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A touch of Italy in every cup

October 25, 2006|S. Irene Virbila | Times Staff Writer

FOR years, I used to be a filtered coffee girl, standing sleepy-eyed and barefoot, pouring boiling water splash by splash into a Melitta filter. Until the day I discovered my old Bialetti stovetop espresso pot at the back of a cupboard.

It brought back memories of waking to the happy burble and smell of espresso brewing at friends' houses in Italy. Practically everyone there makes their morning coffee in such a pot.

I filled the bottom with water, added dark roast Italian ground (not too fine, please), screwed on the top and set it on the stove. Minutes later, the pot gurgled and hissed steam: espresso.

I've since traded in the humble aluminum Bialetti for a collection of sleek stainless steel espresso pots from the Italian design firm Alessi. I have two sizes of "La Conica" designed by the late Italian architect Aldo Rossi. My latest fave, though, is the 9090 designed in 1979 by Richard Sapper, the German responsible for the iconic Tizio lamp. This one is ideal for American stoves, which, unlike Italian stoves, don't come with a dedicated small burner for espresso pots. The base is broad enough that gas flames won't lick up the sides and discolor the gleaming surface. And instead of screwing shut, the handle locks the top onto the bottom. It also includes an adapter so you can make half the amount. It comes in 1-cup, 3-cup, 6-cup and 10-cup sizes, all in mirror polished stainless steel from $129 to $229. Available at the Alessi store adjoining Diva, at 8801 Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood; (310) 278-3191. Also at Fitzsu in Los Angeles, (323) 655-1908 and Pasadena, (626) 564-1908. Also online at and


For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday November 08, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 36 words Type of Material: Correction
Alessi: An article on stovetop espresso pots in the Oct. 25 Food section gave the incorrect address and phone number for the Alessi store in West Hollywood. The correct information is 8801 Beverly Blvd., (310) 276-7096.

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