Coffee machines: from the first “caffettiera” to the latest, automatic machines. A history of an Italian icon

Italians and coffee.

A love story whose origins are shrouded in the mists of time, a symbiotic relationship (re)known all around the world, like the one with pasta and pizza.

Between the first rudimental coffee machine, the neapolitan “caffettiera”, which has to be put upside down and the latest sophisticated machines of today, there are almost 90 years of history.

The fil rouge is undoubtedly the legendary Moka, an icon of Italian design and lifestyle, a cult item capable of rejuvenating through years, resisting any technological innovation.

“We cannot talk about the present, nor imagine the future, if we don’t know the past”

Let’s go back in time and look at the history of coffee machines

Like all origin stories, the one of the Moka (nominated among the 10 Italian inventions that changed the world) is curious and fascinating.

It all began in 1933 in a little village on Lake Maggiore, where Alfonso Bialetti owns a tin-making workshop.

One day, looking out of the window, he sees his wife washing clothes in the “lisciveuse”, a big pot, the forefather of the washing machine which combined ash (the time’s detergent) to the boiling of water.

Alfonso realises that he can use the same principle to build a machine to make coffee and soon enough he creates the first Moka Bialetti prototype.

A proper aluminium caffettiera that, thanks to the porosity and thermal inertia of this material, preserves the coffee’s aroma and temperature at the best point.

In 1946 Renato Bialetti followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming for everyone “the man with the mustache” in the ‘50s commercial (in Italian “Carosello”) increasing the sales to millions of pieces and making the Moka a timeless and universal icon.

Yeah… it seems easy!” was the catchphrase of that Carosello, and it still is the perfect summary of the art of making coffee.

And what about today? What’s the inspiration for modern coffee machines?

How has the heritage of the Moka been reinvented within the modern technology of automatic coffee machines?

What is the best coffee machine? Let’s have a look at the present and a glimpse at the future.

No more exclusively for bars and restaurants, the automatic coffee machine is a widespread kitchen appliance for coffee enthusiasts.

It is capable of making a more intense aroma, like a professional barista, compared to coffee pods machines.

Many are the features that make these machines stand out.

There is a wide selection of authentic coffee machines from Italian brands.

A common factor is the use of whole coffee beans, ground by the internal grinder immediately and, like the name suggests, automatically, making an intense mix and a true Italian espresso in a matter of minutes!

Almost every model could work with ground coffee.

These modern machines are also “multi-beverage”, that is they can also prepare cappuccino, milk, latte and they can also use hot water for tea and infusions.

Among the most appreciated models we find the ones allowing the creation of a “custom espresso”, setting the grinding levels or the intensity of the coffee, settings that can be memorised by the machine for future use.

Compared to the older machines, bigger and bulker, the design has evolved towards optimisation.

More and more compact and good looking, the modern models of automatic coffee machines can be convenient and handy, but at the same time they can have ever more sophisticated and specific functions.

Coffee Pod Machines are even more practical and easy to use.

Nowadays it’s difficult to do without it, as for other small appliances of everyday use. They are also widespread in workplaces, thanks to their convenience and the many tastes they can meet.

Compared to automatic machines, with coffee pods we cannot personalise the taste, the grain or the intensity of the beverage on the go, but this can be done choosing from a wide range of different pods.

Create a coffee corner in your home.

Almost every model can deliver:

  • The classic Espresso or Lungo, barley bean coffee, ginseng coffee
  • Hot chocolate
  • Flavoured coffee
  • Cappuccino

The latter, if made from a pod, could not be the best option.

To make a good, authentic, creamy cappuccino, automatic machines with “cappuccinatore” are to be preferred. They include a device that pumps hot milk, mounting it in a soft foam.

Now you just have to find out whether you prefer pods, coffee beans, ground coffee, or if you are nostalgic enough and you can’t part from your old (but everlasting) Moka!