There is considerable debate as to the creator of the first espresso machine, however, Edward Santais commercialized and marketed the first espresso maker in 1843. Some years later, the espresso coffee maker had its debut at the Universal Exposition in Paris some time in 1855. Depending on whose record you are reading, credit is given to Louis Bernard Babaut who first created an espresso maker in 1822. The very reason espresso machines came into existence was the need for a better and much faster cup of coffee.
Some records credit Luigi Bezzera, an Italian manufacturer and inventor, as the creator of the espresso maker in 1903, much later than the previous two mentioned. In order to make coffee faster, he added “pressure” to force the hot water through the coffee grounds in a fixed filter, thus being credited with the creation of the first espresso coffee maker. This new method was far superior to the old manual way of making coffee.
The early espresso makers had some problems and certainly weren’t easy to use. They practically involved an experienced and skilled operator who controlled the heat intensity and also the time the water was turned on. They usually experimented by using more or less of the fine coffee grounds, always attempting to improve on their creation. The original records also allude to the fact that as the operator of the espresso machine was using steam to force water through the fine coffee grounds, coffee sometimes became “burned”, or the espresso machine exploded!
Mr. Bezzera was a skilled inventor but lacked the ability to market his inventions. In 1905, he sold his rights to the espresso maker to Desidero Pavoni who was very knowledgeable and successful in marketing the espresso machine, and changed the way the world consumed coffee. For several years, he sold his espresso coffee makers throughout Europe.
In 1935, Franceso Illy modified this invention by using compressed air instead of steam, and became known as the creator of the first automatic espresso machine. The problem of exploding espresso coffee makers was solved and the machines were a lot more stable and reliable. A very well known brand of espresso machines today is the Gaggia, which was also a modification of the earlier invention. Achilles Gaggia was born in 1895, and later in life, didn’t like the taste of coffee from the then espresso machines being used. By changing the way water was forced through the system using a piston and a lever under high pressure, pulling down on a lever loaded the very heavy spring and allowed the necessary amount of water to enter the chamber. When the lever was released, it caused the spring to force the hot water through the coffee in the filter holder at the desired pressure.
There are many modern versions of Mr. Illy’s and Mr. Gaggia’s espresso coffee makers being sold and used today, and are very popular with those who prefer that great taste of coffee made in an espresso machine.