Kees van der Westen launches the Slim Jim espresso machine

Slim Jim espresso machine

Three coffee equipment specialists have partnered with Kees van der Westen to give Australians greater access to their own customisable specialty machine.

There are a few classic American cars that still turn heads. One that refuses to fade is the iconic two-seater Thunderbird, a time machine to the 1950s that’s synonymous with sophistication and style. Not only is this the car Kees van der Westen drives, but is one of the inspirations behind his line of self-titled espresso machines. 

Since the early 1980s, his company, also called Kees van der Westen, has been creating and designing artistic and technically beautiful espresso coffee machines in Waalre, the Netherlands. With a desire to expand his brand to the Australian coffee market, in January 2019 Kees van der Westen partnered with independent coffee equipment specialists, Espresso Company Australia (ECA), Specialist Espresso, and Espresso Works. 

“Kees van der Westen appointed equipment specialists who would be able to open the brand up to the entire specialty coffee industry,” says Charles Stephens, Chief Executive Officer of ECA.

“Roasters will have access to three professional entities who will offer impartial, independent, and unbiased access to a quality range.” 

The joint venture will see Kees van der Westen machines such as the Speedster, Spirit, Mirage, and the 2019 Slim Jim, distributed from each company and accessible to roasters and cafés across Australia. 

“All national roasters and independent espresso bars can now take advantage of this beautiful iconic brand via an independent service and supporting entities,” says Charles. 

“The alliance will offer customer service that will provide genuine spare parts available on demand and dispatched overnight.” 

Kees van der Westen’s latest machine, the Slim Jim, features 20 different customisation points that can be selected during the ordering process and configured to match the needs of roasters, espresso bars, and cafés. 

Slim Jim espresso machine
The Slim Jim combines design and technology features from Kees van der Westen’s Mirage and Spirit machines.

“The Slim Jim is one of the most customisable specialty machines available, where the owner has the ability to create their machine to their own specification and design,” Charles says.  

“Customers will be able to look at, test, and evaluate all Kees van der Westen models and create a bespoke machine that’s ordered via three companies.”  

Under the partnership, roasters can visit any Espresso Company, Specialist Espresso and Espresso Works site across Australia, and select specific features such as legs, front panels, side panels, cup rails, colours, awnings, knob colours, and handles.

Charles says the biggest challenge for coffee machine technology at present is its inability to stay relevant and meet the needs and expectations of the local coffee market.  

“Cafés want something that’s aesthetically beautiful, but it needs to be backed up with supporting engineering components that can’t be temperamental. Australia is brutal on the demands of the espresso machine. What we do to it from 6am to 11am is quite unbelievable so the machine has to deliver that demand that’s placed upon it,” Charles says.

The Kees van der Westen Slim Jim machine combines presence in design and technology features from both the classic Mirage and high-end Spirit, providing baristas with the tools and functions to bring out the best elements of a blend or single origin. 

“The Australian coffee market is so sophisticated that when you’re working in the specialty market you really have to offer the best machines, grinders, coffee blends, and single origins,” Charles says. 

“The maturity of the Australian coffee industry has grown to become one of the leading markets in the world and Kees van der Westen takes a lot of inspiration on how to make his machines better for the benefit of everyone.” 

The Slim Jim features a multiple boiler system, encompassing a steam boiler and individual boilers per group where temperature is controlled through a proportional integral derivative, a self-learning device that keeps temperature as stable as possible. 

The three groups are fed with pre-heated water to a targeted temperature via a high capacity self-regulating thermo-syphon loop. 

The water temperature in each group is shown using a large three-digit display. Each group also has a pressure gauge, which shows realtime actual extraction pressure at the puck. 

Slim Jim espresso machine
The Sim Jim is distributed through Espresso Company Australia.

“In Australia some cafés are producing up to 30 kilograms of coffee daily. These cafés require a high volume machine that maintains exceptional quality,” Charles says. “The Slim Jim has technical and innovative pieces, including the ability to adjust the temperature of each group to best dial in the aroma and flavour of the full range of single origins and blends that will give an advantage for making great coffee.”

Another key feature is the Slim Jim’s eco mode, designed to customise the machines’ energy management. When café orders have dropped off in the afternoon, a barista can isolate and turn off each group head to conserve energy. Charles says Kees wanted to create equipment that’s energy efficient, reducing energy consumption. 

He adds that the Slim Jim was designed with the purpose to create a comfortable work area for baristas. 

“Kees van der Westen machines make a beautiful working environment. A barista has to stand in front of a machine for eight to nine hours in a day and you would want a machine that’s comfortable and easy to use,” Charles says. 

“The Slim Jim is as good as a machine can be. It offers baristas a really open, comfortable and functional work area that’s easy to keep clean and is a pleasure to stand in front of.”

In addition to its key features, Charles says Kees van der Westen’s designs are what customers and roasters gravitate to. 

“For the customer, the espresso machine can be the key focus of the café. It’s something that people really look to. Kees van der Westen is a boutique and premium brand that is aspirational, bespoke, and worthy of being on top of any espresso bar counter. The Slim Jim brings a different and refreshing design to Australia,” Charles says.  

“The roaster, or the owner and barista, can work together to create a machine that will make the most incredible coffee and the owner and designer can make something really unique that becomes part of the aesthetic centre piece of the café.”

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

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