The redoubtable Moka Express is a stovetop coffee maker created by the Italian Bialetti company. A true classic of industrial design, it first appeared in the 1950s, and has since sold over 200 million units. Bialetti are also able to boast that the Moka Express is the world's most copied coffee maker. Bialetti themselves make a wide range of devices based on the original design.

The device consists of two aluminium chambers in the form of octagonal truncated pyramids, which screw together at a narrow waist. The lower chamber is filled with cold water; on top of this a small metal filter is placed, which is filled with ground coffee. The top chamber, which has another metal filter at its base, is then screwed on top. The entire gizmo is then placed on a hotplate: when the water in the lower chamber evaporates, it is forced through the coffee in the filter basket and up into the upper chamber of the device. When all of the water has been forced through, the coffee pot responds with a satisfying gurgle that tells you your espresso is ready. Serving of the beverage is facilitated by a spout and handle attached to the top chamber.

After having tried almost every conceivable method of making coffee at home for personal consumption, I have developed the unshakeable belief that this gadget is by far the most convenient. It is simple to use, easy to clean, and does not generate any unnecessary waste in the form of filter papers. It is also stylish enough to bring to the table when entertaining even your most snobbish friends. Every so often you will need to replace the rubber seal and metal filter, but other than that this rugged little beast offers you a lifetime of coffee satisfaction.

Many copies of the original design are available -- some are straight knock-offs while others attempt to streamline the design -- but the original Bialetti version is probably the natural choice of the connoisseur, if only for the fact that it is emblazoned with Bialetti's charming logo of a mustachioed gent pointing his finger in the air. The Moka Express is available in 1,2,3,6,9,12 and 18-cup sizes.

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