Yes, Ladies and Gentlemans, here we are continuing our ITALIAN ICONS, with the faithfull, loyal, trustworthy f^!%@#$!^&@ MOKA ESPRESSO CAFFETTIERA (read : kaffee-ttt-iieeee-raaaw)

Ciao, I am Marco Bruschi, from Università di Pisa.

More than anything I look around for anything that attracts my desire, my intellect, my curiosity. I don’t care about a lot of things… but I love details.

I love everything that people call stupid, superfluous, useless. I collect “moments” instant of memories. I love vices and I do not trust who says that they do not have any.

Here is my Cinzia.

That morning I woke up at 3 in the afternoon, as always. That is the Erasmus lifestyle.  The first thing I used to do was zombie-walking upstairs and making a coffee. Not a shitty one, a real Italian coffee, with the marvelous machine we call macchinetta and you call moka pot. You’d probably call that coffee “espresso” even if for us, the espresso is the one made in a coffee shop, which we call bar.  I had brought the moka pot with me from Italy, because I was sure I was not going to find one in England. In fact, I never did.

Moka + bialetti

My Cinzia. She has been with me many many years

While the coffee was on the hob I used to roll the first cigarette of the day. I didn’t want to talk to any kind of human beings before my coffee, but it was a hard task to accomplish. I lived with nine people for nine months there in UK, in a small city called Leicester. It has one of the best university, they say.

LEICESTER curtesy photo by LEIGH

The two Spanish I lived with, used to wake me up all the times. They talked and talked outside my door, making me really pissed off. I don’t care if it was one o’ clock p.m., I was sleeping as a man should do after the club.

The other seven people where random. Nigerians, Chinese, I don’t even know anymore.

That morning, fortunately, nobody was in the kitchen. Maybe because nobody was in the house anymore. It was summer, but it didn’t seem so in England. It was still cold, at least for me. Not at all as in Italy. Nobody was drinking  in the streets on the week-ends and I didn’t know why. Everybody was in the pub, and I felt sorry for them. And pissed off. It’s the law lad, you cannot drink in the streets, only inside. So I had to drink inside too.

Moka + almost done

Coffee is coming in the moka


That day, oh, here’s the coffee coming out. Can you feel the smell? That morning, or afternoon, as you wish, it was my last day there in England, and I was looking at all my things there with strange eyes. I was going to say farewell to all my fry pans, all my mugs, all my friends there, all the furniture. I was sure I was not going to miss the furniture, to be fair.

This Erasmus is a strange thing. You go to study abroad for six or nine months and then you come back home. Meanwhile almost nobody knows what happened to you because “What happens in Erasmus stays in Erasmus”. It’s like Las Vegas, only for a bounce of time. You live in the foreign country and you will eventually learn how the people in that country live and their culture. You meet plenty of new friends but, funny thing, it is unlikely you are going to see them again if they live far from you. And most of them live far from you, miles and miles far away. The Erasmus time is something detached from everything else. You have a new home, a new language and new people around you. You don’t feel the same.

Moka + bialetti 2

Moka and the other bialetti tools for coffee

That morning/afternoon I was waiting for a friend of mine, an English guy who was kind of crazy. He was always running everywhere and playing rugby while I was sitting on the grass smoking  or reading.  He rang the bell, I threw him the keys to avoid having him climbing my wall and entering through the open window.

- Are you gonna throw everything away?

- Of course not -, I answered. – You can take what you want and take it to your mum.

His eyes became wide and he started to rummage through my stuff. I lighted my cigarette ignoring the fire alarm in the kitchen, which never went off. He found a wok and he was happy,  he found  some sugar and he was even happier. I gave a pull to the cigarette and I was astonished.

- Do you want to be able to make a real Italian coffee? – I asked him.

He looked at me, puzzled.

- Look at her -, I said, showing him my moka pot.

- Oh yes, your  little coffee machine.

- The coffee machine -, I pointed out.

That English savage knew everything about cricket, rugby, kidneys pies and nothing about our macchinetta.  The moka pot for Italians is a must, a symbol, something we can’t live without. Someone uses those automatic machines to make coffee, and it’s fair enough, because it’s just a trend. The real, indestructible, original coffee machine is the moka. You can have a good coffee everywhere with it, you just need a hob.

It takes about five to ten minutes to make the coffee. You put the water in the bottom, the coffee powder in the middle and then you put everything on the hob.  If you are not in a rush you can set the fire power to minimum, so the steam passes through the powder really slowly, taking all the best from it.

There was a strange guy on my moka pot. His name is Mr. Bialetti. Actually, Bialetti is the owner of the industries that make the coffee machines, but we all call Bialetti the little man with the big moustache on the logo. He’s really cool. When he speaks, the words of what he says appear on his mouth, letter by letter. They’re very quick.

Moka - Old Bialetti ad

Mister Bialetti


When my parents were young there was this thing called Carosello. It was a kind of show in television, but, funny thing, made of advertisements. There were not like the ads we are used to watch today. Those things were artistic. There were cartoons, songs and other cool stuff. The Bialetti thing was one of these. Every evening at ten to nine, for ten minutes the street of Italy were silent, all the kids round the television watching Carosello. And this Bialetti, talking about the moka pot in his strange way.

Moka + carosello


moka + carmencita


moka + new carmencita


That is also why the macchinetta is part of us, of our culture. I strongly felt that when I went abroad, talking to other Italians. Did you bring a moka pot with you? Of course I did, who can drink the instant coffee? I met an Italian girl who told me she had become a superstar in her flat thanks to her moka pot. He lived with a bounce of Chinese who had never seen a macchinetta before. When they tasted her coffee they just freaked out. They begged her to teach them how to do it and to show them where they could by one of those little machines.

- Are you going to throw it away? – my friend asked, referring to my moka.

- I am not going to throw her away.

- Her?

- Her name is …Cinzia – it wasn’t true, I just said a random name on the spur of the moment.

- Oh, I see.

- You can have her. Do you know how to use her? – I asked, even if I feared the answer.

- I suppose I don’t.

- You tosser.

I used to swear a lot in English because it’s not my native language. For me those words didn’t mean anything, but for him yes. And that was the best part. I showed him how to use Cinzia. The water, the powder, the hob.

- And now, look.

- Oh, that is where the coffee comes from! -, I did want to punch him but I didn’t.

- Go my friend -, I told him instead, – and spread the verb.

Sometimes, when I make a coffee here in Italy this story comes up to my mind.  When it happens I open my email and I write to my friend:

“How is Cinzia?”.

“She is marvelous” is the standard answer.

Marco Bruschi