Introduction to espresso

Whether you like your coffee black and strong, or milky and frothy, espresso is a cornerstone of specialty coffee. 

A brief history lesson

Water is the basis of life… but espresso is the basis of many of the most popular coffee drinks. There would be no such thing as a latte or a flat white if it weren’t for the espresso machine. 

Espresso originated in Italy more than hundred years ago. In 1901 Luigi Bezzera filed a patent for a raw device that can be seen as the precursor to today’s sophisticated machines. 

Along with the rapid modernization, the coffee shop became a favorite place to socialize. The Italian immigrants in the USA helped to spread the concentrated beverage to a new world. 

There is some disagreement about the word espresso itself. Some historians claim that it refers to the act of ‘pressing’ out of the beverage. Others claim that the name refers to the ‘express’ nature of the preparation itself. 

The evolution of the espresso machine

Espresso machines have undergone a lot of changes over the years. The first machines, in general, relied on a manual lever to deliver the necessary 9 bars of pressure. Next step in the evolution was the semi-automatic machine. For most of us, this is the kind of device that comes to mind when we think of espresso machines. 

As with all consumer goods, there’s still some innovation going on, but to some extent, these machines haven’t changed that much the last 25 years. Sure, stuff like PID temperature control is becoming more widespread, but the basics are still the same. 

The latest additions to the scene have been super-automatics and capsule machines. Many hardcore coffee snobs may scoff at these kinds of devices, but there’s no doubt that the consumers love the convenience of just pressing a single button. 

No matter how you brew your espresso, however, the fundamentals of coffee still apply. You need freshly roasted quality beans to get stellar results.