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L'Italo-Americano THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2014 www.italoamericano.com 2 An exhibition dedicated to the father of the Italian coffee machine, la Moka Continued from page 1 who evidently loved coffee, deemed it a Christian beverage, and paved the way for its wider acceptance. The first European coffee house opened in Rome in 1645. Coffee houses sprung up all over the country and very quick- ly the black liquid, which at the beginning was consumed mainly as a medicinal drink, achieved cult status, making it a luxury item, out of reach for most of society. Eventually, as coffee beans became one of the main products produced in European colonies in South America and Asia, the price of coffee decreased and poor began to drink it too. Today coffee is the daily drink of every Italian and bars (the "bar" in Italy is a kind of coffee shop) can be found on every corner. One of the most iconic images of coffee in Italy is the so-called "macchinetta", literally "little machine", or "caffettiera". This is the famous aluminum stove- top percolator that you can find in every Italian kitchen: the Moka Express coffeemaker. It was first elegantly designed and produced by the engineer Alfonso Bialetti in 1933. Since then the coffee pot has became a style icon and source of nostalgia and affection for many Italians. In fact, in socio-economic terms, it was the invention of the Moka Express that brought espresso from the coffeehouse and coffee bar to the home. Now an Exhibition in Rome at Palazzo Ruspoli celebrates the famous "macchinetta", its design and the many posters and images that were created through time. Among these images is the Bialetti mascot: a comic strip character with his index finger held up as if ordering another espresso. In Italian he is called "l'omino con i baffi", "the mus- tachioed little man"; the story goes that this is a caricature of Alfonso's son, Renato Bialetti. The exhibition is also accom- panied by many anecdotes and unwritten rules of Italian coffee culture. For example, never ask for a "cappuccino" after dinner. There might be some restaurants that will serve it to you, but they will think for sure "oh, a tourist!". Italians in fact don't drink cap- puccino after 11am at the maxi- mum because it's considered a breakfast beverage. Also, if you are looking for a long coffee in the American style Italy is not the right place to ask for it. The "barista" will add some hot water to your espresso, shaking his head with a little smile. This is because for Italians the real coffee is only the espres- so! Another nice habit about cof- fee is the so called "caffè sospe- so", "on-hold coffee". This is a Neapolitan tradition, which unfortunately is slowly dying out. It consists of paying for two coffees but having just one, leav- ing the extra one for a stranger or a homeless person to enjoy it for free. Italians love coffee so much, they want to make sure everyone can have the joy of an espresso! knowledge of the coffee bush appears in the middle of the 15th century, in the Sufi Muslim monasteries around Mocha in Yemen. It was here in Arabia that coffee seeds were first roast- ed and brewed, similar to the way coffee is prepared today. By the 16th century, coffee had reached the rest of the Middle East, Persia, Turkey, and North Africa. From there, coffee spread to Italy, in the thriving trade between Venice and North Africa, Egypt, and the Middle East. Venice then introduced cof- fee to the rest of Europe. In 1600 Pope Clement VIII, Alfonso Bialetti, the inventor of the now iconic Bialetti Moka Express One of the first testing sessions in a local supermarket in Italy

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