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Angelo Moriondo: The Man Who Gave The World Espresso

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A large percentage of the world’s population can’t start its day without an espresso shot. There are so many people who swear by it. Every espresso fan in the world has one man to thank, Angelo Moriondo. He is the man who invented the Espresso machine. Such has been his influence on the world that Google honoured him with a doodle on June 6th, 2022. In this post, we will find out more about Angelo Moriondo. Let’s get started.

Angelo Moriondo: All You Need To Know

Was Angelo Moriondo from a highly successful family?

Angelo Moriondo is known for being the inventor of the modern espresso machine. It was he who patented it on 16 May 1884 and presented it at the 1884 Expo in Turin. However, many do not know that behind him there was an ambitious family. In fact, they were all successful entrepreneurs. 

An ancestor of his, at the end of the eighteenth century, had obtained a license from the Savoyard court to produce Vermouth. His father, with his brother Agostino and his cousin Gariglio, had also founded the well-known chocolate factory “Moriondo & Gariglio”.

The four children of Angelo Moriondo and Sinforosa Omegna (Giacomo, Caterina, Margherita and Antonio) followed in the footsteps of their predecessors, managing the many successful hotel businesses that their father had created. Giacomo, however, was a well-known landscape painter and illustrator. 

How did Angelo Moriondo invent the espresso machine?

The espresso coffee machine that we know today is none other than the natural evolution of Angelo Moriondo ‘s method, called the “piston tap” and patented in Milan in 1936 by Antonio Cremonese. As the newspaper “La Repubblica” explained, later Achille Gaggia, bartender at the family restaurant, the Achille bar in Viale Premuda in the center of Milan, “purchased the patent from his widow, Rosetta Scorza, improving it with successive patents of his own invention, and giving rise to the industrial production of the espresso coffee machine, with fundamental technical characteristics that are still unchanged today”.

When did espresso machines start becoming very popular?

However, the real mass diffusion of the espresso coffee machine occurred after the war, when the economic boom began and the same effect occurred which affected the Vespa Piaggio and the Fiat 500.

Did Angelo Moriondo work in the chocolate business as well?

Angelo Moriondo, in addition to being famous for inventing the first espresso coffee machine, is also known for having founded the famous ” Moriondo e Gariglio” chocolate shop together with his grandfather, brother and cousin. 

In fact, he was born in a cellar in 1850 in Turin, six years after Angelo Moriondo showed his face machine to the whole world. “Since he was doing well, he needed money to expand the shop. At the time – says Piera Minelli, owner of the “Moriondo e Gariglio” chocolate shop, she asked her uncle for 12,000 liras and he replied: “Okay, but only if you take my son to work with you as a partner”. And it was Francesco Gariglio.

Then the pastry shop moved to Rome after a friend of Angelo Moriondo, Gastone Latour, managed to get it opened in the capital: “In the beginning – Piera Minelli continued – the chocolate shop was in via della Pilotta under Palazzo Colonna. Now we are in Via del Piè di Marmo, always in the centre, a stone’s throw from Piazza Venezia ”. A historic all-red venue where the art of chocolate has been handed down from year to year. 

What does the original espresso machine look like?

Unfortunately, there is no trace left of Angelo Moriondo ‘s extraordinary invention, the first machine for making espresso coffee, capable of churning out cups of the tasty drink in large quantities within a few minutes. Even Angelo Moriondo’s invention risked being forgotten if it hadn’t been for the fact that in the 1990s it was rediscovered by an Australian coffee machine collector, Ian Bersten, describing it all in his book Coffee Floats, Tea Sinks.

Unfortunately for that incredible machine of the genius from Turin, which was based on a boiler that contained 150 liters (therefore of quite considerable dimensions), there is no trace left, as the legendary initial prototype exhibited at the Turin Expo of 1884 was not preserved. However, in 2018, following the instructions of the patent that has come down to the present day, Moriondo’s coffee machine was reproduced, and which is currently part of the Mumac collection, the Cimbali Group’s museum of espresso coffee machines in Binasco, in the province of Milan.

What led to the invention of the espresso machine?

The grandfather of Angelo Moriondo had a liqueur production company and it is with him that Angelo, with his brother and cousin, opened the famous chocolate company ” Moriondo and Gariglio”. Their first two premises in Turin were the Grand Hotel Ligure in piazza Carlo Felice and the American bar in the Galleria Nazionale in via Roma.

At that time the café was very popular, “but there was something wrong: the customers waited too long. The solution was soon made: a machine that could prepare more cups in unison and would allow him to serve more customers, giving him an advantage over his competitors ”. 

Thus, Angelo Moriondo presented his espresso coffee machine at the general exhibition of the Savoyard capital in 1884, where it was awarded the bronze medal and which, in fact, revolutionized the present and the future. 

How long was the first patent of the espresso machine?

Angelo Moriondo obtained a six-month patent, called “New steam machinery for the economic and instantaneous preparation of coffee, Angelo Moriondo method”. The object was characterized by a first large boiler, used to pour heated water over a bed of coffee grounds, and a second which produced steam to complete the infusion.

A patent that Angelo Moriondo renewed several times to perfect it, until his death in 1914. Although Moriondo instituted a social and cultural ritual that has since gone beyond the borders of Italy, the first machine was only produced for the public by the Milanese Desiderio Peacocks. Italy has been trying for two years to have espresso included in the UNESCO intangible heritage list, together with the Neapolitan pizza. 

How was Angelo Moriondo’s espresso machine described by the Italian press?

Angelo Moriondo is the one who invented the first espresso coffee machine, and it was born exactly 171 years ago today. It was 1884 when at the Turin Expo, the 33-year-old Angelo Moriondo unveiled his incredible invention. A reporter of the time, in the weekly magazine of the Exposition, described the machine of the Turin entrepreneur as follows: Moriondo, owner of the Caffè Ligure and kept it in operation by him. It is a very curious displacement machine with which three hundred cups of steam coffee are made in one hour”.

And again: “It consists of a vertical cylinder or boiler which contains 150 liters of water which is brought to the boil by gas flames under the cylinder, and by means of steam with a very curious complication of devices, in a few minutes 10 cups of coffee at once or, just one cup if you like. It is the coffee maker brought to its maximum development, reduced almost to thinking, and if Redi who had it against “bitter and Rio coffee” came back to life to see how the world is more concerned with coffee than with poetry, more of coffee makers and poets”. 

The same reporter then underlined the modesty of the kiosk in which Angelo Moriondo’s invention had been “installed”, but at the same time, it’s genius.“Here is – he wrote – Mr. Moriondo’s modest kiosk where you can admire the famous miraculous coffee maker, an invention of Moriondo himself, with which ten, twenty, one hundred cups of coffee are prepared in a few minutes”. 

Did Angelo Moriondo become rich off the Espresso machine?

His only mistake was in fact to relegate the coffee machine he invented to his hotel and his family, consequently, his invention did not become a commercial success, and it took some time for it to catch on.

In any case, Angelo Moriondo lived a story that deserves to be told, and Oliva When, the graphic designer in charge of creating the Google Doodle, commented: “It was an honor for me to create the graphics for an invention so loved in the world”. Google also added in its doodle blog: “Angelo Moriondo thought that making multiple cups of coffee at the same time would allow him to serve more customers at a faster pace, giving him an edge over his competitors,” and he did. 

How did Angelo Moriondo revolutionize coffee consumption?

The peculiarity of Angelo Moriondo was that of exploiting the steam and then immediately administering the same coffee: to be enjoyed as soon as it was ready, precisely as it is still used today. It was a machine which, although presented way back in 1884, showed decidedly avant-garde elements, starting with a boiler which indicated the water level and steam pressure, other features that we find today on bar machines. There was also a safety valve, but also a filter holder handle with a connection for quick fixing. Moriondo had various models built and one of these was exhibited at the Turin Expo of 1884 obtaining the “Bronze Medal”, an important recognition. 

How did the name “espresso” come to be?

With his new and ingenious coffee machine, Angelo Moriondo found a way to boil water and with coils, he led it to the container with the coffee. In practice, 10 cups of coffee could be made every two minutes. A very quick coffee, in fact, it was called “espresso”. Furthermore, the drink was more concentrated, so it was able to collect more aromas and perfumes. But Moriondo built his first espresso coffee machine also thanks to the contribution of the mechanic Martina.

When did mass production start for espresso machines?

The annals, however, recall that the first patent for the espresso coffee machine was filed on May 16, 1884. After some improvements, the international patent was also filed. Angelo Moriondo did not commercialize the machine, but only created some specimens in an artisanal way to use in his commercial establishments. It was Desiderio Pavoni in the early 1900s who bought the patents and started mass production with his company, enjoying considerable success.

It was Achille Gaggia who launched the lever machine in the 1940s based on the use of water pressure instead of steam. But it would not have been possible without the intuition of Angelo Moriondo. Although he did not commercialize the invented coffee machine, the entrepreneur continued to be interested, in fact, he followed the evolution of technology and fashion in that sector, making further improvements to that ingenious original idea, obtaining a patent that was almost considered a claim of his primacy in having created the true espresso machine.

171 years after his birth, Angelo Moriondo was celebrated by Google for his invention, which also earned him a bronze medal, received at the General Expo in Turin in 1884 where he presented his creation. Every coffee lover owes a lot of gratitude to this ingenious Italian. Angelo Moriondo took the world’s favourite beverage and made it faster and easier to consume. A true innovator.

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