What is the history and origin of espresso?

the history and origin of espresso

Espresso is one of the most popular coffee drinks in the world, but where does this drink actually come from? Espresso originated in Italy in the early 20th century and has since made a huge advance. Today it is an indispensable drink in many cafes and restaurants worldwide.

The history of espresso begins in Italy, where it was first produced in 1901. Unlike traditional brewing methods, where water flows slowly through coffee, espresso presses water under high pressure through finely ground coffee. This results in a concentrated coffee drink with a rich taste and thick crema layer.

Espresso's popularity soared in the 1950s and 1960s, when espresso machines became commonplace in Italian cafes and restaurants. Espresso is now a worldwide phenomenon and there are countless variants and preparation methods. If you are still wondering what an espresso is, I would like to refer you to my earlier blog about what an espresso is .

Coffee culture in Italy

Italy is known for its rich coffee culture dating back to the 16th century. Coffeehouses played an important role in Italian culture and drinking coffee became a social occasion and a way of life. Numerous varieties of coffee drinks have emerged over the years, but the espresso is the most well-known and appreciated coffee in Italy.

The history of espresso began in Italy in the early years of the 20th century when the first espresso machines were invented. These machines, which forced water under high pressure through finely ground coffee, created a concentrated coffee drink with a rich flavor and thick crema layer. Espresso quickly became popular in Italy and numerous variants were soon invented, such as the doppio (double espresso) and ristretto (espresso with less water).

The coffee culture in Italy is still vibrant and cherished as part of the Italian identity. Drinking espresso is more than just consuming a drink, it is a social activity often accompanied by a chat and a sweet treat. Italy is therefore home to some of the best espresso machines in the world, including those from Gaggia, a well-known Italian brand of coffee makers and accessories.

If you would like to learn more about the history of espresso and coffee culture in Italy, visit Gaggia 's website where you can learn more about their role in the development of the espresso machine and Italian coffee culture.

The first steam-powered coffee machine

First steam-powered espresso machine

Source: The Coffee Pot

In 1884, the first steam-powered coffee machine was invented by Angelo Moriondo in Turin, Italy. This machine made it possible to brew several cups of espresso at the same time, making espresso drinking more accessible to a wider audience.

The steam engine used pressure to force water through the coffee, making it possible to make a concentrated coffee drink in a short time. The invention of the steam-powered coffee machine marked the beginning of the commercialization of espresso and the rise of coffeehouses in Italy.

Over the years improvements were made to the machine, such as an automatic valve to regulate the pressure and a double boiler to stabilize the temperature of the water. These improvements improved the quality of the espresso and made it possible to produce and sell the coffee drink on a larger scale.

Today, the steam-powered coffee machine has become obsolete and there are modern espresso machines that use advanced technologies, such as pumps and electronic control systems, to make the perfect espresso. But the invention of the steam-powered coffee machine was a crucial milestone in the history of espresso and paved the way for the development of the modern espresso machine.

How have espresso machines changed in the 21st century?

"Another development in espresso machine technology is the emergence of fully automatic espresso machines."

In the 21st century, espresso machines have undergone significant evolution. From the first steam-powered coffee machine of the late 19th century to today's advanced espresso machines that use technologies such as pumps and electronic control systems, much has changed in the way espresso is made.

Modern espresso machines use advanced technologies to create a perfect espresso. They are designed to precisely control the brewing temperature and pressure, making the most of the coffee's taste and aromas. Some espresso machines even have pre-programmed settings for different types of coffee, making the perfect espresso even easier.

Another development in espresso machine technology is the emergence of fully automatic espresso machines. These machines grind the coffee beans, measure the amount of coffee and water, and automatically brew the espresso. These machines are handy and easy to use, but you can't quite compare it to an espresso from a semi-automatic espresso machine.

In addition, there are also more and more espresso machines on the market that are specially designed for home use. These machines are more affordable and easier to use than professional espresso machines and give consumers the opportunity to make a great espresso at home. The design of these machines is often inspired by the professional espresso machines and offers similar functions and quality of coffee.

Espresso fun facts

Since the history of espresso is quite extensive, I thought it would be nice to share some facts about the history of espresso and about espresso itself:

  • Espresso originated in Italy in the early 20th century. The name espresso comes from the Italian word "esprimere", which means "to express". The idea behind espresso was to make a strong, concentrated cup of coffee that was quick and easy to prepare.

  • A traditional espresso should be brewed within 30 seconds. If it takes longer, the coffee will become too bitter. If it takes less time, the coffee is too weak.

  • Espresso has more caffeine per ounce than regular coffee. This is because the coffee beans are ground much finer than with regular coffee, which releases more caffeine.

  • Espresso is also the basis for many other popular coffees such as cappuccino, latte and macchiato. With these drinks, the espresso is combined with milk or milk foam.

  • The first espresso machines were hand operated and available only in coffee houses. It was only later that electric espresso machines were developed that could also be used at home.

  • All types of coffee beans are suitable for making espresso. Some beans are better for a light, fruity espresso, while others are better for a dark, spicy espresso.

  • The Guinness World Record for the largest cup of espresso ever brewed is held by an Italian barista. He made a cup of espresso of no less than 736 liters!

  • Espresso is now not only popular in Italy, but all over the world. It is served in coffee houses, restaurants and even fast food chains.

  • Espresso is not only tasty, but can also be good for your health . It contains antioxidants and may reduce the risk of some diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's.

In short, espresso is a fascinating drink with a rich history and many interesting facts.


In this blog, we've taken a journey through the history of espresso , from the first steam-powered espresso machine to today's modern technology.

Espresso has a rich history and has developed into a globally loved drink. With its rich and concentrated flavor, it's no surprise that espresso is the basis for many popular coffee drinks.