Over the long weekend of April 12th-15th, the international coffee industry and tens of thousands of its biggest fans gathered in Shoreditch, London for the 2018 London Coffee Festival. A four-day event now in its eighth year, the festival brings together established companies and smaller independent brands alike to present their products to more than 30,000 baristas, roasters, CEOs, entrepreneurs, associated media, craftspeople and coffee lovers of all stripes. I was on the ground at the London Coffee Festival to check out the hottest new tech coming on the market later this year.
Rancilio Group has been producing traditional espresso machines and grinders at their factory in Parabiago near Milan, Italy for over 90 years. The London Coffee Festival 2018 marked their official debut into the specialty coffee market with the new Rancilio Specialty.
Rancilio Specialty is a stainless steel espresso machine featuring three independent groupheads with dedicated displays, an insulated service boiler with programmable water change, and steam levers each with two powers levels for different jug sizes. Thanks to a multi-boiler system and “Rancilio LAB patented technology,” baristas can accurately manage water temperature profiles during the shot brewing process, which, according to Rancilio, affords them the ability to control acidity and bitterness. What they call “Thermal Stability technology” allows baristas to program bespoke brewing profiles using a range of 5°C to precisely dial in the flavour characteristics of coffee blends and single origins—if one coffee tastes great at 86°C, whilst another prefers a flat 90°C, the Rancilio Speciality can handle it no problem.
The most interesting feature of Rancilio Specialty, one that I’m sure baristas will be most excited about, is the touch screen interface. The screen allows users to regulate the machine, program groups and steam levers settings, save recipes, add notes, and set up cleaning operations. Rancilio Specialty also stores all the details of last 30 cups of coffee brewed, hence allowing users to easily monitor the machine’s performance and helping support training for new baristas.
The decision to delve into the specialty coffee market came after the launch of Rancilio’s Classe 11 machine a few years ago. “About a year and a half ago, we gathered a team of top baristas from the specialty sector and started working on creating an espresso machine for them,” says Valerio Locati, R&D Engineer at Rancilio Group. “One of the things they asked for was to make the interface easy to use by reducing the number of clicks required to find the main functions.” And so because of this, the most important settings such as group settings and preset recipes can be found on the first page of the display.
Rancilio Group also took care to address sustainability as part of their machine design; it's an increasingly large focus in the specialty coffee industry here in London and around the world. The Rancilio Speciality's main boiler is insulated to reduce energy consumption; the micro-boilers for individual units can be switched off manually or programmed to switch off automatically. Equally important was the R&D team's goal to create a user-friendly and ergonomic machine. To that end, the design of the brewing units, the positioning of the steam levers, and the ample working area guarantee the barista supreme comfort, precision, and operating speed to optimize the work flow.
Rancilio Specialty is full of other cool functionalities, such as an LED illuminated work surface, a USB port for recharging smartphones and scales, cool touch steam wands, a control panel with back-lit icons, and a removable drip tray with height adjustment for all cup sizes (80, 100, or 120mm). Under the machine is a 90mm deep compartment that can be used to store the filter holders, scales, and other working tools. The cup tray can be set up to five different temperature levels to guarantee stable and even heat in any season and environment inside and outside the cafe.
What may seem like small things can really make a difference in improving the day-to-day workflow and performance of a coffee shop, making for an impressive, barista-focused first entry from Rancilio into the specialty coffee market.
Rancilio Specialty was first presented at Host 2017 in Milan, but the machine's official launch took place at the 2018 The London Coffee Festival. Rancilio Group will take the new machine to other coffee shows this year, but you saw it here first on Sprudge.