little man on the side of every genuine Moka Express, and in the back of my overland truck.
It’s never over in my Rover, but it always starts with a delicious espresso! I even take the thing on board every dive trip to avoid the “put-some-powder-in water” excuse for coffee they usually serve there.