Few things in the coffee world give us greater palpitations here at Sprudge Global Headquarters than a choice custom espresso machine. Perhaps its our West Coast roots—there's just something so hot rod, zoom zoom, neo-maxi KaBoom! about a hot piece of handmade custom espresso kit. It gets the heart racing, does it not?
One of the real leaders right now in custom espresso design is Jacob Ellul-Blake, the founder of Pantechnicon Design in Seattle, Washington. We've grok'd Blake's gear for years here at Sprudge, including his work in myriad gift guides and show floor recaps, each more drool-inducing than the last. The drool continues today, as our friends & partners at La Marzocco have teamed up their La Marzocco Home division with Pantechnicon for a sleek, gorgeous new riff on the Linea Mini home espresso machine.
This is the latest salvo from LM Home's Craftsman series, which launched to great acclaim late last year in the form of this hot collab with Saint Anthony Industries. For fans of custom espresso machines, this project offers a pretty stunning twofer: eye-catching design work from some of the industries leading souper-uppers, backed by the customer service and brand guarantee of an established espresso machine manufacturer. Think of it as a kind of custom espresso machine version of Design Within Reach.
A super limited amount of these LM Home x Pantechnicon machines are being built, and they're only available at La Marzocco Home's official website. Should you manage to be one of the lucky purchasers, you'll receive a custom Pantechnicon Linea Mini with brass & white accents, a custom knockbox made of brass, oak, and Delrin, and a way-cool custom copper Acaia Lunar espresso scale. The package retails for $6500, but if you're an Acaia completist you can order the scale on its own for $350 (the knockbox can also be ordered separately for $110).
To learn more about the project, Sprudge co-founder Jordan Michelman spoke with La Marzocco Home Director Scott Callender and Pantechnicon founder Jacob Ellul-Blake in advance of today's launch.
Hello Scott & Jacob, and thanks for chatting with Sprudge about this sweet-as new custom espresso machine. First question is for you, Scott: this is the second LM Home collaboration series, following your first round with Saint Anthony Industries. Tell us how this collab with Pantechnicon came about, and why you chose them to work with.
Scott Callender: Jacob at Pantechnicon was one of the first people I started working with when I joined La Marzocco in 2013. He had just started building custom machines for customers like Stumptown. I thought his work was beautiful and he and I started brainstorming what it would be like to develop a custom program for the GS3. He was instrumental in developing all the GS3 options that are now available on the La Marzocco Home site. I knew at some point we would do a special edition Linea Mini and I wanted him to be our partner due to our long relationship and the amazing work he creates.
For you Jacob, as Scott mentions, this is not your first time customizing La Marzocco espresso machines, and we've featured your work on GS3s and Stradas previously on the site. What design challenges and opportunities does working with the Linea Mini offer?
Jacob Ellul-Blake: A new La Marzocco machine model is a significant milestone for the industry, and I am very lucky to have the opportunity to work with the Linea Mini to create a limited edition Pantechnicon Linea Mini for the Craftsman Series. In all the custom work that we do, we are constantly pushing toward more refinement and cohesiveness in design. The Linea design is iconic, and so in this project we really tried to distill down to the essentials, and add detailing and refinement to what is already there. We added some brass trim to visually connect the upper machine body to the control panel section, and remade the paddle housing in polished white acrylic to blend more into the background with a few brass accents for texture.
Can you tell us more specifically about this machine—what options can folks choose from? How customizable is each unit? What are some of the design elements you’re most excited about?
SC: This collaboration is the second installment of our Craftsman Series. The idea behind the Craftsman Series is to give artists and craftsmen the opportunity to take one of our machines and use it as a canvas to show off their material and design aesthetic. Jacob is building a limited number of these Pantechnicon Linea Mini Craftsman machines. There's no modular “options” to choose from, per se—just the opportunity to own one of a handful of machines built and designed by Jacob.
This is such a beautiful machine, and all of the little touches he added are brilliant. But for me, being an espresso nerd, I’m most excited about the addition of the Acaia Lunar Scale in the drip tray. Acaia also made a special edition copper scale to complete the design. I love the idea of bringing the brass and copper that make up the inside of the machine as design accents on the exterior.
Jacob, I'm curious about how Pantechnicon has grown over the last few years. Do you have staff now? A dedicated facility? Tell us more about what your day to day is like.
JEB: We have 3 full time employees now, and two of them are me. Charles Danyer came on board last December from a musical instrument builder, and has been killing it on the production side. Our historical manufacturing facility, built the same year (1928) as La Marzocco's founding, is a vertically integrated live/work space, with production at the basement level and eating and sleeping above. On the day to day, we do a huge range of stuff: design, fabrication, product development consulting. Everything that is possible for us to make, we do. That means we are working with wood, plastics, composites, and metals on a daily basis, using everything from basic tools to CNC machines we built ourselves. Usually we have a handful of custom projects at different phases of completion, so it's not unusual to do design on one project, fabrication on a different project, finishing on yet another project, all in one day.
Wow, that's rad. You'll need to let us come take a peek soon. For both of you I would love to know—what's your dream placement for one of these new custom machines?
SC: To me, this machine fits perfectly in modern, clean kitchens with an Italian design flair maybe on a Carrara marble counter top. I could also see Jay Gatsby making espresso on the Pantechnicon Linea Mini for party guests during one of his Gilded Age parties. But honestly, because of the clean design, it could probably fit in multiple environments, while still being a central conversation piece.
JEB: Definitely the Space-X Mars colony in 2026—it's gonna look so good with your white spacesuit and helmet with brass hardware. Barring interplanetary installations, having one at Beyonce's house would be pretty rad.
Jordan Michelman is a co-founder and editor at Sprudge Media Network. Read more Jordan Michelman on Sprudge.