The technical parameters outlined by the Italian Espresso National Institute for making a “certified Italian espresso” are:
Portion of ground coffee 7 ± 0.5 g (0.25 ± 0.02 oz)
Exit temperature of water from unit 88 ± 2 °C (190 ± 4 °F)
Temperature in cup 67 ± 3 °C (153 ± 5 °F)
Entry water pressure 9 ± 1 bar (131 ± 15 psi)
Percolation time 25 ± 5 seconds
Volume in cup (including crema) 25 ± 2.5 ml (0.85 ± 0.08 US fl oz)
Espresso is both a coffee beverage and a brewing method. It is not a specific bean, bean blend, or roast level. Any bean or roasting level can be used to produce authentic espresso. For example, in southern Italy, a darker roast is generally preferred. Farther north, the trend moves toward slightly lighter roasts, while outside Italy a wide range is popular.
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Angelo Moriondo, inventor of an important precursor to the espresso coffee machine
A manual espresso machine
A modern espresso machine
Angelo Moriondo patented a steam-driven “instantaneous” coffee beverage making device in 1884 (No. 33/256). The device is “almost certainly the first Italian bar machine that controlled the supply of steam and water separately through the coffee” and Moriondo is “certainly one of the earliest discoverers of the expresso [sic] machine, if not the earliest”. Unlike true espresso machines, it brewed in bulk, not as individual servings. Seventeen years later, in 1901, Luigi Bezzera, from Milan, came up with a number of improvements to the espresso machine. He patented a number of these, the first of which was applied for on 19 December 1901. It was titled “Innovations in the machinery to prepare and immediately serve coffee beverage” (Patent No. 153/94, 61707, granted on 5 June 1902). In 1905, the patent was bought by Desiderio Pavoni, who founded the La Pavoni company and began to produce the machine industrially (one a day) in a small workshop in Via Parini in Milan.
The popularity of espresso developed in various ways; a detailed discussion of the spread of espresso is given in (Morris 2007), which is a source of various statements below. In Italy, the rise of espresso consumption was associated with urbanization, espresso bars providing a place for socializing. Further, coffee prices were controlled by local authorities, provided the coffee was consumed standing up, encouraging the “stand at a bar” culture.
In the English-speaking world, espresso became popular, particularly in the form of cappuccino, owing to the tradition of drinking coffee with milk and the exotic appeal of the foam; in the United States, this was more often in the form of lattes, with or without flavored syrups added. The latte is claimed to have been invented in the 1950s by Italian American Lino Meiorin of Caffe Mediterraneum in Berkeley, California, as a long cappuccino, and was then popularized in Seattle, and then nationally and internationally by Seattle-based Starbucks in the late 1980s and 1990s.