Business Lessons From Espresso

How did coffee go from a cheap cuppa to a gourmet drink? There are a few innovators to thank and a few lessons to be learned along the way.

New ideas can bring unexpected benefits - be open

Before electricity, Bezzera invented espresso as a way to force hot water through coffee more quickly than other methods. Can you imagine considering espresso as a quick way to get coffee? It was soon clear that this method could deliver a better cup of coffee with maximum flavor.

Lesson: Stay open

Innovation is an ongoing process - it can take a team

Bezzera wasn’t the only innovator – Angelo Moriondo was the 1st to patent steam driven brewing in 1884, Bezzera refined the process to single shot brewing. Desiderio Pavoni added the pressure relief valve, and Giovanni Achille Gaggia added the pressure pump to prevent steam burning the coffee - this gave the coffee a frothy crema.

Lesson: You’re not likely to get it right the 1st time, innovation is often a team process.

Good ideas are just the beginning

A good idea is only the start. Bezzera didn’t have the cash to market the product so he sold the patent to Pavoni who had the resources to produce a line of machines.

Lesson: The work isn’t over even when your invention looks perfect!

Don’t be ‘precious’ about your ideas

Bezzera made sure he held the right to manufacture his own machines as well. He traded an exclusive on the market for the right to continue his own participation.

Lesson: Rather than focus on protecting his status as an inventor, he figured out a business model that worked for him.

Your idea, if you pull it off, might change the world!

Who would have thought that an attempt to speed up the coffee making process could influence culture, style and fashion?

Lesson: You never know in advance what impact you can have on the world.

(Adapted from an article by Ben Sherman)

Peter Irvine
Peter is Co-Founder of Gloria Jean’s Coffees, author of "Win In Business", speaker and business consultant.

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