Barista Magazine

APR-MAY 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Page 25 of 119

F O A M : N E W S + T R E N D S THE KB90: LA MARZOCCO'S LATEST EXPLAINED When we hear a new espresso machine has come to market, we expect flashy new features—may- be a totally new steam wand, or a revolutionary piece of software that can improve extraction. The KB90, the newest machine from La Marzocco released on February 1, completely upends what we expect when we think about innovation and progress. Instead of looking at espresso extraction or machine enhancement, the KB90 turned to working baristas and attempted to address issues that many of them face every day. "This machine rewrites the rules for espresso machines," says Scott Guglielmino, La Marzocco's global product manager. " We meet and see a huge number of baristas, and they're one of the most important players in our ecosystem. One of the complaints we've heard the most about is repetitive stress." Perhaps the single biggest innovation on the KB90 is the straight-in portafilter—that's right, straight in as opposed to the usual yanking of the portafilter to the right to insert, which most baristas are familiar with. "The goal was to get the portafilter in as smoothly possible," Scott says. "Up until now, there has been no solution to repetitively inserting a portafilter." This might seem like a small adjustment, but an ergonomic consulting firm hired by La Mar- zocco studied the way this repetitive motion can wear on the body. " When you have a pain in your shoulder, it's the little tiny supporting muscles that can be easily injured," Scott says. "The way we've designed the KB90 requires no small-mus- cle groups and 12 times less force to insert the portafilter." According to Scott, achieving the exact design was a logistical hurdle. " We found that it's shockingly hard to design a straight-in portafilter because the 600 pounds of force," Scott says, re- ferring to the seal you create when you normally insert a portafilter into a grouphead. "Trying to seal that was the engineering challenge." This required completely redesigning how the grouphead works and—consequentially—making it easier to clean. Along with reducing wrist strain by requiring no small-muscle groups, the KB90 also makes using an espresso machine easi- er for left-handed baristas. Almost every espresso machine is designed with right-handed baristas in mind, but the straight-in portafilter is easy for both right- and left-handed folks to use. Like all La Marzocco devices, the name of the machine has a story. Former CEO Kent Bakke has not only been working on improving barista ergonomics for years, but has been part of the La Marzocco family for so long that he's woven into the fabric. "KB90" stands for his name as well as paying homage to the company's 90th anniversary, celebrated in 2017. " We named it after Kent because for the last 18 years, he's been working on a straight-in portafilter," Scott says. "This has been in the mind of Marzocco for the last two decades." Says Kent himself, "The KB90 confirms our continued commit- ment to the barista, the human and personal touch as an essential part of our core philosophy. Since 1927 we have focused on assist- ing the barista to perform the duties essential to great espresso coffee through various developments in technology. We recognize that the barista is the most important element in delivering high- quality espresso coffee. To that end our newest innovation … the 'straight-in portafilter,' dramatically reduces the physical stress of the barista and reduces the fatigue of repetitive motion." Wait, there's more: Along with improving barista ergonom- ics, La Marzocco set out to improve efficiency and speed with the KB90, as well—again relying on the insights of the barista community. "One of our engineers had a good buddy who was a The espresso machine's namesake and La Marzocco's former CEO, Kent Bakke, was on hand at the event to say some words. "We recognize that the barista is the most important element in delivering high-quality espresso coff ee," Kent says. "To that end, our newest innovation … the 'straight-in portafi lter,' dramatically reduces the physical stress of the barista and reduces the fatigue of repetitive motion." Sco Callender, at le in bo om photo, shows an interested barista how the straight-in portafi lter engages with the grouphead. Sco is La Marzocco USA's VP of marketing and consumer strategy. 26 barista magazine

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