Barista Magazine

DEC 2012-JAN 2013

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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(Continued from p. 76) and finish. Powder coating is very economical and much tougher than paint. It is applied as a powder and then cured at high heat, which causes it to form a very resilient "skin." Parts and pieces that are fiberglass or plastic can be painted with high-quality automotive primer, paint, and clear coat. With color matching systems like RAL and PMS, colors and finishes can be chosen easily or matched to existing decor or design. Espresso-machine body panels and frames can be custom colored, as can grinder bodies and parts. Custom colors, finishes, artwork, and pinstriping are all excellent and economical ways to make equipment your own. Adding accent or backlighting also has a nice effect on the look of equipment. When a specific pattern or design is the aim, entire body panels can be covered by a special water transfer process. After the pattern is applied, it's sealed with a topcoat and finished to spec (e.g. matte, gloss). Another way to change the appearance of a piece of equipment is to replace parts of the machine body with wood or tempered glass. Exposing parts of a machine behind glass is a great way to highlight the inner workings of espresso machines. Different materials can also be added as accents to the existing body pieces. Part of the planning process is deciding what's appropriate based on the function of the piece you would like to change. For example, a wooden drain tray is probably not a wise or sanitary choice, but finely crafted wooden cup rails or lever handles can make a beautiful impact on the overall look and feel of a machine. For grinders, a very desirable mod is to add a timer that controls the motor run time so that you have a more consistent and repeatable dose. Additionally, replacing a grinder doser with a chute or vice versa, depending on your preference, is a popular modification. In the first installment of this series, we used Shojiro Saito's five-group custom Linea as an example of cosmetic and functional modifications. That machine arrived as a mechanical paddle on all five groups and was modified so it could be used for tea extraction on two groups and dosed espresso extraction for a high-production situation on two groups. That left one group for experimenting with preinfusion. The stock steam valves were also replaced for ease of use and function. There are a lot of wonderful, classic machines out there that don't perform to today's standards but are unmatched in the beauty of their shape and lines. With some skillfully executed modifications, those machines could be on the bar again making excellent espresso in a relatively short amount of time. Be cautious though—you don't want to end up with a classic "boat anchor" because things didn't go as planned. Much like the coffees you serve, the machines in your shop can be varied, wild, and artful. Successful customizations can make your grinder or espresso machine a further extension of your shop's design and your café's personality. They can also improve your workflow and heighten your café's efficiency. The only limits are your budget and your imagination. o un sh Gr The most involved and expensive levels of cosmetic customization are major modifications to the shape, size, and location of the body. Exposing the groups of an espresso machine, for example, requires a complete teardown. In most cases plumbing, wiring, electronics, and boilers all have to be removed so major structural changes can be made to the framework of the machine. This is also a very long process because of the safety and structural issues that have to be considered. Functional customization is usually done to change or enhance an operational function of the machine or to update and improve on an older-model machine that works well for you and your café, but isn't up to current standards. Thermal stability, steam capacity and recovery time, additional manual control, or more automation are all realistic goals for functional modifications of espresso machines. Before PID heating controls were the standard, a popular mod was to replace a mechanical thermostat or pressure stat with a PID controller, solid-state relay, and temperature probe in order to have better thermal stability and faster recovery time. ip MAJOR MODS ds for a Great Partn er www.baristamagazine.com 79

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