Renato Bialetti, the Italian businessman who turned an aluminum coffee pot into a classic global design, died last week at the age of 93. In accordance with his and his family’s wishes, his ashes were interred in an urn shaped like a large version of a Moka pot, the stovetop coffee maker he introduced to the world.
A short video of the memorable funeral mass is here.
Bialetti didn’t invent the Moka. He just made it famous. A man named Luigi di Ponti designed the appliance in 1933 and sold the patent to Renato’s father Alfonso Bialetti, an aluminum vendor. It works like this (via Alborzagros):
Sales lagged under the elder Bialetti, but Renato had bigger, coffee-scented dreams when he took over the business in the 1940s. He spearheaded a massive marketing campaign across Italy for the pots, which were branded with a charmingly mustachioed caricature—based either on himself or his father, depending on the legend you read. L’omino con i baffi, the little man with a mustache, remains a widely-recognized symbol in Italy today.
An estimated 330 million Moka pots have since been sold around the world. Bialetti’s Moka-shaped urn now lies in the family plot in Omegna, Italy.