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The Achilles Gaggia story.

The Achilles Gaggia Story

In answer to the question, "Who is the father of the espresso Machine?" we have received the following account from Brevetti Gaggia SpA. The Gaggia company, located near Milan, is Italy's leading supplier of home espresso machines.

Currently, the company occupies 44% of the domestic household market and sold some 326,000 units last year. Espresso is the best selling machine; white is the most popular color. Internationally, one of the company's best known models is the Baby Gaggia. From baby to daddy, we now have the Gaggia story:

Achilles Gaggia was born in the year 1895, in the Porta Vittoria quarter of Milan. That was when coffee machines were tall and cylindrical and blew off jets of steam that would have made the Flying Scotsman envious.

After schooling, Gaggia set himself up in a coffee bar in Milan's Via Premuda, where he became a dedicated barman. However, he was not satisfied with the meager and burnt taste of the coffee made from his steam driven machines, so he set himself to work in his attic in search of a better system.

What Gaggia created was a system using a piston, whereby water could be forced through a bed of coffee at high pressure. Pulling down on a lever loaded the very heavy spring, allowed the necessary amount of water to enter the chamber, and then on release, caused the spring to force the hot water through the coffee in the filter holder at requisite pressure (9-11 bars).

Achilles mounted these pistons on his steam driven coffee machines, named Tavoni and Vittoria Arduino. The system worked and his customers were enthusiastic. All the goodness of the roasted coffee could now be exploited, leaving a creamy head (like for a Guinness) on the surface of the coffee; the period, 1937-38.

Further test machines were presented to the most famous bars in Milan, namely the Domini in San Babila and the Campari in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. From the results it seemed indeed that Gaggia was on the road to success. Unfortunately, the war loomed and broke, and the coffee dream was laid aside, at least temporarily.

But war over, Gaggia returned to his original project. Now his bar machines, which he had made in outside workshops, were no longer tall and cylindrical, or steam-emitting. Now they were long and rectangular and emitted steam - but only the steam from making the frothy cappuccinos. In 1946 the Gaggia machine possessed two boilers and could run on either gas or electricity.

The demand for such a machine encouraged Achilles Gaggia to set up his own company to manufacture them, which he established in Milan in 1947. Quite soon, Gaggia realized that it was time to offer a home espresso machine, for although there were some machines already on the market, they were steam driven and unable to produce the famous Gaggia crema.

Thus appeared the first electric in-home espresso maker, the Gilda. This was in the 1952-54 period, and the machine was named after the character Gilda portrayed by Rita Hayworth in the film of the same name.

Gaggia clearly had a fondness for exotic names for his machines, as evidenced by his bar models introduced in the 1950s and early 60s - Internazionale, America, Galassia, and Orione. Such models formed part of the increasingly sophisticated range of bar and home espresso machines in the Gaggia repertoire.

Achilles Gaggia died in 1961, but left an enduring legacy in the form of the espresso that so many of us now enjoy.

PHOTO : Gaggia is Italy's leading manufacturer of home espresso machines. The company was founded by the man who is credited for inventing the espresso machine.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
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Title Annotation:invented modern espresso machine
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Article Type:Biography
Date:Apr 1, 1990
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