Many people who are unfamiliar with espresso think that "espresso" refers to a dark-roasted coffee, or to any very strong coffee, or to such coffee served in very small cups. While it is true that espresso coffee is very strong compared to the "regular" drip coffee with which most Americans are familiar, and while the Italian custom is to serve it in a demitasse, what makes espresso espresso is the method used to brew it.
Espresso is made by forcing a small amount of nearly boiling, highly pressurized water through firmly packed, finely-ground coffee. A special type of machine is necessary for this, making espresso a child of the industrial age.
The very first machine to brew coffee using heated pressurized water was invented by Angelo Moriondo in 1844. His invention was awarded the bronze medal at the General Expo ot Turin in 1844. Moriondo patented his invention and made successive improvements, but it was never mass produced.