Fracino "Retro" Anyone??
Just wondering if anyone has had any experience with this machine? Am looking to upgrade our existing mobile coffee setup that requires mains power to something completely self sufficient. I like the option of it being duel fuel, seems to be a reasonable price, big boiler & power rating... just can't quite justify a trip up to Queensland to play with a coffee machine at the moment!
Also are there many people out there using lever machines in a commercial environment? We are currently using about 6 kilos at an average event. I am leaning towards the lever as there's one less thing to power (i think?) than an auto machine & it creates abit of interest.
One last thing- Why do you think gas machines are the less popular option for mobile coffee set ups? Is it due to a lack of machines on offer? It seems to be becoming more popular... Just hoping there's not some story of an exploding caravan and burnt beans that i'm unaware of...
Personally I have no time for gear that leads you (me) in a downgrade step in terms of operator convenience. If you dont want to power the machine at all, using gas only heats the boiler. Not having power to the machine means you wont have a functioning boiler auto fill. And when you are busy, you will not (in my opinion) remember to check and hit the manual fill lever frequently or at regular intervals, meaning you can eventually run the boiler level down to a dangerously low level and burn out the element. Also when you are at a busy event, the last thing you want to do is stop your work flow of coffee to wait while you wait for the fill to happen. (This assumes a pressurised water supply eg hose to a nearby tap. And if you are running out of an onboard container, how do you pump the water into the machine without power?)
And if you remember (to activate the fill) too late, you will put large amounts of cold water into the boiler to bring it up to level, and that will require you to stop texturing milk / brewing coffee while you wait for the pressure /temperature to come back up.
ie for me, no power means no auto fill, means lack of convenience, possible breakdown, and bad management of work flow. It also means you cant bring in a casual helper every now and then to help, because a "regular machine" operator (shop situation, modern equipment = autifill = operator doesnt even know its happening) wont be attuned to checking and doing boiler fill at all let alone frequently in small amounts....
Lever machines are still very popular in southern Italy BUT they only drink ristrettos. ie they rarely use the steam. That means the boiler fill will rarely be activated or required (in direct contrast to how often it is activated / required here we we do predominantly milk coffees).
Also you need to look at the safety aspect for "short/er" people. Lever machines have to be fitted at a higher level than a regular machine, so that if someone pulls a lever and lets it go at any time when there is no pressure, it doesnt spring up and break someones jaw. They are therefore fitted higher on a bench to keep the bottom most level of the lever away from your face, then making it hard for small operators to reach the top of the lever. ie ergonomic problems, also reducing your options with casual helpers or hiring staff (minimum height restriction anyone?).
Others I am sure will have their own opinions, but I dont personally believe that a lever machine will "create a bit of interest" in so far as coffee VAN sales are concerned. If you are at a sporting match or other with your coffee van, people flock to you because you sell coffee, period, especially when its cold and windy....the choice of your equipment is immaterial ie i dont think it will convince someone that wasnt going to buy a cuppa, to buy one just because they might see you have a lever machine. Dont let the apparent "romance" of a particular piece of equipment, blind you to the realities of what will best serve you in the working environment.
Just my opinions, and after that, its up to you.
Last edited by TOK; 10th September 2013 at 03:10 PM.
Thanks for your reply. Opinions are encouraged! I should have mentioned that I hope to have a battery setup on board to power the grinder, fridge, and to power a rotary pump to fill the boiler. I am a complete novice when it comes to levers, but was under the impression that when the lever is pulled, it creates the pressure for extraction manually, as opposed the pump that kicks in on a "regular" machine.
Hadn't considered the height aspect... wouldn't be an issue for me, however it could be a problem down the track.
Perhaps I am trying to justify a purchase on romance, although I am a fan of a more manual approach to alot of things and think that sometimes the less there is, the less that can go wrong... However, I'm not going to start grinding beans in a mortar and pestle...
Alot of people go with gas to ease the load on their generator. If all you need power for on the machine is auto-fill and pump, you can get away with a car battery and inverter as the max. draw will be from the rotary pump - a few hundred watts peak.
Unless you have someone pedalling really fast, you'll still need some form of electrickery to run your fridge, hot water, grinder etc.
You can't use a gas appliance in an enclosed space - not sure whether this applies in your situation.