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History of espresso machines: who invented them and early models

Despite the many technological advancements in the world of espresso machines, the vintage espresso machine has never been more popular. This is probably due a to renewed interest in the history of espresso machines by coffee aficionados.

The history of the espresso machine

The very first espresso machine was built by a man called Angelo Moriondo, who lived in Italy. He patented his invention and would eventually give a demonstration of the machine at the Turin General Exposition in 1884.

Interestingly, the name of the first espresso machine was a little funny. According to the patent, the coffee machine was referred to as “new steam machinery for the economic and instantaneous confection of coffee beverage, method ‘A. Moriondo’, Plate CXL”. Boy, are we happy it got a more commercial name going forward!

As the espresso machine picked up more popularity, a man called Luigi Bezzera invented some improvements for the coffee machine in 1901. He would patent those improvements, but this patent was eventually sold to Desiderio Pavoni.

He was the founder of the La Pavoni company, who started manufacturing the espresso machine for commercial sales. Interestingly, it would take another 32 years before the pressurized water was replaced by steam.

The invention was made by a Hungarian-Italian man called Francesco Illy in 1933. The name Illy must sound familiar!

Now that we have looked at the origins of the espresso machine, let us take a look at some vintage espresso machines and how you could obtain one.

Now, it needs to be said that true vintage espresso machines can go into the hundreds of thousands. So, for the purpose of this article, and most people’s budgets, we will look at some budget friendly vintage espresso machines that you could obtain for your home.

La Pavoni EPC-8 Lever Style Espresso Machine

When it comes to genuine vintage machines, it does not get more vintage than the espresso machine from Pavoni. After all, this is the brand that created the first commercial espresso makers. This also explains our first option in this overview.

The La Pavoni espresso machine is quite functional. While you would assume that these espresso machines would be more of a decoration these days, this is far from the case. In fact, the brand still creates these antique espresso machines and they are counted among some of the best. Of course, this also means that the price tag matches too.

When you choose the Lever Style Espresso Machine, you will make your coffee through a system with steam and a piston. While you may not notice on the outside, these coffee machines also contain internal thermostats that monitor the pressure of the system at all times. So, if you do not mind the higher price compared to some of the cheaper coffee machines, you could easily get the best cup of espresso from the convenience of your own home with this option from Pavoni.

La Pavoni PD-16 Professional In Copper And Brass

This model is one of the most expensive models from Pavoni, but it has so much functionality and looks absolutely spectacular. While this model is also available in gold, the copper and brass tends to be more affordable in the shop. Still, if you do have the extra budget to buy the best products out there, you could consider the gold version as well. The gold can be trickier to find though, so you may have to visit a specialist store to obtain one of the top vintage options.

The traditional look can be very deceiving in the case of Pavoni espresso machines, and this is no different for this model. The machine is built with chrome and brass, adding incredible durability to the device and allowing it to be passed down to the next generation if you wish to do so.

The handles of the levers are also made from solid wood, which once again provide greater durability than some of the plastics used in modern machines. The bases of these machines also have a special finish, which add more durability due to its frequent contact with moisture.

An interesting feature about this vintage option is that it has its own fitted steam jet. Interestingly, you can change it over to the automatic cappuccino maker if you wish to do so, which certainly provides more functionality overall.

Before one of these machines is sent to the consumer, each machine is pressure tested. So, it is not uncommon to find a little water in the base because of that. If this should occur, it only means your machine has been tested, so there is no problem with it.

Buying An Antique Espresso Machine For Your Home

If you are looking for the best vintage espresso machine that provides functionality combined with the traditional look, you will find that Pavoni is the best brand out there. While the price may be much higher than the regular coffee machines, they do deliver an espresso that will be difficult to find in any shop.

While you will pay for this top quality, vintage products come with better warranties and look spectacular to boot. In other words, it will be difficult for espresso lovers not to obtain one of these machines from the shop.

While we mainly focussed on Pavoni today, we must mention that there are other, cheaper options out there. However, they do not reach the functionality of the Pavoni, not even by a long shot.

Nobody does it better than the company that created the first commercial espresso machine. So, if you want a genuine espresso machine, and not solely buying it for decorative reasons, Pavoni is the only “real” option out there.

Of course, you can get some advanced coffee machines these days that can create espresso, but they are not vintage. While they do not have the antique look, they do provide you with the functionality you want. In conclusion, the choice between vintage and modern is often a personal one.

Last update on 2021-04-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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About Shabbir

Shabbir is the Chief Caffeine Officer at Coffee In My Veins. When he's not weighing out coffee beans for his next brew, you can find him writing about his passion: coffee.