More than a century ago, Europeans began a quest to make a consistently good cup of coffee in a short amount of time. That led to the development of espresso, a drink that has gained quite a following here in the United States.

That is how Nolan Hall, the roastmaster at the Docent Coffee Roastery + Cafe on Edgewood Avenue in Atlanta, described the acceptance and enjoyment Americans are having with this Italian-style coffee.

Docent is partnering with the Museum of Design Atlanta for some programs for its new exhibition, “Passione Italiana: The Art of Espresso.” The exhibition, which opened Feb. 24, will be on display through June 15.

Laura Flusche, Ph.D., the Midtown museum’s executive director, said “Passione Italiana” examines the technology and design of espresso machines, as well as the quest to create them, which began in 1884.

It traces technological developments and showcases the design of espresso machines. The earliest machine in the exhibition is a 1952 Gaggia that employs a spring-loaded lever patented by Achille Gaggia in 1947. It revolutionized the coffee industry by allowing anyone to make what the world calls espresso today.

Flusche said there were many reasons the museum wanted to host this exhibition, including the fact that espresso is loved by people in all walks of life and all ages.

According to Hall, third wave shops (those devoted to high-quality coffee) are now taking great pride in showing off their espresso drinks. These types of businesses are about quality and craftsmanship in the entire coffee supply chain, he said.

“Originally, espresso was created to deliver caffeine in an ‘express’ method, but American shops are now beginning to appreciate the taste of espresso just as much,” he said.

The journey to a good tasting espresso, however, is incredibly complex as thousands of different coffees could be roasted thousands of different ways and brewed with thousands of different methods, he said.

“For this reason, each shot of espresso can taste incredibly unique, and we believe that is why it is so popular,” Hall said.

“Passione Italiana” offers a number of points of intrigue, education and interest.

“Whether you’re a coffee aficionado or have little to no interest in espresso coffee, there is something for everyone in this exhibit,” Hall said.

Tickets to the exhibition are included with regular museum admission, which costs $8 for adults, $6 for educators and military members, $4 for college students and children ages 6 to 17 and free for children under 6.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit


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