Wega’s Urban legend

When Italian machine manufacturer Wega looked to make an imprint on the specialty market, it looked no further than Australia for its influence.

Wega conducted a survey with Australian baristas, asking them exactly what they wanted from an espresso machine, with the responses infusing the creation of Wega’s new Urban model.

“Wega has developed a very strong presence in the Australian market, coupled with the fact that the Australian barista movement is particularly advanced and of a very high and professional level,” says Andrea Colombo, Wega Business Development Manager.

“We chose to base a survey on a market where the requests and needs were at the highest level. We did more than ask questions. We listened to what the baristas were looking for [in an espresso machine], and their ideas and wishes to help facilitate their daily work routines.”

The answers revolved around shot extraction, timing, temperature stability, milk foaming, and the endless pursuit for the “perfect cup”.

Andrea says Wega engineers took all the responses on board and embraced them in the new Wega Urban. For demands a little “too extreme”, Andrea says that far from being ignored, they have been noted and kept for the upcoming launch of the Wega Super Urban.

The Urban is a follow-on of the Wegaconcept, My Concept multiple boiler, and energy-saving greenline range of espresso coffee machines.

Wega has taken the technology it already had and added the requests received from baristas in order to create a machine that is considered “the Wega answer to the barista machine segment of the market.”

“As the coffee world develops moving forward, it is becoming more specialised and segmented as far as coffee machines are concerned,” he says. “We at Wega have followed the multiple boiler technology trend, but we were missing the last step in having a dedicated espresso coffee machine to reflect barista movements around the globe.”

According to Andrea, one of the most unique features about the Urban is its balance between technology, features, and design. This includes a low and angular, aggressive bodywork with illuminated side panels, and barista LED lights.

“We have followed through on our Host 2015 claim which was titled ‘strong and tough’,” Andrea says. “The original prototype of the Urban was launched under the name Be Concept, in line with the names of our multiple boiler machines, but once we started working on the final look of the machine we liked the rugged, aggressive, low slung, ‘strong and tough’ effect, and changed the name to Urban, which made it feel more barista, trendier, and hip.”

To keep up with Australia’s obsession with milk-based coffee consumption, Wega has paid particular attention to the Urban’s milk system.

“We have concentrated on trying to get as close as possible to what the baristas refer to as dry steam in order to improve texturing and micro foam qualities,” Andrea says.

Technical modifications were carried out in the boiler and on the pipework leading to the steam tap to create the dry steam effect and reduce the condensation percentage.

To assist the development of silky smooth textured milk, a quarter-turn (90°) steam tap for faster milk foaming, and a steam arm diameter of eight millimetres with a small four-hole steam tip are included. Andrea says this allows for a “balanced and continuous steam flow” when milk texturing.

From the outside to the inside, the Urban features multiple boiler technology. Each group head has a 1.2-litre vertical boiler and a horizontal services boiler for hot water and steam. On the two-group version, the horizontal services boiler has an eight-litre capacity and on a three and four-group, it has a 13-litre capacity.

The “services boost” function of the boiler is a parameter that allows baristas to increase steam volume for a chosen period, such as peak periods during the working day, and can be deactivated manually when necessary.

“We know the high volume of coffee Australian baristas produce each day. That’s why we needed to create a product that handles high speed, mass production, and has the ability to produce the quality you would expect from the Australian market,” Andrea says. 

The temperature in the group head is controlled and maintained by an accurate Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) system where, once set by the barista or technician, it remains within 0.1°C of the preset temperature.

Andrea says the other advantage is the energy saving function. When activated in manual or automatic mode, the Urban can save 47.6 per cent energy in standby mode at night when not in use, or 30 per cent during the day when compared to a traditional espresso coffee machine. If you choose the self-learning software (SLS) option, the software will adjust the energy required based on the workload, even to the extent of putting one or more groups on standby mode if required. Should there be an unexpected rush during a quiet period, the barista can bypass the standby mode, and within a minute, all groups can be up to working temperature.

During periods of downtime, the group heads will switch to a standby mode and maintain temperature in the group head at 70°C until the next busy cycle.

Users have the ability to preset and control different functions thanks to Wi-Fi connectivity. They can view all the parameters on each individual group or boiler, such as temperature, volume of coffees produced by each group, or how many litres of water have passed through the machine. Programming of preset doses, both on the group and on the hot water outlet, can be adjusted, as can the time of washing cycles. Wi-Fi connectivity also allows a technician to assess any mechanical faults prior to visiting on-site.

Using the same machine, they can create and save different profiles for the same machine and for different people, such as a barista, technician, or coffee roaster. All that’s needed is a set username or password to switch between the preset parameters and access the software, and download information or updates as required. For any modifications, the end user or barista will be advised via a message on the display of the machine.

Given the fact that Wega considers Australia to be the number one market for the Urban, the Italy-based company did a pre-launch of the model at the 2017 Melbourne International Coffee Expo. Following its positive reception, Wega held the Urban world launch at Host, Milan in October 2017.

At the international event, Wega also premiered its new “Wega Dreamers” campaign, designed to showcase the brand and its different collections, conveying the values of the Wega offering through words and images.

For Wega, Andrea says its current dream is to maintain its position on the world coffee market, in addition to growth and development in new markets.

“We hope to achieve this with the Urban in particular, in addition to our current range of machines and new model launches with new technology and specialised materials, which are expected during 2018,” he says.

In the meantime, all that’s left to do is for consumers to dream of the possibilities when using the Wega Urban, and introduce the machine to the country that inspired its creation.

Coffee Works Express distributes the Wega Urban in Australia.