Scace, Schecter, and Schomer
With the arrival of the internet, baristas had an effective forum to exchange ideas and garner more influence over large manufacturing companies. In early 2001, a series of events propelled the espresso machine into the modern era. Only a century before this period of innovation, the US coffee machine market had thrived on plagiarizing old designs from Europe and presenting them to the US market as originals (Maltoni and Carli 2020). But from 2001 onwards, the US began to correct that imbalance.
Unsurprisingly, the early stirrings of the World Wide Web spurred innovation in US manufacturing. What is surprising is that home baristas played a key role in advancing espresso machines into the twenty-first century. The alt.coffee forum became an early noughties haven for coffee geeks. According to alt.coffee user Les Kuan, cofounder of the Canadian Barista Institute,
‘The genesis of third wave specialty coffee started in that forum. In a very short period of time, we had a community spring up, exchanging information and ideas that were tested and tried by all of us. This quickly sorted out the untested myths and solidified what was relevant and useful, this saved everyone a lot of time.’
One topic that predominated in the forum was the question of how to use technology and a do-it-yourself sensibility to achieve better thermal stability in espresso making.
David Schomer of Seattle, Washington is well known as the originator of the rosetta pattern in latte art — in fact, he coined the phrase ‘caffe latte art’. In the late 1990s, Schomer cultivated a relationship with La Marzocco, who had provided him with a space to experiment (Bernson 2015). David was adamant that the main driver in espresso was not pressure but water temperature. He published his theories in a column in Café Olé magazine in the ’90s and in his 1996 book Espresso Coffee: Professional Techniques,