The automotive world has the likes of the Maserati Gran Turismo and the Mercedes SLR McClaren. The photography world has the Leica M3 and M6 and the Hasselblad V System to name a few. In the world of espresso, there are many benchmark machines - Rancilio's Silvia for better or worse is the iconic machine under
$500, $600, $750; La Marzocco's GS/3 as a true game changing, industry changing machine that took forever to come out and cost triple what the initial projected cost would be; the Pasquini Livia for being the first "popular" consumer heat exchanger machine in the US, and many, many others.
Determining what is "the best espresso machine" in the world is a highly subjective thing. Do you limit it to single group machines or multi-group? Do you put more weight on the technological achievements under the hood, perhaps even ignoring aesthetics or usability? Do you look at what is most affordable to the average consumer? Do you take into account the service, the warranty, the ability to walk into a store and buy it right off the shelf?
We don't look at machines like the Gran Turismo or the Leica M6 and consider these factors as the defining points. We look at these amazing achievements in design, technology, usability, aesthetics, performance and uniqueness, and combined, they make them "the best". Price isn't a factor. What they represent in terms of being a pinnacle of what technology and design is capable of during the period they were produced is.
Back in 2001, a machine was designed by a skilled metal artist and espresso professional - Kees van der Westen - and was immediately considered one of the most desirable espresso machines in the world. That machine was called the Speedster, and only six were built. It wasn't necessarily a technological marvel, but it did feature one of the best one-two technology punches of the time: a GS/2 paddle group and a dual boiler brewing / steaming system. It was small. It was strikingly beautiful. And it was rare. For almost a decade, it was considered by some to be "the best espresso machine in the world" - and today some still think that original model still is.
But many feel another machine has surpassed the Speedster machine van der Westen built in 2001. That machine is the Speedster... the 2008/2009 version. This first look (and possibly the last first look on CoffeeGeek using this format) will give you a detailed walk-around to see what makes this machine so special, and a contender for "the best espresso machine in the world".