The History of Espresso – Part 1

To explain the evolution of our beloved drink, we will not only speak about the Espresso machine itself, but also about the coffee blends and how these have developed throughout time.

The technology of the espresso machine was introduced in 1901 by Luigi Bezzera. In the steam machine, the extraction starts when the boiling water runs through the coffee powder. After the coffee starts to drip, the water tap closes and the steam quench opens, pushing the water up to through the filter which contains the coffee and then straight to the cup.
The result is an espresso with a light cream, a low body and low bitterness.

The History of Espresso - Part 1

Usually the coffee blends were made of Arabica varieties from Brazil and Ethiopia.
Up until the mid-nineteenth century, the Arabica used to be the only grown coffee variety; the first data relating to its production indicate Java (Indonesia), Suriname, Jamaica and Brazil as the main exporters. Soon Brazil gained the primacy of the world production thanks to its wide availability of fertile lands.
Also, in the United States the number of consumers grew very fast reaching 40% of the world consumption in 1890 and up to 60% during World War I.

Between 1870 and 1920 the Roya epidemy (a fungal pathogen that attacks the leaves of coffee plants) throughout the plantations and therefore the necessity arose to look for coffee varieties which were more resisting, leading to the Coffea Canephora (Robusta) which was first found in Zaire, Africa.
Europeans still requested a higher quality of coffee, roasted lighter in the North and gradually darker, going towards the South. In Italy the locals used the monumental steam engine, which in less than one minute dispenses a full-bodied coffee with an intense flavor : a success which was destined to revolutionize the world of coffee in the Peninsula and around the world.

During World War II no imported goods, including coffee, were allowed to Italy which lead the people to look for alternatives, such as chicory, carcassé and barley coffee.

After WWII, the Allied troops then introduced bread, canned meat, nuts for the stock again. But most important, also the beloved coffee could be finally consumed again.

Second part following soon…

Source: Simone Celli /