About this project
PLEASE CHECK OUT UPDATES FOR LATEST PRODUCTION SCHEDULE!
(Shipping to begin Spring/Summer 2012)
What we're doing:
We're making a commercial-quality espresso machine at a consumer-friendly price.
Consistent pressure and temperature through the entire pull is the key to getting a perfect shot of espresso. And that's exactly what our machine gives you, at a price far below any machine currently out there.
There are basically two kinds of home espresso machines on the market today. The affordable models have no good mechanism of temperature or pressure control. These machines can’t pull consistent shots. So if you're serious about espresso, you’ll need one of the higher-end machines - they make great coffee, but they also start around $700.
But we’re engineers, and we knew that we could design a machine that was just as good as the expensive models - for less. And because we’re coffee enthusiasts ourselves, we kept the consumer experience in mind, and included features that we ourselves lusted after in an affordable machine.
Our machine will retail for around $400, but it's available to you guys on Kickstarter for only $200!
No other machine at this price point offers high-end quality, PID-controlled customizable temperature and pressure, pre-infusion, or shot-time settings - we do.
How we did it:
We took the espresso machine back to the drawing board. We looked at all the latest technologies, and we developed a few of our own.
Building a machine from the ground up meant we could include the features we found ourselves breaking our warranties to add. By re-engineering and re-designing the machine inside and out, we have found ways to improve performance while lowering production costs.
Here are our niftiest features and innovations:
- Redesigned thermoblock. Though models featuring a thermoblock can be found in cheaper machines on the market, their poor design results in inconsistent temperatures and pressures. Our redesigned thermoblock ensures quick and consistent temperature, and allows for rapid switching between brewing and the steam wand.
- PID Controller. A proportional-integral-derivative (PID) controller includes a feedback mechanism that allows our thermoblock to adjust its temperature while a shot is being pulled. This results in much lower temperature and pressure fluctuations during the shot, and ensures that the set temperature and pressure are maintained throughout the shot. Many home baristas find themselves retrofitting their machines with a PID controller. Our PID controller is tuned specifically for our machine, and configured for multiple settings, ensuring fast start-up, consistency over multiple shots, and fast steam-to-brew transitioning.
- Low-cost manufacturing. We've designed our thermoblock, group head, casing and internal supports to minimize manufacturing costs without sacrificing the feel or quality of our machine. Our machine is made entirely of metal, so it feels sturdier than plastic alternatives, and is heavy enough to not move around. We've minimized the use of proprietary components, which means your machine is maximally serviceable and modifiable by you.
- Open-source. The code for our machine will be completely open-source, allowing owners to import and share their code and hardware modifications.
- Espresso pod compatibility: You’ll be able to use our machine with the Easy Serving Espresso Pods, one of the most widely available pre-packaged coffee systems, in addition to loose grounds. Pods are quick, convenient and make for an easy clean-up. They demand a more powerful pump and a unique portafilter, but we thought it was worth it.
Portafilter: 58mm; Choice of single-spout, double-spout or naked; Regular or ESE-pod compatible portafilter baskets
Colors: Silver, red, yellow, green, blue, orange, black; matte or glossy
Tank capacity: 2.75L shared tank
Pressure range: 5-15 bar
External dimensions (approximate): 9.5inx12inx9in (width x height x depth); 24cm x 30.5cm x 23cm
Power Specs: 1000 watts
The machine will use an Arduino microcontroller.
What we need:
So we've got the proof of concept down and gone through several prototypes.
We’ve taken some of our prototypes to local coffee shops (shoutout to Land of a Thousand Hills and Octane in Atlanta!) and had their baristas pull a shot on both our machine and theirs. The shots our machine pulled were comparable to theirs in quality, every time.
Now we need to ramp up into the manufacturing stage.With the funds we're asking you guys for, we're going to set up a shop with a foundry to cast the thermoblock and grouphead, and a Tormach CNC mill to machine them into the precision shape that makes our machine so good.
With your help, we'll be able to start shipping machines by Spring/Summer 2012! (Please check updates for the most up-to-date production details available!)
To make changes to your survey after you've submitted it, please fill out this form: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform…
There is no way to make changes directly to your survey through Kickstarter once it has been submitted. To make any changes, please visit the link above. When filling it out, make sure that your name, email address, and mailing address match those attached to your Kickstarter account and included in your original survey. For your security, we will not make changes to orders unless those details match the information attached to your account.
The machine will have a 2.42" OLED screen, almost exactly as seen here: http://www.inteltronicinc.com/product_view2.asp…
Our machine is built around E-61 size specifications and fits a 58mm portafilter. Most commercial filter holders should fit our machine.
We will give our backers the choice of a single-spout, double-spout or naked (bottomless) portafilter to be included with their machine. Of course, because it's 58mm, you can always use your own!
We folded the domestic (U.S.) shipping cost into the pledge amounts, so you do not need to add money for domestic shipping. For shipping outside of the U.S., please add $11.99 to your pledge amount.
The machine is designed for the US market at 110v. At the 1k reward level, we will custom build the machine to be compatible with your country's electrical standard. Please see Update #6 for why we're not making a 240V machine right now, and Update #9 for some options for international backers.
Nope! As long as the machine is kept clean, we don’t predict a need to replace the gaskets, filter holder or any other part yearly. Gaskets might need to be replaced every 2-3 years with heavy use, but because we’ve used standard components, all gaskets and seals can be found at any espresso machine supply store or website.
Yes! We're using a standard solenoid pump (Italian-made Ulka EX-5), but driving it with a DC pulse rather than mains AC. That way we can precisely control the flow rate by varying the pulse timing. This is better than modulating voltage because you can control of the pump over a much wider range. With voltage control, the pump only has a narrow range that it can work through, while with a variable frequency DC pulse at a fixed voltage the pump can be controlled through a much wider flow rate range.
None! We don't use a boiler at all. We've combined the thermoblock, group head, and heating element into one unit in lieu of a boiler. The large mass and thermodynamic design of our thermoblock allows for the consistency that our machine provides, without any of the recoup or lag time that you get with a boiler machine.
We know that thermoblocks are usually associated with cheap low-quality machines, but we've gone out of our way to completely re-engineer the concept to be highly effective, making it closer to a tankless water heater that you find in newer, energy-efficient homes than to thermoblocks used in cheap coffee machines.
Additionally, we have thoroughly tested our design at local coffee shops, and will soon be posting graphs of temperature and pressure profiles to show the consistency and quality of our machine.
We are currently in negotiations with a warranty provider to get warranties out with this machine, but we don't have one confirmed yet. Right now we're in debate over the terms and pricing of a 6-month and 12-month warranty. The problem is that, because of the nature of open-source hardware/software, it's hard to get a warranty, which is effectively an insurance policy on the machines. Our machine is designed to be maximally serviceable by the user, with parts you can source locally, and we will be available to backers to troubleshoot any problems that might arise.
We can't offer refunds on Kickstarter orders, but we're committed to providing the best customer support we can, which includes walking you through repairs and providing new parts if they break. We will be thoroughly testing machines before they are shipped to ensure that we're not sending out duds, but backers should be aware that our small size means that we have limited resources and cannot offer refunds or on-site repairs. It is our hope that the online community built around this machine will serve as a valuable additional resource for code, troubleshooting and modifications.
We're currently working with a 2.75L tank. At the $1,000 level, however, we are able to offer direct plumbing.
Right now we're offering silver, red, yellow, green, orange, blue and black. Each color can have either a matte or glossy finish. See Update #7 for swatches.
We're currently planning on dimensions of 9.5in wide x 12in tall x 9in deep (that's 24cmx30.5cmx23cm for our metric friends). The final machine dimensions might change by 0.5in or so.
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