Goodbye Espresso Machine

by Marcella Hazan on May 5, 2011

I love espresso, I hate espresso machines. In the first part of my life I made coffee over the stove with the Moka, the Italian 8-sided aluminum pot. I so loved it that when I wrote my first cookbook I had the artist do a drawing of it accompanied by my instructions for using it. About 30 years ago I switched to an electric espresso machine. I have had several. I have just given away my last one. It was ostensibly fully automatic, but it was as automatic and accommodating as this computer. Now I am back to the Moka, one less machine to argue with, lots more room on my counter, and terrific coffee in the morning!

Deborah Johnson Horn wrote to Marcella: Love my Mokas (or would that be Moki in Italian?) I have the 3 cup, 6 cup, and 12 cup sizes. For home brewing, there is nothing as good as that low-tech stovetop!

Marcella Hazan Moke, the plural of feminine “a”. When I used to travel, I always packed Bialetti’s electric Moka. How could I start the day without my Moka?

Must it be necessary, I wonder, to be born Italian to experience the sustenance that coffee from a moka brings? Studying at night for your finals with a cup of it in hand? Running up the stairs to put the pot on the stove to melt away the chill from a frosty winter day? Gulping searing swallows of it at daybreak when rushing to take the train that will take you to a job interview in the city? Sharing the last large cup of the day with your love feeling wholly unconcerned that it might deprive you of sleep? No single shot or two from an espresso machine could take its place. That Italians know what a good espresso from the bar tastes like cannot be disputed. They have all had it, probably once and possibly several times a day. Yet few Italian families own an electric espresso machine. They know they cannot duplicate the bar’s espresso. Not even the $1,000 contraption that a kind manufacturer had sent me could. And at the same time, they really prefer the taste and satisfaction to be had at home from a cupful of Moka-made coffee. Many may be surprised to learn that it’s not the least like dust dissolved in hot water. It can be delicious, if you learn how to use the Moka. It’s not pushbutton coffee, it requires judgment to do well.