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Thread: Rethinking The Home Espresso Machine

  1. #1
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    Rethinking The Home Espresso Machine

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    As coffee enthusiasts, addicts and critics, we have invested hours of time filtering through knowledge and resources to attempt to create that perfect cup. When we strip our relationship with making coffee down to its essentials, we arrive at a set of key factors we are in control of.


    One of these factors is of course the machine. However, the only real choice we have surrounding the machine is which one we decide to purchase. The manufacturer makes the machine, and we have to decide where in a product line we fit.


    I would like to open this up and consider the alternative. What if we were in control of the machines design. What features would your machine have? How would you interact with it? What are those Duh, need to have features that manufacturers have failed to consider, or how have you modified your current machines to make them more in line with your own needs?


    As a group of industrial design students we are excited to be working to rethink what a home espresso machine should be, and would love to draw on the real life experiences of forum members to inform our design process. Any input is valuable so please feel free to post anything you can imagine!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    Hi Demitasse,

    The guys at ZPM Espresso had a similar idea; might be worth checking out their work/process.

    As for me, here's what I would consider needs/justifiable wants in a home espresso machine. I have no experience with HX machines so I'll naively assume they're inherently more expensive based on what I've seen available:

    - 58mm group (to allow use of VST and other popular high-quality baskets)

    - Intra-shot temperature stability (as measured at the puck) of <0.5-1.0C (other people might have a different opinion on that, but I know I can taste a substantial difference between shots pulled 1C apart and that level of stability should be doable without breaking the bank)

    - Digital, user-adjustable temperature setpoint.

    - Heated group, whether passively-heated by design (attaching it directly to the boiler and perhaps monitoring group temp and integrating that into your control strategy) or separated from the group with its own heating element (unnecessarily unwieldy and expensive, IMO)

    - Separate steam boiler (partly due to functional concerns like being able to pour/steam at the same time, partly because it might make it feasible to offer a cheaper shot-only and shot/steam model with minimal design/manufacturing changes). I don't know whether there'd be enough of a market to justify offering a shot-only model though...

    - Adjustable pressure regulation (OPV). Doesn't need to be adjustable on the fly, more something that can be calibrated when the machine is serviced, a la Gaggia Classic/Rancilio Silvia

    - 3-way solenoid to relieve basket pressure after brewing

    - 1.5-3L tank

    - Proper preinfusion (could be acheived with a weaker pump or a solenoid and secondary OPV set to bugger-all)

    - A steam valve with replaceable teflon seats or something - I hate my classic's inability to completely close the steam valve (brass needle, brass seat)

    That's about all I can think of. Toys like shot timers get in the way, IMO, since I prefer to observe the pour with a naked PFand really only use time/weight to get in the ballpark.

  3. #3
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    If you want to go to the extreme of personal preferences, how about a modular design. With modules that can be installed/removed by the user?

  4. #4
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    At the end of the day, every desirable attribute has a price, either in $ or in benchspace/weight/plumbing practicality. It's getting that trade off 'right' for a big enough market niche that is the trick, rather than identifying individual attributes that a user (who is not committed to paying any $$) might say that they like. Just my second crack. Wish you well in your project.


    EDIT second crack = auto correct version of a single cent less than three cents

    Edited in comment by Andy:
    $0.02 cents - two cents - 2 cents
    The autocorrect of 2_C to "second crack" was needed as too many people were saving a couple of key strokes and making threads very cryptic for new readers.
    Dragunov21 likes this.

  5. #5
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    I'd like to approach it from the angle of 'I haven't worked as a batista, and can't tell the difference 1 degree makes to a shot' (I'd like to though).

    I am coming from home use perspective though. Everyone comes from a different direction.

    I submit the following list, however whimsical.

    Produces good coffee
    Shiny
    Good workmanship/beautiful engineering
    Easy to service/clean
    Modular would be nice, to be able to buy and plug in a PID when it can be afforded. Perhaps the modules split in half so you can look in and clean with your own hands.
    Not too big, perhaps able to be packed into a cube shape with a handle. Perhaps the modular design would allow the parts to be assembled in an alternative manner to allow this.

    The following options to buy or not:

    Ability to either be plumbed in to water or use a reservoir.

    I would like the process to be as manual (non powered) as possible, but with technology benefits like a pid where power is required.

  6. #6
    Coffee Newbie okitoki's Avatar
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    ooo... what about programmability? where you can set different variables easily, save them for different blend/beans...
    USB connectivity or WiFi/Bluetooth for connecting my smart phone/tablets to monitor and control the machine...

    must be shiny and covered with mirror finish stainless steel!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Vinitasse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thegoner View Post
    'I haven't worked as a batista,...'
    Not many people have


    Especially if Fidel Castro has anything to say about it
    Barry O'Speedwagon likes this.

  8. #8
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    @#&* autocorrect

  9. #9
    Senior Member trentski's Avatar
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    the italics makes it hard to read, I gave up

  10. #10
    Senior Member dr.a.j.pickering's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragunov21 View Post
    Hi Demitasse,

    The guys at ZPM Espresso had a similar idea; might be worth checking out their work/process.

    As for me, here's what I would consider needs/justifiable wants in a home espresso machine. I have no experience with HX machines so I'll naively assume they're inherently more expensive based on what I've seen available:

    - 58mm group (to allow use of VST and other popular high-quality baskets)

    - Intra-shot temperature stability (as measured at the puck) of <0.5-1.0C (other people might have a different opinion on that, but I know I can taste a substantial difference between shots pulled 1C apart and that level of stability should be doable without breaking the bank)

    - Digital, user-adjustable temperature setpoint.

    - Heated group, whether passively-heated by design (attaching it directly to the boiler and perhaps monitoring group temp and integrating that into your control strategy) or separated from the group with its own heating element (unnecessarily unwieldy and expensive, IMO)

    - Separate steam boiler (partly due to functional concerns like being able to pour/steam at the same time, partly because it might make it feasible to offer a cheaper shot-only and shot/steam model with minimal design/manufacturing changes). I don't know whether there'd be enough of a market to justify offering a shot-only model though...

    - Adjustable pressure regulation (OPV). Doesn't need to be adjustable on the fly, more something that can be calibrated when the machine is serviced, a la Gaggia Classic/Rancilio Silvia

    - 3-way solenoid to relieve basket pressure after brewing

    - 1.5-3L tank

    - Proper preinfusion (could be acheived with a weaker pump or a solenoid and secondary OPV set to bugger-all)

    - A steam valve with replaceable teflon seats or something - I hate my classic's inability to completely close the steam valve (brass needle, brass seat)

    That's about all I can think of. Toys like shot timers get in the way, IMO, since I prefer to observe the pour with a naked PFand really only use time/weight to get in the ballpark.
    Does this not nearly describe my BES900??

  11. #11
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    I'd like a grinder and machine that could operate near silently. It's awkward making a coffee when people are over and my grinder drowns out conversation for 20 seconds at a time :P

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    Quote Originally Posted by hamm View Post
    I'd like a grinder and machine that could operate near silently. It's awkward making a coffee when people are over and my grinder drowns out conversation for 20 seconds at a time :P
    It's pricey but isn't the HG fairly quiet?

  13. #13
    Coffee Newbie okitoki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hamm View Post
    I'd like a grinder and machine that could operate near silently. It's awkward making a coffee when people are over and my grinder drowns out conversation for 20 seconds at a time :P
    Have you changed your burr? My macap was really loud before I changed to a new set and it made a big difference. Plus it was quicker too.

  14. #14
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    No I haven't actually ever changed the burrs. It's a sunbeam em0480, it might be the burrs but it might also just be a sunbeam :S

  15. #15
    Coffee Newbie okitoki's Avatar
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    Haha... Never mind. The brand new 440 I bought was also pretty loud when I first used it too

  16. #16
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    you could pre grind a small quantity ?

  17. #17
    Senior Member dr.a.j.pickering's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kees View Post
    you could pre grind a small quantity ?
    And use in 45 seconds before its stale?

  18. #18
    Senior Member trentski's Avatar
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Quote Originally Posted by Demitasse View Post
    we are excited
    can't be that excited, 2 weeks go by and no extra post?



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