Espresso coffee makers came out of man’s need for a faster cup of coffee. Not only did espresso machines produce more coffee faster, they produced a better cup of coffee. The first machines had a few kinks to be worked out but coffee maker inventors didn’t let little issues deter them.
Who made the first espresso coffee machine? The answer depends on which records you read. According to some records, Louis Bernard Babaut created the first known espresso coffee maker in 1822 with Edward Santais commercializing and marketing the machine in 1843. It debuted at the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1855.
Records say the coffee maker produced one thousand cups of espresso in an hour, using steam to push water through coffee held in a filter. New inventions often carry risk and this espresso coffee maker was no exception. It tended to blow up from time to time. It also had a tendency to occasionally burn the coffee.
The original espresso coffee makers weren’t easy to use. Operating them involved some degree of skill and left plenty of room for diversity. The operator controlled the intensity of the heat and the length of time the water valve remained open. Users could put in less coffee grounds and get stronger coffee or use more water and get a diluted result.
Other records credit Luigi Bezzera, a manufacturer, with the invention of Espresso in 1903. Bezzera wanted to make coffee faster. He added pressure to the process and ‘voila’ the birth of the Fast Coffee Machine. The machine made coffee faster and better than other available methods. Bezzera invented a machine that used the pressure of steam to push water through a fixed filter containing coffee.
While skilled in inventing, Bezzera lacked marketing ability to promote his creation. In 1905, the rights to the espresso machine were purchased by Desidero Pavoni and successfully marketed the invention, changing the way everyone drank coffee. Pavoni sold the coffee makers throughout Europe.
Franceso Illy created what some believe to be the first automatic espresso coffee maker . Invented in 1935, the Illeta used compressed air instead of steam for his machine. This solved the problem of exploding espresso coffee makers and resulted in a more stable result.
Achille’s Gaggia invented the espresso coffee maker that bears his name in 1945. His invention used lever action.Modern versions of both Illetta and Gaggia espresso coffee makers are available today.Ernest Valente created an electric rotating pump in 1950. The pump allowed a continuous, even flow of water through the coffee maker.
Illy, still producing espresso, went on to simplify the espresso coffee maker process even more in the 1970’s when he introduced a machine that combined the best parts of previous espresso coffee maker methods. His machine used double filters, cost less than other coffee makers and was simple to use.
In the 70’s, super automatic espresso coffee makers were born. They are now the norm in many countries. The machines continue to evolve. Debate over which methods and which machines produce the best espresso will continue as long as people continue to enjoy their cup of Joe.