Housewares Design Awards

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2006 Best in Category: Cookware & Bakeware

Bradshaw International, Inc.

Bialetti Mukka Express

Sometimes the marketing of a uniquely designed product is the end result of a carefully scripted, well-established product development process intended to generate industry-altering designs. Other times, however, it is the result of someone within a company being open enough to new ideas to recognize something unique when they come across it.

In the case of Bialetti’s recent Housewares Design Award winner, the Bialetti Mukka Express cappuccino maker, the latter is the case. A prototype of the design existed with a consultant who worked with the company for about a year. The product caught the attention of the company’s design department.

After some internal evaluations, the company made the decision to move forward with the unique product and began to address the next hurdle, taking a unique design and making it on a mass basis.

“For six months Bialetti’s internal technicians worked hard to find a way to industrialize the project,” said Charlie Wood, director of sales and marketing with Bradshaw International, U.S. marketer of Bialetti cookware.

At the same time the company began working with Alfonso Giannone, who heads Bialetti’s Innovation & Style office, to evolve a functional product into one that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Stovetop espresso makers are hardly unique, nor are electric cappuccino makers, that combine the functions of brewing coffee and steaming or frothing milk to make the rich cappuccino so appealing to consumers around the world.

However, where the Bialetti Mukka Express really separates itself from the pack is its ability to combine brewing espresso with steamed milk, without myriad electric gizmos, to create a rich, aromatic cappuccino. The unit’s unique design features a chamber on the top portion of the pot that is filled with milk. As the pot heats espresso enters the top chamber where it mixes with the steaming milk to create cappuccino.

The product achieved relatively quick success in its native Italy, selling 130,000 units in its first two months. In 2005, the company sold more than 1.2 million pieces worldwide. According to Wood, the Mukka Express maker, while a worldwide hit, is also ideally suited to the coffee drinking preferences of American consumers. “Espresso is a very strong business for us and in general,” said Wood. “But Americans drink a lot more cappuccino than espresso so this is a natural.”

The company offers the product in two external finishes— polished aluminum and a cow print design black and white. In Italy, the cow print, which reinforces the product’s connection to milk, accounts for nearly 90% of sales. In the U.S., according to Wood, the sales ratio is closer to 50-50, but in merchandising terms, it is the cow print that stops consumers and gets them to ask more about this unique product’s features. “The cow print is a little more whimsical, a little more fun,” Wood said.

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