Changing times: How coffee machines have developed over time

coffee machines developed over time

Maurizio Marcocci discusses how commercial coffee equipment has developed over time and the new features that will lead the industry into the future.

People have always looked for ways to make their life simpler, and technology is constantly evolving to fulfil these needs. Cars and airplanes get us where we need to go, while phones and social media connect us to friends and family overseas. Coffee machines are no different.

While coffee has been around for centuries, the coffee machine we know today began surfacing in its infant stages during the industrial revolution – from the first ever espresso machine made in 1884 to Faema’s iconic E61 in 1961.

Coffee machine innovations over this period include:
• 1884 – Angelo Moriondo patenting the first espresso machine for commercial use
• 1901 – Luigi Bezzera designing a machine that forces steam and water through ground coffee
• 1912 – Giuseppe Cimbali patenting the modern heat exchanger found in espresso machines
• 1947 – Achille Gaggia registering a lever piston brewing mechanism for espresso machines
• 1961 – Faema begins implementing the E61 group head

These key milestones formed the basic building blocks manufacturers use today.  

At Service Sphere, we believe that technical advancements in commercial coffee machines can be broken down into three key areas:

Manufacturing processes
Over time, manufacturers have learnt the importance of developing new features and upgrading their manufacturing process in order to offer the most innovative models on the market. By doing so, they aim to meet consumers’ needs and expectations in terms of quality, performance, and serviceability. 

coffee machines developed over time
The Eversys c’2 Cameo’s 1.5 step feature allows milk to be frothed in one of three ways.

The simple espresso machine boiler is a clear example. Originally, many were made of aluminium, which caused corrosion issues in early machines. Manufacturers then developed improved boilers constructed with copper or stainless steel. LaCimbali has gone even further with its patented Ruveco Teck coating. Components that come into contact with water or steam are coated in order to protect consumers from trace elements found on the internal components of the machine.

Manufacturers have not only improved single boiler machines but developed dual- and multi- boiler models to meet growing demand. Many of these changes have been implemented in order to achieve a far more controllable brew, including pre-infusion and temperature control. 

These days, there is more emphasis on ensuring manufacturers can deliver what consumers expect. So coffee machine manufacturers are incorporating lean manufacturing processes for a more practical and flexible approach. Simply look at the changes in how we use coffee machines, from the lever model to adjustable semi-automatics, and now, one-button super-automatic machines. 

While developments in coffee machine technology improve quality and consistency, they also help inexperienced baristas make the best coffee possible with their limited knowledge. 

Some features that were once considered a luxury have become the norm. For instance, many coffee machines have shifted from using toggle switches to operate to LCD screens and in some cases, even touchscreens.

But, before coffee is extracted, it needs to be ground. Grinders have evolved from simple, hand-operated equipment to far more advanced machines. Baristas are now able to select dosing times, desired dose weights, and telemetry compatibilities.   

A long-overlooked area, which has recently come under the spotlight, is the humble tamper. Tamping ground coffee may seem effortless to a consumer, but we in the industry know that baristas can often struggle to perfect the process. This is why the auto tamper has really taken off. A notable product in this field is the Puqpress, which we see in many popular cafés. It sets the perfect pressure and level tamp every time. 

LaCimbali’s elective grinder with in-built tamper has combined these two pieces of equipment. Its machines grind a perfect blend and automatically tamps the coffee in the group handle with a programmed standard.

Another innovation is in the steam wand, which traditionally has just directed steam from inside the machine to the end of the arm. Now, manufacturers like LaCimbali have implemented technology such as the Turbosteam wand, which, with the touch of a button, allows baristas to froth milk automatically at a constant temperature to ensure a creamy foam. 

The one-button approach has been embraced within the super-automatic coffee machine market. Every step is factored in, including grinding, pouring espresso, and dispersing milk into the cup. In this regard, Eversys has led the pack with key features such as the 1.5 step in the c’2 Cameo. Milk is frothed in one of three ways, each catering to a different coffee type. Another popular Eversys feature is e’Foam, which allows baristas to electronically adjust the aeration and temperature of the steam going into the milk jug in order to achieve the desired consistency.

Multiple manufacturers have introduced internal computers and processors to their commercial coffee machines. These processors are able to read and interpret valuable information, including extraction times, temperatures, vend counts, and record service history. Thanks to the implementation of this technology, baristas and coffee machine technicians can interpret data through an internet connection. The benefits of this includes precise data analysis, quality control, and real time notifications. 

Manufacturers are also trying to appeal to the tech-savvy consumer who is most likely using their smart phone for online banking, social media, and purchasing clothing. So why not include coffee? 

A great application that shows the potential of utilising smartphone technology is LaCimbali’s Cup4You. Developed by Gruppo Cimbali, Cup4You is available on both the App Store and Google Play, and works with the S20 and S30 super-automatic machines. It allows users to create custom beverages and send them wirelessly to the machine to create the desired coffee. Delonghi offers a similar app for home coffee machines. 

This type of technology presents huge possibilities in terms of automation and robotics. In the near future, we could see high-quality drive through coffee venues where customers pay by card and a machine automatically makes their beverage without human interaction. 

From their humble beginnings at a trade show in the 19th century, coffee machines have gone through more than 120 years of research and development. Manufacturers have worked very hard adapting to consumer trends and technological developments within the coffee industry. They have evolved their products to reach different consumer requirements and trends. 

What’s exciting isn’t the history of the machines, but what the future will bring. One thing is for certain – our love for coffee isn’t going away and coffee machines will evolve to produce even better coffee.

This article appears in FULL in the June 2019 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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