Just like a music producer, with the Storm Profilo baristas can now play the notes of their own track with a machine that celebrates their manual skill and the finer details of espresso extraction.
At HostMilano 2019, crowds swarmed to the Astoria Storm stand, huddled like they were waiting for autographs from a Hollywood movie star. Cameras flashed, iPhones were raised, and among the video recordings was the sound of Michalis Dimitrakopoulos mixing his own extraction on the new Storm Profilo espresso machine.
“It’s so cool that you can change the pressure of the steam in just one minute,” the Storm Ambassador and 2019 World Barista Championship runner-up showed the crowd of onlookers.
“You can change every parameter of espresso extraction easily, right in the very moment. The buttons on top of the group heads and the ability to change everything so fast is something very unique.”
Storm became an independent brand to Astoria in December 2019. Riccardo Comaron, Brand Manager of Storm, says the brand will now follow its own path and leave its own mark in the specialty coffee world, starting with the Australian launch of the Storm Profilo.
“Storm Profilo was born with longevity in mind. We wanted to create a machine that never tired and would still remain relevant in 50 years’ time. We wanted a machine that was efficient, professional, and allowed users to work like they did with the original Storm machine, but taken up to the next level,” Riccardo says.
Unlike the flagship Astoria Storm, which had display screens above each group head to monitor and adjust the extraction curve, the Profilo is all about manual control.
Like a DJ uses faders on a mixing board to adjust audio sounds, baristas now have a panel of faders on the analogue console to manually mix and control the parameters of espresso extraction. Baristas can control the dose, pre-infusion time, and temperature in the group boiler.
Then, with the simple slide of a finger, they can adjust the blooming phase through the pressure valve during the infusion. On the adjacent fader, baristas can select how fast the pressure raises between the pre-infusion and extraction phases. There’s a control for the water pressure level during the central extraction phase, body dose percentage to define the volume of water to be used for pre-infusion and the body of the extraction as a percentage total, and an option to control the pressure level during the final extraction phase.
Riccardo Ferraris, Digital Manager at Storm, says that changing parameters of espresso extraction is simply another form of customising the user experience, already seen in espresso machine design and colour choices, or the flexibility in a customer’s coffee order. Only now, baristas can customise the intricacies of an extraction.
“The fact you can customise espresso is changing the way people look at espresso. We are giving the barista full control over the coffee experience and allowing them to express themselves. Just like chefs put their own spin on a classic dish and put a piece of their heart into their food, we want baristas to put a little piece of themselves in the cup,” Riccardo says.
Rather than be intimidated by the Profilo’s console panel, Michalis says baristas need to be curious and open-minded about its functionality, and just “play”.
“There is nothing to worry about. The only thing baristas have to do is try it for themselves,” he says. “When they understand how easy it is to work with the parameters and how much this machine has the ability to change and influence the flavours of their espresso, I’m sure they will love it.”
For example, Michalis says if a barista has a really fresh roasted coffee, they need a pre-infusion or lower pressure at the end of the extraction to avoid the bitterness from carbon dioxide, and to get a balance and clarity of flavours in the cup.
“It’s like a game – baristas will need to make small changes to the parameters in order to achieve the best flavour,” he says.
“The Profilo combines all the parameters a barista needs in one machine. Baristas have the power to create different cups of coffee and achieve different flavour results by using the same coffee. This is how we can push the level of the industry forward – by experimenting with each extraction.”
Michalis says having control over different parameters is powerful, especially in the specialty coffee game. “It’s like asking a roaster why we need different roast profiles,” he says.
“Our job, as baristas, is to experiment, then try to figure out what is best for every coffee and serve it to the costumer.”
The Profilo is scheduled to arrive on Australian shores in late 2020, and Michalis is confident Aussies will embrace the machine for all of its intricacies and beauty.
“I know the Australian people and especially the barista market, and I believe they are truly going to love experimenting on every extraction to create the best result in the cup,” he says.
Riccardo Comaron says Australia is already a supporter of the original Storm machine and is excited about the response from the specialty coffee market.
“Australia is the most important country in terms of specialty coffee culture,” he says.
“If the Australian market reacts positively and can manage a machine like the Profilo, we think specialty cafés or roasters with multiple outlets will see the benefit because they can set and save recipes easily and quickly from one machine to the other, and see the same profiles replicated across multiple stores. All you need is one experienced barista.”
Australia is also a market that appreciates unique and sophisticated design. Riccardo Comaron says the engineering team took all the digital features from the original Storm hardware and “turned everything into an analogical format”.
“Of course, we had our challenges,” he says. “The Profilo is two years’ hard work. We learned by making mistakes. We learned a lot from designers, our customers, and baristas. In the beginning, lots of people were sceptical if we could pull it off. Even I was in the beginning. But we had a lot of discussions and we worked day by day to understand how we can use the music industry to inspire the design, and how the barista can best use the machine to achieve the desired result.”
Ultimately, Riccardo Ferraris says the team achieved its goal, “to create something aesthetically that people would recognise and connect with”, like a music mix board.
“The Profilo certainly has its own personality, and we think that, combined with its inspired design, is just so cool,” he says.
The Profilo rests on polished stainless-steel supports, which guarantees durability and cleanliness. The water and power cables are invisible, hidden in a cylindrical structure that does not detract from the machine’s neat, elegant look. The machine’s rounded contours and vertical removal of the drip tray make routine cleaning easy.
Minimising power consumption was also important in the design of the Storm Profilo. With power supplied only when and where necessary, thanks to software that manages the automatic standby system during downtime, night-time energy saving, and smart temperature regulation function, energy is reduced by up to 47.6 per cent.
To Michalis, innovation such as this, and that of machine functionality and design, is key to a successful espresso machine. It’s something the team have done since he joined Astoria in 2006, and something Storm constantly searches for.
“Our vision at Storm is to create machines that can change the extraction and create the perfect balance. I love working with people who never stop experimenting and developing, and our Storm team does just that. It’s not only about creating a beautiful design but creating something that changes the industry,” Michalis says.
“We always look for something new, something different, thinking outside box and looking to address people’s needs. Storm is for people who want to push the boundaries of coffee industry, and we will keep doing that every single day.”
Coffee Works Express is an Australian importer and distributor of the Storm Profilo.
For more information, visit www.cwe.com.au
This article appears in the August 2020 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.