Since the early years, way back in the eighties, we have aimed to give our machines that elegant air of lightness. This to embody the speedy-ness of espresso. After all, espresso historically is the coffee brewed quickly and specifically for a customer. Our design goal is to find one strong basic shape for the body, forging an easily recognizable machine, rather than a camouflaged box.
As these shapes tend to be different from the usual espresso machine, we like to high-light all the outward components that make an espresso machine truly an espresso machine. The groups protrude from the body work, steam valves are shiny objects, steam wands like insects feelers, levers to start your shot easily and a floating drip tray.
At the same time, the machine's design needs to reflect its sturdiness, its solid built, if only to re-assure the barista it is more than up to its task. In the end, the machine is intended for heavy professional use and must be able to unperturbedly brew a thousand or more cups per day in a bustling espresso bar for many years.
These two seemingly opposed visual requirements offer the design challenge we love to wrestle with. A small example of this, was the initial idea for the Spiritello to have three feet; two at the front, one at the rear. The drawings made it look like almost floating in the air. Sadly, the first rough prototype quickly showed this to be not stable enough in the more extreme circumstances, especially because of the big lever. Two rear feet, as close together as possible, proved to be the optimal compromise. Designing is rejecting, as the saying goes.
When starting the process for a new machine, we first write down the features we\'d like it to have. Kees starts sketching a lot to find a direction, a form, in which all (or most of) these features are possible, within the kind of shape we prefer. These sketches grow into large drawings, scale 1:1, made on an old classic drawing board, to ensure all the major parts fit in and to get a proper feeling for the dimensions and proportions. These life-scale drawings are then delivered to our CAD man, to be transferred to exact CAD drawings. In this stage lots of refinements are already being made. From these early CAD drawings, the first frame and body parts are ordered at a company specializing in proto-typing. Often we also produce them in plastic on our laser machine, simply to check fitting and looks.
Next step is to order all parts in a very low quantity to build complete proto-types. This is the start of endless changes and adaptations to these first protos. Resulting in new prototypes. Everything is checked then thoroughly, wiring loops and tubing sets are developed, software is written and checked, etc. New parts or functions are installed at our torture testing set-up to replicate many years of use within a shorter period of time. All this is a long and careful, many times even tedious or frustrating, process, with everybody having their say, not just the R&D team. We're creating something to last for many years to come and with a small team like ours, you want and need everyone's opinion and take on this.
In the case of the Spiritello, the objective obviously was to create a one-group lever machine. We are life long enthusiasts of lever machines. The lever machine is the most "espressonistic" of espresso machines. The lever offers a satisfying tactile process for the barista and a compelling theatrical experience for the customer. Every shot pulled is visually and taste-wise a delight, for everyone involved.
As we encountered many people objecting to the hassle of installing the Speedster with holes through the counter top, to run cords and hoses to the external pump and drain, we decided on a machine with built-in reservoir and pump. This is a first for us. (Naturally, it can also be connected to the mains). We still look upon this Spiritello as a commercial machine, simply because we consider commercial grade parts and build quality as the proper way to go. This inevitably leads to rather large dimensions.
That finishes up the external development of the machine, so - after popular request - we have included the dimensions of the Spiritello. It has already undergone some changes in size, compared to the dummy presented in Seoul previous month. This is inherent to this final stage of the R&D process. Let's get those bars ready. Maybe kitchens too No holes needed!