Following in the footsteps of the M100 is never easy, but LaCimbali has pushed the boundaries with a machine that celebrates power, ergonomics and flexibility in aesthetic design and functional ability.
Gruppo Cimbali Coffee Equipment Manager Filippo Mazzoni has worked for the Italian company for 27 years. He started as an electrician, has worked as an Academy Trainer, and has honed his skills from both sides of the coffee chain.
Within that time, he’s watched LaCimbali evolve from the M30 machine to its latest M200 release, and doesn’t stop marvelling at the capabilities of the Italian company.
“The purpose of this new machine was to have a key focus on ergonomics with easy-to-use features and LaCimbali has deliver a product that delivers best performance in terms of extraction and flexibility,” Mazzoni says.
The machine has a low profile for the barista to maintain eyesight with the customer.
The keyboard with in-touch or button mode are also in alignment with the barista’s hands and eye movements to optimise workflow and maintain best ergonomic practices at high volumes.
“All the controls are in front of the barista and in the proper direction to make the coffee-making process easy to use and control. Working on the M200 must be an enjoyable experience for the barista,” Mazzoni says.
The Up&Down system makes it easy to adjust the height of the worktop from 75 to 145 centimetres to allow the barista flexibility to use different cup volumes, from espresso cups to reusable ones.
To achieve excellent espresso, coffee quality is key. Then, Mazzoni says, it’s about setting the group head temperature, brew ratio, and grind size, followed by fine tuning pre-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 for maximum temperature consistency. 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.
“The barista can decide the amount of coffee they would like involved in the infusion process, the wetting phase, and its length of time. I think it’s one of the only products in the market with such flexibility in terms of the infusion process,” Mazzoni says.
GT2 technology allows the user to set up to two different temperatures on the one boiler, further expanding the machine’s potential. “For example, you could set 93°C for espresso, and a lower second temperature for a caffè extra lungo with a large cup volume,” Mazzoni 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, bitterness intensity, and olfactory panorama.
“We can control the pre-infusion time, extraction phase and final phase with different
Pressures,” Mazzoni says. “For example, high pressure/shorter infusions can result in acidity, whereas long pre-infusions or low pressure means less acidity in the cup. Then in the final stage of extraction, you may choose to reduce pressure which also 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.
“The app will give baristas advice on how to set different parameters in order to achieve a particular result in the cup, such as no acidity or more body, you can easily adjust the settings to impact taste and aroma,” Filippo says.
The M200 is what Mazzoni describes as a “perfect union of LaCimbali’s tradition and future ambition to deliver an extraordinary product”, and a celebration of fine-tuning and flexibility that was not possible 20 to 30 years ago.
For designer Valerio Cometti, Founder and Creative Director of Valerio Cometti+V12 Design,
there is no bigger joy then seeing his products come to life. What begins with a sketch on paper is transformed over months and years into a piece of art.
“I have been lucky to collaborate with Gruppo Cimbali for the past 13 years, designing their super automatic machines to their traditional models, touching nearly every corner of the range, even designing its Mumac museum,” says Cometti. “But thanks to our strong heritage and collaboration that we have raised the bar together on the design of the M200, and it’s quite an achievement.”
Given Gruppo Cimbali’s strong foundation in design, Cometti says it was first important to understand its values, and what it wanted to express to the end user with this machine.
“Design is a vehicle of message. It was important to clearly define the trajectory the product needs, then bring on board all the technical constraints the machine needs to have, such as the position of the boiler, portafilter, steam wand etc. We then challenge those constraints,” Cometti says. “Because we have such a strong connection with LaCimbali’s R&D team, we can have robust discussions.”
In the case of the M200, Cometti 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.
“I’m personally against trends when it comes to design. An item like an espresso machine must remain relevant for 25 years or more,’ Cometti says.
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: touchscreen, knobs, buttons, steam wand etc. Each had to be ergonomically considered – easy-to-reach and at an appropriate hand and eye-level given the high volume of coffees expected from this machine. On the other side is where Cometti says a bond must be created with the customer.
“I believe the combination of extreme performance and functionality on the left side of the wall and the more controlled emotional side of LaCimbali combine together to deliver a well-connected, clear and considered layout,” he says.
To celebrate the functioning hub of the machine, the engine is lifted off the ground to expos the chassis.
“We work a lot with the automotive industry. The engine of the Ferrari is always laid out under a see-through panel, and for the M200, we wanted to celebrate the power of the machine. There are so many machines that are oriented towards a wall, but we wanted to make the end user visually and emotionally involved in the process with a 360-degree experience of the machine,” Cometti says.
Thanks to his mechanical engineering background and aeronautical inspiration, the side profile of the M200 is depicted in clear flowing lines that symbolise speed, power, and effortless flow.
“The trademark Cimbali ‘C’ is a fairly unmistakably shape which we made part of the chassis. It’s a symbol of personality and simplicity. I personally like fewer clean flowing lines but with function. If you take away the C, the machine falls apart. It’s an integral part of the chassis,” Cometti says.
Polished metal has been used in the right balance, but the colour of the machine is a statement.
“We shared several different representations of red before the final pantone was 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,” Cometti 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 Cometti, the ultimate expression of enjoyment, however, is seeing his design creations in real life and baristas being drawn to the machine.
“I have never once forgotten the barista in the whole design process,” he says. “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 www.cimbali.com
This article was first published in the May/June 2022 edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.