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Moka coffee maker: the iconic Italian design struggling amid competition from capsules

Moka coffee maker: the iconic Italian design struggling amid competition from capsules
By Chris Harris
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Trouble brewing: Italian icon Moka feeling the coffee capsule pressure


Their classic design and functional simplicity have helped them become a fixture in the homes of caffeine lovers worldwide.

Italian stovetop coffee makers are nearly as synonymous with the country as pizza, panettone and panna cotta.

But that status is under threat amid the growing popularity of coffee capsule brands such as Nespresso, analysts say.

The company behind the original moka model — introduced by Alfonso Bialetti in 1933 — announced measures on Friday to tackle a €68 million debt amid “significant doubts” about its “business continuity”.

Bialetti Group said it had made a €15.3m loss in the year to the end of June and had been hit by a drop in domestic and foreign consumption.

“When it comes to large-scale distribution, sales of the capsules are growing rapidly while sales of ground coffee for the moka are declining, even here in Italy where 70% of families have a moka in their home,” said Francesca Arcuri, communications director for Italian coffee company Filicori Zecchini.

A report by market research firm IRI reveals sales of coffee for moka pots in Italy dropped 5.1% in 2017 compared with the previous year. That happened as the value of coffee capsule sales jumped by 16.8%.

When moka coffee pots were introduced in the 1930s the country was feeling the effects of the Great Depression. The invention — considered an iconic design and displayed by the Museum of Modern Art in New York and London Science Museum — was intended to give Italians an affordable alternative to going out for a coffee.

When inventor Alfonso’s son Renato — who helped make the family’s coffee pot a global brand — died in 2016, his ashes were stored in a large moka.

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