Espresso Coffee Machines: Developmental History

Espresso Coffee Machines: Developmental History

by | Jan 18, 2018 | Food

Espresso makers became overly popular in the 20th century thanks to specialized coffee shops who left people wanting to experience those same great Italian drinks at home without the cost. What many don’t realize is just how long these coffee makers have been around.


All the way back in 1901 the world was introduced to the first espresso coffee machine. Through the years several models have come and went. Common to almost all models, however, is the portafilter system. The portafilter is a small wire basket that holds the coffee grounds you are using. Also popularly found on espresso machines are steam wands which are used to steam milk and then froth it for specific coffee beverages.

There are several variations of the espresso maker as discussed below. Each have their own pros and cons and the usage is dependent upon what each person prefers.

Piston: The founder of the espresso coffee machine maker Gaggia, Achille Gaggia, invented a piston driven version in Italy around 1945. Gaggia’s version uses a handle and manual pumping action to push the heated water through the coffee grounds. The commonly used term, “pulling a shot”, derives from the usage of this maker because of the need to pull the handle several times to complete the task. There are two different styles of the piston espresso machines. The manual version which works by the operator pushing the water through by way of the handle alone and the spring driven version that uses a tensioned spring to build up the pressure.

Pump: Pump espresso makers work by using a motor to build up force to brew the coffee. This style is the popular option for most coffee shops. Business grade machines generally hook right in to the locations plumbing to attain the water needed, but smaller versions for home use come with a built in area to hold water. The ones used in coffee shops tend to work faster then the ones you will find in homes.

Steam: Steam driven espresso machines are just as simple as they sound. Steam pressure builds to push the water through the coffee grounds and it is about as simple as that. The first espresso coffee machines created employed this type of functioning and because they require no moving parts are still used today because of the cheap manufacturing process.

Air Pressure: Air pressure espresso coffee makers are hand held and pump highly pressurized air into a chamber to get the result that you want. These only make one cup of coffee at a time however. The commonly known name for this style of machine is Handpresso, created by Nielsen Innovation in 2006. The product hit stores shelves soon after in 2007 and has gained much popularity.

If you are looking to add an espresso maker to your home or business you can see that you have a lot of options. The setting and frequency in which you will be using the coffee machine should be a big factor in your purchase decision. The price range on espresso coffee machines are vast and brand and ability play a huge role in the sticker price. All will give you the same result in the end, great espresso drinks.


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