Meet Handcrafted America’s Artisan Salvatore Cisaria, Salvatore Espresso Systems

Salvatore Cisaria, Salvatore Espresso Systems

Salvatore Cisaria grew up in the small town of Ostuni in south Italy. His childhood was spent in Caffe Trieste, an espresso shop owned by his uncle, located in the main square. The café is still in the family three generations later, now owned by Salvatore’s cousin. Salvatore’s most vivid memory is going there on a Sunday, at age four or five, and watching two men working the levers of a huge espresso maker. The stunning copper machine captivated the young boy.

Salvatore left school at 13 and went to work learning plumbing, metal and electrical work. At 18 he entered the army, and later landed a job in a high-tech machine shop in Florence, making buckles and accessories for purses and shoes.

When he moved to California in 1984, he took a job selling and repairing espresso machines. One of his tasks was to install machines in customers’ homes, one of whom was Nikki Sixx, bass player in the metal band, Motley Crüe. In his time at the company, Salvatore discovered there were very few espresso machines for home use, and what was out there were poorly made. If one wanted a decent machine it had to be imported from Italy, but even then, they were not stylish.

In 1993, three years after meeting Wendy, the woman who would become his wife, Salvatore started making his own espresso machines. Today, the 63-year-old artisan who was once mesmerized by a large espresso machine in a small town in Italy, ships espresso makers all across the country and the world to thousands of customers. His business is largely online with Wendy overseeing the sales and technical support, but he maintains a showroom where his most creative machines are on display, with his workshop directly behind.

His machines are unique, handmade, signed by him, dated, assigned a serial number, and personalized with the customer’s name.

Meet Salvatore…

What drew you to your chosen craft?

When I was very young in my Uncle’s espresso shop in Italy, I loved to watch them pull these huge levers and brew incredible coffee. Years later, I worked at plumbing and some electrical then learned machining, and tool and die. When I came to America, I saw a great need for good commercial type espresso machines for home use.

What do you enjoy most about your craft?

Creating machines for people who really appreciate handcrafted work that is art and functional.

In what ways are handmade goods better than those that are mass produced?

Most mass produced espresso machines are not made in this country, and they mold a lot of plastic and disposable parts. My machines are made of copper, brass, steel and last for many, many years and can be repaired not discarded.

What does the future hold for your type of work?

I think the future is very positive.


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