Espresso Machines: A Coffee Invention We Love
Some of the first versions of espresso machines included a boiler system to allow both water and steam to be pushed through the coffee into the cup. The first known espresso machine patent was filed in November 1901 by Luigi Bezzera. As manufacturing company owner, Bezzera worked hard to improve his invention that used steam to extract more coffee, but could not eliminate the bitter taste from the excessive heat. Despite this, his invention was well received by local bar and coffee shop owners because it made a concentrated cup of coffee and had an efficient design considered the best at the time.
Two years later, in 1903, Bezzera sold his patent to Desiderio Pavoni who was committed to improving Bezzera's model through his company, La Pavoni.
1. Pavoni marketed an espresso coffee machine called "Ideale" which was the buzz at the Milan Fair in 1906. Through consistent marketing, the model created a trend for drinking Italian style espresso coffee in bars in Europe and other foreign countries.
2. Almost 45 years after acquiring the patent, La Pavoni introduced a new system for espresso coffee making.
3. Only water taken from the boiler under pressure was filtered through the coffee. To do this, a piston was pushed by a spring under pressure from steam. As a result, coffee no longer had a burnt taste which was a great benefit and a valuable selling point for the new system.
It is noteworthy that La Pavoni remains a vibrant company operating out of Milan, Italy. It is an enterprise dedicated to pioneering the use of new thermoplastic materials in manufacturing, speeding production cycles, and continuing a tradition of research and technological development.
Before World War I, a Milanese bar owner by the name of Giovanni Achille Gaggia was experimenting with coffee making equipment ideas, including the use of screw-type pistons, and later on, the lever piston. There are several versions about the source of the new machines and ideas.
1. A popular one is that Gaggia acquired a patent from Rosetta Scorza, the wife of a deceased inventor named Marco Cremonese who was credited with patenting the idea of a screw piston to force the water through the coffee.
2. What was significant about this invention is that it allowed manual pressurization of the water through the coffee grounds instead of using steam pressure. Percolation is the movement and filtering of fluids such as water through porous materials such as coffee grounds. The objective is for all the water to make its way through the soluble material to the bottom and give coffee its color, taste, and aroma in the cup.
3. Successful manual pressurization did not happen overnight. Instead, it required many attempts using different materials such as aluminum, brass, asbestos, and other. Gaggia also tested variations on the water temperature and compared the use of a rotating piston to an up and down level piston system.
4. Eventually, Gaggia introduced the spring into the lever which provided the pressure to force water through the coffee in a very short time. Along the way, Gaggia would file new patents for a new boiler, new lever group,and any other components he would invent.
Gaggia's "Eureka moment" must have been when he realized the commercial value of his invention.
His machine made a cup of coffee that was tasty, visually appealing and different from any other preparation available. His genius was creating an efficient method for espresso coffee preparation utilizing processing steps independent from one another. The temperature of the water for brewing coffee is independent of the water in the boiler used for steam.
Filtration can be controlled. This is important because it lessens the use of steam. Steam is used for frothing milk, not making coffee. The result? Improved coffee taste and delicious frothing that enhances the brew. The old adage, where there's a will there's a way, certainly applies to Gaggia. Manufacturer after manufacturer rejected Gaggia's frothing milk and coffee invention as strange and unmarketable.
Gaggia then did his own grassroots guerrilla marketing and even developed his own point of sale displays. First, he installed his machines in bars. Gaggia placed large signs on the windows for passers-by to see that read 'Caffe crema di caffe naturale' (coffee cream from natural coffee). Slowly but surely bar patrons tried and embraced the new coffee preparation. In time, Gaggia's coffee making system became a hit, assuring him the sponsorship of prominent bar chains in his town.
Gaggia established his own factory, The Gaggia Company or Gaggia S.p.A which became Italy's best known manufacturer of coffee machines for commercial and home use.
Gaggia machines are still manufactured in Milan at the Robecco sul Naviglio factory. The Gaggia name is synonymous with tradition and reliability. The Gaggia revolution for espresso coffee became international and it is now a part of daily life for coffee lovers. Over the years, Gaggia's has marketed different home espresso machines, from the traditional lever-operated coffee machine to fully automatic machines. The automatic models grind, measure, dispense the espresso directly into the cup and even discharge the grounds into a special bin. All at the touch of one button!
One can only wonder what Luigi Bezzera, Desiderio Pavoni, Rosetta Scorza, Marco Cremonese, and many other engineers and coffee machine pioneers would say now about a Gaggia machine, right? To ponder upon that thought and celebrate coffee inventions we love, let's drink a delicious cup of Italian Espresso gourmet coffee! Coffee Bar System
Timothy ("Tim") S. Collins, the author, is called by those who know him "The Gourmet Coffee Guy."
He is an expert in article writing who has done extensive research online and offline in his area of expertise, coffee marketing, as well as in other areas of personal and professional interest.