When Did The First Nespresso Machine Hit The Market?

If you're a Nespresso fan, it's hard to imagine a time before you could simply push a button and be rewarded with a stream of perfectly brewed espresso or coffee, but believe it or not, the magic machines that make mornings better have only been with us since 1986. That was the fateful year when a small group of Nestlé employees launched the system with two machines and four varieties of coffee capsules. Until then, making espresso at home was more complicated, although Italians had been tinkering with a quicker way to make a strong morning brew since 1901.

The earliest Italian espresso machines were designed to produce a faster cup of coffee. Italians were infatuated with strong Turkish-style coffee, but that process required boiling coffee grounds for five minutes. A series of Italian inventors gradually created machines that could make dark, flavorful coffee in 30 seconds by adding steam and pressure to the brewing process. But despite these innovations, for the average person at home, getting the pressure, temperature, and proper bean grind for a truly great coffee was difficult and time-consuming. So, after 10 years of research and design, the Swiss Nespresso group solved the problem with a machine design that used pre-portioned coffee grounds sealed in capsules, which was able to imitate the way large espresso machines could extract coffee, but consistently and easily for the average person.

The first machines were marketed to offices, not homes

Those first machines were sold exclusively in Japan, Italy, and Switzerland and only to offices. They mimicked the visual style of a regular espresso machine — the capsules were placed in a portafilter-style holder (today's top loading system was introduced in 2004). The company soon expanded its marketing strategy to target upscale coffee drinkers at home. Creating a mail-order club for easily ordering the required coffee capsules increased sales, and the company was on its way to becoming a leader in the espresso brewing industry. Nespresso machines and coffee capsules were finally available in the United States in 1991.

Nespresso's patented coffee capsules hit the market alongside the innovative machines, of course. As the market expanded for the machines across the world, new varieties of coffee beans were offered, mostly by mail. Starting in 1999, the capsules were sold at upscale Parisian department stores, with eventual expansion to dedicated boutique shops, selling both machines and coffee. There are now more than 30 types of coffee capsules (some more loved than others) and at least nine machines to choose from, including the 2014 Vertuo machines, which are able to brew a larger cup of coffee.