The Moka Man

17 Feb

Who says you can’t take it with you? Not the family of Renato Bialetti, the man responsible for turning the octagonal Italian espresso maker, La Moka, into a global phenomenon.

© 2015 L'Italo-Americano. All rights reserved.

© 2015 L’Italo-Americano. All rights reserved.

Renato Bialetti passed away last week at the age of 93. According to local Italian papers, it was his three children, Alessandra, Antonello and Alfonso, who decided on a most fitting resting place for their father’s ashes – a large Moka.

La caffettiera con le ceneri di Renato Bialetti (foto Danilo Donadio) La Stampa

La caffettiera con le ceneri di Renato Bialetti (foto Danilo Donadio) La Stampa

Renato’s father, Alfonso, completed his design for the Moka Express in 1933. Over the next six years, 70,000 Moka units were produced and marketed in the weekly Piedmont markets. But when son Renato started running the family business in 1946, he was determined to make the Moka world-famous.

His huge marketing campaign, coupled with the addition of a new mascot, proved invaluable.  Renato added Bialetti’s now well-recognized trademark, the Moka mascot, which was based on a humorous cartoon doodle of father Alfonso. The “omino coi baffi”, the little man with mustache ordering an espresso, became the recognized symbol of the Bialetti Moka worldwide.



Why was the Moka such a success? Among other reasons, it enabled all people, not just the wealthy, to brew high-quality, great tasting coffee at home, replacing the need for expensive or primitive coffee makers, or the need to go out for good coffee.

Today, it is estimated that over 330 million units of varying shapes and sizes have been purchased. Count us among the millions!



RIP Renato, and may you long savor that wonderful espresso aroma.



5 Responses to “The Moka Man”

  1. Marisa's Italian Kitchen February 17, 2016 at 5:34 PM #

    It is certainly a “must” in every Italian household. My parents would not settle for any other type of coffee maker!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Larsen, L R February 17, 2016 at 8:15 PM #

    Another educational and interesting experience
    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jean February 17, 2016 at 10:32 PM #

    How can you not love a man who agrees to using a cartoon of himself to represent his company?
    Of course, as an animator I may be a bit biased 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Gracefully Global February 17, 2016 at 11:07 PM #

    Wow, love this history! The moka is so commonplace, you don’t think about the history it has. Now I don’t think I’ll ever see a moka without thinking about this man and his family.


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