Time for a Timeline
Remember us? We know it’s been a while, but between SCAA Portland (great to meet all the backers who were there!) and lots of behind-the-scenes work, we just couldn’t find the time to write! But don’t fret, this missive here is packed chock full of info.
Want an Encore?
(This is mainly news for visitors to this page, rather than current backers. It’s also the last we expect to be posting about pre-orders here. All future info on pre-orders can be found on our website.)
A lot of you have sent emails or started threads on the forum asking for a less expensive grinder that performs at fine espresso grinds. The Encore is a brand-new addition to the Baratza line, and it’s basically the first decently priced grinder that performs admirably at espresso settings. We’re happy to be able to offer a Nocturn + Baratza Encore combo (and the grinder all by itself, for those of you who just love us that much).
Our current plan is to offer pre-orders until production is up and running, but once machines start rolling off the line we’ll tick over to full retail mode, so get ‘em while they last!
Calling in the Big Guns
Gleb and Igor have returned from their sojourn into the noble...well, it was still the South, but a whole different state. In Kentucky, they spent three days at the manufacturing facility/assembly house we’ll be using, working through much of the design. They discussed scheduling, tooling, optimizing for manufacture, and a few key design components. They worked out a few bugs, like figuring out how to set the wastewater tube so the drip tray can be lifted out vertically instead of at an angle, and got some professional input on revising our production timeline given the issues we’ve encountered and where we are now.
These guys have a lot of experience in manufacturing, and we’re really excited to be working with them and getting the benefit of their vast experience.
Wibbly Wobbly Timeliney Wimey
What’s been up with you guys in the past month or so? Anything cool? We’ll start: we’ve been tweaking. Tweaking the water path; tweaking the front panel; tweaking the UI...basically tweaking everything. As you might imagine, there are a thousand tiny details - from determining the exact path of wastewater into the drip tray, to sorting out the best way to insulate the screen and circuit board from moisture and heat - and, unsurprisingly, they’re taking a bit longer than we’d hoped. Another important factor has been building everything with UL/CE/NSF certifications in mind.
This means more up-front work, but hopefully better machines out of the gate.
Now let’s talk schedule. We’re spending a few more weeks in the design phase. In part, this is because of a huge number of problems we’ve had with the parts we’ve been getting for prototyping. As any of you who have gone through major online electronics retailers - or better yet, the ‘Shack - know, these parts tend to be very faulty, and we’ve even run into several with completely wrong specs! Needless to say, these aren’t the industrial suppliers we’ll be using for our ultimate machines, but they’re the parts we have available, and they’ve been dragging us down. Now that we’re collaborating with an assembly house, we have access to much more reliable parts, so this portion of the design should be moving right along.
We’re also expecting a delay in tooling for various parts. We’re now being quoted at 8-12 weeks rather than the original 2-4 week estimate - which is kind of a bummer.
These delays are unfortunate, but not completely unforeseen, based on what we know of other projects like this one. They also represent a lot more time being spent on absolutely perfecting the design and failure/safety testing of the machines, which, you know, is kind of important to us, and hopefully to you, too!
Don’t be too sad: initial production may be delayed, but the good news is that we expect to put machines out much faster than previously estimated. The assembly house should have a production capacity of around 300 machines/month, so though we’ll be starting later, we’ll be getting machines out a lot faster than we originally estimated.
What follows is a tentative schedule of the coming months. This is pretty much “for informational purposes only,” as we want to give you guys an idea of what the overall trajectory of the project is between now and go time. Ballpark, not gospel. If there was one major takeaway from talking to the manufacturers we met at SCAA, it was that every single project in the history of manufacturing gets delayed.
With that in mind, here’s a tentative timeline:
Next 2 weeks:
- Milling what we hope will be the final revision of the thermoblock.
- Writing up our final bill of materials and getting final quotes, and sending off all of our orders for parts and tooling. Tooling will take between 4-12 weeks, depending on the part.
- Working on the circuit board and putting the finalized prototype together, ready to take some video of a few quality shots and get some data out on temperature and pressure stability.
- Designing the packaging.
- Designing the user interface.
- Setting up tooling, getting parts and lining everything up for our first production samples.
- Coding, coding, coding. We’ll complete the circuit board design and coding (the circuit board has a very quick turn-around time). This includes working on self-test protocols for the production machines, and setting up testing protocols to run on the first 20 machines to make sure everything is safe, secure and reliable.
- Receiving our first 10-20 production machines.
- Test, test and test again. We’ll be putting those first machines through their paces, pulling as many shots as possible on them and running them through safety, stability and usability protocols to programmatically identify (and correct) flaws. Of course, this step can take a variable amount of time depending on the problems we discover and the complexity of correcting them.
- Full-scale production at ~300 machines/month!
- Once production is running smoothly, we’ll be looking at the modifications and parts sourcing for the 240V machines.
As always, all of this is subject to delays, so take with a big ol’ grain of salt - but we wanted to give you a better idea of what we’re all looking at.
- We’re replacing the steam lever with a pushbutton. This gives you a little less control of the steam via the lever, but it does streamline the internal plumbing, which means that it reduces a lot of potential failure points (and we’re into that). Also, it’ll be fairly easy to implement a steam profiling tool in software that allows you to control the steam pressure that way. If you prefer, it’s also possible to perform a mod yourself to add a pressure-sensitive push button.
- We’ve eliminated the analog pressure gauge. We thought it looked nice on the front, and gave the machine a really balanced and familiar look (as you see analog gauges on many other machines). But the thing is, it doesn’t really serve a function, since the more accurate digital pressure is read from a separate pressure transducer. Eliminating the analog gauge frees up a little capital to reinvest into other components that will directly affect extraction quality, and also simplifies the internal plumbing.
- Bigger screen, bigger button. Nixing the gauge also frees up space on the front of the machine, so we’ll be looking for a bigger screen and navigation button.
Lots of love,
Igor, Gleb, Janet and Rachel
pledged of $20,000 goal
seconds to go
Dec 11, 2011 - Jan 20, 2012 (40 days)
Pledge $1 or more
And they say you can’t get good coffee for $1 anymore! But your $1 is getting us that much closer to great at-home espresso - we couldn’t do it without you! A hearty thanks, and we’ll put your name on our website. Every dollar counts!Estimated delivery: Jan 2012
Pledge $10 or more
Shot glasses are more than just cute miniature versions of regular glasses - they’re great for your espresso, for your liquor, for growing tiny plants in...With a $10 pledge you get shot glasses with our logo! Just use responsibly.Estimated delivery: Feb 2012
Pledge $25 or more
Coffee is great for warming you up on a chilly day, but sometimes you need to take it to the next level and put on some clothes. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered (literally! - you like that?). Enjoy one of our cozy, and stylish, ZPM T-shirts. And the shot glasses are all yours, too.Estimated delivery: Feb 2012
Pledge $50 or more
Our machines do a lot of the work of making perfect espresso, but you’ve got to help out too. To show our gratitude, we’re making it as easy as possible by giving you the tools you require - namely, a fancy-schmancy tamper for all your tamping needs (probably just espresso, but who knows?). Add that to the t-shirt and shot glasses, and you’ll be sitting pretty.Estimated delivery: Feb 2012
Pledge $75 or more
There’s no better feeling than unwrapping a box of presents - except maybe the feeling of playing with a bunch of presents. Forgive us for spoiling the surprise, but here’s what you’ll be getting from us: a shot glass, a t-shirt, a tamper, and your very own bag of artisan coffee beans. With our box of gifts, it’ll feel like Christmas in...whatever month you get your box of gifts!Estimated delivery: Feb 2012
Pledge $200 or more
450 backers All gone!
For a $200 pledge, you’re pre-ordering one of our very first machines, a $400 retail value! It can be hard to be one of the first to brave new frontiers, but don’t worry - there’s no river-crossings or dysentery in store for you, just awesome home-brewed espresso.Estimated delivery: Mar 2012
Pledge $250 or more
450 backers All gone!
If you want to boldly brew as you’ve never brewed before, this is your level. For $250, you’ll receive everything you need to craft the perfect espresso - one of our first machines, a bag of artisan coffee beans, shot glasses, and a tamper. And you can savor it while wearing one of our t-shirts. A $470 value!Estimated delivery: Mar 2012
Pledge $300 or more
244 backers Limited (6 of 250 left)
So you didn't manage to snag one of our $200 reward level machines and now you're sitting around all bummed out. Well, buck up, my friend, because we're not going to abandon you. For $300, you can still pre-order a machine. And our later machines will incorporate any user feedback we get from the early birds - so sometimes it pays to wait.Estimated delivery: Dec 2012
Pledge $350 or more
114 backers Limited (136 of 250 left)
We know you were just dying to pledge at our $250 reward level, but, you know, a lot of stuff came up, what with the holidays and TV being so good lately, and you never got around to it...and now it's sold out! Fear not, dear backer. You can still pledge to get our machine and box of goodies that includes shot glasses, t-shirt, espresso tamper, and a bag of artisan roasted coffee beans; a $470 dollar retail value! They'll arrive a little later, but the anticipation is half the fun.Estimated delivery: Dec 2012
Pledge $675 or more
So you know you want our espresso machine - great! But you also know you'll have a hard time tamping whole beans. We're in the business of solving problems, so let us help you out. For $675, you get our machine AND a Baratza Vario grinder (a $869 value)! Grind away! (This is a 120V/US-shipping only reward level.)Estimated delivery: Dec 2012
Pledge $725 or more
You're clearly in it to win it at this point, so you may as well spring for the deluxe edition. Our machine, a Baratza Vario grinder, a t-shirt, a tamper, shot glasses, and a bag of Batdorf & Bronson Dancing Goats coffee (a $939 retail value). That's right, we will meet all your fashion and beverage needs. You never need to leave the house again. (This is a 120V/US shipping-only reward level.)Estimated delivery: Dec 2012
Pledge $1,000 or more
10 backers All gone!
If you’ve always dreamed of being a self-sufficient one-man (or -lady) coffee shop, this is where you need to be. For $1000, we’ll custom build a machine to your specifications (!), send you all of our ZPM logo products, shot glasses, a tamper, a bag of artisanal coffee, and your very own grinder. Now all you need is a patch of good bean-growin’ land in Colombia, and you’ll be set for life.Estimated delivery: Mar 2012