How Did Espresso Spread Across America?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - 6:50pm

It used to be whenever you went to a coffee house or diner, you would get plain old black coffee. You would maybe put some creamer and a little bit of sugar to spice it up, depending on your preference, and that was it - until the invention of the espresso machine.

Espresso machines were first developed in Italy in the late 1880's by Angelo Moriondo of Turin, Italy. He was given a patent in 1884 for what was considered as “The new steam machinery for the economic and instantaneous confection of coffee beverage.” Many other Italians patented their own form of espresso machines, and the age of "instant coffee" was conceived. After the huge success in Europe, it was time to market it to America. It was then brought to the United States by an Italian named Carlo Di Ruocco in 1978; he took a new idea - that of roasting finely ground coffee beans with aged oak, and creating a thicker consistency - to new heights, patenting his formula.

He began selling espresso equipment to Italian restaurants in California. To say it was a success was an understatement, and "Mr. Espresso", the name given to him from his clients, was born. He began selling his machine to other big corporations around the Bay area, with the North Beach the mainstay of his business. Today, he is now well-known for his aged oak espressos, and is still selling them.

Around the same time, across the U.S., in south Florida, an influx of Cuban refugees were bringing their own love of espressos to the area, although just for the Cuban community, at first. However, a little known coffeehouse sprang up in Seattle, WA - Starbucks - first opening its doors in 1971; they began serving their own version of espressos in restaurants. It was a huge success, which led to other coffee houses serving espressos. The boom began spreading through America, and espresso soon became a household name, with the explosion occurring in the 1990's.

With the advent of espressos, coffee houses began adding different flavorings to the coffee, including sweeteners, syrups, whipped cream, flavor extracts, soy milk, and many different types of aromatic spices to their drinks. San Francisco, New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago became well-known for their espressos, and as the old saying goes, "the rest is history," with espresso businesses and manufacturers of espresso machines now dotted all over the map, in restaurants, homes, and businesses.

There are four main categories of espresso machines: manual, semi-automatic, fully-automatic, and super-automatic. Manual machines are a kick back to the historic past of espresso machines, but are quite difficult to operate, unlike the super-automatic machines of today - which can be counted among the best espresso machines available.
Today, you can get many different types of coffee, including the espresso, frappuccino, lattes, and other coffee concoctions - in fact, you can get the very best espresso machines and make your own coffee at home, or at the office. Websites have sprung up in the last decade, promising the best espresso machines on the market. As they continue to evolve, espresso machines are becoming more compact, more sleek, and easier to use, and will continue to be a household name for years to come.  


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