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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Designer query  
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Kangabrew
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Jun 2004
Posts: 3
Location: Sydney
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Mon Jun 28, 2004, 9:05pm
Subject: Designer query
 

I am an Australian journlaist and I write a semi regular column which features iconic homewares. I would like to write a piece on an iconic domestic coffee machine that is still available and most importantly actually works properly (unlike the Francis Francis). Can anyone recommend a machine that would fit the criteria, that is; What is the most iconic and practicle domestic espresso machine in the world today?
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Luca
Senior Member
Luca
Joined: 27 Jan 2004
Posts: 2,658
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Espresso: H: Maver W: FB-80
Grinder: H: Super Jolly W: Brasilia...
Vac Pot: Hario TCA-2
Roaster: Sample Roaster at Work
Posted Mon Jun 28, 2004, 9:17pm
Subject: Re: Designer query
 

The Elektra Microcasa line look pretty snazzy and seem to produce excellent coffee.  They're also available in Australia.  The look is kind of old-school, but quite impressive for a home machine.  I think that it retails for around $2k AUD ... is price a consideration, or only looks?

There are many machines with the sort of "retro-futuristic" look going on ... all chromed metal and funky toggle switches, but I wouldn't describe them as "iconic".  If they sound interesting, have a look at the Botticelli and Giotto by ECM and the ISOMAC line.

Cheers,

Luca

PS.  Yes, I looked at a few home machines when buying ...

PPS.  Mine is kind of boxy and utilitarian.  Don't bother with it!

 
General ramblings about coffee: http://www.pourquality.blogspot.com/

Reviews of Australian coffee: http://www.coffeereviewaustralia.com/
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espressobsessed
Senior Member
espressobsessed
Joined: 23 Mar 2004
Posts: 798
Location: Saskatoon, SK
Expertise: Pro Barista

Espresso: La Marzocco Strada & GB5
Grinder: LM Vulcano, Anfim, Ditting
Vac Pot: Hario Deco
Drip: Metal filter pourover, FP &...
Roaster: Ambex ym-5 with Drumroaster...
Posted Mon Jun 28, 2004, 10:20pm
Subject: Re: Designer query
 

Sounds like a great article; as an art history/pre-architecture student, industrial design is one of my passions.

My nominees, undoubtedly would have to be either laPavoni's Professional or, like Luca suggested, one of Isomac's or ECM's E61 machines.  Both machines were born on the wake of postwar development that brought espresso.  Functionally, their designs have stood the test of time, with minor tweaks, and aesthetically, both designs are resplendent in chrome, recalling their respective eras.  

The Pavoni tends to get better media highlights; Hugh Grant speaks fondly of it in About A Boy (but pulls one weak looking shot, however the Brits should get an A for effort, considering their preference of instant coffee...).  I have yet to see a home E61 machine featured in major entertainment media (movie, TV).  

While the E61 is likely your superior machine (by a margin) their appearance as a home machine is relatively recent, in comparison to the Pavoni, which in various incarnations has been around since 1961 - the same year as the introduction of the E61 grouphead on the Isomac/ECM machines.  Furthermore, Pavoni's history has been allied with Italian design for a long time.  Notable Pavoni designers include Ponti and Roselli.  Not bad, eh?

On a side note: does anyone know if James Bond used a professional in one of his movies?  I think I recall he did, but I could be wrong...

 
blog: espressolab.ca
work: museocoffee.com

owner/barista at Museo Coffee
Saskatoon SK Canada
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jeffmac
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jeffmac
Joined: 16 Jan 2004
Posts: 268
Location: australia
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Elektra Microcasa lever...
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky doserless
Vac Pot: German 1950's ground glass...
Drip: Vignano 'Kontessa' moka pot,...
Roaster: popcorn popper
Posted Mon Jun 28, 2004, 10:47pm
Subject: Re: Designer query
 

hi,

Where do you get published? I'd like to read some of your stuff. I design kitchens and research/ give advice on kitchen appliances. My vote goes to the Elektra microcasa lever (Go to coffeegeek reviews above-it's not the same one Luca linked to) but then I'm biased-those of us who own 'em seem to love 'em. If you contact Paul Manassis from Mocha Coffee in Newtown/Marrickville (sole importers) I'm sure he'd give you a tour of the shop/warehouse and fill you in on these machines-they've been around since the sixties. Good luck!

Jeff
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EveryonesShadow
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EveryonesShadow
Joined: 28 Apr 2003
Posts: 81
Location: Adelaide
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Carezza, Bialetti...
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Posted Mon Jun 28, 2004, 11:12pm
Subject: Re: Designer query
 

I wonder what you mean by iconic? The first machine that comes to mind is the Gaggia Baby (or Classic) as it claims to be the first domestic machine and, how do I put this, looks most like a coffee machine to most people. Elektras, Francis!Francis et al are more likely to provoke a "wow! what the **** is that?" response so don't fit with how I'd use the word icon.

Lever machines could be mistaken for juicers or drill-presses :-)

just my 2 fl oz

Jeremy

 
It's great to be known, but it's even better to be known as strange - Takeshi Kaga
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MarkusD
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Joined: 20 Dec 2003
Posts: 15
Location: SF Bay Area
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Isomac Tea; Pavoni Pro
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Posted Tue Jun 29, 2004, 7:12am
Subject: Re: Designer query
 

On a side note: does anyone know if James Bond used a professional in one of his movies?  I think I recall he did, but I could be wrong...

Yup...Live and Let Die

Check out other movie appearances at the La Pavoni web site.
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espressobsessed
Senior Member
espressobsessed
Joined: 23 Mar 2004
Posts: 798
Location: Saskatoon, SK
Expertise: Pro Barista

Espresso: La Marzocco Strada & GB5
Grinder: LM Vulcano, Anfim, Ditting
Vac Pot: Hario Deco
Drip: Metal filter pourover, FP &...
Roaster: Ambex ym-5 with Drumroaster...
Posted Tue Jun 29, 2004, 11:53pm
Subject: Re: Designer query
 

Hmmm... I'm going to have to rent that one!  Just because of the espresso machine... LOL!

As for the debate about the elektra's status as an icon of design, I feel the design of the microcasa machines, "leaves something to be desired."   There are a few reasons for this:

- Elektra's belle epoque commercial units are perhaps the most jawdropping, sumptuous machines ever created.  The microcasa machines mimic the belle epoque - but come far from acheiving the same 'gut reaction' as the belle epoque machines.  

- I would decrie the combination of brass (warm, gold-hue) and copper (cool hue) as a poor design decision; visual conflict between the two hues is inevitable.  The brass and chrome unit, however, is quite effective.  

When we talk about design icons in the sense of Le Corbusier's LC series chairs or KitchenAid's mixers, they are above all, timeless and flawless examples of design.  Likewise, I feel Pavoni's Pro fits this category.  The Pro looks like nothing else but - a Pavoni Pro.  Counterpoint, the Elektra Microcasa appears to be a compromised version of their commercial units.  This is said earnestly; my earliest exposure to espresso was in two shops that used the giant belle epoque units.  I have a strong emotional attachment to Elektra.  I really tried to love the Elektra microcasa units, but in the end, they aesthetically didn't measure up.  Functionally, I agree with you: the HX microcasa certainly trumps the Pavoni Pro.  

This is an interesting topic - one I would enjoy hearing others' perspectives.

 
blog: espressolab.ca
work: museocoffee.com

owner/barista at Museo Coffee
Saskatoon SK Canada
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agentpt5
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Joined: 29 May 2004
Posts: 15
Location: San Francisco, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Wed Jun 30, 2004, 12:30am
Subject: Re: Designer query
 

Depending on your definiton of "still available"?  There are some very cool vintage gears that are working and available on Ebay.
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Kangabrew
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Jun 2004
Posts: 3
Location: Sydney
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Jun 30, 2004, 2:43am
Subject: Re: Designer query
 

Thanks everyone for your assistance. I'm going to visit this forum a lot more often. (I usually visit designaddict.com)
I have located the Australian distributor for La Pavoni Professionals and am going to meet with them next week. As a virgin espresso machine user, do you think I will find thePavoni easy to use. The bottom line is: does it work?
Cheers
Stephen
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jeffmac
Senior Member
jeffmac
Joined: 16 Jan 2004
Posts: 268
Location: australia
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Elektra Microcasa lever...
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky doserless
Vac Pot: German 1950's ground glass...
Drip: Vignano 'Kontessa' moka pot,...
Roaster: popcorn popper
Posted Wed Jun 30, 2004, 2:50am
Subject: Re: Designer query
 

Iconic.  Domestic. Available. Works.

The stovetop "Atomic", (there are several on ebay.au at the moment) is generally considered to be THE iconic domestic "espresso" maker. But it fails the "available" test if you mean still manufactured.  Most of us here wouldn't say it "works", in that it doesn't produce real espresso by the modern definition.  All of the domestic machines are compromises down from industrial machines, but that doesn't necessarily rule them out.

I think though for iconic (which has at least some sense of past longevity in the popular desirability marketplace) you're going to have to lean towards the lever type machines.  Otherwise there is the delightful,no nonsense, Miss Sylvia (does making Rancilio a lot of money make you an icon?). She certainly has the status of at least a minor saint hereabouts :-)

If one of the aims of the article is to provide 'consumer advice'--I assume that's why you mentioned "actually works properly"-- i.e. functionally good design with style, then go for function over form every time. If people are going to buy, and some will presumably, on the basis of your article, remember that most people want kitchen equipment which actually saves them labour.  

That said: kitchens come in a range of styles (most of them appalling IMHO) so something that would fit into any kitchen from Country Kitsch to Psycho Industrial. The Atomic does.

Hey espressobsessed, lay off Elektra--she's my girl :-))

Jeff
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