Have you ever wondered why was the coffee machine invented? Who came up with the idea of it and why there is a need for a coffee machine?
Coffee beans were discovered in the 6th century, and since then, they have been used to brew one of the most liked drinks in the World. The first coffee machine was invented in the 19th century. Before that, only manual methods were used to brew coffee from coffee beans.
Coffee machines were basically invented to speed up the brewing process, to pressurize the water and to make the taste of the brew better. In the modern World, fully automatic coffee machines are available. You can quickly get a cup of coffee from these machines with only one touch. In this article, we will discuss the history of coffee machines and put light on when and why they come into existence.
Why and when the Espresso machine was invented? The History of Espresso
Espresso is the most common type of coffee, having its roots in Italy. The modern form of Espresso was invented at the start of the nineteenth century. You might assume that some particular type of coffee beans, some different coffee roast, or unique blends are used to make Espresso. But that’s not the case; Espresso is just the method of brewing coffee beans like many other methods such as French press or Moka pot.
In this process, highly pressurized water is forced to pass through the coffee grounds to make a highly concentrated coffee drink. According to Italian Coffee brand Illy’s, the definition of Espresso is:
Hot water at a temperature around 185-195 F at a pressure of a minimum of 9 to 10 bars passes through 7 grams of properly tamped coffee grounds to make a dense shot of not more than one oz.
This is why science is essential for brewing a perfect shot, as we need a unique combination of pressure, temperature, and the number of coffee grounds. So here comes the need for a coffee machine as manually, it is impossible to create such high pressure.
In the early times, coffee brewing was a prolonged process, and people had to wait for a long time to get their cup of coffee. Angelo Moriondo was the first man who patented the first coffee machine.
This machine had two large boilers capable of creating steam with the pressure of 1.5 to 2 bars. Then this steam was passed through a bed of coffee grounds to complete the brewing process. This machine was capable of brewing a cup of coffee in a matter of few minutes. But it did not have any proper filter, so there were always coffee granules present in the coffee, and the taste of coffee prepared by this machine was very bitter.
In 1901, Luigi Bezzerra made improvements in the design of Angelo’s machine and patented it. Many features of this machine, like portafilter, are still in use in modern Espresso machines. The main disadvantage of Bazzerra’s invention was that it was heated over a flame, so it was nearly impossible to control the temperature and pressure. As a result, the taste of Espresso was very inconsistent. As we know, consistency is a key attribute of Espresso. That’s why this machine was not very much appreciated in the market.
In 1903, Desiderio Pavoni bought the patent of Bezzerra’s machine and made several improvements to it. He introduced pressure relief valves in it to control the pressure. He also introduced the steam wand to collect the built-up steam in the boiler’s chamber.
These early coffee makers solved the problem of the slow brewing process of coffee beans. But the taste from these machines was usually burnt and very bitter as these machines rely solely on steam. Furthermore, these machines are capable of generating pressure only up to 2 bars. So, the coffee drinks from these machines were not eligible to be classified as Espresso according to the modern definition.
In 1938, Achille Gaggia was the man who finally surpassed the pressure of two bars and created an Espresso machine capable of creating pressure up to nine to ten bars. He used the spring piston lever in his design which minimized the need for large boilers and significantly increased the pressure of water. Because of the increase of pressure, the dense caramel-colored layer called crema was discovered on the top of Espresso. To date, this crema is the essence of Espresso.
And after that many innovations were made in the design, and now fully automated Espresso machines are present. In these machines, pressure is generated by electrically driven motors, and water is also heated with electricity.
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Why and when the simple pour-over coffee machine was invented?
Pour-over coffee or drip coffee was invented in 1908 by a German woman Melitta Bentz. Drip coffee is a simple brewing method by pouring hot water onto the ground coffee beans placed on some filter.
Melitta Bentz was not very happy with the bitter taste of the coffee and the granules of grounds she got with traditional manual brewing methods. So, she started experimenting with new ways to brew a cup of coffee.
First, she used woolen cloth as a filter, which allowed the brewed coffee to pass through it and the remains of the coffee ground retained on it. Soon she realized that the woolen cloth is not a perfect filter as it gets dirty and it wears out. So, she started using disposable paper filters instead of woolen cloth. She invented a cone-shaped device on which coffee beans were put on a paper filter that could be easily placed over a mug.
Melitta Bentz started her own coffee company, named Melitta, based on her recipe. Melitta has been successfully running for more than a hundred years and operates in more than fifty countries. The grandchildren of Melitta Bentz now handle it.
Why and when Moka pot was invented?
Moka pot coffee machines are a very inexpensive alternative to Espresso machines. The taste of the Moka pot coffee drink is very similar to Espresso. Moka pot was invented by Alfonso Bialetti, an Italian Engineer, in 1933. It quickly becomes viral due to its simple and lightweight design.
Alfonso Bialetti made Moka pot on the same principle as vacuum brewers. It was impossible to carry large vacuum brewers anywhere, so Bialetti made his design very small and compact, which is very easy to use and can be carried everywhere easily. Initially, it was designed to work with the stovetop, but now electric Moka pots are also available in the market.
This article covered a detailed history of Espresso machines, pour-over coffee, and Moka pots and answered why these machines were invented. Coffee had been discovered on this planet for more than fifteen hundred years, and coffee machines were developed in the last hundred to two hundred years. As a most well-known proverb says, ”necessity is the mother of invention”.
With time, some people worked to speed up the brewing process of coffee beans. And some people worked to improve the taste of the brew. Many machines were invented for this purpose, some machines were appreciated, and the others were rejected. We can still see the glimpse of these old coffee machines in the modern Espresso machines, as the working principle is still the same.