Italy

  • Coffee History: The French Press

    The History of the French Press isn’t as French as you might think! We decided it’d be fun to take a look at the history of this beloved brew method. Let’d dive in!

    Beginnings

    The first coffee presses likely did originate in France. These very basic, rudimentary presses followed similar principals as today’s coffee presses. They were likely homemade as well. These proto-coffee presses usually involved using a metal screen or some cheese cloth with a metal rod acting as the plunger. You’d simple press the whole thing down into an appropriately sized vessel after steeping to separate the grounds and the liquid. While simple and perhaps more clumsy and messy than today’s presses, they did the job. 

    We say that it’s likely these presses originated in France because of the French obsession with coffee in the 19th century. They were generally on the forefront of developing new ways to brew and enjoy coffee. For the next step in the French Press story, we head to one of their neighbors.

    The Milanese Not Quite French Press

    The first patented coffee press was developed by Milanese designer Attilio Calmani in 1929. Over the course of the next 30 years this press saw design modifications and updates. Many of these updates were developed by Faliero Bondanini, who later patented the design in 1958. This is how we finally got the name “French Press.” The reason for this is the factory that Bondanini built his presses in was located in France. They originally produced cabinets!

    His brand, Melior, was aided in its rise to popularity by being featured in the 1965 film the Ipcress File, which starred Michael Caine.

    The 1960s to Today

    After the success of the Melior French Press, British and European countries began to take notice. Of particular note was Danish kitchenware company Bodum, who you’re probably familiar with. They took the press worldwide, and developed it into the cylindrical design you’re familiar with now. 

    From the past to the future, the French Press is a bonafide legend!

     

  • Coffee History: The Great Italian Coffee Ban

    If you've been following our coffee history series you know that coffee has had a long and storied history. From its discovery and popularization in the Middle East to it's place in kitchens around the world today, times haven't always been easy for coffee drinkers. This week we're taking a look at one of those harder times to get a cup of Joe!

     

    The Great Italian Coffee Ban

    When coffee reached Italy in the 16th Century it received a frosty reception. When you consider the politics of the region at the time, it's not hard to see why. Italy was the seat of the Catholic Church's power, and the church had extensive power throughout Europe. Because coffee originated in the Middle East, many god fearing Italians took pause at it's arrival.

    While time had passed since the era of the crusades, many Catholics still did not trust goods emerging from the Middle East. This was especially prevalent among clergymen. Add to this the fact that coffee had an energizing effect, and the puritanical church of the time panicked at the spread of the beverage.

    This fear of "mind altering" effects was common among all major religions during medieval and Renaissance Europe. It's the same mindset that led to coffee's initial struggles at being accepted in Mecca shortly after its discovery. When its place of origin and effects were combined, members of the Catholic church demanded that the beverage be labelled as Satanic.

    While this fear and uncertainty around coffee did result in a countrywide ban, all was not lost. Pope Clement VIII, it turned out, was a big fan! Upon tasting coffee, the pope remarked that it was a tasty beverage, and deserved to be baptized. Thanks to this blessing, coffee quickly took root in Italy. The rest of Europe soon followed, and coffee became an international favorite!

    Thanks for reading! Remember to make coffee you love!

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