HostMilano 2019 wrap


BeanScene Editor Sarah Baker travelled to Italy to find out why HostMilano has a reputation for being the biggest and greatest global hospitality trade show. 

HostMilano 2019 is a beast of the expo world. The biennial event was the talk of the industry for the past few months, with chatter among businesses on what to expect, who was attending, and the necessity to take comfortable walking shoes. For many Australians, the 24-hour journey to Milan is a commitment. It’s time away from businesses, a different time zone and a foreign city devoted to risotto, fashion, and aperitivo. But as BeanScene discovered, a visit to HostMilano is an essential one for those wishing to do business, invest in products, and make new connections to take home.

Along with the record-breaking crowd of more than 200,000 visitors who flocked to Rho Fiera for 41st edition of HostMilano, this year’s event also saw its highest number of international visitors from 171 countries at 40 per cent of attendees.  

La Marzocco’s KB90 made its European debut at Host, as did its range of grinders.

It also attracted the highest number of Australian exhibitors to date, including Cafetto, St Remio, Coffee Roasting Australia Technology, Espressology, Coffee Machines Technology, and Barista Group, which participated in the five-day show from 17 to 22 October.

HostMilano is a feast of technological innovation, future out-of-home and consumer trends, and hard-core industry networking, and this year’s event didn’t disappoint. The prominent theme and dominating trend at this year’s show was undoubtedly automation and quick-service coffee, followed by the integration of Internet of Things, sensor technology, the importance of data collection, and supporting partnerships and services that put the customer first. There was further focus on compostable packaging, roasting equipment, and milk dispensing equipment, but it was automation that stood tall. 

Inside the four trade halls dedicated to coffee, roasting, and processing equipment, endless vending machines were scattered throughout the stands – including one producing scrambled egg within a minute. Furthering the idea of “automation”, three robot arms were spotted: one pouring shaky latte art, one serving Aperol Spritz at a bar, and another roasting and packaging coffee, signs that automating the barista role is still very much of interest.

To that end, Eversys unveiled its limited-edition Cameo X machine at the company’s 10th anniversary party the evening before HostMilano. Talking about the company’s “blue ocean” approach, Eversys Chief Commercial Officer Kamal Bengougam highlighted the company’s vision to further bridge the gap between traditional coffee equipment and intelligent electronic super-automatic coffee machines. 

Victoria Arduino’s Eagle One is designed to be an expression of personality in a café.

“We want to humanise the coffee machine and produce bespoke solutions without compromise to in-cup quality,” Kamal said. “We believe the balance of power from traditional to super-automatics will shift by 20 to 30 per cent over the next five years. We must keep on driving innovation forward, but first, consolidate our new technology and then we’ll need to elevate again.”

Along with the Cameo X, Eversys launched the eGhost tap-and-go machine powered by German company iovent, another example from Eversys’s Super T category that embraces attractive design and the ability to create quality products without fuss.

Over on the La Marzocco stand, the KB90 was still attracting huge interest from the European market in addition to baristas pulling shots on Host 2017’s biggest attraction: the revised Leva. But the real attention grabber was the Innovations Gallery where hordes of people crammed into the stand as eager as tech geeks at the release of a new iPhone. This time, it was La Marzocco’s elevated foray into the grinder market that took everyone by surprise with the release of the Swift Mini and Swan grinders.

“We’re committing to grinding equipment in a big way. We’ve been producing the Swift grinder for the past 10 to 15 years, but now we’re delving into grinders that really fit in with our other products,” says Scott Guglielmino, Product Manager for La Marzocco. 

While the Swift Mini is targeted for the high-end home and office markets, the Swan S is ideal for high volume coffee bars.

“We tried to look at the design of the Swan to pair really well with La Marzocco’s PB range – of KB and Strada machines. We see an incredible opportunity for growth because the Swan directly addresses retention, consistency, heat, and static – all the things that are well-established problems.”

host milano
Slayer displays its customised three-group machine in “Host Milan blue”.

Scott says by addressing static in the grinder, all these other problems could easily be resolved. After seven years of work, the “true solution” was a static shocker, a ring beneath the burr set that introduces electricity that neutralises the static charge generated in the coffee as it’s ground. 

“By completely eliminating the static charge, the coffee can completely exit the burrs through the static shocker and fall into the portafilter. With that, retention and clumping go away,” Scott says.

Also attracting attention was the one-group Leva and Modbar AV, concept design GB three-group with integrated scales, and La Marzocco’s automatic milk steamer. This company-first uses an ultra-sonic infrared sensor rather than weight to assess the level of milk in the jug, then tilts the jug to allow air in, and runs to the pre-set temperature.

Rancilio also showed off a fleet of new-release technology, with the launch of the Classe 20 espresso machine, Silvia Pro one-group – with two separate boilers equipped with proportional integral derivative software – Egro Next Touch Coffee super-automatic drip coffee machine, and V50 solid aluminium grinder with 50-millimetre blades and zero retention. The Egro kiosk dispensing unit with cold milk foam had Australians considering its suitability Down Under.  

At Simonelli Group, design was top of mind from the brew bar – featuring the official 2019 World Barista Championship Black Eagle Machine in Boston red, signed by all the competing baristas – to the window display and Eagle One that looked like an art exhibition. 

Eagle One is a professional espresso coffee machine designed to become the centre of expression and personality in a café. It is born in response to the new generation of coffee shops where design, performance, and sustainability are determining factors in creating a memorable experience.

Astoria’s new Profilo gives baristas manual control of espresso production.

“Eagle One brings digital innovation to the industry in a simple way. The market is looking for simplicity, so in this machine, less is definitely more,” says Fabio Ceccarani, CEO of Simonelli Group. “We are at the stage where you cannot impact the market with big technology to break the industry, but rather we want to focus on harnessing data and platforms that put the focus on the end user and delivers exactly what the barista wants. The market is changing. It’s volatile and complex, so the more connected we are, the better.”

Also new to the Nuova Simonelli line-up was the Appia Life machine. Ceccarani says this model embodies Simonelli’s focus on sustainability, with a 20 per cent reduction in environmental impact compared to the Appia II. It is even more simplistic and innovative thanks to the introduction of the Easycream system to dispense silky milk foam, and is apable of high productivity. 

Over to the Astoria and Storm stand, barista star power in the form of 2017 World Latte Art Champion Arnon Thitiprasert and 2016 World Coffee in Good Spirits Champion Michalis Dimitrakopoulos were demonstrating their skills behind the Storm FRC, along with the Astoria Tech6000, presented as the brand’s new flagship model. But it was the Storm Profilo and its music-mixer-like control panel that turned heads. 

“The idea with Storm Profilo is to make every step of coffee production manually adjustable. You start with the pre-infusion where you separate the extraction into three steps. The first step is to set up pressure in four different levels and timings, such as two bar for two-and-a-half seconds,” Arnon says. “Then we can adjust the speed between pre-infusion into the real extraction and the extraction itself, taking the pressure from zero up to 14 bars, which has five different levels of adjustment. When you lower the pressure, the extraction takes longer. The bitterness is reduced, but the aroma is high.”

Carimali released a boilerless espresso machine at HostMilano.

Carimali’s boilerless technology was another talking point. Not only does it weight just nine kilograms and save up to 90 per cent energy, it also occupies as little as one-quarter of bench space compared to equivalent traditional coffee machines. Brand ambassadors Agnieszka Rojewska and Gregory Scace were on hand to take customers through the machine, opening cupboard doors underneath the benchtop to prove there was indeed no boiler in sight.  

“You don’t often get to disrupt coffee, and now I’ve done it twice [first with the launch of the Scace temperature measurement device],” Gregory says. “Thanks to magnetic induction, our temperature profile is remarkably reproducible and stable. It’s a principle known since the 1800s and commercialised for other applications, but no-one has mastered it in coffee – until now.”

Wega Macchine per Caffè’s stand had everything from a bakery to cocktail bar, featuring the Nexa, WBar, and Nova coffee machines. The Nexa uses a straight, lock in-group handle that raises automatically to meet the group head and start the extraction for improved barista ergonomics. The Nova was equally impressive in design with its angled back. 

At the busy Slayer stand, it was the limited-edition Slayer Espresso custom machines that had visitors pulling out their smartphones for photos in the likes of its “Catwoman” all-black single group, “Pink Panther” all-pink single group, and a vibrant “Host Milan blue” three-group machine. Slayer’s stand was a celebration of its motto, “make coffee better” with its latest machines on display – the Steam EP, Steam LP and Steam LPx – the results of secret trials inside the Slayer Lab. 

San Remo debuted the Brave coffee machine, described by Ona Coffee’s Hugh Kelly as “five machines in one” to help off-set changes in grind and barista imperfections and “makes your bad coffees taste pretty good”.

“It essentially allows us to control coffee to a really high level of detail,” Hugh says. “It does flow control, automatic mode, and at the same time, can be stripped back and is really simple to operate. We’re really excited to see it next at MICE2020.”

In the grinder game, Mazzer’s new Major V was a notable favourite. It’s a flexible device with flat burrs suited to high-to-medium-volume coffee shops that want to make the leap to the next level of grinding technology. 

It features optional Internet of Things connectivity so users can monitor and control the grinder output remotely via its internet-connectable platform. Grinding can be activated with a keyboard or portafilter.

The new Mazzer Major V and new Kony S grinders on display at HostMilano.

“The electrostatic charge reduction feature of the Major V is what keeps grounds from getting on the counter while getting uniform coffee grounds in your portafilter, thanks to Mazzer’s Grind Flow Control system,” says Cristina Scarpa, Marketing Manager at Mazzer. “This system consists of an easy to clean removable aluminium outlet insert equipped with a through-flow wire damper to prevent clumping and improves dose and grind consistency.”

Mahlköng’s E80 Supreme was also impressive. This heavy-duty machine is what Hemro Group Product Manager Ansgar Bitz considers the “fastest grinder in its class” thanks to its large engine. The other new Mahlköng Grind by Weight grinder, the E65S GbW, is equally as impressive thanks to its ability to eliminate scales in the grinding process.

“This is the biggest improvement in grinding technology because it’s not any longer grind by time, but grind by weight. If I measure the weight of the dispensed coffee on a scale to compare the dose, you can see it’s extremely accurate and consistent,” Ansgar says.

Aside from machine launches, there were massive crowds gathered around The Ripple Maker as customers added their face or company logo to a cup of coffee or pint of Guinness. 

Host is as much a game of endurance and physical stamina as it is a fun fair of new machines. Come the afternoon of 22 October, scooters flew down the aisles, step-counters were monitored one last time, and there was no shame in roaming the gelato pavilions for a few samples followed by a classic palate-cleansing Aperol Spritz. And that, coffee friends, was HostMilano 2019 – until next time in October 2021. 

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

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