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Host 2003

The most difficult thing to appreciate about the HOST exhibition in Milan is its sheer scale. The absolute area occupied by the exhibitors is simply huge, measured in hectares rather than square metres. The coffee related area alone would occupy about double that of a SCAA conference, and most of that area is devoted solely to espresso machine manufacturers. Every European commercial machine manufacturer I have ever heard of (with the exception of Azkoyen) was present. The “booths” themselves were huge, have a look at the photo of the Elektra setup below, and it certainly wasn’t the largest.

Since I am absolutely disinterested in commercial machines these days I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to them, but I certainly didn’t see any major leaps in the technology of your average machine. Much more attention was being paid to the “design aspects” than to the operating parameters … “Lovely bird the Norwegian Blue, innit Major, Bee-uuu-tifal plumage!” There was certainly no major move towards feedback loop based electronic temperature controls (otherwise known as PID.)

There were some extremely interesting innovations in the commercial superautomatic machines, particularly from Schaerer with a 4 hopper superauto. The only new developments in the domestic superautos seem to be a more aggressive sales effort from Quickmill; otherwise it’s new skins on old machines. The best that Solis could offer was “Rapid Steam” (already available from Saeco for the last 12 months or so) on their “new” machine.

There was a plethora of “high end” domestic heat exchanger type machines, and I think I may have found one with both the build quality and the looks to add to my range. I was in the market for something with a decent sized tank (3l) and boiler (2l) and the “E-61” group, and actually managed to find a machine which fitted my spec at a fairly reasonable quoted price. More on that next year.

Also showing were several prototypes, including a “new” Silvia and Rocky set from Rancilio and a new rotary pump machine from Isomac. In both cases the machines were not yet operational … in fact I wasn’t even able to see the new Rancilio efforts outside their glass case! In general, though, if you were looking for new “domestic” machines the most common feature was pods. Pre-ground, prepacked coffees in sachets. In my estimation pod machines outnumbered “normal” domestic units about 20 to 1.

Spare part and OEM component manufacturers were much in evidence, and it would literally be possible to build an espresso machine from a catalogue. In the case of some of the machines I saw, that is probably how it’s done!

There was a new “commercial” espresso doserless grinder on offer from both Mahlkoenig and Ditting (actually manufactured by Mahlkoenig, I was told) which was electronically controlled via a small LCD display and was fast, accurate and extremely quiet from what I could see. If you thought the Mini Mazzer was the ultimate upgrade, think again! <G>.

Anyway, pictures with captions are below. I have heaps more pics but the sheer volume is so confusing that I’ve just limited them to the things that interested me.

The new Silvia & Rocky from Rancilio. Note that these are prototypes, and apparently have the same insides as the existing models.

A close-up of the "Silvia"? Not sure I like the idea of wooden PF handles.

The doserless "Rocky"? with a much shrunken bean hopper.

The Iberital stand had some interesting bits & pieces, including the specialised mechanical tamper.

Which also popped up attached to an Iberital Grinder.

The Elektra Booth, bigger than most coffeeshops!

One of the few new "domestic" machine prototypes was this La Pavoni. Pavonis used to have Saeco insides, but this one looks like it's got Gaggia innards.

The flash looking La Marzocco "Mistral" 2 grouper.

The Isomac rotary pump prototype (the case was empty, but it looked pretty!)

Lots of sparkling copper and brass at the Victoria Arduino booth. The middle machine is actually a H/E model, similar to the E-61 machines.

The Mahlkoenig electronic grinders. The new "grind on demand" model (also sold by Ditting) is on the left.

The "Crocodile Dundee" grinder burrs (Those aren't burrs, THESE are burrs!) 250mm diameter flat burrs.






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