Mixing tradition with automation

The market wasn’t ready when La Cimbali released its first super-automatic machine in 1969. Half a century later, the game has changed and the award-winning S20 and S30 are proving to be hits.

La Cimbali has produced traditional espresso machines since 1912 and created its first fully automated model, the Superbar, in 1969.

“There is a long, proud barista tradition in Italy and the Italian market was not ready for automation. Here in Italy there is so much passion about coffee,” says Rupert Resch, La Cimbali Director of Fully Automatic Coffee Machines.

The S20 and S30 models are the first machines in La Cimbali’s new fully automated range, featuring modern technology and an award-winning design. The S30 was launched in 2016 and the more compact S20 model released in 2018. The machines are named to represent their capability. The S20 is recommended to produce 200 cups per day and the S30, 300 cups per day.

Balancing reliability and efficiency with coffee quality is a challenge in producing super-automated coffee machines, and La Cimbali has utilised a unique tool to perfect its formula.

“We have a barista academy with subsidiaries all over the world which are connected to some of the largest roasting companies. We had baristas trying out their coffee with our machines when building super-automatic coffee machines to ensure the quality was right,” Resch says.

“Different academies provided feedback on drinks that are relevant in their countries. For example, the Austrian academy gave us feedback on milk quality and the Italian academy on the coffee’s taste. This was our approach to working together and satisfying baristas around the world.”

The S20 and S30’s target market has expanded vastly over recent years as demand for reliable, high-quality automated coffee grows. The super-automation industry has evolved past being limited to hotels, bars, and coffee shops, and expanded rapidly into self-service and offices.

“We are having incredible success, as is the rest of the industry with supermarkets, gas stations, and offices – places where maybe two or three years ago there was no coffee at all. These segments are becoming very important,” Resch says.

Technically, the S20 and S30 are more innovative and unique compared to La Cimbali’s previous designs. The preheated, completely metal group head is created for quality and consistency and the milk system incorporated feedback from La Cimbali’s academy to provide barista-quality hot foam. Both models include the TurboSteam Cold Touch, an insulating, nonstick material steam wand that resists milk residue, making it easier to clean.

Additionally, the S30 is capable of creating cold foam milk, which La Cimbali calls ‘Snowmilk’, with its sophisticated pump system. This can be used to expand a menu of cold drinks.
Long-life grinder blades are made of titanium and designed for reliability and longevity.

“It’s important that we use quality equipment for long life because the change of blades is an issue which we want to reduce to a minimum, as well as the adjustment of the grinder,” says Resch.

The S30 model also contains La Cimbali’s Perfect Grinding System. This is designed to automatically adjust as soon as the beans get old and temperature changes. This ensures consistency even if external factors affect the grind.

To optimise performance in compact spaces, the S20 has a Power Station mode. This allows two machines to utilise milk from a single fridge, increasing the production volume and reducing space required.

Cleaning is completely automated for both models, using La Cimbali’s Automatic Washing System for daily wash cycles at the push of a button.

The touchscreen interface is a key feature which separates the S20 and S30 from previous La Cimbali machines. The S20’s seven-inch and S30’s 10.4-inch screens are the first in the company’s history with video capability. The screens provide an easy-to-use, visually friendly interface for customers and operators.

“The display is intuitive and can be customised with images and videos, but this is not only important for the end user. The screen creates easiness of service for the technician and setting up the machine is simple and quick,” says Resch.

Telemetry is another key feature modernizing the coffee machine industry. The S20 and S30 come with an integrated bidirectional Wi-Fi system. Owners can upgrade software, adjust recipes, and personalise the interface remotely. This system can also be used to easily program multiple machines at once and make changes at the touch of a button.

“You can roll out 100 machines as an owner and set the same recipe or modify the beverages. It’s an incredible advantage of fully automatic machines. They can all be connected together which makes it much easier for a large operator,” says Resch.

Consumption data, performance, and technical issues are all tracked by the machines, giving owners valuable insight into consumer habits and maintenance. It also allows technicians to tend to a machine preventatively, and analyse the performance of the machine simply and effectively.

For the design of the S30, La Cimbali aimed to create something modern that also maintained a classic Italian flair. Milan-based design firm Valerio Commetti+V12 Design created the aesthetic and won the 2016 Red Dot Award for Product Design for the S30 model.

“Customers often choose a machine for looks. Many people link coffee to Italy so we wanted to create something that had an Italian feel. That is an interesting intangible difference between the S20 and S30 compared to competitors,” Resch says.

As the super-automatic industry continues to grow, Resch says consistency, telemetry, and reliability are becoming increasingly important and La Cimbali intends to evolve with it.

“Technology plays an integral role in catering for the target market, particularly as product reach has expanded into more remote areas. This means that reliability is essential as technicians are harder to find,” Resch says.

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