KRUPS Espresso Machine

Espresso machines, are mechanical, then electric devices which brew a concentrated, “strong” coffee by forcing steam and/or hot water. . .driven by pistons, pumps, heat pressure. . . through specially ground coffee bean varieties and “expressed” into a cup. The first machines made to provide Italians (and later, other Europeans) with their favorite stimulant beverages appeared in the latter part of the 19th century. These were, and still are, large, embellished metal and wood machines used in the very popular coffee houses and coffee bars, first in Italy, and later in the rest of the Continent.
The general passion for coffee, begun in 13th century Europe, spread there from its origins in East Africa (probably Ethiopia) with a spread to the Middle East, and in the 17th century, from the Dutch East Indies to the rest of Europe, and from there to America. A major part of the trade between Africa and Europe, Dutch traders carried the beans to fuel production in farther reaches of the globe, then to the Caribbean. Like sugar, coffee fueled the slave trade. The beverage then moved to England and to America, where the expensive drink for the elites eventually yielded to one affordable by the masses, where it mostly replaced the highly taxed English tea as the American Revolution succeeded. But American coffee, usually brewed by the drip or percolated method up through the 1960’s, was a far cry from the strong, almost thickly brewed pressed or steam expressed coffee found in the Middle East or in European coffeehouse.
America’s longstanding passion for coffee was reawakened in the 1960s by new coffee roasters and retailers. The “Good Food Revolution” of the 60’s, expressed a passion for European foods and drinks, especially for those experienced by Americans who traveled to France and Italy. In the 1980s, coffeehouse chains offering bold brews from around the world began dotting urban streetcorners and suburban shopping malls. There are even drive-thru espresso kiosks in coffee-mad states like California, Oregon, and Washington State. For home use, manufacturers began to offer both small espresso machines and bigger, more expensive models for the high-end market. This little Krups espresso maker, c. 1990, was one of the many models of coffee makers that began to service the home market in America’s revivified food movements. It was used for several years, then supplanted by visits to chain cult coffee shops, by a Smithsonian curator. The latest models (as of 2013) of home espresso makers involve no grinding of beans, but rather steam or hot water forced through little packets of coffee (some flavored) which may be bought by the carton.
Object Name
espresso machine
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
overall: 10 1/2 in x 10 in x 10 1/2 in; 26.67 cm x 25.4 cm x 26.67 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000
Food Culture
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Domestic Life
FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000
Food: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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