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Angelo Moriondo vs. Luigi Bezzera: The founding fathers of espresso

Zandi Mlotshwa June 6, 2022

Today’s (Monday, 6 June) Google Doodle honours Italian inventor Angelo Moriondo, who is touted as having created the espresso machine. However, other searches about the espresso machine dredge up Italian mechanic Luigi Bezzera’s name, who patented the machine in 1901. So, grab a mug of joe and join us for a piping hot debate on who really is the father of espresso.

In the 19th century coffee was big business in Europe and new, efficient methods for brewing coffee were in high demand. Enter Angelo Moriondo, born in Turin, Italy, in 1851, who invented the earliest-known espresso machine.

Espresso is a way of preparing coffee in which highly pressurised hot water is forced through ground coffee to produce the rich, dark brown concentrate that is commonly known as espresso.

Photo by Kurt Hutton/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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Angelo Moriondo vs Luigi Bezzera

Moriondo presented his innovation at the 1884 General Expo of Turin, where it was awarded a bronze medal. That same year his coffee machine received a six-year patent under the title of “New steam machinery for the economic and instantaneous confection of coffee beverage, method A Moriondo.”

Following his expo debut, Moriondo never took the coffee machine to industrial-scale production, choosing instead to craft a few hand-built machines for the exclusive use of customers at his hotel and bar in Turin. Apart from the 1884 patent of his coffee machine, Angelo Moriondo is lost to history.

Photo by Stuart William MacGladrie/Fairfax Media via Getty Images
Photo by Kurt Hutton/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Luigi Bezzera, a mechanic from Milan, Italy, filed a patent for a coffee machine in 1901, which was a vast improvement on Moriondo’s design. Unlike Moriondo’s invention, Bezzera’s machine was purpose-built for a single serve, revolutionising the coffee game.

It is this design, acquired in 1903 by Desiderio Pavoni and mass-produced by the dynamic duo, which can be said to be the true espresso machine. In 1906, Bezzera’s machine was exhibited at the World’s Fair in Milan as Bezzera L Caffè Espresso, bestowing the name ‘espresso’ to the beverage it produced.

Bezzera and Pavoni later built independent companies; and the Bezzeras have been in the espresso-machine business for more than 100 years, with the company run today by Luigi’s grandson, Luca Bezzera.

Angelo Moriondo’s method introduced efficiency to the brewing of coffee; Luigi Bezzera just had a better name for it.

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Zandi is a Media and Communications student at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and a lover of all things pop culture. When she’s not writing, she’s curating perfect playlists or bingeing British (!) crime