BeanScene Magazine

Sanremo’s Café Racer set to soar

From the February 2017 issue.
Sanremo’s Café Racer set to soar

BeanScene explores the technical capabilities and design aesthetics that have made the Café Racer such an industry talking point.

One day before MICE2016, Sanremo posted an Instragram image of a wooden crate with the tagline “look what’s arrived”.

The image sent the coffee industry into a spin of anticipation and curiosity at the Australian unveiling of the Café Racer. 

Nearly two years since its inception and one year since that big Australian unveiling, Sanremo Technical team member Ben Stephens says the hype for this machine remains stronger than ever.

“Some people haven’t seen this machine in action nor understand what it does. They just want it because it looks amazing,” he says.

A number of different motorbikes inspired the machine’s unique look, including Ducati’s 1960s Scrambler Café Racer. At the time, the Ducati Racer revolutionised motorbike design with its contemporary character, and Sanremo believes the Café Racer is following suit.

Ben says the team went through thousands of photos of motorbikes for inspiration, all of which are a symbol of personalisation, freedom, and character.

The final design blends memories of the past with visions of the future in three available versions: Naked (with transparent sides), Freedom (with backlit sides), and Custom (Renegade with leather sides).

“The industry has become so big now that people are trying to find a point of difference – in the baristas themselves, café design, and in the look of their machines. People want ‘different’, not the norm,” Ben says.

To achieve this, the Racer starts out as a base canvas, and like a BMW or Harley-Davidson, is slowly built with personalised features. In fact, 16 different variations of Café Racer are available.

Customisation options include changing the side and back panels, completely removing them with see-thru panels, and even changing the colour of the steam boiler cover.

“Personalisation is moving to a whole new level,” Ben says. “If you’re a barista who loves their tattoo, you could take a photo of it and have it transferred onto the side panels of the machine.

Likewise, baristas could buy their own panels and change them on the machine to reflect which barista’s on shift. It’s not just about customisation. It’s about personalisation. We want to show that a machine is so much more than a coffee maker. It’s an art piece.”

Before the Racer and even the Opera were released, Sanremo made a decision to start producing machines that give its users options – in design and functionality.

“We realise that a barista’s knowledge of a coffee machine is far more advanced than it was 10 years ago. Back then, most baristas wouldn’t even know how to change a showerhead, but now they want to understand the detailed operation of a machine. Everyone seems to want more options and more responsibility, so we’ve provided that,” Ben says.

The Racer allows the user to select a soft pre-infusion, which runs through a restrictor, moving into a nine-bar extraction or at the pressure set before. Sanremo has also increased the volume and power of the pump to eliminate the drop in pressure.

“We haven’t just focused on stability of temperature, but the stability of the pump pressure. We knew it was a common problem to date in machines, and has been for a long time. We wanted to produce a system that was not overly expensive but would still rectify the issue. To do that we used a higher rated internal volumetric pump, which limits the drop in pressure across all the group heads instead of a bigger drop normally experienced,” Ben says. 

Ben describes the internal works of the Racer as a hybrid of the Opera and Verona RS. “It’s the Opera’s little brother. It uses components from the Opera but instead of being as expensive, it’s got new components that are still high quality elements, including 316L stainless steel and a bar hydraulic circuit, but more cost-effective,” he says.

In comparison, Ben adds that the Racer still has the ability to set profiles, it just doesn’t have the ability to “manipulate flavour profiles” like the Opera does.

“Our main focus for this machine was to look at today’s industry and not just focus on specialty, commodity or mid-range markets. This machine is for the barista of today who wants to customise their machine and produce brilliant coffee and replicate it on a mass level.”

The Racer features three independent systems, including three pre-heating units, three group boilers, and a hydraulics system.

“It’s hard to run identical machines consistently in a café – temperature fluctuates and machines work hard to keep stability – so we have provided offsets in the Racer to allow for adjustments,” Ben says. “A barista can simply press two activation buttons (the T button and group button) to manage volume, temperature on individual group heads, change the pre-infusion per group head, and change the offset per group in regards to output volume. It’s all about control and level of involvement you want in the machine.”

The Racer features electronic programmable doses, a pressure transducer for a quick heating response (steam boiler), a pre-heat boiler for the coffee boiler of each group, and tea hot water can be programmed through a new steam delivery system.

Ben says it’s also the little details that can make a big impact on the overall functionality of the machine. The Racer comes with an adjustable drip tray for different sized cups, an LED steam boiler level indicator, a graphic steam boiler level indicator, steam boiler temperature indicator, cold-touch stainless steel steam wands, stainless steel filter-holders and energy saving functions. Cleaning is also considered.

The full article features in the February 2017 edition of BeanScene Magazine.

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