History Of Espresso Machine: Everything You Need To Know

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Espresso machines have only been around for a little over 100 years. Looking back at the history of espresso machine the journey of espresso started with only one type of machine but over time we can see diversity in automation, boilers, mechanisms, and tons of other exciting features.

Introducing an integrated grinder, the prospect of portability, compact design, being adaptable in a different environment, available in different price ranges, are all things which wouldn’t have been thought of if it weren’t for the changing necessities of people over the years.

We’ve come a long long way from the days of manual espresso machines. Surprisingly there’s a stovetop version for espresso machines as well.

History of Espresso Machine

This evolution has also led to different types of specialty coffee drinks.

Stick with us with a cup of espresso and know all about the changes that led to the modern-day espresso machine.

Quick History Of Espresso Machine

Quick History of Espresso Machine

Meaning Of The Word “Espresso” And “Espresso Machine”

Espresso is a popular coffee that refers to the coffee brewing process where steam or hot water is forced through finely ground and roasted coffee beans. The machine that does the process of making an espresso is known as the espresso machine.

Who Invented The Espresso Machine, Where, When, And Who Is The Father Of Espresso?

In 1884, Angelo Moriondo of Turin, Italy, got approval on his patent for an espresso machine. Although even before Moriondo got his patent granted others came up with a similar patent but none of those machines could lead to espresso.

Angelo Moriondo is known as the true contributor to the revolutionary economic shift in the consumption of coffee beverages. Based on Moriondo’s approved patent Luigi was trying out a way to fasten the brewing process. Luigi Bezzera came up with the concept of single-shot espresso. He made little tweaks to Moriondo’s patent and came up with the method. So, technically Luigi Bezzera is the father of espresso.

How Does The Espresso Machine Work?

How Does The Espresso Machine Work

The basic mechanism of an espresso machine is quite simple.

There is a water tank and a boiler.

A small pump takes the water from the water tank to the boiler, and it gets into steam because of heat. The highly pressurized steam passes through a channel and is forced through the ground coffee which is attached to the machine with a small basket-like structure known as the portafilter.

As the pressurized steam passes through the finely ground roasted coffee, it extracts the flavor and ingredients and drips into the cups.

The final result is beautiful and aromatic espresso.

Origin Of Espresso Machine: A Tale Of Hundred Years

Espresso machines have been around for over 100 years and in those years, they’ve constantly changed which led to the most enjoyed beverage that we truly appreciate. This is a tale of the old days of espresso machines and how they gradually improved over time.

1800s’

The espresso machine dates back to 1822, a prototype of the espresso machine was made by a guy named Louis Bernard Babaut from France, who used the steam brewing concept. Centering on this prototype Edward Loysel de Santa has commercialized the machine in 1843.

It could brew up to 1000 cups of coffee in an hour the only problem was in the taste. It either tasted too bitter or burnt. This happened because the machine wasn’t equipped with an outlet to regulate the temperature which is why it faced overheating issues.

The patent of the espresso machine goes back to 1884 and belongs to Angelo Moriondo of Turin, Italy. He made it his mission to solve the problem with slow brewing.

Now, typically to brew faster the solution is to grind finer but then water has a difficult time getting through the bed of coffee.

Patent of Angelo Moriondo for a steam powered coffee machine
The first patent (vol. 33 n. 256, 1884) of Angelo Moriondo for a steam-powered Espresso Machine (Image: Wikipedia)

1900s’

Angelo Moriando came up with the innovation of leveraging steam pressure to press the water through the bed of ground coffee and brew faster. Sadly, Angelo left this patent noncommercialized but later on Luigi Bezzera submitted it for a commercial patent in 1903.

The patent of Luigi Bezzera for a coffee making machine
The patent of Luigi Bezzera for a “coffee making machine” (image: Google Patents)

Desiderio Pavoni had the funds to commercialize the espresso machines and Bezzera’s made designs with key innovations. Both collaborated in 1906 and showcased their Espresso Machines at the Milan fair.

Espresso machine of Bezzera at the 1906 Milan Fair
The espresso machine of Luigi Bezzera at the 1906 Milan Fair (image: Bezzera)

They called it “Caffe Espresso”; coffee expressed at speed. This was the beginning of the espresso machine manufacturing industry. Other people like Pier Teresio Arduino soon joined the manufacturing industry.

Caffe Espresso Machine 1906
“Caffe Espresso” Machine of 1906

What Desidero Pavoni and Luigi Bezzera were selling is the idea that “steam equals speed” with their espresso machine as such that coffee brewed so quickly you could grad a cup from the side of a moving train.

People of the early days mostly cared for speed which is why coffee in the early days succeeded with the espresso machines. Although it was just brewing small cups of filter coffee.

The big innovation of espresso machines hit in 1948, by Giovanni Achille Gaggia. That’s when pressure transformed espresso into a whole new category, a whole new beverage.

Gaggia Espresso Machine

After this, over the years, different people and organizations tried, copied, and innovated new processes to come up with modern-day espresso machines.

There were changes in the boiler (water heating chamber) and changes in functionalities to take them to an extent where they became super automatic espresso machines. The original process of espresso machines is still the same, but tons of changes took place in detail.

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Types Of Espresso Machine

Espresso machines can be categorized in many ways; including mechanism, features, or size and capacity.

However, in a broad sense, there are 5 types of espresso machines.

1 – Manual/ Lever espresso machine: the barista has to manually put pressure and use body weight to create the brewing pressure. The whole process, from grinding and dosing to tamping and extracting is done manually by the barista.

2 – Semi automatic espresso machine: most of the brewing process is done by the machine and the barista has some control over timing and dosing. The responsibility of the barista is fairly minimal and it’s mostly automatic.

3 – Automatic espresso machine: these are similar to the semi-automatic ones, except for the fact that they’ve got few more features, including timers and programmability.

4 – Super automatic espresso machine: this is completely hands free operation where the machine will do everything for you to brew espresso. Just a touch of a button, and coffee gets ready on its own. Even the frothing process is automatic.

5 – Stovetop espresso maker (Moka pot): regular espresso makers use electricity, where these use regular stovetop to heat up the water and create pressure. They are not the best for creating high quality espresso, but they have the reputation to get the job done.

FYI, you can also get pod machines to make espresso. Simply put an espresso pod in your machine, and beautiful espresso comes out.

Espresso machines can be further categorized using the mechanism they use, boiler technology, or added features they have.

E.g., heavily built espresso machines with industrial grade materials are known as commercial espresso machines. They work faster, harder, and last much longer (for a higher cost, of course).

The Present-Day Scenario Of Espresso Machines

The Present Day Scenario Of Espresso Machines
This is La Marzocco Strada—it is the Daniel Craig of espresso machines

Best Espresso Machine Brands In America

When it comes to espresso machines, few name brands always come out on top. Breville, Delonghi, Gaggia, Keurig, Nuova Simonelli, and Rancilio are some of the best espresso machine brands that constantly keep on innovating and solving problems.

Pricing Of Espresso Machine

All these innovations come at an expense. Plus using high-quality materials is another variable for the cost. These variables add up and stand at a high price point. Replacing high-quality materials with average quality helps in balancing out the cost.

The pricing range of espresso machines can start from as low as $100 and go all the way up to $15,000 dollars or more. A good espresso machine is available within the range of $500, while it can cost thousands of dollars for a good quality espresso machine.

Commercial grade espresso machines can cost a fortune, then again, they’re designed to sustain high service hours with ease, with proper care and maintenance these go a long way. It’s more like an investment than an idle cost. They can cost around 5 to 15 thousand dollars or more.

Top Espresso Consumer

The economical pricing range lets everyone enjoy espressos. One might assume America to the largest coffee-drinking nation. Looking at statistics it shows Finland stands at the top, towering at 26.45 lbs. coffee per capita. Surprised?

Although Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s has a store around every block it looks like the coffee culture is still no match for the Finnish. The hot pots of coffee are embedded in every occasion of this Nordic country.

Specialty Coffee Drinks

While espresso is a very popular drink on its own but it is also an essential base for specialty coffee drinks. Espresso sits as the base for famous milk coffee beverages like the Cappuccino, Latte, Macchiato, Mocha, and many more.

Other than milk, espresso is also layered with coffee filter coffee and water as well. Americano and Red Eye are great examples of this, besides a single shot of espresso is know as Ristretto. So next time you want a plain espresso ask for a Ristretto.

Besides a café, one can also enjoy these coffee beverages in the comfort of their own home by purchasing an espresso machine. To make things even more convenient companies have come up with latte and cappuccino machines.

Technically they’re all espresso machines that have the added features to froth and steam milk.

Espressos Without Espresso Machine

Did you know that espressos can be brewed even without using the help of the conventional espresso machine? Maybe not exactly but the essence of espresso can be closely replicated. That’s right, AeroPress, French Press, and Moka pots can produce similar results.

Best Espresso Beans Brand

It takes approximately 42 coffee beans to brew a single shot of espresso. The bean count is not necessarily a huge factor when it comes to the flavor. The taste of coffee depends on the geography and type of coffee trees they’re harvested from.

Robusta or Arabica are mostly used for espressos. Well, it’s not the type but the preparation that makes all the difference. The roast, grind size, brewing pressure, and temperature play a huge role.

Espresso beans are roasted to a darker color so that the oils on the coffee beans are more prominent which gives it a rich taste. The grind size has to be fine. Without a fine grind, it’s not possible to extract the optimum flavor from espresso. Go for one of the best burr coffee grinders.

Just like the espresso machine has evolved so has the beverage itself. Espresso is used as a base for specialty coffee drinks. Know about the origin of espresso, the drink itself, and how this beverage has become indispensable.

5 Best Coffee Beans For Espresso

1. Lifeboost Organic Espresso Coffee Beans

2. Illy Coffee

3. Sightglass Organic Crown Point

4. Onyx Coffee Lab Eclipse Espresso Beans

5. Lavazza Espresso Beans

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Was First Espresso Made?


In 1901, by incorporating steam technology, the first-ever flavorsome espresso was made. Though the technology was invented in 1884, it took significant adjustments to be able to execute the perfect extraction process keeping the flavors intact.

Who Invented Espresso Machine?


Angelo Moriondoof Turin, Italy came up with a design that made today’s espresso possible. Espresso making is a high-quality process. The espresso machine’s design revolved around steam technology, this enabled to pull up fast shots later on.

When Was The First Espresso Machine Made?


In 1884, Angelo Moriondo’s espresso machines patent got accepted. By 1905 the production of espresso machines was commercialized.

Is Espresso Coffee Healthy?


Coffee beans are very rich in antioxidants that are very good for the human immune system. Espresso is the essence of coffee beans and they hold a high percentage of antioxidants.

Antioxidants in the human body rule out the risk of heart diseases and even strokes. They target free radicals and defend the body’s immunity against these dangerous molecules.

Is Espresso Stronger Than Coffee?


Espresso is a small drink and coffee is relatively a larger drink. Although the percentage of caffeine in every ounce of espresso is higher than that of coffee, it is still not stronger in terms of the total volume of caffeine.

You might be interested to read our writing on how to make strong coffee that keeps you awake

What Is The Purest Form Of Coffee?


Coffee aficionados would say espresso is the purest form of coffee. Espresso is also used as the base for many other coffee beverages like Cappuccinos, Flat Whites, Lattes, and Macchiatos.

When Did Espresso Come To America?


Espresso came to America in the early 20th century but it wasn’t until the 1980s till the espresso market had a popular development among the youth.

Who Discovered Espresso?


While experimenting with coffee brewing techniques Luigi Bezzera came up with a faster brewing method. It was named ‘caffee espresso’. Espresso is derived from that same name which means pressed-out coffee.

What Is The Origin Of Espresso?


Italy is the origin of espresso. In the late 1800 espresso became a popular coffee beverage and over time this popularity has spread worldwide.

Conclusion

By now this much is established that with espresso machines evolving the baristas also had to up their game simultaneously. The history of espresso machine shows us that all the setbacks have only led to smarter innovations.

It might’ve started with only a manual, difficult-to-use machine but as time progressed the design of the machine was stretched to accommodate all kinds of users. Aspects like portability, minimal design, smart technology all have been integrated.

Now everyone can select from the vast range which perfectly caters to their needs. Espresso machines have indeed become easier to use but the experience of brewing that a barista holds takes it to a completely new level.

One thing you can take away from this article would be the fact that espresso tastes way better with modern technologies involved. History’s complex drink is not so complex anymore.

If there’s anything you want to add, do let us know in the comments section down below.

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