The Rancilio Specialty RS1 espresso machine has made an impression on the Australian market thanks to its temperature profiling technology and workflow considerations.
Rancilio is a company steeped in tradition, but that doesn’t mean the Italian manufacturer isn’t willing to try something new.
This mindset was on display when the Rancilio Specialty RS1 espresso machine, designed specifically for the specialty coffee market, made its Australian debut at the 2019 Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE) in February.
Paradox Coffee Roasters was one of the first in the country to pick up the RS1 for its flagship café in Surfers Paradise, Queensland, and was on hand at MICE to help Rancilio demonstrate the machine’s capabilities.
James Dunbar, Queensland Account and Sales Manager for Paradox Coffee Roasters, calls the RS1 “a big step up”.
“We were due for an upgrade and [the RS1] seemed like a great choice. We wanted to test it ourselves first and were impressed with the quality of the machine and the coffee it produced, especially during MICE, as well as by our conversations with the Rancilio team,” James tells BeanScene. “It felt like common sense to put it in the café and everyone has enjoyed working with the machine.”
James says the RS1’s temperature profiling has been particularly useful for getting unique flavours out of Paradox’s single origins.
“You’re able to ramp up or down the temperature so you have a pre-set start and finish. For some of our coffees, I’ve found the most positive results to be from starting at a higher temperature and going lower. I’ve noticed a lot of sweetness in the coffee and well-balanced acidity,” he says. “It’s also consistent on its delivery throughout the extraction. If you start at 95°C and finish at 93°C, when the temperature changes throughout, the extraction is the same from shot to shot. Having these profiles programmed to individual group heads for separate coffees is really handy as well.”
Temperature profiling has also proved useful in the development of Paradox’s roast profiles.
“It’s been super interesting to explore how you can unlock different flavours or highlight nuances in the coffee. Usually, at a higher temperature like 95°C, you’re developing more body and sweetness in the coffee, while at a 93°C flat temperature, you’re highlighting more acidity,” James says. “With the RS1, you can start at 93°C to develop acidity then push it to higher temperatures to round out the coffee with more sweetness, and vice versa. We’ve noticed subtle but positive changes, and I’m sure with other people’s roasting styles, they can unlock really different flavours by having a bigger variance in start-to-end temperature.”
James says the simple-to-use display and menu make the complex features of the RS1 approachable to a wide range of baristas and café owners.
“People are looking for consistency, great tasting coffees, and something that will complement what they’re serving,” James says. “Using temperature profiling to get some interesting and unique flavours in your coffee is a point of difference in a market that might be a little saturated.”
One café to take advantage of RS1’s capabilities is The Motorcycle Society in Adelaide, which installed the machine in August. The Rancilio team and local distributor Complete Café Services customised the RS1 with an orange powder coating and black accents to fit the look of the café/motorcycle repair shop.
“[Complete Café Services] came in and consulted with me and my staff. We’ve got a lot of racing paraphernalia around the place, so they matched [the RS1] to the colour scheme and the general vibe of the place,” The Motorcycle Society Co-owner Simon Modra says. “It’s very ergonomically designed, sitting at a nice height with steamer arms and switches that are quite easy to use. But the best part of the machine is less about its look and more about the taste.”
The Motorcycle Society has enjoyed the ability to finetune the RS1’s extraction as well as the degree of and ease of access to information about the process.
“It’s endlessly customisable and programmable and the digital display is very informative. Since receiving the machine, we’ve been able to keep refining it, and will continue to until we’ve got the perfect shot,” Simon says. “It’s basically a coffee computer. The display screen tells you exactly to the kilopascal and point one of a degree what’s going on, so the people working on it know exactly what’s being highlighted in the coffee.”
Another venue to install the RS1 is Mezzo Café in Glebe, New South Wales. Owner Jean-Paul Sumine says with 20 years of experience in the café industry, the espresso machine was an opportunity for him to try something new.
“Paradox recommended the RS1 and I’m very happy I made that decision,” Jean-Paul says. “I’m not the only one impressed with the machine. I bought some friends over who run other cafés and let them play around with it. They found there’s a big difference between the RS1 and what they’re used to.”
Opening in May 2019, Mezzo Café has seen steady business thanks to the surrounding apartment buildings and construction workers. Jean-Paul expects business to continue growing as more offices open up in the area and believes the RS1 will cope with the scale.
“It’s very easy to use, and during busy periods, two people can handle it quite well with no problems at all,” Jean-Paul says. “You can tell a lot of thought went into how to make the RS1 user friendly, even with the group handle. It’s well balanced, very gentle, and feels quite smooth in your hand.”
Jean-Paul calls the steam wand mechanism his favourite feature of the model.
“The steamer is very smooth and produces great-quality milk, but what’s really impressive is how you can program different settings on each steam wand,” Jean-Paul says. “You can set one to 100 per cent pressure and the other to only 50 via the touchscreen in just a few taps. It’s really handy if you’re steaming one coffee’s worth of milk in a little jug or have a barista who prefers to keep it at a low pressure.”
Paradox’s James adds that the pre-set steam pressure is also quite useful for alternative milks.
“You don’t want to apply as much pressure to plant-based milks, and usually you’d cut if off slightly earlier and make it less hot than dairy,” James says. “This is especially easy to do because the temperature isn’t rising as quickly.”
While using the RS1 at Paradox’s Gold Coast flagship, James says baristas have found that the RS1 improves their workflow efficiency and ability to talk with customers.
“It’s not a high-set machine, so you can interact with the customer over the top. At the same time, you can easily fit a larger cup underneath the group head, which is important for some customers,” James says. “It’s also a very sleek and a nice-looking machine. The high legs are useful and having the machine raised means it is easily accessible for cleaning.”
This article appears in FULL in the October 2019 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.