Over the last several months we’ve attended multiple parties heralding the launch of the Victoria Arduino Black Eagle espresso machine, developed by our friends and partners at Nuova Simonelli in collaboration with James Hoffmann, 2007 World Barista Champion and co-owner of Square Mile Coffee Roasters. Reflecting on these events in the context of the World Barista Championship in Rimini, Italy, where the Black Eagle is being used at the WCE Espresso Bar, gives us the opportunity to see how a new machine launch comes full circle. From debuting at HOST 2013, to events in London and across the United States, and now with a heavy presence at World Of Coffee Rimini, here’s a look at the first six months in the life of a new espresso machine.
On April 3rd, 2014, around a hundred souls packed in to Prufrock Coffee at the kickoff event for the 2014 UK Barista Championship at London Coffee Festival. Sprudge.com was there to take part in the festivities, on the opening evening of our very first live coverage of the UKBC. Above the din of revelry, James Hoffmann spoke briefly about the new machine he helped develop, and some of the guiding ideas behind it.
“Sustainability is being able to keep doing the thing you love for as long as you want,” Hoffmann told the crowd. Using broad analogies, Mr. Hoffmann effusively praised the degree of control and precision available to users of the Black Eagle. “It’s a bit like driving a very powerful car quite sensibly, rather than driving a cheap car like an idiot,” he quipped.
Consistency was the watch-word here, as the machine has purportedly been designed towards creating more consistent shots, especially when paired with the Nuova Simonelli Mythos 1 grinder. We’ve profiled the technical features of these machines previously on Sprudge, when they launched publicly at HOST 2013 in Milan. It’s fascinating, then, to see the machines in a very different setting, pulled off the show floor and given over to the people, with James Hoffmann and Colin Harmon of 3FE Coffee as public liaisons and advocates. “I want cafes to serve great coffee and to keep doing this for years and years and years,” Hoffmann told the crowd. “I want us to keep our promises.”
Around 75 or so folks packed the Roy Street Coffee & Tea space, a still striking after all these years “inspired by Starbucks” concept store in one of Seattle’s coolness centers, Capitol Hill. We got to double dip a bit on this one, treated to brief talks from both Mr. Hoffmann and Colin Harmon, a repeat Irish Barista Champion and World Barista Championship finalist, who worked with Nuova Simonelli on their grinder technology. The room included a frankly exclusive group of manufacturing, marketing and product development elites from a wide variety of coffee companies, all in town for the 2014 SCAA Event and United States Barista Championship.
While guests snacked on a tastefully curated meat & cheese selection, and enjoyed a few nice glasses of wine (all from Starbucks‘ in-house wine & charcuterie programs), Mr. Harmon spoke convivially on the development process behind his new grinder. It’s fair to call it “his”–not only was Mr. Harmon intimately involved in the development of the new Mythos ClimaPro, his cafe, 3Fe in Dublin, has been bench testing these grinders in a public setting for the better part of a year. He’s uniquely qualified to talk about this machine, and he’s also a uniquely candid and affable dude, something that extends to his public speaking vibe.
Mr. Hoffmann’s speech echoed many of the same sentiments as his talk in London, extolling the benefits that can come from finding a true definition of sustainability in the cafe. “I want us to make better coffee, and I want us to be sustainable when we do it,” Hoffmann told the crowd. “There’s great rewards in this, whether you drink coffee or sell coffee.
Seattle photos by Charlie Burt for Sprudge.com.
London photos by Zachary Carlsen for Sprudge.com.