Although coffee and bread may not have much to do with one another, the invention of the espresso machine has revolutionized the ability to home brew espresso for coffee lovers the world over. The very first espresso machines were being used in homes at the beginning of the 20th century. Patented by Luigi Bezzera of Milan, Italy, in 1901, the first espresso machines were of the piston lever variety, which was powered solely by steam pressure.
These simple espresso machines do not have any moving parts. They sit on your stovetop and the water is heated in the bottom of the machine where the steam forces the water up into the middle section of the machine where the espresso is actually brewed. Although there have been advances in technology since the invention of Luigi Bezzera’s espresso machine, these stovetop varieties are still very popular today and can be found in kitchens in the likes of Italy, France, Portugal, and Spain.
More modern espresso machines have since been developed and are being used all over North America, from the home to the coffee house. There are two types of espresso machines, automatic and semi-automatic, the main difference being that with the semi-automatic espresso machine the operator can control the amount of water being used. Where as the automatic espresso machines are a one-touch button system.
If you are new to the world of espresso you may have recognized the classic shot at your local coffee house. The typical espresso is served in a tiny cup and although the amount may seem smaller than the average cup of coffee, espresso contains about two to three times the amount of caffeine. For this reason alone, espresso is the base for other beverages, such as lattes and cappuccinos. Note that espresso is not a specific bean or level of roast but rather it is the simply the method of how you brew the coffee. So in other words any type of coffee, whether it be light roast or dark roast, can be used to make an espresso.
If you would like to make an espresso of your own you must be aware that you cannot use your regular coffee maker. The only way to properly brew an espresso is with espresso machines, whether it is with the stovetop variety or the more elaborate automatic or semi-automatic espresso machines. The reason being is an espresso requires a pressurized brewing process, which allows for a very concentrated cup of coffee.
Other than the concentrated amount of coffee that is produced by this brewing method, one of the other main characteristics of a properly made espresso is the crema that is produced. Crema is the reddish-brown foam that floats on top of the surface of the beverage and is the signature of all espressos.