Coffee has been around for literally thousands of years, having been consumed by the ancient Aztec and Mayan civilizations before making its way to Europe through the Spanish explorers. What many people do not realize, however, is that espresso is a relatively new development, having been first invented just over a century ago! The history of espresso carries with it a legacy of culture and class that continues even to this day. Here’s an overview of the history of espresso through the generations.

Early History of Espresso

Espresso was first developed by a coffee maker named Luigi Bezzara of Milan, Italy. In the early 20th century, Bezzara developed a means by which coffee could be made with steam pressure to speed up the process of making coffee, and producing it a cup at a time. Its name comes from the fact that Bezzara was making coffee “espressly” for a single person. The name combined the idea of speed with the concept of pressing the coffee.

Improving on a Design

This new method was fast and convenient, but unfortunately caused the coffee to have something of a burned taste due to the high temperatures and rapid brewing. By the 1940s, a man named Gaggia combined a piston-press system with spring levers to force water through the grounds but required less water while quickly brewing a single cup. The final product is thick, almost syrupy and exceptionally rich in flavor. This resulting brew, first created in 1947, is what we now know as modern espresso.

Method or Type?

There are a wide variety of coffees that can be used to make espresso. Indeed, just about any kind of coffee can be made in the style of an espresso drink. All that is required is the right ground, the right brewing method and the right amount of water. In general, you want about seven grams of grounds per ounce of coffee. Most “espresso blends” are in fact a mixture of several different kinds of coffee ranging from dark to light roasts—the lighter the roast, the higher the caffeine content.

A Coffeehouse Culture

Over the years, a culture has built up all over the world around coffeehouses, with everyone from authors to game players to university students, artists and the cultural elite have gathered in these places to share home, hearth and conversation. Coffee has become a major element in not just our daily lives, but in how we enjoy each other and exchange information. Since the 1990s there has been an explosion of cafes across the United States, with it becoming easy-to-find a chain or independent café just about anywhere.

Today’s generations view cafes as a “third place” between work and home, where they both socialize, people-watch and get business done. Even more are taking the experience home by joining coffee-of-the-month clubs and seeking ever better blends and equipment to make that perfect cup of Joe in their own house.

One thing is certain: coffee is a part of our lives and is here to stay. If you would like to explore the best in specialty coffee, look at our coffee of the month club offerings, and get in touch with us for more information today!