Since the 1930s, the moka coffee pot’s bubbling sound and strong brew have been a part of the morning ritual in millions of homes across Italy.
But now the classic moka pot, an icon of Italian design, could be at risk of disappearing from Italian kitchens altogether.
Its makers, Bialetti, warned on Friday of possible bankruptcy after years of struggling against a difficult economy and fierce competition from coffee shops and modern capsule machines.
The Bialetti group announced in a press release that it will be undergoing restructuring to address a 68 million Euro debt, and said there are “doubts over its continuity.”
Moka coffee pots are found on breakfast tables across Italy and beyond. Photo: VadimVasenin/Depositphoto
The company ended the half year on 30 June with a net loss of 15.3 million euros, and a decline in revenues of more than 12 percent. The company also reportedly owes thousands in unpaid taxes and salaries.
However Bialetti said it’s currently negotiating a deal with US hedge fund Och-Ziff Capita, which may invest 35 million euros into restructuring the company. Bialetti has applied for protection under Italy's bankruptcy laws, and hopes moka production could survive.
Coffee shops remain popular in Italy, including a Starbucks that controversially opened in Milan in September.
But the main factor behind the moka's shrinking market share is thought to be competition from faster modern coffee makers, especially capsule coffee machines like the popular Nespresso.
In its statement, the company also cited problems in the supply chain due to the troubled economy.
The moka pot’s unique design, which forces pressurised boiling water up through a layer of ground coffee, was patented in 1933; a time when the Italian economy was in very bad shape. With unemployment high, Italians were cutting out luxuries like café visits and the new at-home coffee maker was in demand.
More than 105 million moka coffee pots have since been produced. While other brands have since copied the design, the original 1933 Bialetti design remains a favourite among coffee lovers and design aficionados.
It’s even considered an iconic 'Made in Italy' object, displayed at the London Science Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.