Espresso Machine Design
What is the message behind technical standards
When reviewing the topics of discourse on espresso standards, both in print and online, there seemed to be a disconnect between the kinds of concerns expressed in the United States versus those I have observed among Italian professionals and engineers. What seems to be the most important factors in producing a quality shot of espresso here in the United States is of much less concern to the Italians. This should in no way imply that Italians are little concerned about technical standards or not aggressively trying to improve the technology, because for them, the quality of the espresso is everything.
We may try to convince ourselves that Italy has an infatuation with Robusta coffee, pollutes its espresso with too much sugar and that their drive for market share has forced technical innovation into a small back room; but doing so underscores how little we know of Italy’s commitment to that which is a great source of pride and national heritage.
While we obsess about the smallest detail of tamping our espresso—at least half a dozen techniques are referred to by the name of their creator—the Engineers with whom I have had the pleasure of working have a more holistic approach to machine design, moving beyond mere extraction theories to concerns about ecology, adapting machines to specific markets and reducing energy consumption. All the while remaining true to the purpose of their machines, producing great espresso.