• So, its just a short coffee?

    I have 4 espresso machines. No, this is not me bragging, nor is it an exercise to show you I can count (I did re-count 3 times to make sure though). I just happen to love espresso... it's my thing.

    I have one original stove moka, one Alicia electronic moka machine, one nespresso machine and a new lavazza "a modo mio" beast. Include, several types of ground espresso coffee, 10 packs of capsules (approx 400 servings), a froth making gadget and you begin to get an impression of my passion.

    But it had me thinking, how old is espresso and how did it become part of the coffee culture we have today?

    (Now my favourite 4 words)

    A bit of history

    To understand espresso you need to understand coffee, or rather the origins.

    Coffee originated between the 14th and 15th century in the warm arab nations of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria and Egypt. Grown as a bean on plants (yes, they don't all come in a foil bag children), it was used as a method of keeping farmers awake at night to watch over their land. Because of this and subsequently found medicinal properties it was kept out of the export market until the larger muslim community could see the impact (and money to be made) and began exporting.

    It took a doctor from Padova called Prospero Alpino in the mid 16th century to introduce Italy to coffee, after bringing a few bags from his journeys. Due to initial costs and a small audience it wasn't the biggest hit straight away, although it began to grow in popularity.

    Typical Catholics...

    And like every other good thing, the Church initially banned coffee after some fanatics said it "evoked the devil in people". After Pope Clementus VIII tried the drink himself though, he overturned the decision and it soon became regarded as "the drink of the intellectuals" and quickly appeared in two separate medical papers for its medicinal purposes as a "healthy cure".

    And then came espresso

    The first machine was patented in 1884 when a Mr Moriondo created a cylindrical unit that first used steam and water to create coffee; this was then taken and improved in 1901 by Luigi Bezzera who essentially developed the patent further. In 1907 the company Pavoni bought the patent and started mass producing machines for commercial usage.

    In 1933 Renato Bialetti, created the home Moka machine (the one which goes on the stove) using the principles of previous machines only the mechanism was forcing water upwards with heat through the coffee rather than manually pressing like previous machines.

    Then came Mr Gaggia (yes... you know the one). Gaggia was a bit of a thinking man's barista in Milan's Piazza Duomo, who it seemed began making modifications (primarily to the pistons and they way they compressed the coffee) to the machines in his spare time and made what is considered to be the coffee we are all used to drinking today.

    So it's just a short coffee? 

    Well, in effect, yes. One will be slightly bitter, others sweeter. Some will have a mix that is unique, others will be standardised yet creamy. The coffee is one thing, the way to make it another.

    And the way you prepare a coffee, that becomes yours as well. I have tried cremino and it tasted great, a chocolate coffee which, if you have never done, add a serving of drinking chocolate to the mix then make the coffee. Unique.

    And that my friends is the history of espresso.

    You can travel all around the world and have an espresso, and no two will ever taste the same.

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