Gaggia is named after its founder, Achille Gaggia, who was a coffee bartender in Milan during the 1930s. Achille had a passion for great espresso and decided to patent his own invention for the world’s first steam-free coffee machine. He filed the patent for his Gaggia coffee machine in 1938 and proceeded to revolutionize the world of espresso making. His machine created a more refined coffee and only required 15 seconds to create an espresso shot because of its unique high-pressure piston mechanism design. It’s thought that this design was inspired by Achille’s observation of an American Army Jeep engine years before.
Although Achille had developed his Gaggia coffee machine in 1938, it wasn’t until 1948 that he finally formed the company Gaggia to produce coffee machines on a large scale. At this point in time, Gaggia machines had already been installed all over trendy bars in Milan. And it wasn’t just that his machines produced a quick espresso for why they were so popular – they also created a top layer of cream from the coffee oils that were created by the piston mechanism. People loved the new intense aromas and flavors of Gaggia’s espresso, and the brand quickly acquired international acclaim. In 1953, Gaggia was present at the Milan Trade Fair, known as the Fiera Milano, and became noticed by this much bigger international audience. Soon the company went on to start exporting its machines to America, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
Fierra Di Milano, Italian trade fair in Milan 1953 where Gaggia presented one of it’s classics.
Vintage Gaggia coffee machine, dating back to the early 1900’s.
Gaggia lever coffee machine from 1953.
Gaggia’s first coffee machine, based on Achille’s original 1938 patent, was known as The Classic. This was the espresso machine that gave Gaggia it’s big start in Milan, but it was a large machine and only for commercial use. But in 1952, Gaggia caused a stir in the world of espresso all over again when it released the home-use machine Gilda. It’s said that Achille named his beautifully designed machine after the Hollywood actress Rita Hayworth’s role in the 1946 Noir film Gilda. While the Gilda was Gaggia’s foray into the at-home espresso machine market, they continued to improve their products and developed the Baby Gaggia in 1977. Its small, convenient, and classic Italian design made the Baby Gaggia a worldwide hit.
Gaggia coffee machines remain an espresso connoisseur’s delight. The company released the Semi-Automatic Gaggia Classic in 1991, and the machine is still a worldwide bestseller today. Gaggia has also broadened their product line over the years to include accessories for espresso machines (such as the Gaggia Descaler ), a line of professional espresso machines, a line of manual espresso machines, and a line of automatic espresso machines. Beyond its large-scale production machines, Gaggia has also produced some uniquely crafted espresso machines too. In 2009, a vintage Orion 1G-U machine with gold accents and elegant details was found in Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch with a customized plaque that read “Neverland.” To this day, Gaggia takes immense pride in the design, production, and Italian heritage of their machines. Since 2010, the company has manufactured all their espresso and coffee machines in Milan at their Robecco sul Niviglio factory.