High-tech coffee

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They stand out in the products mix for their technological evolution and refinement: they are the automatic coffee machines and with a sophisticated design, ideal for consumers who want high quality, customization and innovation

Courtesy of Smeg

by Elena Corti

The most hi-tech and design coffee machines are able to meet the needs of the most demanding consumers, both in terms of performance and aesthetics. The intensity of aroma, the degree of creaminess and the numerous levels of customization show the high quality standard achieved by these products: the offer is extremely varied and today is enriched by increasingly technological models and, in some cases, also connected. For those who interact directly with the final consumer it is important to know the main plusses of these devices to recommend the most appropriate solution, ensuring a positive customer experience to the potential buyer.

Constant technological evolution

Miele CM 7500 is a technology mix: from the AromaticSystem for a perfect coffee and water infusion, to the OneTouch for Two option for having two coffees by pressing one only button, up to the CupSensor that recognizes the height of the cup

As regards high-technology, the automatic coffee machines (both free standing and built-in) stand out for the innovative solutions and the high quality results, ensuring coffee and milk beverage comparable to those of the coffee shop. The main feature of these appliances is to make the preparation of the different recipes simple and quick, providing excellent and consistent performance from the first to the last cup. These machines are fast because the boiler warms up in a few moments and make automatic the processes and factors on which the good result of the beverage depends: correct pressure (generally around 15 bar), extraction and dispensing time. By optimizing these parameters, the coffee fragrance is exalted and there is no risk that it results little aromatic or with a burnt taste. Moreover, automatic models allow to use coffee beans that are grinded at the moment, thanks to grinders integrated in the appliance, which also allow to adjust the degree of grinding. In many machines grinders are made of ceramic: this material not only ensures ideal grinding because water flows steadily, but also prevents the coffee from overheating, taking an unpleasant burnt taste. Generally, then, it is possible to use both beans and coffee powder because the appliance has two specific zones to hold them, combining personal taste and comfort.

With the automatic coffee machines it is possible to use both beans and powder (courtesy of V-Zug, brand distributed in Italy by Frigo2000)

In addition to the quality of the produced beverage, one of the aces in the sleeve of the automatic machines is the ability to make different types of coffee and milk beverages (for example espresso, long coffee, coffee with milk, cappuccino, milk with coffee, foamy and warm milk), offering a high level of customization so that the user can find the solution that is the most respondent to his taste by simply pressing a button. Adjustment levels are many: it is possible to adjust the intensity (from light to strong coffee), the temperature, the length of the drink, and even the level of the foam. Automatic machines can therefore be the ideal product to be propose to those consumers who like to enjoy many different types of drinks, using a single appliance with very simple controls.  Intuitive displays (even color ones), light indicators, touch buttons: these are all technological solutions designed to guide the user to get the best results with the least effort. In addition, further innovations to make the machine even more performant are, for example, the function that allows to prepare two coffees at the same time and the sensor, available in the most advanced devices, that recognizes the height of the cup and places the dispenser accordingly: the right distance between container and dispenser allows not only to avoid splashing, but also to get an optimal cream.
Finally, in automatic machines, the milk processing systems are particularly advanced: they automatically produce a full and dense foam that is ideal for cappuccino or coffee with milk. In the models of latest generation, the parts in contact with milk are cleaned by an automatic system, while the milk container can be easily removed, stored in a refrigerator and then washed in a dishwasher.

Easy maintenance and cleaning

The coffee machine of Line 45 by Smalvic is part of a range of built-in appliances conceived as an integrated system. It is activated with touch controls and can be used with all types of Ese pods

A fundamental plus of automatic machines is that these devices are not only easy to use, but they are also easy to clean. Hygiene and maintenance of the product are important so that coffee preserves a constant quality and the machine lasts for a long time. For this purpose, the latest generation models are generally equipped with automated rinsing and descaling systems, indicators showing when the coffee waste bin is full and when the water tank is to be filled. In addition, the parts that can easily get dirty (such as the brewing group) can be removed to be comfortably washed and maintained in perfect efficiency.

The coffee machine in the smart home age

The FCM 4509 TC X built-in model by Fulgor Milano can be combined with the practical equipped drawer. The machine features the steam and hot water dispenser and makes the automatic cleaning cycle every 10 coffees

Among the latest technological innovations in the coffee machines sector, there are the connected models.
Thanks to specific Apps it is possible to connect the device with smartphones or tablets switching on the product remotely too. So the user can select and configure his favorite beverage through the application and then make the preparation start remotely, choosing among multiple variations of drinks and customizing coffee and cappuccinos according to his tastes. Moreover, one of the most advanced features of connected machines is the memorization of profiles, allowing to store the users preferences so that he can easily replicate them whenever he wants. Through specific alerts, instead, the user is reminded when it is time to make maintenance, and is able to see the support videos uploaded to the application. Connected models of machines respond to the increasing desire of consumers to use smartphones and tablets to control home appliances with ease and with new ways that simplify life. And if in a first time only automatic products could be handled through an application, today also the world of portioned coffee offers this possibility. Recently Nespresso launched the Prodigio model which, thanks to the Bluetooth Smart technology, easily connects to the specific smartphone application, allowing to access the services in an integrated way. Nespresso “smart” machine, in addition to the remote preparation of coffee, allows, for example, the automatic shutdown and the ordering of pods.

A touch of design in the kitchen

With Nespresso Pixie Clips, consumer can easily change the style of his coffee machine according to his wishes

Coffee machines are among the appliances where design is most likely to enhance shapes and colors, offering high level products not only for their quality but also for their aesthetics. Automatic models are characterized by hi-tech style and by the use of steel and glass: this is why they are very suitable to be placed in a modern and linear environment.

A very particular design distinguishes Bialetti Cuore, which takes its name from its own shape

The built-in machines, in particular, are designed to fit harmoniously in the kitchen furnishings, with solutions and finishes made to match perfectly with the oven.

Innovative design and ability of be managed through tablets and smartphones characterize TopBrewer of Scanomat (courtesy of Frigo2000)

There are also products with particular shapes such as TopBrewer by Scanomat, a coffeemaker that has the shape of a tap placed on the work surface, but is able to prepare coffee and many other drinks. Also in the world of portioned coffee there is no lack of innovative design, as in the case of the Bialetti Cuore (Heart), whose name reflects the shape, making the coffee machine a real object of furniture. If steel and glass dominate in the automatic models, in the appliances that use pods and in the manuals ones, color is an important element that enhances the product, with lines ranging from modern to vintage. A particular solution is that launched by Nespresso with Pixie Clips: the machine can change color thanks to lateral panels that can be changed as a dress.

Innovation in the brewing process
It is called Pulse Extraction Process and is a brewing cadenced process. It is an innovative system developed by Jura to optimize the extraction time by passing hot water jets through the coffee powder in a cadence-like manner at rapid intervals for a short and strong espresso. Moreover, it is important that the water used for the drink is pure: for this purpose, the use of the filter prevents the remaining of substances in the water that alter its taste and smell, while protecting the coffee machine from limestone. Thanks to Jura Intelligent Water System, the filter cartridge and the machine are connected to each other through Rfid (Radio Frequency Identification) technology, so that the filter is recognized automatically for greater simplicity and safety.
Impressa E8 by Jura
The strengths of automatic models
• Preparation from the bean to the cup
• Innovative extraction and dispensing systems
• Customization
• Automatic programs
• Possibility to prepare two drinks at the same time by pressing one only button
• Advanced systems for the preparation of milk drinks
• Automatic cleaning and descaling
Certificating the high quality
A quality certification is an important tool to ensure that a product stands out for certain features. This happens also for coffee, whose quality in the cup can be certified by the sensory analysis carried out by the experts of Centro Studi Assaggiatori. Among the companies that saw the importance of providing a warranty on the final result provided by their machines there is Saeco, which since 2011 has obtained the certification of Centro Studi Assaggiatori for espresso, cappuccino and milk with coffee. We asked Luigi Odello, president of the Center, to illustrate how, in his opinion, new technologies can guarantee the quality of drinks produced by the most advanced domestic machines.

Do you think that automatic coffee machines of latest generation are able to offer coffee and cappuccinos comparable to those of a coffee shop even in the domestic channel?
Even better, in some cases, but not like those in coffee shops. Let me explain better: the method of extraction of a professional machine is different from that of an automatic one, so we must not take the bar coffee as sample, even if we are fond of it and it is logical for us to think about the most beloved cup of Italians. The same mixture properly extracted (25 ml in 25 seconds) with a professional appliance will give a different coffee from that of a domestic automatic machine, but this does not mean that the home-made coffee will be less fulfilling. It should be noted, however, that the latest generation machines are really good for sensory experimentation with beans of a single origin, extracting the best of what is contained in the coffee.

Can technology innovation in the most advanced coffee machines improve the sensory quality standard of the beverage that is produced?
Certainly, and in recent years domestic automatic machines have made great progress by improving the extraction and allowing users to record a customized profile to obtain the most pleasure from the used coffee.

How can coffee machines manufacturers certify the quality of their products through Centro Studi Assaggiatori?
A sensory profile of conformity is generated, that is the correct description, validated through the statistics, of the characteristics of the beverage that is obtained. The compliance of the obtained conformity is always controlled through sensory analysis by groups of suitably trained judges, according to the audit plan reported in the technical document of the certification.

What benefits can the quality certification offer to coffee machines manufacturers that decide to ask it for their products?
Actually, certification is a contract that manufacturer contracts with his client, whose surveillance is entrusted to an independent third party body. So, in fact, the manufacturer offers a warranty by gaining a competitive advantage over competitors. At this point, the object of the certification becomes relevant: when we are speaking of sensoriality, we can bet that consumers care very much about.

Do you think that in a coffee machine with advanced technology, the high quality level of the beverage should be combined with the ability to customize coffee and cappuccino depending on the user's taste?

Surely yes, and not just for the possibility of adjusting coffee to everyone taste, but also because changing coffee there is the need to adjust the machine in order to always obtain a drink that meets what the user wants. By varying coffee origins, their percentage in the mixture and roasting level, it is necessary to adjust the machine functioning so that the sensory profile does not deviate from the desired one.
Luigi Odello, president of Centro Studi Assaggiatori (Tasters Study Center)