Espresso: History of the First "Instant" Coffee

Espresso: History of the First "Instant" Coffee

In our modern era, coffee is consumed by millions of people across the globe. Each culture has its version of this delicious, energy-boosting drink. The coffee industry has seen plenty of innovation throughout the years, bringing us some of the most popular brews we enjoy today.

We have taken our time to research the espresso and its fascinating history to see how this beloved drink ended up in our morning routine today. Come with us as we look at the first instant coffee, espresso, what it is, how it is made, and how it all started.


What Exactly is an Espresso?

Many coffee enthusiasts consider espresso as the original coffee – even the purest distillation of a coffee bean. Before it was invented, it would take less time to brew a cup of coffee. 
Even though most people are familiar with the term "espresso," there is still some confusion on what an espresso is – largely thanks to "espresso roasts" that are widely available in groceries worldwide.
Contrary to popular belief, the term "espresso" doesn't refer to a particular roasting method or a coffee blend. Instead, it is a coffee preparation method wherein highly-pressurized hot water is forced over coffee bean grounds to produce a highly concentrated brew that provides a deep and rich flavor.
Simply speaking, espresso is a robust black coffee brewed under high temperature and intense pressure. 


How Does One Make an Espresso?

If you want to make espresso shots at home, you'll first need an espresso machine. This machine can come in various models, ranging from manual versions to capsules and even automatic variants.
However, coffee experts and veteran enthusiasts prefer manual espresso machines to provide more control than their automatic counterparts. But then again, we experimented and found that automatic and capsule espresso machines offer the most consistent results, making them the best choice for beginners.
Once brewed, you can drink espresso just the way it is or mix it with milk to make a latte or water if you want an Americano.


How was the Espresso Born?

During the 19th century, the coffee industry was booming in Europe. Inventors sought to improve the flavor of coffee brews further while also reducing brew time; thus, the espresso was born.
There has been plenty of discussion on where the first espresso came from; we are here to clear things up. The first espresso was invented in Venice, Italy, during the early 20th century. The man who is credited with having invented the drink was Luigi Bezzera. Luigi was a businessman experimenting with methods to brew his coffee faster.
Luigi owned a manufacturing business in 1903. The amount of time it took to brew a cup of coffee frustrated him so much that it pushed him to start experimenting on improving the efficiency of the brewing process. 
After a dozen or more experiments, he finally discovered that adding steam pressure to the brewing process lessened the time it took to complete and resulted in a more prosperous and potent drink. 
This new brewing technique brought out all the rich qualities of the coffee beans. Luigi dubbed the machine "Fast Coffee Machine" this is where the term "espresso" comes from, as the word translates to "fast" in English. The brew's name originated from the invention of the first espresso machine.
However, Luigi Bezzera was not the only person associated with the espresso machine. Even though he was brilliant and talented when it came to the invention of the first espresso machine, his marketing skills still had much to be desired.
Only a few years after his creation, Luigi met Desidero Pavoni in 1905. Pavoni purchased a part of the machine's rights from Luigi and patented it. In other words, even though Luigi was the original espresso inventor, Pavoni spread this invention and changed the world of coffee using his marketing expertise.


The Espresso Machine

After Pavoni and Bezzera teamed up, they worked tirelessly to improve the espresso machine further. After two years of trial and error, they unveiled the "Ideale" at the 1906 Milan Fair. Shortly after the release of the Ideale, Pavoni took the reins of the espresso business and went solo. It was during this time that the "Fast Coffee Machine" was officially branded with the name "espresso."
The espresso was advertised as producing up to 1,000 coffees every hour. While the espresso was indeed very successful, it was not perfect. Competitors worldwide saw an opportunity to improve upon Bezzera and Pavoni's work.

The Modern-Day Espresso

The modern-day espresso is believed to originate back in 1938. An inventor named Achille Gaggia created a much more powerful espresso machine. This new machine increased the steam pressure output from 1.5 – 2 atmospheres to a whopping 8 – 10 atmospheres.
Gaggia's coffee machine used a spring-piston lever to increase the water pressure in the boiler to greater heights. The machine could produce espresso without a burnt and bitter taste, prevalent in the previous models. 
Gaggia continued to develop the espresso machine throughout World War II. Since then, many companies and individuals have applied their adjustments to the espresso machine, making it what it is today.

Espresso has gone a long way. From the tedious process of brewing coffee to the most advanced preparation method, it is now possible to enjoy a cup of espresso as long as you have an espresso machine at home.
We hope that you have learned something about the fascinating backstory of our favorite morning brew. How do you like your espresso brewed? Let us know in the comments below.
Back to blog