The coffee machine is one of the most revolutionary inventions associated with the beloved beverage we all enjoy. It has forever changed the way we consume coffee. Today, it is a tool known to all: there is no bar in the world that doesn’t have one. However, over time, it has undergone numerous evolutions and changes. Let’s discover its history, right from its origins.
1. The Coffee Machine Emerges in the 19th Century:
The first patent for an espresso coffee machine appeared in 1884. It was signed by Angelo Moriondo, an industrialist from Turin who had a brilliant idea that would forever alter the game: the convenience of preparing coffee in a short time to enjoy it freshly extracted. Although he patented the machine, Moriondo never sought to exploit his invention industrially, limiting himself to crafting a few prototypes.
2. The Era of Luigi Bezzera:
In fact, few know and recognize him as the inventor of the machine. This title is more commonly attributed to Luigi Bezzera. His patent dates back to 1901: he sold it to the La Pavoni company, which launched industrial production. It wasn’t the machine we are accustomed to seeing today: it was a large vertical cylinder with a brass boiler inside, maintained under pressure by a gas burner. On the sides of the boiler, there were compartments where the coffee was placed. To obtain espresso, it was necessary to turn a tap: water and steam passed through the coffee. The extraction took about a minute.
3. Angelo Gaggia’s Innovation:
The espresso coffee as we know it today is mainly thanks to Angelo Gaggia, who in 1945 invented a lever-based machine. The extracted beverage underwent a change in its characteristics, mainly due to two technical innovations:
– Decrease in temperature from 120°C to 90°C (eliminating the unpleasant bitter aftertaste)
– Increase in pressure: this created crema, the true hallmark of espresso.
4. The ’60s and ’70s – Continuous Evolution:
We now arrive at the ’60s and ’70s. In 1961, during an eclipse, the Faema company launched the E61 model. The main evolution of this coffee machine was the introduction of an electric pump and, above all, pre-infusion. Before the pump applied pressure to the coffee, hot water remained in contact with the powder for a few seconds. The invention of the double boiler, which allowed hundreds of coffees to be produced per day without altering the quality of the beverage, is instead attributed to La Marzocco.
5. Introduction of Electronic Systems and Precision Controls:
From the ’70s onwards, the evolution of the coffee machine has seen a constant influx of electronic technologies and precision controls. These advancements have allowed baristas to have more accurate control over extraction parameters, such as temperature, pressure, and extraction time. The introduction of digital displays and control panels has simplified the use and programming of coffee machines, making the coffee dispensing process even more efficient and precise.
Today, professional coffee machines are true engineering marvels, capable of producing high-quality coffee with ease and precision unimaginable during the early prototype days. The ongoing research and innovation in the coffee machine industry have resulted in a refined and satisfying coffee experience for baristas, allowing them to create true works of art in the cups and satisfy the most discerning palates of their customers.