“It's a difficult machine to describe to you because it's so simple,” World Barista Champion Gwilym Davies told us this morning at the Nuova Simonelli booth at the SCAA Event in Seattle. He's talking about the Victoria Arduino Black Eagle VA 388 (official machine of the World Barista Championship) with built-in scales floating above the drip tray.
The machine allows the user to set, in a three-group machine, up to six pre-set dose weights. Above the group, a digital reader displays the shot time and shot volume in grams in real time.
“We built this technology to simplify the job of the barista,” Nuova Simonelli Marketing Manager Maurizio Giuli said to us. While Giuli spoke, Chris Baca of Honey Co. Coffee dialed in coffee on the neighboring Mythos grinder. Within minutes, Baca was pulling shots for guests, the machine automagically taring espresso vessels as they were set on the scale-tray.
As Baca pulled his shots, Linea Caffe‘s Rita Kaminsky and famed Salvadoran coffee producer Aida Batlle sidled up. “I want one of these in my house!” We overheard Batlle saying. JUST THEN, CoffeeGeek‘s Mark Prince came up, chopping it up with Davies. It was a who's who of SCAA, buzzing around the Black Eagle. It was a full-blown scales event. A gravimetric extravaganza.
“You can walk away from the espresso machine,” Davies says, as he demonstrated how a barista can start the shot, then depend fully on the machine's technology to stop the shot at just the right weight. The machine has a built-in drip offset function, programmable based on the type of coffee used (some coffee will hold more water, causing more or less drips).
The machine's T3 technology gives the user the ability to program the temperature of each individual group head, the pressure, and now, the volume of water by weight. An early prototype debuted at the Host conference in Milan in 2013. After two and a half years of development, the Gravimetric Black Eagle is now available to purchase.
The machine is going for $26,500 and $29,500 for two-group and three-group models, respectively. You can follow the Black Eagle Gravimetric roll-out worldwide by following the hashtag #GraviMetricDay.
Is it the year of the scales? Well? Is it? Only time will tell, but signs point to “yes”.
Zachary Carlsen is a co-founder and senior editor at Sprudge.