10 Minutes With Andrea Panizzardi

We chat with the Italian Mokista and winner of the 2019 Moka Challenge about his passion for the unique extraction method.


Photos courtesy of Andrea Panizzardi

Andrea was the winner of the 2019 Professional Moka Challenge.

From the editor: We continue our series this week about the Moka pot by chatting with Andrea Panizzardi, a Moka pot enthusiast and winner of the 2019 Professional Moka Challenge.

When talking about Italian coffee, the first thing that comes to our mind is a classic espresso. There is, however, another brewer that has won the heart of not just many Italians, but also coffee lovers around the world: the Moka pot.  

This traditional Italian brewer is Andrea Panizzardi’s favorite, and he has dedicated a lot of his time to perfecting it. As the 2019 winner of the Professional Moka Challenge, a competition that highlights the Moka pot as a brewing device, he has also designed his own line of Moka pots to further improve the coffee-brewing experience. 

Originally from Sicily, Andrea now lives in the small town of Tortona in the province of Alessandria, Italy, where he has set up his coffee shop, Alternative Coffee Panizza. We had a chance to talk to Andrea about brewing specialty Moka coffee, the Professional Moka Challenge, and how he is trying to remind people about the importance of slow coffee.

Vasileia Fanarioti: How did you get into the professional world of coffee?

Andrea Panizzardi: I actually started like many of us, just looking for a summer job. I was born and raised in a small Sicilian town full of tourism, so there was no lack of work, especially during the summer. Over the years it has become more than a job; it’s now a passion!

Andrea grew up preparing coffee for his mother and friends.

You identify as a barista-Mokista. What does that mean for you? 

Ever since I was a child, I was always the one to make coffee for my mother and her friends, and two things were certain: If you did not follow the recipe properly and did not clean the Moka pot thoroughly, the coffee would not taste good. So, the Moka pot for me is a brewer that creates expectations and bonds. I wanted to re-create that childhood experience of mine.

Unfortunately today, many Italians have forgotten how to use the Moka pot. The increasingly pressing rhythms of modern life and the alienation from one another have led to a need for speed and convenience. Many are using pods and capsules that have replaced the Moka pot, which instead needs some amount of knowledge of the product and to devote time to it.

As a barista/Mokista, I am trying to share my knowledge and passion for the Moka pot with others. I believe that the Moka pot is more than just a coffee maker—it’s a symbol of Italian lifestyle and culture. I want to help preserve this part of our heritage.

Can you tell us a bit about brewing specialty Moka coffee? 

Specialty coffee means enthusiasm, responsibility, quality preparation, and training. Approaching the Moka pot is easier than you think, but you must consider a few things first. 

First, you need high-quality coffee beans, otherwise whatever you do, the result will not taste great. You should also not expect an espresso. The Moka pot is a pressure coffee maker but it does not reach the pressure bars of an espresso machine. I know some call it a “stovetop espresso maker,” and that can cause confusion.

Finally, observe the Moka pot as it’s brewing. Pay close attention to the time and control the temperature according to the stage of the preparation. I promise, it is not hard to do, but it does require us to be present in that moment and not be in a state of hurry as many of us often are.

The Moka Panizza, designed by Andrea himself.

Could you tell us a bit about the Professional Moka Challenge? What was it like to win?

The Professional Moka Challenge is a competition organized by Martina Lupi and Vittorio Verzotti, with the support of E&B Lab and sponsors such as IMS Filtri, Musetti and Brita. It’s a great competition, both regarding the format and as an event. I immediately aligned myself with the philosophy of the competition that was born as a gathering, a meeting between friends where you compete while having fun. I have participated in the competition twice, in 2019 and 2020.  

When I won the challenge back in 2019, I felt at ease because the Moka pot is my preferred extraction method, and this was proof I had mastered it to perfection. Unfortunately, the competition has not been carried out the last couple of years, due to COVID-19, but we all hope to organize it again soon. 

Do you believe that a Moka pot championship would have a place in SCA competitions?

Actually, back in 2015 I joined what was then the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe, precisely to try to highlight this extraction method both in Italy and in the world, to the point of being able to organize world championships in the Moka pot category. I am still hopeful it will happen one day!

During the pandemic, Andrea safely prepared breakfasts and coffee for his regular customers in the comfort of their homes.

What is the message you wish to share across the coffee community?

Take care of yourself and what you drink, dedicate time, drink specialty coffee slowly, and your mood will change for the better. Your life will improve because if you drink responsibly, you will not only do good for yourself, but also for the world. I want to leave you saying long live quality coffee and viva la Moka!

You can find Andrea’s winning Professional Moka Challenge recipe here.


Vasileia Fanarioti (she/her) is a freelance copywriter and editor with a primary focus on the coffee niche. She has also been a volunteer copywriter for the I’M NOT A BARISTA NPO, providing content to help educate people about baristas and their work. You can follow her adventures at thewanderingbean.net.

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