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The Dream Machine
Home >> Espresso >> Dream Machine
The DreaM Machine?

In the past several years, I've been fortunate enough to have tested out dozens of espresso machines, from the ultra inexpensive (Saeco Via Veneto) to the Rolls Royces of the industry (La Marzocco FB70). In all that time, I've seen a lot of things that make a good machine great, but the dream machine for the home still eludes.

Don't get me wrong. What we have today are quite capable machines. From the Silvia to the Livia, from the La Pavonis to the Elektras, from the Gaggias to the Espressiones, there are some great machines out there that would seem ideal for home use. But that one perfect machine is still missing.

The perfect machine balances function with build and price. Right now, you're lucky if you get two out of three. Here's my idea of the dream machine in three categories - semi auto espresso, super automatic espresso, and grinder.

Semi Automatic Espresso
By definition, a semi auto machine is one that can automatically pump water at required pressures through a machine; it also maintains boiler temperatures. Machines like the Rancilio Silvia, Pasquini Livia 90, and ECM Giotto are semi auto espresso machines. All are good, great machines even, but all are missing certain elements. Here's the dream semi auto espresso machine:

  • 1 gallon reservoir with easy switch to plumb or bottle feed system
  • heat exchanger or dual boilers
  • 2 litre minimum boiler size on HE machine, 1 litre brew, 2 litre steam on dual boiler machine.
  • auto priming so it can be left on 24/7
  • efficient cup warmer that works, also readily accessible option for draining from both cup warmer and drip tray.
  • all metal construction is a must
  • separate steam wand and hot water dispenser
  • Boiler pressure gauge
  • Brew temperature gauge, at grouphead
  • E61 style grouphead with active heating
  • 3 way solenoid valve
  • Built in water softener
  • rotary pump
  • a high quality tamper that fits
  • all of this for $700 USD or less.

Now I know the Pasquini Livia 90 and ECM Giotto meet many of these requirements, or come close to them, but in some ways they still lack. The Wega Mini Nova Procon comes closest, but at $1600, is way out of the price range. Still, I firmly believe this machine can be done and can be profitable.


Super Automatic Espresso
Super autos are still relatively new to market, and I give the manufacturers credit - the machines are steadily improving and prices are coming down. But the perfect super auto still doesn't exist. It needs:

  • 1 gallon reservoir with easy switch to plumb or bottle feed system
  • dual boiler stack
  • 1 litre brew boiler, 2 litre steam boiler.
  • auto priming so it can be left on 24/7
  • efficient cup warmer that works, also readily accessible option for draining from both cup warmer and drip tray.
  • all metal construction is a must
  • separate steam wand and hot water dispenser
  • easily servicable brew group
  • very short brew path from brew group to cup, less than 2 inches of travel
  • built in water softener
  • complete digital controls including control over water temperatures, water delivery speeds, custom programmable volumes, you name it.
  • efficient milk frothing system, convertible between cappuccinatore style (draws milk through a tube) and straight frothing. Refridgeration unit optional
  • high grade conical burr grinder with dose and fineness controls
  • all of this for $800 USD or less.

Note the similarities with the semi auto machine. I won't lie to you - it's a shame that $1000 machines are all plastic - hell, it's a crying shame that $2000 super autos are mostly plastic. A dual boiler stack does present some techological issues but they have already been overcome. I also believe that this machine is doable and profitable, if not today then in the near future.


Espresso Grinder
No need to list this. I think the perfect espresso grinder already exists - it's called the Mazzer Mini.


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