Bialetti are famous around the world for producing distinctive-looking, reliable espresso makers. Their logo is instantly recognisable and has an interesting history of its own: it is a cartoon caricature of Renato Bialetti, son of company-founder Alfonso, portrayed as “l’omino con i baffi” – the ‘mustachioed little man’.
Alfonso Bialetti was a metal engineer who kick-started his company by acquiring the invention for the Moka Pot from its creator Luigi De Ponti. The unique appearance of the coffee maker had gathered momentum as an iconic item since the 1930s. It’s the world’s “most famous” coffee maker due to two primary reasons: it looks great and makes making good coffee consistently easy. Its status has led the plans for the original Moka Coffee Maker to be kept in the London Science Museum. One of the great things about the Moka is that the design and material hasn’t really changed over the last 80 years – it’s still made of aluminium and has kept its octagonal aesthetic.
It was by focusing on this single product that the Bialetti family was able to become a household name. After the Second World War the company was led by Renato with a marketing blitz that included building a huge Moka Coffee Pot in Milan. By reinforcing the Bialetti brand the company were able to beat away copycat companies and distribute the product internationally.
By promoting the Moka Pot Bialetti were not only marketing themselves but also the idea that you can produce coffee cheaply at home – in contrast to large coffee machines which had to be maintained and operated by more experienced baristas. To a certain extent this is still a valid message today, which is why the Bialetti Moka Express continues to thrive up against other large machines. Its classic design also sets it apart from new products such as the AeroPress or mypressi TWIST, which helps Bialetti maintain their reputation for affordable luxury. These other coffee makers are also reliable and distinctive, but they don’t have the tradition and history of the Bialetti stovetop.
Bialetti continue to add related products to their line including the Induction Coffee Maker (made of stainless steel – for an induction stove), the Mukka (for making hot chocolate) and a wide range of cooking and kitchenware.
For as long as people want to make espresso at home the Bialetti Stovetop will continue to be with us.
Image credit: beppezizzi on Flickr. Data via Wikipedia, bialetti.com and objects.designapplause.com.