HOST, perhaps the world's leading trade fair for catering and hospitality, has come to and gone again for another season. The festival—roughly the coffee industry's equivalent to E3 Expo or ComplexCon—occurs every two years on the outskirts of Milan, drawing 200,000 attendees from 171 countries across a five day event. Coffee and tea exhibitors at Host occupy four of the 17,000-square-meter pavilions (nearly 1/3 of the whole show), and while the majority of them are large brands operating only in Europe, the speciality coffee niche is definitely growing.
International roasters, baristas, importers, and coffee lovers: they all want to be there. If you are a global coffee technology company with new products to launch, HOST is the place to be and be seen.
I reported on HOST 2019 for Sprudge live from showfloor, and I’m still buzzing from all the caffeine I consumed, the people I met, and all the cool new machines I saw. Here's some of the best new gear from the show; expect to see this tech heading to market over the next year, and coming soon to a coffee expo near you, but for now the first look is always at HOST.
My journey at Host Milan 2019 started with Dalla Corte, one of Italy’s leading brands of espresso machines, whose factory is situated just outside Milan.
Over the last two years since I met them at Host 2017, Dalla Corte has invested heavily in research, innovation, and technology with a focus on the speciality coffee market. The result is ZERO, a coffee machine equipped with what the brand calls their best technology yet.
Dalla Corte Zero will exist in different versions: the Classic (a basic model without flow profiling), the Barista (manual flow control and digitally fixed flow), and the Plus (manual and digital flow profiling). The machine features thermic stability of the brewing units, an independent multi boiler system (now with 0.7l group), integrated weighing system, cool touch steam wand, and optional 58mm filter.
The design was curated by Italian studio EMO after more than 1,000 hours of research and development. The result is Dalla Corte’s most beautiful machine yet. Production of the Zero will start in September 2020.
La Marzocco, founded in Florence in 1927, is one of the world’s leaders in espresso machine innovation. There’s always a lot expectation about what they will present at Host. In 2017 it was all about one machine—the LEVA—but at this edition La Marzocco took it up a notch with multiple machine drops and a whole range of forthcoming products showcased in their Innovation Gallery.
First, LM is getting big into the grinder game. The SWIFT MINI (already in production) is a new grinder designed for home and compatible with all La Marzocco Home machines. It’s a simple-to-use, accurate and efficient on-demand grinder that measures, grinds, and tamps with the push of a single button, and it looks really attractive paired with the Linea Mini. On the other end of the scale is the SWAN: a prototype for a professional grinder with design inspired by Italian wedge sports cars of the 1970s. SWAN is designed and constructed at the LM Factory in Scarperia, just like the rest of the product line, and it has undeniable swagger. It's not quite out yet but will hit markets at the end of 2020—look for more in-depth coverage on Sprudge later this year.
Honestly these two grinders would have made for a solid HOST line-up, but La Marzocco went above and beyond this season by presenting early version of two new espresso machines: the next generation “GB5”, updated similarly to the 2015 Linea PB update; and the newly rethought and updated STRADA, a model that helped push the boundaries of espresso technology when it was first released at the start of the decade.
The brand also debuted the AMS, which stands for “Automatic Milk Steamer” but is being affectionately referred to as “Wally” by LM staff. It sparked curiosity among baristas on the show floor—some folks really loved it, others wondered “what is the point of it?” To me, the AMS falls into the “something we don’t really need it but it’s cool” category for most professional baristas, though for high end restaurants or other settings looking to up their foam game, the application is obvious.
Last but not least, La Marzocco presented the one-group versions of the LEVA and the MODBAR, both already available to order, and debuted La Marzocco Home IoT, a new app for Linea Mini users that “enhances communication, coffee culture, guidance, and preventive maintenance” as per the company.
Truly it was an impressive display at HOST 2019 from La Marzocco. Expect more reporting across this range of projects in the coming months.
Carimali sure know how to get everyone’s attention. The 100-year-old company from Bergamo drew big time buzz at this year's HOST by presenting an innovative “boilerless” espresso machine—though they insist it’s not a machine yet, but rather a “technology”. What you see is a small module with a simple display showing: automated group flushing, temperature, and start and stop for brewing.
How does it work? The technology is based on the induction heating system, as per the manufacturer. The “black box” (or “Steve” as it’s called internally in the Carimali team) heats the water in a small pipe using an electro magnetic field. It heats only the right amount of water you need, and does so very quickly: within a matter of a seconds it’s already brewing at the temperature you set. It runs on a battery, so it’s portable and uses “90% less energy to produce an espresso than a traditional machine”, as per the Carimali team's statements.
“You don't get to disrupt coffee very often” says the influential mechanical designer Gregory Scace, and Carimali are hoping to do just that. The next challenge is to integrate this technology with usability, for which Agnieszka Rojewska (2018 World Barista Champion) has officially joined the Carimali team, and Colin Harmon (founder of Dublin's 3FE) is consulting to help develop a new barista interface.
It all sounds and looks great so far—this was one of the most talked about pieces of tech at the show—but some big questions still remain, including launch date and price. Carimali estimates a launch of one or more boilerless products sometime in the next 18 months; watch Sprudge for continuing coverage.
Sanremo earned a lot of interest at HOST 2017 with their REVO grinder launch, setting high expectations for this year’s edition. They didn’t disappoint with their striking display of customized Café Racer machines and with their latest creation: BRAVE. The new spearhead of their range, the Brave coffee machine combines the best technological developments of the Opera and Café Racer.
In the core of Brave is an innovative thermo-hydraulic and electronic technology system to enable the best possible extraction in all conditions of use, as per the company. It can work on auto as well as manual setting, allowing baristas to control a wide range of possible extraction parameters.
There’s a brew selector with five extraction profiles (four in espresso, one in brewing filter coffee), a touch display can be used to set the extraction profiles, and the three single-group control displays to show real-time delivery. Finally, the Brave machine is integrated with Sanremo IoT system to control all the machine’s settings remotely. In the words of Danili Llopis, Sanremo’s R&D Manager, the Brave is a “fascinating and innovative machine,” but we'll have to wait until after Spring 2020 to see it in action.
Expect to see it on the road at upcoming international coffee expos, and watch for more cool customization projects as well from San Remo.
Believe the hype. Mahlkönig’s E65s GbW and E80 Supreme grinders were among the hottest product launches at Host Milan 2019, and for good reason. Baristas love these machines, stylish workhorses that can be found on many of the finest coffee bars in the world.
The E65S GBW (a 65mm diameter steel burrs grinder) features the same technology of the existing E65S, which the addition of GbW: Grind by Weight technology. Mahlkönig first debuted “Grind By Weight” technology for real-time scale controlled dosing in a commercial grinder at Host Milan 2015.
One of the coolest things about the E65s GbW the high-resolution full color display with a wide viewing range, and the patented “disc distance detector” (DDD) which enables accurate settings of the degree of fineness.
Alongisde the E65s GbW, Mahlkönig presented a new 80mm grinder: E80 Supreme. It’s suitable for busy coffee bars as it can cope with high volumes of coffee daily. The motor manages the active temperature of the machine to ensure high-speed performance. Both new Mahlkönig grinders are easier to use than previous models and have very cool LED illuminated spouts. Expect them to see them everywhere come next year.
Slayer is a newcomer in the world of professional espresso machine manufacturing, certainly compared to some of the oldest Italian companies with 90-100 years of history. Yet, in a very short time (the company was founded in Seattle in 2007) they've established themselves as a successful and much loved-brand. Their machines can be seen used in coffee bars all around the world, and their profile expanded further following Gruppo Cimbaili's majority stake acquisition in 2017.
This was Slayer's very first exhibition at HOST, and their stand was appropriately packed full of people every day thanks to a range of cool limited edition machines on display. There's just something about Slayer's design profile that takes beautifully to customization. That all-pink number!
The biggest news from Slayer is the Steam LPx machine: the same core technology of the Steam LP, with improvements for the workflow of baristas, and an upgraded the design. Featuring super polished chrome wings, wood-like brown Duratex ™ actuators and handles and a choice of four color panel options.
Key attributes of the LPx are weight-based volumetric outputs, time-based, regulated pre-infusion, two programmable doses per grouphead, push button to activate full manual versus volumetric mode, an easy to use interface, and a digital control board with backflush, timers, and access to all parameters. The machine showed out great at HOST, marking an impressive debut at the show for the Seattle brand.
Rancilio Group was back at HOST this year, although they didn’t have to travel far—their factory is in Parabiago, just outside of Milan. In 2017 the brand offered a range of new releases, including the Classe 20 coffee machine, V50 grinder Egro Next Touch Coffee machine (designed for drip coffee), and Silvia Pro home espresso machine.
For the speciality coffee sector, the most interesting product is the V50. It’s an on-demand grinder designed by Rancilio with a horizontal motor and 50 mm stainless steel vertical burrs. It’s suitable for small grinding cycles (0.5 kg coffee bean hopper capacity) as part of a set of grinders in specialty coffee shops or at home and in the office. Baristas can switch between two different operation modes: the automatic one to dispense the pre-set dose or the manual one to personalize delivery time by holding the dose-adjustment knob down. Micrometric grinding regulation and up to 64 grinding sizes to prepare any coffee, from espresso to French press coffee. With all its technology concentrated in just 150 mm of width and 495 mm of height, the V50 is designed to fit right beside the RS1.
If you like Astoria Storm, then you will love the new STORM Profilo. The latest addition to the family combines all the features of Storm FRC, while also allowing greater space for manual control. A new analogue console, reminiscent of audio mixers used by DJs, allows the extraction curve to be adjusted, toggling between blooming, speed up, pressure, body dose percentage, and pressure end. Storm Profile is also equipped with the SB (Steam Boost) option, which increases steam production by activating the heating units even during high-volume espresso making (alternating power between service and coffee heating units).
The coffee machine makers from Susegana, Italy, have put a lot of effort on reducing the energy consumption by creating a range of low environmental impact coffee machines: the Green Line series. The Storm Profilo distributes power only where and when needed, with a software that automatically puts one or more groups into standby mode when the workload decreases.