The modern espresso machine was created by Milan coffee bartender Achille Gaggia on Sept. 5, 1938. Gaggia’s revolutionary design used a unique piston mechanism that forced pressurized water through coffee beans, producing a single steam-free espresso shot in 15 seconds. Prior to 1938, all espresso machines were steam driven.
Gaggia’s piston mechanism — inspired by the hydraulic system of an American army jeep’s engine — produced a natural layer of coffee oils on the surface resembling foam called crema that was unique to espresso, and increased the flavour and aroma of the drink. Gaggia introduced the Crema Caffe and the Classica machines around Milan in 1947 and 1948, respectively.