Angelo Moriondo: The Godfather of the Espresso Machine?

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For coffee lovers like you and me, imagining a world without espresso may be difficult (even traumatic). That would be a world without Angelo Moriondo, the godfather of the espresso machine.

For coffee lovers like you and me, imagining a world without espresso may be difficult (even traumatic). That would be a world without Angelo Moriondo, the godfather of the espresso machine.

His invention sparked a revolution that forever changed how we drink our coffee. Thanks to his efforts, making a more flavorful coffee beverage that brought out the best in ground coffee beans became a reality.

Let’s take an exciting trip back through time as we dive into the life and innovations of Signore Moriondo. This coffee pioneer’s legacy continues to percolate through our lives even today. See what I did there?

Who Was Angelo Moriondo?

Angelo Moriondo, born June 6, 1851, was an Italian inventor credited with patenting the first known espresso machine in Turin, Italy, in 1884. Moriondo’s invention leveraged the power of heated water and steam to brew coffee.

Moriondo was entrepreneurial from the start. He hailed from a family that had a knack for business. His grandfather had a liquor-producing company. His father continued this business started by his grandpa. He also created a family-owned and run chocolate company, Moriondo and Gariglio.

Later, Moriondo bought the American Bar in the La Galleria Nazionale Via Roma and the Grand-Hotel Ligure in the Piazza Carlo Felice, Turin.

Angelo Moriondo Espresso Machine Patent

Coffee was all the rage in 19th Century Italy. However, it was inconvenient to make, taking more than five minutes. Plus, the quality was inconsistent to say the least. In an effort to improve things, Moriondo invented an espresso machine that brewed coffee faster without compromising on quality.

Moriondo’s machine won the bronze medal at the General Expo of Turin in 1884. He also got the patent entitled, “New steam machinery for the economic and instantaneous confection of coffee beverage, Method A. Moriondo.” This patent lasted six years from May 16, 1884, with an updated patent issued on November 20, 1884.

Moriondo’s invention received an international patent in Paris on October 23, 1885. He continued to improve his invention with successive upgrades, patenting each advancement.

His influence on coffee culture and espresso brewing methods using espresso machines is massive. But just how significant was his impact?

Well, when Google commemorates you with a Google Doodle, you know you’ve made a cultural impact! Google celebrated Angelo Moriondo on his 171st birthday with a trademark Google Doodle. It used actual shades of coffee and featured a triptych of espresso machines.

Did Angelo Moriondo Invent Espresso?

Not exactly. I’d like to think of Angelo Moriondo as the man who paved the way for espresso.

Thicker and richer than a regular cup of black coffee, Italian espresso is brewed under 9 bars of pressure. Besides, it has a hazel-colored crema and a rich, dark coffee base. Best of all, Italian espresso exudes an intense aroma and displays chocolaty, fruity, floral and roasty notes.

Speed was the driving force behind the invention of espresso. After all, espresso means “express” in Italian.

Breville Barista Touch Impress Pulling Espresso Shot

This brewing method creates coffee in seconds. In the process, water pressure forces oil out of the ground coffee bean to form a creamy, smooth shot topped with a light layer of crema. The result is a unique and flavorful beverage that’s ready in under a minute

Moriondo’s machines didn’t have the pressure to produce coffee this way. These machines arrived after subsequent inventions in the mid-20th Century.

What Happened to Moriondo’s Coffee Machine?

So, what was so special about Moriondo’s espresso machine? And what happened to his creation?

Moriondo’s machine consisted of two boilers with the following core functions:

  • The first large boiler: generating 1.5 bars of steam pressure that pushed heated water through a bed of coffee grounds.

  • The second boiler: producing steam pressure that would complete the brew by flashing the coffee grounds.

Crucially, this machine paved the way for brewing espresso. It’s important to note that brewing coffee and brewing espresso is different.

The espresso brewing process uses water and steam pressure to bring out the best flavors in the coffee bean. By forcing heated water through finely ground coffee beans under 9 bars of pressure, you create a drink with a rich, complex flavor, intense aroma and low acidity.

Moreover, Italians view espresso as more than just a brewed beverage. They view espresso as the outcome of the perfect coffee preparation process; a perfect balance of:

  • Machina (the espresso machine)

  • Miscela (the perfect coffee blend)

  • Macinazione (the perfect coffee grind)

  • Mano (the barista’s skills)

Still, while Moriondo’s machine could not brew “true espresso,” it certainly impacted its conception.

The most kickass feature of Moriondo’s machine was its independent controls. These enabled the water and steam to supply the coffee grounds separately.

Furthermore, this design made it possible to add just the amount of water needed to the brewing chamber. Steam pressure forced the liquid out, completing the extraction process and leaving a dry puck.

Unfortunately, Angelo Moriondo never commercialized his invention, jealously guarding it as a powerful marketing tool for his business. This was his undoing. Over time, others upgraded and advanced Moriondo’s invention, as there were no verifiable machines.

The birth of modern espresso coffee machines was here!

Angelo Moriondo’s Legacy: The Rise and Rise of Espresso

What Angelo Moriondo invented, others improved on.

Following Moriondo’s design principles, Luigi Bezzera invented the portafilter in 1901. This novel method for brewing a single espresso shot is still evident in modern machines.

A couple of years later, in 1903, DesiderioPavoni took espresso machines further. He added a safety pressure relief valve that paved the way for steam-free espresso brewing. This made the process of extracting an espresso shot safer for baristas.

Then, Giovanni AchilleGaggia improved on this invention. He launched his Gaggia Classica espresso machine in 1948. It was one of the first horizontal espresso machines to blend functionality and aesthetics. In fact, my beloved Gaggia Classic Pro is its direct descendent.

Gaggia Classic Pro Pulling Espresso Shot

Gaggia’s coffee machine leveraged water pressure instead of steam pressure. Crucially, it could extract multiple shots at the same time. It also dispensed precisely 1 ounce (28 milliliters) of water. At the same time, it increased water pressure from 1-2 bars to 8-10 bars (8-10 times the pressure of the Earth’s atmosphere).

Modern espresso machines have mostly stayed the same since these iconic inventions.

Today’s espresso coffee machines leverage the power of pressure, pistons and pumps. They force hot water through a puck of ground coffee at 9-bar pressure. The high pressure to low water ratios gives espresso its fast extraction time. And, more importantly, its beautiful complex flavors.

Although Moriondo’s innovations were simple, we needed them to have espresso as we know it today. Gaggia, Lavazza, Breville, La Pavoni, Jura and others owe their existence to this clever inventor with an entrepreneurial spirit.

Final Thoughts: If Nothing Else, Moriondo Was A Coffee Pioneer

So, it’s about time we pay homage to Angelo Moriondo. Without him, there’d be no espresso, which means no lungos, ristrettos or macchiatos! His espresso machine invention was a gift to humanity that catapulted coffee into an art form.

The next time you savor an espresso or any of its variations, remember the name Angelo Moriondo. This inventor’s legacy remains etched in every aromatic espresso shot tamped and pulled around the world!

What are your thoughts on Angelo Moriondo’s contribution to modern espresso coffee culture? Please leave your views in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you!

Angelo Moriondo FAQ

Angelo Moriondo invented the espresso coffee machine. He wanted to speed up the process of serving multiple cups of high-quality coffee to his customers.

Milanese innovator Luigi Bezzera actually made the first authentic espresso in 1901. He invented the portafilter and the brewing method for a single-shot espresso. His coffee machine used new steam machinery to make coffee (dispensed fresh) in the moment.

The oldest espresso machine (the cafe espresso machine) was actually a precursor to the true espresso machine. Frenchman Louis Bernard Rabaut invented it in 1822. It was capable of churning out 2,000 cups of coffee per hour.

Angelo Moriondo patented the first espresso machine in 1884 in Turin, Italy.

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