Thursday, December 20, 2012

Story of a moka pot

Sometimes i develop a kind of fetishistic attraction for apparently modest objects.
The one in the picture is my moka pot and it (she?) is leaving Lisbon together with me today.

It's just occurred to me that the moka and I are tightly connected since the dawn of my adventure in physics. It was 2007 when I bought it in a small mall close to Oxford, MS. At that time, I was there as a visiting student during the master thesis and spent the first weeks in the deep South of the U.S. trying to drink that horrible soluble coffee. The fact is, it was nearly impossible to buy a proper coffee machine in Oxford, specially for a poor student as I was, who didn't want to spend >50 bucks for a fancy machine.

The moka pot in Rua Ferreira Lapa, Lisbon. The kitchen might appear dirty, but i guarantee that it is even worst.

Thus, I resisted some weeks [or was it longer?] and then, fortunately, a friend of mine offered to take me to a nearby mall by car. At that time I didn't have a car [this and other things have not changed since then...] and yes, in Mississippi you are supposed to drive a car even to buy a coffee machine (not to mention to go to the supermarket or to the cinema and so on...).

So, I went to this place near Batesville [?] and buy a moka pot for ~10$. Back home, looking forward to drinking a real coffee, i tried the machine and... it broke immediately! It's never occurred to me before or afterwards, but the handle just broke the first time i used it. I forgot the details but i was reasonable desperated as I didn't have the opportunity to return it in the next days.  After spending another week on instant coffee, the same friend who gently had taken me to the mall borrowed me her car [so if now this moka is travelling with me, it mostly because of my friend!]. I drove ~ 30 miles west to to the mall, returned the moka [that was about 2 weeks after i bought it, but Americans allow for that, I would have very funny stories to tell about this, God bless Walmart...] and I got a brand-new coffee machine which is that in the picture.

That was in Summer 2007. Then, in October i took the moka with me back to Italy and we lived happily in my parents' house during the end of the M.Sc. till the first year of PhD.

In September 2009, we (meaning again the moka pot and I) moved to Lisbon, where i spent six months as a visiting Ph.D. student. The moka settled in Lisbon and had great times serving something like 20+ tenants who orbited Rua Ferreira Lapa since then.

Suddently, in March 2009, we split.
I left Lisbon and decided to leave the moka pot at home as a gift for the flatmates who were staying in Rua Ferreira Lapa. However, and this is what makes this story worth telling, when i moved again to Lisbon in September 2010, i decided to go back to the same appartment and, to my surprise, she was there waiting for me! Many things changed in the apartment, and many people lived there during the 18 months i wasn't in Lisbon, but the moka pot stayed there all the time, serving unknown tenants that i thank to have saved her.

In this last two years, the moka worked amazingly well [as everybody knows, the more the machine is used the better the coffee is, so that old machines which are constantly used are particularly valuable]. BTW, it's a two-portion machine, but she knows my habits, and in fact the amount of coffee is just perfect to wake up one single sleepy person in the morning.

After being together in four different continents [she accompanied me during some travel to Brazil and to Japan as well], the moka and I are moving today to Rome, where she'll compete with two fancy automatic coffee machines. This will last for less than one month, though, because i'll definitely bring her with me when i'll move to Boston next January... i could also buy one there, but i'm now curious to test how far my fetishism can go....i'm sure new adventures lie ahead for my moka and me.

I should talk about physics sometimes here. Today was a good excuse to discuss the physics of a moka pot, but this paper and this other one do it much better. Enjoy coffee drinkers!

This is for all friends who happened to use the moka at least once during these 5 years, and whose memories i tried to bring with me together with this apparently meaningless objects.
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