Sunday, September 10, 2006

Keeping secrets ... not!

One of the great excitements of the world of coffee is that developments are always afoot. Perhaps the seasonal nature of the crops attracts nut jobs who just have to tinker. Every now and then, I get to be privvy to some stuff, like this package, which arrived this week ...

Yep, good ole Greg Pullman is at it again. One great thing about Greg is that he listens to feedback, even when it hurts. A few years ago, Greg's tampers had ridiculously long handles and the base was just a flat stainless steel circle. All of it was of the same quality that his tampers are today, but it was just plain irritating to use because of the long handle. So it was changed. I commented that I thought that levelling grooves around the edges would be cool. Greg didn't like the idea, but tried it out. Now, not only is it part of the tamper, it is part of the logo! Greg Kaan thought that a chamfered edge on the top of the tamper would be good. It was done. And, so, the evolution continues with some more test modifications ...

... but I have been asked to keep them secret!

Of course, Greg isn't the only one working on cool new toys. The boys at Veneziano are locked in a game of one-upmanship. On their stopover in Italy before the World Barista Champs, Pete and Dave took the opportunity to visit a few machine factories. Now, some manufacturers are brilliant - just tell them what you want, and they'll do it. Dave stopped by Maver and talked to them about their Marte model. A dozen of them landed a few months ago, and Dave has been tweaking them ever since. The big modification was to the thermosyphon, so that the group actually delivers the temperature that you want, with the minimum dicking around. It worked damned well and, out of the box, the machine seemed to almost require no cooling flush to get decent espresso out of it! Preinfusion time was great, not like the ridiculously long wait with the Expobars and the shots didn't speed up and gush as much as they seem to on a giotto (although that probably has a lot to do with the coffee that I have used on them and the baskets that they had in them). The angled pf handle was a nice touch. Anyhoo, Dave asked me to keep my trap shut until he had played around with other restrictors, steam tips, etc. Well, given that he is selling them on Ebay, and that Mark from St Ali has already sold one, I presume that the cat is out of the bag. At some stage, I'll have to jones for a more in-depth trial than four or five shots.

So Dave was the big man around the roastery for a month or so until Pete landed a bunch of custom-made machines, by BFC, just last week. BFC made the very clever move of doing their own body kits, which means that a lot of people just get the same decent machine, with a different body. The 'La Valentina,' 'Junior' and 'Diadema' home machines are good examples. So it was with much enjoyment that the techs at BFC put a different machine, with specifc internal requirements, into the standard body for Pete. The machine really is a 'roaster's machine,' with some clever features like easily-accessible pressurestat and some other stuff that I might not be able to mention. The drip tray is forehead-slappingly simple and clever, though!

The funny thing is that, Pete's machine, too, is cruising to be overshadowed. Naturally, no stopover in Florence is complete without a visit to the La Marzocco factory, with its gorgeous break room. Who doesn't love a custom-hotrodded FB-80 overlooking the tuscan countryside?

No, that's not me. Unfortunately my LM factory photos were on my old computer
when reformatted. I'll have to get them back from the backup CDs, if we still have
them. The above photo is of Mark Prince and Andrew Barnett (?), and is part of
Mark's awesome La Marzocco factory visit gallery on flickr.

LM have a great strategy. Welcome all of your visitors. Take them up to this break room. Let them play around on awesome machines. Make sure they drink great espresso, gazing over the tuscan hillside ... so, of course, Pete and Dave had to order a custom FB-80. The huge semiauto buttons with the lion on them light up when you engage them to brew and there are custom spotlights next to each group! It's on the boat now. Here are some shots that LM snapped, before sending it off. Blurry, in true tabloid journalism style :P

Cool new stuff doesn't stop there. Sunbeam apparently have a new version of their EM6900, 'Paul Bassett' machine coming out soon. Jeffrey from Pallo and Steve from Coffeelab Design are also not resting on their respective laurels and my boss Andrew is coming up with a custom blend for Maling Room.

Teeeheehee ... it's good fun to blurt out everyone's 'secrets' every now and then. Maybe I should go and work for women's weekly ...



At 3:58 PM, Anonymous rice said...

coffee konfidential?
What a tease of a post. Cant wait till you reveal all...


At 8:18 PM, Anonymous Bon said...

haha, I want one of those machines now!

A cooling flush, or lack of, has been giving me headaches for the last month or so!

At 12:22 AM, Blogger Luca said...

Nim, what are you complaining about? You're next on the list for the prototypes after Pete and Dave finish with them ... do I tell everyone that they were actually around on the CS cafe day ;P

Bon, go dual-boiler, man! Those Dalla Corte machines are looking pretty tempting ... either that, or just start fooling around with your own gicleurs; bug Peter at ECM!


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