Angelo Moriondo, an Italian inventor, is often overlooked in the history of espresso, yet he holds a crucial place in the evolution of this beloved beverage. While others may have refined and commercialized the espresso machine, it was Moriondo who laid the foundation for this revolutionary device.
Early Life and Entrepreneurial Spirit
Born in Turin, Italy, in 1851, Moriondo was raised in a family of entrepreneurs. His grandfather founded a liqueur-producing company, and his father, Giacomo, continued the business. Along with his brother Agostino and cousin Gariglio, Giacomo established the renowned chocolate company Moriondo and Gariglio.
Angelo Moriondo inherited his family’s entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen. He ventured into the hospitality industry, acquiring the Grand-Hotel Ligure in Turin’s bustling city center and the American Bar in the Galleria Nazionale along Via Roma.
A Quest for Efficient Coffee Brewing
As a successful businessman in the hospitality sector, Moriondo was well aware of the demand for a faster and more efficient method of brewing coffee. Traditional methods, such as drip coffee makers, were time-consuming and produced inconsistent results.
In 1884, Moriondo’s innovative spirit led him to patent a groundbreaking device – the first commercially viable espresso machine. His invention was unveiled at the General Exhibition in Turin, where it garnered considerable attention and was awarded a bronze medal.
Key Features of Moriondo’s Espresso Machine
Moriondo’s espresso machine incorporated several innovative features that set it apart from previous attempts at espresso brewing. It utilized a combination of steam and boiling water forced through finely-ground coffee at high pressure, resulting in a rich, concentrated brew with a delightful crema.
The machine’s design also included a boiler that maintained a constant temperature, ensuring consistent coffee quality. Additionally, Moriondo’s invention featured a gauge that monitored pressure levels, allowing for precise control of the brewing process.
Commercialization and Legacy
While Moriondo’s espresso machine was a significant technological advancement, he did not pursue large-scale production of his invention. Instead, he focused on utilizing the machine in his own establishments, where it served as a popular attraction and a symbol of innovation.
Moriondo’s contributions to the world of coffee were largely unrecognized until the late 20th century. Coffee historians, particularly Ian Bersten, brought Moriondo’s work to light, highlighting his pioneering role in the development of the espresso machine.
Angelo Moriondo’s legacy lies in his pioneering spirit and his groundbreaking invention, which laid the foundation for the modern espresso machine. While others may have commercialized and refined his invention, Moriondo remains an unsung hero in the history of coffee, his contributions paving the way for the rich espresso culture we enjoy today.