La Cimbali is a well-known, Italian manufacturer of professional espresso and cappuccino equipment. While it was initially established in 1912 as a manufacturer of copper goods, the company didn’t produce its first coffee-related machine until 1930.
The “Rapida” was created as Cimbali’s first columnar coffee machine. These machines had a copper boiler, which could be heated using wood or coal-burning systems. It functioned by forcing the water through the ground coffee by the pressure of steam from the boiler.
While this met and exceeded the standard for technology at the time, it also greatly complicated coffee preparation. Baristas had problems keeping the process under control and the result was often a poor beverage without aromas. Even the most skilled barista would have had trouble keeping the brewing cycle under control. It comes as no great surprise that sugar and spices were added to the espresso to create a more tolerable and tasteful beverage.
Nevertheless, the machine was a major step forward for the industry of espresso machines, oftentimes being the central and most important furnishing of a café, boasting itself as the only piece of modern technology. Its success furthered the technological advances that were soon to come in the espresso machine industry.