There's a lot of stuff to see and do here at the Melbourne International Coffee Expo, and we don't just mean watching the barista competitions. Expect loads more content from us in the coming days on the booths, gear, and people of MICE. One of those exhibitors here this weekend are our friends and partners at UNIC Stella di Cafe, who are showing off their brand new Stella DCL over on the show floor. We just so happen to have sat down recently with Sauro Dall'Aglio, an independent UNIC tech who we know through his work at various Barista Nation events. Let's play 5 Questions with Sauro!
First Sauro, please introduce yourself – what's your background in coffee? When did you first start working on UNIC machines?
I was born and raised in Bologna, Italy, and I started my career in coffee back in 1994. Some friends of mine opened a bar, and I worked there and become moved by the curiosity of things happening behind the counter. So back then I became really involved with “first wave” coffee and cocktails, working in the best shop in town, doing “first wave” latte art (with pencils!) and even winning a few cocktail competitions.
I have always been willing to learn languages, and so I moved to Australia for a year in the year 2000. There I learned a new way to make coffee and espresso and I started learning latte art techniques (Australia was already advanced in its coffee research). This experience opened up a whole new world for me. and open a new world to me. From there, I moved to Germany (more languages!) and opened a bar with a friend there. We focused on latte art techniques, which were still relatively uncommon then in Germany, and I began a side career teaching and consulting for coffee.
In 2008 I won the first-ever Italian Cup Tasters competition. I've worked for La Spaziale around the world on a variety of projects; in 2009 I worked with Synesso, helping them to build their machine and working as a trainer in Seattle. I've consulted for a wide variety of machine companies, always looking to improve the quality fo the cup with technologies and quality parts. In 2012 I started working as an executive business developer for LF SPAREPARTS, selling parts for coffee machine grinders and more. I've been working with UNIC since after SCAA Anaheim, and took place in the very first Barista Nation event.
Pressure profiling is a perennial hot topic in the coffee world – since you know the Stella DCL machine so well, tell us how you've approached this particular line of inquiry.
The Stella DCL is a combination of a classic espresso machine with the plus of being able to dial and “play” with pressure settings. This requires knowledge, yes, but can also be a lot of fun. This pressure is regulated by a lever as well as a touchpad that lets you turn on and off the solenoid valve on the machine, depending depending in which position you've got it in – there's one by the group and the other before the brew boiler. This gives us a lot of control over the sped of water through the coffee. I feel the machine is then able to craft coffee to taste, “cutting edges” as we put it, so that the acidity, bitterness, sweetness, and body of an espresso shot is easy to customize for different types of coffees and customers.
Why is it important that Stella DCL can be used with both level and regular control pad interfaces?
The difference between precision sensor and pump is that, with the sensor you can control the pressure by timer or digital gauge, and with the pump that task is fully manual, so you've got a barista going hands on with the pump to control the time and flow of the extraction. It's important to give the option for different styles with the ability to reach the same quality.
Devorah Freudiger said it best when we interviewed her back at SCAA Boston – these events are often the very first coffee event that new baristas will ever attend, because BN travels around the world and is totally free. What's the biggest advantage the machine offers for new baristas?
That's easy – by having the barista more involved in managing the change of taste and extraction, you hook that barista in to the coffee's very life itself. Customization can be exhilarating, and being able to tailor a coffee to a costumer's preferences can be addicting!
Talk to us about what UNIC's commitment to Barista Nation has meant to you.
It has been quite nice seeing people be surprised, pleased, involved, motivated, curious, and struck with disbelief. It's about recognizing mistakes and accomplishments in equal measure. I love these events!