It’s alway interesting to look into how the design and innovation of machinery has lead to momental steps throughout human history. Whether it was invention of the Wheel in 3500bc. The Guttenberg Effect of the Printing Press in 1450. In this particular case, Thomas Newcomen’s atmospheric steam engine. A precursor of James Watts engine design that led to the steam powered train. The work done by Newcomen in 1712 to produce the first recorded Newcomen engine is surprisingly linked closer than you think to coffee and espresso.
Every innovation once put out into the world leads to further development upon the original concept, striding ever further forward into the future long after the passing of the inventor with the use of the machine reimagined with fresh eyes. New minds concieve greater and more efficient apparatus to produce life changing results for the people of that time.
The reason I talk about this is that innovation is something that surrounds the story of the Italian Coffee Machine manufacturer, La Cimbali, who have given us the pleasure of having their M100 & Elective grinder in our training space for a few months. Greatly appreciated, so now here is the story of La Cimbali.
The Story & Innovations Of La Cimbali.
La Cimbali was established in 1912 by Giuseppe Cimbali in Milan, at Via Caminadella 6 in a shop covering 30m². Giuseppe began as "Cimbali Giuseppe — Copper Plumbing & General Repairs" specialising in the manufacture of copper goods.
In the 1930’s coffee machines began to produce steam and hot water by burning coal or wood beneath a vertical boiler. These boilers , cylindrical in shape , were called column machines. The first Cimbali column machine was called the ‘Rapida’.
After WW2 a positive atmosphere gripped Italy. subsequently increasing the consumption of coffee and driving further development for operations at La Cimbali.
Next in 1945, Cimbali’s, “Albadoro” model hit the market with two independent vertical boilers. Designed in a modular style, the "Albadoro" was made available with 3 to 6 group heads. Interestingly, the “Albadoro” is suppose d to be the first time group heads were positioned at the front of the machine. Also the first machine to feature an integrated cup warmer.
In the late 40s and early 50s, boilers powered by electric heating elements began to replace wood and coal heated boilers. Moreover, it was during this period that the introduction of lever machines radically changed the way of extracting coffee. This new technique forced water through coffee at a pressure of 9 atmospheres. This resulted in barista’s being able to obtain a high-efficiency of extraction resulting in a better tasting coffee.
The “Granluce” came next in 1955, being the first coffee machine to feature a hydraulic group, which was patented by Cimbali in 1956. The importance of this hydraulic group truly signalled as a transformative moment within the professional espresso machine industry. This particular innovation was the first step towards automation.
Shortly after in 1959, a model with a heat exchanger, which later would become an essential constructional element in all machine, was launched. ensuring the thermal stability of the machine.
In 1962, with the help and cooperation of the famous designers, Castiglioni, Cimbali created the “Pitagora”. This machine was simply like none before. It incorporated clean lines, the first use of stainless steel, along with colour and screen printing. This machine was revolutionary, amassing Cimbali a prestigious industrial design award, the Compasso d’Oro . Pitagora is still today the only coffee machine to have won the “Compasso d’Oro”.
La Cimbali continued with the “Superbar”, designed in 1969 for the foodservice industry, which was cutting edge for being a completely automated solution. At the beginning of the 1970s, product design became defined by an approach which was more closely linked to an industrial process. The machine built specifically for use in bars. A super-automatic machine allows even the less experienced barista to prepare excellent coffee cups starting from grinding the coffee beans up to discharging coffee grounds.
In the 1990s, Cimbali integrated a microprocessor to the “Dosatron” in order to better govern the main functions of the machine.
In 1992, Cimbali introduced the “Dolcevita”, a family of fully automatic espresso machines targeting in-cup consistency and beverage quality. Designed by Salvemini, the “Dolcevita” played a significant role in Cimbali’s growth outside Italy in non-conventional markets new to espresso coffee.
There are many more accolades and accomplishments leading to the present but we’ll revisit some of those in the coming weeks. i am sure you will understand that they’ve been fundamental in the development of the design of espresso machine itself, with the M100 and Elective being a continuation of all previous accomplishments and accolades previous imparted on the models that came before. i am really looking forward to getting to grips with the M1OO and the Elective grinder.
Thanks again to La Cimbali UK for their generosity as ever.
Check back for part 2.