Espresso comes from the Italian name for the coffee, in full caffè espresso, literally "pressed-out coffee". Wikipedia explains:
Espresso (/ɛˈspɹɛsəʊ/ /eˈspresō/) is coffee brewed by forcing a small amount of nearly boiling water under pressure through finely ground coffee beans.
The OED has it first from 1945 but I found a 1919 in a magazine called The Living Age (v. 301, p. 805, in "Rome Revisited" by Dr. Arthur Rosenburg:
After a few weeks under the cloudless
skies of Rome, where the bright Jan-
uary sunshine gilds the yellow marble
palaces and bestows its genial warmth
upon the crowds that circulate through
the Corso to the Piazza Colonna and
the Piazza del Popolo, or sitting in the
open in front of the cafés sipping their
coffee espresso or their glass of ver-
muth, the icy estrangcment melts.
The OED also lists a variant form expresso from 1955. This can be found in the Italy section of the 1911 book The Gourmet's Guide to Europe (plain text / read online) (third edition, April 1911, p.261) by Nathaniel Newnham-Davis:
I drank a small flask of the
red wine of the house, Ruffina, a Café Expresso, and
a glass of Anisette, and my bill was just under l. 5.
And also in an 1869 book called Rome and Venice: with other wanderings in Italy, in 1866-7 (p.294) by George Augustus Sala:
Thus at Doney's, the most aristocratic caffè in Florence, if you ask for caffè ordinario, they bring you a very washy decoction with white sugar in dust; but if you pay an extra halfpenny you can have caffè apposto, which is slightly stronger, and accompanied by sugar in small lumps; and, finally, by ordering the mighty caffè expresso, you are entitled to a positively palatable cup of coffee and four big lumps of sugar.
However, this 1869 pre-dates espresso machines as we know them today. About.com says:
In 1822, the first espresso machine was made in France. In 1933, Dr. Ernest Illy invented the first automatic espresso machine. However, the modern-day espresso machine was created by Italian Achilles Gaggia in 1946. Gaggia invented a high pressure espresso machine by using a spring powered lever system.
Angelo Moriondo’s Italian patent, which was registered in Turin in 1884 (No. 33/256), is notable. Ian Bersten ... describes the device as “… almost certainly the first Italian bar machine that controlled the supply of steam and water separately through the coffee” and Moriondo as “... certainly one of the earliest discoverers of the expresso [sic] machine, if not the earliest.” Unlike true espresso machines, it was a bulk brewer, and did not brew coffee “expressly” for the individual customer.
The term café-espress has been used since the 1880s, well before espresso machines existed. It means coffee made to order, expressly for the person ordering it. It also means coffee fresh in every sense of the word:
- Made from fresh beans roasted at most two weeks prior to use,
- Ground just before brewing,
- Brewed just before drinking.