The Big Issue : Edition 575
THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 16 NOV–2 DEC 2018 13 PHOTOSBYJAMESBRAUND BECAUSE TIMING IS my superpower, I bought my first brand new Bialetti stovetop Moka coffeepot a couple of weeks ago, two days before it was announced the iconic Italian company is staggering under $108 million of debt and may go under. I’d been eyeing up a particular stainless steel cutie for months at my drug dealer’s place – aka the local boutique coffee roasting grindership – and even though my housemate’s ancient stovetop was still chugging along on its 713th seal replacement and the faintest whiff of burn, I’d decided to treat mahself. It is a very pretty thing. I have respect for the archetypal, sturdy and arresting, octagonal Bialetti. What a workhorse! Invented in 1933 by one Alfonso Bialetti, it was a response to the dire state of the Italian economy, and allowed people to brew at home. It was an instant classic. I’ve gone for a sleeker version, a sensuous machine with a bulbous bottom. It is all curves and class, and I am thrilled with my choice. It will last me to my death and beyond. So, here’s the thing. Does it matter if Bialetti goes toes up? I feel like it does, but tech gets superseded, brands die. Maybe it’s time. Just because every share household since the dawn of time has owned one, that it’s woven into all of our stories, is not enough. Nostalgia is a terrible reason to hold on to something. And yet, the line between sentiment and importance is, shall we say, blurry. My new housemate suggested he replace our couch with a Jacobean lounge suite from his parents’ estate, and that is one ugly arse period of furniture and the answer is NO. That is what skips and op shops are for. It doesn’t feel like the stovetop is done, though. Breakthroughs in the world of coffee brewing tend to co-exist with previous tech. Even hip households have a jar of “good” instant at the back of a cupboard for “emergencies”. Such as “if you grind beans at 6am and wake me I will kill you”. My parents had a drip percolator » Fiona Scott-Norman (@FScottNorman) is a writer and comedian who’s no average joe. FIONA Espresso Yourself “This is as depressing as a potato farmer buying instant mash from a sachet.” when that was the height of science, a disgusting method of caffeine extraction that leads to lingering half-full jugs of stewed joe. But it still thrives in American offices and terrible motels the world over. The French press (aka plunger) is still with us, finding a niche in holiday homes, offices and slightly better motels. Our kitchen boasts two plungers, an espresso machine and three stovetop induction models including my gleaming new Bialetti. Not that I’m addicted to coffee but, look, I probably am. Bialetti’s problem, it transpires, is not that it builds a product that endures until you run a tank over it. Or forget to turn off the gas for an hour. Whichever comes first. Nor is it that Italy is as infested with coffee shops as a Melbourne laneway. According to an October report in The Age, the problem is the proliferation of coffee pod machines. Oh yeah. Those. Sales of ground coffee are down, sales of uneconomic, environment-trashing capsules are up. In Italy. THE HOME OF COFFEE. This is as depressing as a potato farmer buying instant mash from a sachet. The appetite for capsule coffee, which accounts for a third of Western European coffee consumption, can be laid partly at the feet of George Clooney, the suave face of Nespresso. The man can sell anything. Clooney’s quoted as saying he spends most of his fees from Nestle on maintaining a spy satellite on the Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir. Which I guess is good, in a “it’s worthwhile to troll people who are accused of war crimes at the Hague” kind of way, but, you know. The environment. The incredible waste. The crimes against coffee. Look. I don’t know if we can buy $100 million worth of Bialettis in a month, but it’s worth a try.