Espresso Machines History


The term 'espresso' has been in use since the 1880s - even before the first espresso machines were made! Meaning 'coffee made to order', the beans must be freshly roasted, and the coffee should be ground and brewed minutes before drinking. However, as you can probably imagine, making coffee like this takes time. As people's lives got busier, inventors started looking into quicker ways to brew coffee to order.

The first workable espresso machine was created in 1901 by Luigi Bezzera, an Italian inventor. He had managed to create a steam powered machine, that reduced the brew time from five minutes to around 30 seconds. The patent was sold to Desiderio Pavoni in 1903 and by 1905, the world’s first commercial espresso machine was produced and manufactured in Italy. It didn't take long for them to become popular in coffee loving nations such as Italy, France, Spain and Latin America.

Throughout the 20's and 30's developments continued to be made on the espresso machine. Inventors aimed to increase the brewing pressure through the use of pumping devices. The first practical machine to be developed was invented by Cremonsi, and manufactured by Achille Gaggia in 1946. These machines contained a lever which, when pressed down, cooled the water from boiling to brewing temperature. A barista was required to do this by hand. This resulted in  a better extraction producing an espresso with a rich layer of crema.

Espresso cups are a lot smaller than normal coffee cups, and this is due to the design by Cremonsi. It was hard for baristas to press the lever on large amounts of water, and so small one ounce drinks became the norm.

By the 1970's, home espresso machines began to be manufactured, and these are very similar to the machines that we use to this day. Although trained baristas are still said to make the best espresso, home espresso machines can grind and brew a coffee with just the touch of a button.

Fast-forward to 2014 and twin-boiler machines such as the Iberital Expression allow coffee to brewed at an optimum temperature. One boiler is used for steam and hot water and the second for coffee. Temperature controlled group heads produce the ultimate espresso with ease.

Technological advances continue to be made and these are harnessing the power of telephony to carry out remote diagnostics/fault-finding, with espresso machines soon to output information advising when the water filter needs changing. Bluetooth technology is already being used to allow communication between the grinder and the espresso machine. 

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