A Chronicle of Coffee – The History of Espresso Machines

February 24, 2012

If you’ve ever tasted espresso, you’re most likely aware of the logic behind its smaller serving cup. It’s not because it’s trendy, it’s because the coffee itself is so much stronger than its less concentrated cousins! But did you ever wonder about the actual history of the espresso machine – where it came from, who invented it?

Well, you might be interested to know that sometime back in early 20th century Milan, business-owner Luigi Bezzara (like many business-owners of past and present), was on a mission to find a way to shorten the amount of time his workers spent taking their coffee breaks. On his quest, one idea he was able to bring to fruition was shortening the actual brewing process of the coffee itself, thus lessening the minutes employees were standing around waiting to fill their cups. Luigi began pressure-brewing the coffee served in his plant which not only quickened the pace of its preparation, but also concentrated the liquid, making it stronger in taste and ultimately, in its effect as well. You could say that he kind of ‘killed two birds with one stone’. Not only was the coffee brewing faster, but it was also assisting to ‘liven up’ his workers, which was great for him in terms of the increased productivity he was after in the first place. And essentially, he actually eradicated three birds because wouldn’t you know it but the employees, in fact, liked the taste of the new-fangled beverage better too!

So, after some time spent enhancing his contraption that had since become known as the Espresso Machine – Espresso translating from Italian to English as ‘Faster’ or ‘Expressed’, he added the title of ‘Inventor’ to his list of professional accomplishments in 1901 when he received a patent on his pressure-powered percolator.

The fourth bird in this saga met its maker when Mr. Bezzara sold his patent to Desidero Pavoni in 1905. Pavoni then advanced the appliance even more by improving on some of the espresso machine’s parts. He was able to create a better brew with a reduction in the ‘burnt’ flavor that sometimes resulted from the forced steam of the expressed brewing process.

Later on in 1938, Cremonesi came along and modified the pistons within the apparatus, creating an equally pressurized mechanism which resulted in an enhanced creaminess of the final product. Commonly referred to as the Crema, it is the foamy substance you’ll notice on top of a well-brewed cup of espresso.

And finally, in 1946 Giovanni Achille Gaggia modified the commercial espresso machine by further perfecting the pistons. Soon after, the Gaggia classic espresso machines began popping up more and more throughout Europe and then eventually, made their way across the continents for all to enjoy.

Andréanne Hamel and Luc Cloutier are successful business owners and espresso lovers, providing valuable information for espresso fans and for coffee shop or restaurant owners. Their many articles offer valuable insight in a fun and entertaining way.

Content, Categorically Speaking