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The Age of Steam

Preparing great espresso is all about balance and chemistry. With the proper grind and temperature, you (or your barista) can pull a rich, full-bodied shot every time. 

The game-changing espresso machine has roots reaching back more than a century, to when coffee’s popularity bloomed in cafes across Europe. In keeping with advances of the age, inventors seeking to shorten lengthy coffee brewing times looked toward steam power to turn up the heat. 

In 1884, Angelo Moriondo of Turin, Italy, received one of the earliest patents for his revolutionary contraption, which used two boilers to push water and steam through a bed of coffee grounds. By the early 20th century, two Milanese men were improving upon his rudimentary design. Luigi Bezzerra and Desiderio Pavoni patented a device that used a large boiler, burner chambers, and multiple brewheads to produce a swift shot of velvety brew. 

In 1903, Desiderio Pavoni purchased their patents and further modified the “macchina” by adding a pressure release valve and steam wand. At the 1906 Milan Fair, Pavoni and Bezzerra revealed their device for serving coffee “espresso” style (“pressed out fast”) … and the world of java was never the same.

The machines spread across Italy, and in time traveled the globe, with inventors and chemists continuing to tweak the design. Our modern espresso machine blends these traditions with new electronics, but the art of producing a perfect demitasse cup remains in the hands of the brewer.

For a standard 2-ounce shot, we tamp one heaping tablespoon of finely-ground coffee into the basket, and use filtered water for the best taste (and for the health of the machine). Special blends and single origin beans such as our Mistral, Cubano, or Boreas yield a bold beverage with golden crema floating on top. Bellissimo! 

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