Last night we went along to the Australian promotional launch of Nuova Simonelli's latest product; the Victoria Arduino Black Eagle 388 Gravimetric. In a new prestige branding system, Nuova Simonelli has released the Black Eagle under the name of Victoria Arduino (recently purchased by Simonelli), a company that has now been producing coffee equipment for 110 years (wow). Along with the fairly new Mythos One grinder, the Black Eagle looks set to take the specialty coffee scene by storm. A crowd of around 50 people from various aspects of the coffee industry turned up to Pablo & Rusty's newly refurbished roasting warehouse to have the oppurtunity to dabble with the machine and witness a presentation all about it. The powerpoint was delivered by none other than 2007 World Barista Champion and Square Mile Coffee Roasters' co-owner James Hoffmann.
This particular machine is a fairly interesting concept, backed by a strong brand belief not to necessarily make the best coffee possible, but to make the worst possible coffee to a much higher standard. As Hoffmann described in his presentation, baristas are often half-hearted in presenting an espresso to a consumer as a 'great coffee'. This is due to the knowledge that the 'great coffee' they make one morning for themselves may be taste different but look identical to the brew they extract a couple of days later for a customer. A previously strong association with specialty coffee being extracted manually also possibly creates a decrease in consistency on the barista's behalf when compared to an electronic machine.
The technologies intending to create a consistently good cup in this machine are gravimetrics and volumetrics. The Black Eagle has an in-built gravimetric weighing system in the drip tray, so that before extraction begins, any weight (eg cups) placed beneath the grouphead is automatically zeroed. What this means is that the digital readout above the grouphead displays a live reading of the weight or amount of coffee that has been extracted into the cup. This takes away the pain of baristas having to place and tare easily breakable electronic scales in order to learn more about their extraction. This also lends to the theory that Hoffmann described, that volume, and no longer brew time, is the most important factor in extraction.
Aside from the fancy in-built scales, the machine itself obviously looks awesome. After Hoffmann's in depth delivery, spectators were welcomed to have a go themselves, with Pablo & Rusty's recent NSW Aeropress Champion Ben Richardson also dishing out plenty of coffees to try. We'd like to express a huge thanks to the team at Pablo & Rusty's for hosting the event, and also to James Hoffmann for his fantastic insight on all things coffee.