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COFFEE COFFIN

Italy’s coffee pot king was buried in the appliance that made him famous

AP Photo/Danilo Donadio
Ashes to ashes, grounds to grounds.
  • Corinne Purtill
By Corinne Purtill

Reporter

This article is more than 2 years old.

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):

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/dd/Moka_Animation.gif

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.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

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