Early Attempts to Make Espresso
In the late 19th century, as the pace of the world
sped up, inventors started looking for faster ways to
make coffee so that people did not have to wait for it
to brew to get a fresh cup. At first, steam was used
instead of water. A version of the first espresso
maker was exhibited at the 1896 World's Fair.
Unfortunately, although it was fast, it was far from
gourmet coffee(chef etoile), because coffee tastes
best when brewed at just below boiling. Enter the
man widely known as the father of espresso - Luigi
Bezzera of Milan, Italy. In 1901, Bezzera built a
machine that had a boiler and four divisions. It forced
steam and boiling water through coffee and into the
Bezzera's patent was purchased by DesiderioPavoni
and the Pavoni Company began manufacturing the
machines in 1905. The "La Pavona" machines became
very popular. They arrived in the U.S. in the 1920s.
Improvements During the Early 20th Century
From the 1920s through the 1940s, Italian
engineers experimented with pumping devices to
increase the brewing pressure and further alleviate
the burnt taste that came from the steam and
boiling water forced through the machine. The first
practical model of this type was developed in 1938
by a coffee grinder factory worker, M. Cremonesi
(His first name seems to be a mystery). Cremonesi's
machine had a screw piston that forced hot rather
than boiling water through the coffee.
AchilleGaggia used this machine in his coffee bar.
However, a bomb during World War II destroyed
his machines. After the war, Gaggia improved the
coffee maker by incorporating a spring lever piston.
Not everyone appreciated the unique coffee. It has
been said that customers at Gaggia's coffee bar
asked, "What's this scum on my coffee?" Gaggia
decided to market the coffee as "caffècrema"
instead of espresso, and that was the more
common term used for a time.
More Modern Developments
The next significant design change
occurred in 1961 when Ernesto Valente
created a machine with an electric
pump that forced water through the
coffee. This was the first pump-driven
machine. It was sold as the Faema E61.
In the late 1970s, the Ulka Company
introduced a small, inexpensive pump
that allowed the manufacture of small
home espresso machines at affordable
prices. These pumps are found in
home, Rancilio, Gaggia and Saeco
machines. Ever since then, people
whose favorite coffee is espresso can
make and enjoy it in the comfort of
their home or office.
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