The charm and history of La Pavoni

Entrepreneurial engineers envisioned the easy extraction of espresso.

lapavoni-todayEntrepreneurial engineers envisioned the easy extraction of espresso. They embarked on an enterprising expedition to encounter equal esteem, exaltation, and encomium for their efforts - ergo encouraging the eclipse of every early entity eagerly endeavouring to emerge entolled.

To put that a trifle more simply - and a lot less alliteratively - we are about to discover how the espresso machine made it from one man's patiently-pending patent to every other man's principal prized possession. (We almost made it.)

Flash forward 17 years after Angelo Moriondo patented his bulk-brewing espresso machine and you stumble into a pair of Italians. It's not the Super Mario brothers, it's not Beppe and Gianni Di Marco, and it's not the lads from Donnatello's. Luigi (still not a Super Mario brother) Bezzerra and Desidero Pavoni are the subject of this week's historical jaunt.

In 1901, Bezzerra made amendments to the original espresso machine design and patented each improvement under the official title of "innovations in the machinery to prepare and immediately serve coffee beverage". Bezzerra then did us all a favour and sold his patents to Pavoni.

In 1905, in possession of all the necessary patents to infiltrate the espresso machine market and obliterate the competition, Pavoni founded La Pavoni and began industrially producing his machines. La Pavoni consisted of a small workshop in Milan where the machines were handmade at a rate of one a day.

The urbanisation of Italy created a whole new market of coffee consumers; espresso bars provided new places and new ways to socialise. The first espresso machine bar in Italy was called Ideale and they were the proud owners of a La Pavoni.

There was a rather handy bylaw that stated that if the signores and signoras drank their espresso standing up, then the coffee prices would be controlled by the local government. This is where the Italian "stand at bar" culture came from.

While they were busy perfecting the art of propping up the bar and looking effortlessly cool, we Brits were busy constructing complicated queuing systems akin to those at Thorpe Park. We also used this time to master the well-timed and awkwardly-audible tut when someone doesn't possess the requisite skill of queuing. Some time since then, we learned to complain. Badly, embarrassingly, and in an utterly tactless fashion.

La Pavoni has been heavily involved in the research and development of new design, products, sales, and after-sales of espresso machines from 1905 right up to and including today. La Pavoni machines for domestic use are available from the world's most prestigious retailers for a price similar to that of a terrace house in Luton. The prices of the La Pavoni commercial machines are even more scary. Forget Luton, think mortgage in St Albans.

Tickets to museums are far more affordable. So, to check out the charm and history of La Pavoni, head to the Museum of Modern Art in New York where they've curated the lever model. If the airfare to America is an issue, we suggest Google images. Or your imagination.

Intuitively-intellectual individuals instantly identify that imagination is indispensable, important, and indeed imperative, if inexhaustible and innumerable income is inaccessible. Innit.