Though undeniably old-world, espresso might actually have more in common with the origins of modern day tech gadgets like smartphones and GPS than you think. Far from a contemporary invention, rushing – and the search for a time-saving method – actually inspired a complete revolution in coffee during the 19th century. Coffeehouse patrons that simply didn’t have the luxury to sit and wait for coffee spurred an entirely new way of brewing and drinking coffee. Since coffee was the beverage of choice for those en route to work in the morning, most simply wanted a quick dose of caffeine they could down while standing up, and then be off. Unfortunately, the brewing process was quite slow, and didn’t nearly match the demand.
To speed up the brewing, inventors began experimenting with using steam in order to reduce the required brewing time. Often attributed with developing the method that led to modern day espresso, Angelo Moriondo of Turin, Italy secured a patent towards the end of the 19th century for an espresso machine that relied on steam. Unfortunately, steam-brewed coffee reportedly tasted fairly awful, since coffee typically needs to be brewed at just below boiling to taste its best.
This machine was lost to history, but Luigi Bezzerra and Desiderio Pavoni entered the espresso scene, and evolved Moriondo’s design a few steps further. They used steam pressure instead to force water through the ground coffee. This resulted in the landmark single-shot espresso, which took mere seconds to brew. In fact, the word espresso itself refers to the precise and quick method of preparation, as opposed to the roasting method as many mistakenly believe. Pavoni then invented the pressure release valve, and the new machine was momentously introduced at the 1906 Milan Fair. The rest, as they say, is history.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and we’re still appreciating the benefits of these marvelous inventions by Bezzerra and Pavoni. Our very own espresso machine in Baristas, the gleaming brass San Marco La Preziosa, is actually rooted in this fascinating evolution, paying tribute to these revolutionary Italian inventions with its classic design. The next time you are at Baristas, embrace this time-honored tradition with a delicious cappuccino or espresso – only revel in the fact that you are quite in the opposite of a rush, enjoying a leisurely voyage free from the constraints of time.