The LaCimbali M200 has arrived in the Australian market after years perfecting its technical capability, visual impact, and fusion of traditional and modern values. The result, as BeanScene explores, is a machine worth touching.
Brunetti Oro Owner Yuri Angele has worked with many different espresso machines since he joined the Melbourne hospitality scene in the 1970s. Pre-COVID, the iconic Italian café and pasticceria was pumping out 250 kilograms of coffee per week at its Flinders Lane venue, and the most important consideration for Yuri, was that his espresso machine handled high volume and produced consistent output.
“The quality of our coffee has always been the foundation of what we do so well, and that’s why we partnered with LaCimbali – their machines are a workhorse,” he says. “At peak capacity, we need a machine that’s able to work under pressure and maintain consistency because when our customers come and visit, they expect the same standard of quality every time.”
For years, that’s been LaCimbali’s M100 which Brunetti Oro’s Flinders Lane store celebrates on an elevated bar for customers to watch and be entertained by as baristas maneuverer across the four-group machines.
In February, LaCimbali’s latest release, the M200, made a special appearance on the café’s marble benchtop where the only machine of its kind in the country blended into the Italian-themed décor.
“It’s a very elegant machine for LaCimbali. I was so impressed when I saw it. Being an Italian brand with an Italian fit-out and produce, we really want to give customers an Italian experience when they come into the store, and that extends to our espresso machine,” Yuri says. “The M200 ticks all our boxes from technical needs to design. It has independent boilers on each group head with temperature control that allows us to customise some of the specialty blends we offer, so it really does suit our needs.”
Australian machine distributor and authorised service provider Service Sphere has held a close relationship with Gruppo Cimbali since it started importing its machines into Australia in 2015. Back then, Service Sphere Director Maurizio Marcocci was on the hunt for a manufacturer that would satisfy the needs of the Australian market that was becoming more discerning in terms of in-cup quality. The result was a partnership with LaCimbali which Maurizio says has matched its needs for performance, price, and technical innovation.
“LaCimbali is a company that is big on innovation, but it doesn’t rest on its laurels. That’s testament to its proven success with the M100 and now with the M200, which in essence is an extension of the LaCimbali brand and the design excellence and innovation it represents. We welcome this model to the Australian market with open arms,” Maurizio says.
The M200 touched down on Australian soil on 6 January 2022, with Service Sphere securing the first model in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) area.
“Gruppo Cimbali is aware that the Australian market is very important for its LaCimbali and Faema brands, and the neighbouring Asian market that is evolving in its coffee needs at a high rate,” Maurizio says. “Gruppo Cimbali and Chief Commercial Officer Enrico Bracesco understands the Australian coffee market is sophisticated with access to high quality coffee everywhere. They look to Australia as a guiding light when it comes to coffee standards and being a key account holder for the brand, they saw the natural alignment of our partnership and the need for us to have the first machine in the APAC.”
But this wasn’t the first time Service Sphere’s eyes had laid on the M200. Back in 2019, National Sales Manager Alana Lombardi and Operations Manager Louie Cerminara were among the first in the world to see a protype of the machine in a “top secret” focus group of key global partners. “It was an exciting opportunity to see the development of the model from the M100 and present feedback on how it looked and functioned,” says Alana. “It was a significant moment when you realise Gruppo Cimbali business owners and thought leaders are listening to the needs of the global market – from baristas and distributors – and was willing to make adjustments. The new model has really hit the benchmark. It’s about beauty and performance all in one.”
When roasters and coffee shops consider which machine should be added to their fleet, Maurizio says the question they need to consider is: what does the coffee taste like? Is it good, better, or best?
“There’s a lot of coffee machines out there but the M200 is best in quality, best in class in terms of in-cup quality, best in aesthetic appeal, and best in class in after sales service and support. It’s the professional’s choice for high volume needs,” he says.
“From a service point of view, we know LaCimbali machines are built to last. They have superior up-time, so it’s cost-effective to service compared to other brands. We know which parts need to be changed, and we have dedicated preventative maintenance kits available.”
With the market for consumer machines also skyrocketing, Maurizio says customers are seeking “exceptional coffee experiences” at home, and in the café.
“Cafés are becoming more sophisticated and experienced in coffee making. Cafés need to ensure they offer customers a machine that complements the ambiance of the venue and removes the barrier between the customer and the barista, and that’s what the M200 does so well. We know the Australian market is going to love it.”
Gruppo Cimbali Coffee Equipment Manager Filippo Mazzoni has worked for the Italian company for 27 years. Within that time, he’s watched the company evolve from the M50 LaCimbali Dolcevita model to its latest M200 release.
“The purpose of this new machine was to have a key focus on ergonomics and deliver best performance in terms of extraction and flexibility,” Filippo says.
The machine has a low profile for the barista to maintain eyesight with the customer. The Up&Down system makes it easy to adjust the height of the worktop from 75 to 145 centimetres heigh to allow the barista flexibility to use different cup volumes.
One touchscreen and two mechanical interfaces with in-touch or button mode are in alignment with the barista’s hands and eye movements to optimise workflow and maintain best ergonomic practices at high volumes. The large steam knob is made with a soft touch material and the steam arm is flexible and carefully positioned in line with the machine’s low profile.
To achieve excellent espresso, coffee quality is key. Then, Filippo says, it’s about setting the group head temperature, brew ratio, and grind size, followed by fine tuning infusion and pressure profiling to enrich the desired flavour in the cup.
The M200’s predecessor, M100, was available in both single and multi-boiler technology. The M200 however, only uses multi-boiler technology. It features three key technologies: GT1, GT2 and profile technology.
With GT1 technology, users can control the temperature of each boiler, guaranteeing the stability and flexibility for different coffee orders. GT2 technology allows the user to set up to two different temperature profiles on the one boiler, further expanding the machine’s potential.
“For example, you could set 93°C to 94°C for espresso, and a lower second temperature for a caffè lungo with a bigger extraction,” Filippo says.
The profile technology adds differentiated modulation of the pressure profile to the temperature control for an even more precise and consistent result in terms of body, acidity and bitterness intensity.
“I think we have one of most available and consistent systems to control pressure profiles,” Filippo says. “We can control the infusion time, extraction phase and final phase with different pressures. For example, high pressure/shorter infusions can result in acidity, whereas long infusions or low pressure means less acidity in the cup. Then in the final stage of extraction, you may choose to reduce pressure which reduces bitterness. This technology is about respecting the coffee in every single shot.”
To enhance the sensory experience, LaCimbali will soon release a sensory mobile app that connects to the M200 and allows the user to control exactly what they want from each stage of the extraction, such as acidity, aroma or more body.
Via Bluetooth wireless technology, LaCimbali’s new elective grinder is also able to connect with the M200, verify the extraction and automatically make any necessary corrections to the grinding dose.
The M200 is what Filippo describes as a “perfect union of LaCimbali’s tradition and future ambition to deliver an extraordinary product”. It’s also been designed with mostly recyclable materials and 50 per cent less energy consumption.
“Traditionally, warming an espresso machine is what uses the most energy, like a car that needs to warm its engine. But we’ve been able to use specific insulation material around the boilers that not only saves energy but delivers the same performance, if not more, in terms of production,” Filippo says.
The man responsible for representing the DNA of LaCimbali and translating it visually is Valerio Cometti and his team of designers, who worked closely with Gruppo Cimbali’s R&D team.
“The M200 is quite an achievement, and thanks to our strong collaboration, we believe we have raised the bar,” says Valerio, Founder and Creative Director of Valerio Cometti+V12 Design.
“Design is a vehicle of message, so it’s really important that before I get a pen and piece of paper, I understand who the client is, what their values are, and what they want to express to the end user. Then it’s about all the technical constraints the machine needs to have, such as the position of the boiler, portafilter and steam wand, and challenging those constraints in a healthy way.”
In the case of the M200, Valerio says ergonomic consideration was fundamental, before adding a little bit of his “secret sauce” to bring the design to life, with long-lasting shapes and materials.
The vertical panel of the machine traditionally divides the barista to the end consumer, but not in the M200. On one side of the wall is the barista working space and all the instruments they need. On the other is what Valerio calls the “controlled emotional” side that must bond with the consumer.
To celebrate the functioning hub of the machine, Valerio’s team has lifted and exposed the engine.
“We work a lot with the automotive industry. The engine of the Ferrari is always under a see-through panel, and for the M200, we wanted to celebrate the power of the machine,” he says. “We wanted to make the end user visually and emotionally involved in the process with a 360-degree experience of the machine.”
Aeronautical inspiration in the side profile is depicted in clear flowing lines that symbolise speed and effortless flow. The trademark Cimbali “C” is also unmistakably evident, which Valerio says is a symbol of personality and simplicity.
“If you take away the C, the machine falls apart because it’s an integral part of the chassis,” Valerio says.
And no design is complete without a LaCimbali touch of red, of which several different representations were shared before the final pantone is selected.
“We invest a lot of time in getting the colour right. Colour differences are quite striking. Even your own perception of colour changes from one eye to another,” Valerio says.
“You can look at the current trend of colour and choose to follow or ignore it, and I ignore it. Why? Because trending colour palettes will change. When buying an M200, you’re going to keep it a long time, therefore the colour must be a statement, in the right ratio.”
For Valerio, the ultimate expression of enjoyment, however, is seeing his design creations in real life.
“I would love for baristas and the end user to go and touch the machine,” he says. “I have never once forgotten the barista in the whole design process. When I see the barista swiftly and smoothly going through the process of coffee making and watching them enjoy themselves in their own art, in a flowing manner, using this professional productivity tool with soul and personality, that’s the best reward.”
For more information, visit servicesphere.com.au
This article appears in the April 2022 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.