You will have heard countless times: “Time for a coffee“, “a coffee on the fly” or “we must have a coffee together once of these!”.
These are just some of the commonly used phrases that reflect how much this energising beverage made from ground coffee is an integral part of everyday life and culture for us Italians. It is a drink that marks time, that serves as a pretext for dating, or that has even given its name to a place: in fact, the bar is also commonly called a ‘café’.
When did the custom of coffee arrive in Europe?
Coffee culture is therefore something that has been with us for a long time. Only a few people know how Italian espresso was prepared at its origins, before the 19th century. Its arrival in Europe was not until the Prussian-Turkish war. It first appeared at the end of the 17th century in Austria.
Initially, therefore, coffee was prepared ‘Turkish style‘, where there was already the custom of meeting in rooms to share business discussions – and more – over this drink.
When was coffee culture born in Italy?
We have to wait another century for it to arrive in Italy: it landed in Venice, a port city with strong international characteristics. The Church initially opposed the drink, because its energising properties were frowned upon, and it was even associated with the devil.
This demonisation quickly passed, and the drink became popular in Italy as in the rest of the world, becoming a favourite first and foremost with artistic figures who found cafés a meeting place for cultural and literary discussions.
And when can we start talking about “espresso” coffee?
Since when can we start talking about Italian espresso coffee as we know it today? “Espresso” means immediately made, and appeared as a way of reducing the time taken to prepare the precious beverage in public places, in order to respond to the increasingly fast pace of metropolitan living, while still leaving time for this break that had already become a tradition that was difficult to abandon.
The first steam-powered coffee machine was invented by an Italian.
The first espresso machine, presented in France, dates back to 1855, but it was not until 1901 that the Milanese engineer Luigi Bezzera introduced the first steam-powered coffee machine, which was similar to the one we are used to seeing in bars today. This patent is fundamental because it opens the door to innovations in the immediate future: it starts a virtuous circle that is fought by patents. As Italians, we are very much involved in this battle, with many companies, architects and engineers dedicating their genius to improving the way coffee is prepared.
Bezzera’s first patent led to further ingenious patents.
In fact, we have not yet arrived at espresso as we know it today: the much-loved drink was perfected in 1948 by Milanese barista Achille Gaggia, who introduced pressure extraction of the precious beans. This new technique was fundamental to the history of espresso coffee, because it finally made it possible to obtain the drink in an even more concentrated form, which was therefore also more aromatic, and which became famous for its creaminess and firmness.
Here we have finally arrived at espresso coffee as we know it.
After Achille Gaggia’s invention, patents began to appear for new models of professional coffee machines.
From this moment on, an important growth in patents began, with the 1940s and 1950s being the years in which the large companies began to produce models that were increasingly accessible to the general public.
Up to the present day, when it is no longer even necessary to go to a bar to enjoy a professionally made espresso coffee. There are models of domestic coffee machines, such as the Pontevecchio ones, that produce espressos and cappuccinos of an even higher level than those found in bars. This is because in addition to the technically perfect method that the machine already provides, there is also the choice of ground coffee or preferred coffee beans.
Having in your own home or in your bar/hotel a machine that is able to produce the drink that has become the emblem of the made in Italy, is not only a form of daily well-being, cut out in precious moments of pause, with the rituality you prefer, but in the case of Pontevecchio lever machines it is also a way to furnish your kitchen with style.
The careful workmanship and the innovative design make them durable, beautiful and above all performing products, which find their place with taste and accompany you in the years without ever disappointing your expectations.
Enquiring is easy and you can choose from a variety of models that differ in size and colour, perfect for all domestic solutions and suitable both for personal use and for sharing with several people, as they are capable of producing several drinks in sequence, while maintaining their aroma and quality unaltered.
To love coffee means to know its history, to appreciate how it was possible to have in one’s own house a professional and performing machine like Pontevecchio’s ones, to be able to live again that history every day, shrunk in a scented cup.