It is thanks to botanist Albino Prospero that the ritual of drinking coffee in a cup became popular throughout the West. Coming back from Egypt in 1570, he brought some coffee beans back to Venice and after having roasted the beans, introduced the dark drink’s strong flavour to his Venetian fellow citizens. Indeed, Venice was the first Italian city to have a coffee shop, or the so-called “bar” of the time. The date of its opening is uncertain: some people suggest 1683, other date it back to 1640 or even 1615; but the place of this forerunner of café is certain: the prestigious location under the Procuratie' s Arches, in Piazza San Marco.
Abroad, enjoying the beloved dark drink in a café was already a popular habit. The first ever coffee shop was opened in Constantinople in 1554, then followed one in Marseille in 1659 and one in Hamburg in 1679. Within few decades, coffee shops spread in all Italian and European main cities, even becoming famous cultural centres where writers, artists and politicians came together.
A legend claims that a Neapolitan man, tired of the time it took his home coffee machine to deliver, invented the Espresso method and turned to an engineer in Milan to develop his personal espresso coffee machine.
The first prototype was presented at the 1855 Paris Universal Exposition and the first machine was finally available for the market in 1901. However, it was only in 1946 that Achille Gaggia, created the first Espresso machine as we know it today. That is how espresso coffee started to spread, with its rich concentrate flavour and intense aromas.
In order to get this type of coffee, certain standards need to be followed: using dejonized water at a temperature of 90 C °and a pressure of nine atmospheres. Hot water is in contact with ground coffee for just 15/ 25 seconds; to prepare one cup of espresso, one needs to use 6-7 grams of finely ground medium-dark roasted beans, to obtain a final quantity of 20 - 35 ml of coffee in the cup.