In this interview, we ask Ian about his landmark rediscovery of Angelo Moriondo’s long-forgotten 1884 patent in the French patent archives in Paris. And we learn what Ian thinks were the critical turning points on the development of the modern espresso machine between Moriondo’s invention and the release of the E61 by FAEMA, a machine Ian argues was the first true espresso machine.
Ian Bersten has authored several books about coffee and politics. Born in 1939, he was one of the earliest proponents of artisan coffee in Australia, founding Belaroma Coffee in Sydney in 1968. Ian has spent 37 years travelling the globe, compiling one of the largest and most significant collections of coffee and tea makers in the world. His collection is on display at The Bersten Antique Coffee & Tea Collection & Museum.
Barista Hustle – Can you tell us a bit about the events surrounding your discovery of Moriondo’s famous patent?
Ian Bersten – I believe I discovered the Moriondo patent at the patent office in Paris or Compiegne. I was systematically going through all the French patents about coffee, and it was in amongst them.
BH – What’s the earliest reference to the word espresso that you are aware of? We have found evidence of the term caffe expresso being used as early as the 1860s. (In his book Rome and Venice: With Other Wanderings in Italy, in 1866-7, journalist George Sala describes three types of beverages: caffè espresso, caffè apposto, and caffè ordinario.) Have you seen the word written earlier than this?
IB – The earliest use of the word was in Paris for coffees made one at a time through a filter on top of the cup. [It] must be late nineteenth century.
BH – Do you know which coffee maker was the first to use electricity as a heat source?