Looking at this wafer of expired coffee grounds made me stop and realize how amazing espresso really is. The fact that so many variables are in play and how those variables can make a delicious espresso be under, over or unevenly extracted so easily makes me wonder how espresso is still so popular today.
Espresso was invented for the purpose of having a fresh brewed coffee experience each time a new customer walked in the door to a shop. Prior to espresso, large batch brewers were utilized to make the day’s coffee early in the morning. The coffee available at the end of the day was stale, unpleasant and usually tossed.
“Espresso was invented for the purpose of having a fresh brewed coffee experience”
Angelo Moriondo, Luigi Bezzera, Desiderio Pavoni. These were the three Italian men that contributed, patented and invented the basic functional modern day espresso machine dating back to the late 1800’s.
Though these machines were functional, they didn’t produce the same quality of espresso we see today. The use of steam in the brewing process procured a bitter/burnt taste in all the coffee it brewed. These machines were also only able to produce 2 bars of atmospheric pressure whereas today proper espresso machines produce 9 bars, not more and not less.
Flash forward to post world war II and you’ll find the most closely related modern espresso machine invented by Achille Gaggia. His invention off an espresso machine that relied on a manual lever to press water through the coffee puck allowed the machine to reach atmospheric pressure of the true 9 bars, and bypassed the use of steam to power the water through the coffee.
Gaggia’s machines produced what we all have learned to call “crema.” That magical slightly foamy, caramel layer in espresso that makes it absolutely delicious.
None of us here in the U.S. would have tasted a flat white, cappuccino or tasty espresso without these inventors nearly 150 years ago. But even the invention of espresso didn’t necessarily make it a popular beverage here, that thanks is due to a few coffee giants that are still around.
In 1906 an Inventor with the same name as the U.S. first president, George Washington, came up with “instant coffee.” Then, due to prohibition in 1920 where alcohol was made illegal, given that coffee was still legal and coupled with the effects of coffee of feeling of enlightenment, instant energy, and a dopamine rush, made coffee’s sales skyrocket as people were in need of another magical beverage.
Coffee in the U.S. was popular, but it was a long time before espresso was as popular as it is today. In the early 1980’s, Howard Schultz of Starbucks wanders to Italy and discovers the amazing espresso beverages of Italy. He fails to convince Starbucks to sell them in the U.S. He quit Starbucks to start another company, Il Giornale, only to raise money to buy Starbucks for 3.8 million in 1987.
Determined to revolutionize the way the U.S. drinks coffee, Starbucks opens a new shop 5 days a week in the 1990’s all with espresso based drinks.
Starbucks is not the third wave coffee you find at Holy Schmidt Coffee Co. or other similar roasters. However, they did help pave the way for third wave coffee in our homes due to the “opening of minds.” Teaching the masses coffee can be experienced in more than a drip machine from pre-ground coffee.