Mar 1, 2012



Filtered Espresso – The Origins of Espresso

We all know that espresso coffee is made when hot water, under pressure, is forced through compressed coffee

If however the water goes around the coffee, then the result is filtered coffee… admittedly not very good filter coffee, because the brewing time has been too short, but just the same it is filter coffee

And this process of ensuring that all of the provided coffee is brewed, completely and under pressure, was the key problem with the very first espresso machines

The word espresso is supposedly a derivation of EXPRESS (squeezing or expressing) EXPRES (speed as in a steam train) and ESPRESSO (expressly and individually served) and the Espresso machine originally acquired its name by making a cup of coffee ‘expressly for you’

The development of the commercial espresso machine was a long and tortuous affair

Initially, development focussed on low pressure pumping pots, of various styles and types and interestingly an Englishman Samuel Parker was a leader in this field, with his 1833 low pressure pot ( without safety valve – a lethal machine indeed!)

The first espresso machine with water and steam control was patented by Kessel in 1878, it was improved upon by Pavoni in subsequent years and by 1885 Moriondo had patented a large bulk brewer type espresso machine which produced up to 50 cups

By 1906 Bezzera and Pavoni had developed brewer units, which today we would recognise as rudimentary espresso machines, taking 45 seconds to make a cup of coffee for each and every consumer

These machines forced hot water from a boiler and then steam through the coffee… of course today we know that passing steam through the coffee adds nothing to the flavour of espresso, other than bitterness, but at the time it was considered a vital part of the extraction process

It would not be until 1909 and Giarlottos’s pump solution, that steam was dispensed with as a means of creating the pressure to force water through the coffee….

….And so the process of slow and methodical improvement continued….

With the first automatic espresso machine patented in 1912 by Pouzot and Zambrini – this beauty offering a gas coffee roaster and an electric grinder….!

Again development continued and by 1935 Dr Illy was able to offer his Illeta machine

In fact no one Italian genius was responsible for the commercialisation of the espresso machine…It was an incremental process which was crowned with the launch of the first Gaggia espresso machine in 1948

The key element of which was the spring lever group  – an invention which led not only to better coffee,  but to a new type of coffee altogether…Perfetto espresso as we know and love it today!

Phew! After all that I fancy a shot… and thank goodness for ESE Espresso pods…!

Simple, easy and fresh, I feel almost unappreciative to all those and many more unsung geniuses, when I tear open my one serve pack and simply drop the ESE pod into the brew basket…

Marvelling at the luxuriant crema and sipping the essence of aromatic oils that is espresso… I raise a cup to those forefathers of this most fabulous invention….

This article was written by Guru who writes for, the UK’s leading online retailer of 44mm E.S.E espresso coffee pods

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