In the 1930s, people were willing to pay for quality and corporate executives were comfortable with long-term perspectives
The New York Times Magazine blog has a charming post on the Depression-era origins of the iconic Bialetti Moka Express stovetop coffee maker.
In reality, though, its 1930s sales were relatively modest. According to Jeffrey T. Schnapp, "The Romance of Caffeine and Aluminum," in Critical Inquiry (2001) the Moka Express was actually a slow seller before the war, partly because aluminum was still expensive, though considered patriotic because Italy produced the metal from native bauxite.
There's actually an even more interesting lesson on the uses of adversity from the same period, the commercial espresso machine as we know it. According to the official Illy site:
The company's first fundamental invention dates back to the thirties: coffee pressurization in cans, which immediately allowed coffee to be shipped as far as the south of Italy, preserved and "aged" in tinplate cans.
In 1935, its founder Francesco Illy invented the illetta, the first coffee machine with automatic water dosing and a jet of compressed air - the predecessor of all espresso machines.
For connoisseurs of resilience as well as coffee, it gets even better. Illy was not Italian by birth, but a Hungarian who made his fortune after his adopted originally Austro-Hungarian home town of Trieste was annexed by Italy after World War I. (Dislocation can be good for creativity; Trieste also helped inspire James Joyce, when he could not obtain a Berlitz teaching position farther west.)