Angelo Moriondo: The Untold Story of the Father of Espresso
Do you start your day with an Americano, espresso, or cappuccino? As you go through the ritual of dosing, tamping, polishing, and pulling shots, you probably don’t give much thought to the father of espresso, Angelo Moriondo.
Let’s change that today by celebrating Moriondo and the invention that left a lasting legacy on how we enjoy coffee.
Espresso’s Slow Rise to Coffee Fame
Lungos, lattes, cappuccinos, ristrettos, and even the basic breve can be found at almost every cafe. We often take these espresso-based drinks for granted. Yet, the espresso shot wouldn’t have found its way into our collective cultural lexicon if it hadn’t been for one man: Angelo Moriondo.
What is Espresso?
The classic definition is that espresso is fine-ground coffee brewed under nine bars of pressure. This pressurized brewing produces the crema, flavour, and complexity we all know and love (1).
Espresso Italiano has a hazel-brown to dark-brown foam… The nose reveals an intense scent with notes of flowers, fruits, toasted bread and chocolate.
The best modern espresso machines all strive to achieve the perfect espresso shot through a combination of features — including mechanical pumps, boilers, and pressurized or non-pressurized filter baskets. Espresso connoisseurs might even add their own modifications.
This modern technology can be traced back to one man. Espresso wouldn’t exist as it does today if it hadn’t been for Angelo Moriondo.
Check out this video for a quick look at Moriondo’s biography, invention, and legacy:
Angelo Moriondo, The Man Who Invented Espresso
Angelo Moriondo was born in Turin, Italy, in 1851 to a family of entrepreneurs (2). He decided to follow in his family’s footsteps and purchased the American Bar at the Galleria Nazionale and the Grand-Hotel Ligure in the Piazza Carlo Felice.
Coffee was all the rage in Italy during the late 1800s, but each coffee took at least five minutes to make and was notoriously inconsistent in quality. So, Moriondo developed the first espresso machine to meet the demand for faster, more consistent coffee.
Moriondo’s machine consisted of two boilers, one for generating 1.5 bars of steam pressure and one for pushing brew water through coffee.
This machine had the potential for great commercial success, but Moriondo never released it for commercial manufacture. Instead, he chose to jealously guard his invention, using it as a selling point for his establishments (3).
Over time, other entrepreneurs improved upon Moriondo’s design. Bezzera invented the portafilter and devised a method of brewing a single shot. Pavoni took Bezzera’s patent and added a pressure relief valve in 1903, which made the espresso extraction safer for baristas (4).
Finally, in 1948, Gaggia produced the first modern-day espresso machine, which was capable of producing more than one shot at a time and used water pressure to pull shots instead of steam.
Moriondo’s patented espresso machine was never manufactured on a commercial scale, but it was a crucial first step in the history of espresso. Our Gaggia Classic Pros and manual Nanopressos owe him a debt of gratitude. Thanks to his entrepreneurial spirit, we can enjoy delicious shots of espresso safely and efficiently.
A manual espresso machine is an espresso maker that doesn’t use a mechanical or electronic pump. There are many styles of manual espresso machines, but they all require the barista to generate the 9 bars of pressure to extract a shot.
A superautomatic espresso machine, also known as a bean-to-cup machine, is an espresso machine that does all the work of pulling a shot for you. It grinds, doses, tamps, and extracts. Many superautomatic espresso machines also include automatic milk frothing.
No, Angelo Moriondo is not still alive. He passed away in 1914 in Marentino, Italy, though his cause of death is unknown. On June 6, 2022, Google temporarily changed its logo to honour the father of espresso on his 171st birthday. The Doodle was painted using varying shades of coffee.
- Morris, J. (2010). Making Italian Espresso, Making Espresso Italian. Food and History, 8(2), 155–183. https://doi.org/10.1484/j.food.1.102222
- Racineux, S., Tran, C. (2019) Coffee: It’s not rocket science. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=pnu9DwAAQBAJ&q=%22Angelo+Moriondo%22++entrepreneurial+family.&pg=PT81
- Italy on This Day. (2017, May 31). Angelo Moriondo – espresso machine pioneer. Retrieved from https://www.italyonthisday.com/2017/05/angelo-moriondo-espresso-coffee-machine-pioneer.html
- Stamp, J. (2012, June 19). The Long History of the Espresso Machine. Retrieved from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-long-history-of-the-espresso-machine-126012814/?no-ist