Reviewing a Vintage Coffee Machine

by Andres.

by Andrés Castro, in Colombia

For many years, I thought that beautiful Espresso machines, sophisticated programmable drip ones or other fancy artifacts to extract coffee were better if bigger. Last week, traveling around the Colombian coffee region I stopped by a traditional bakery and asked about their old and big coffee machine. In the past, this exceptional looking coffee maker caught my attention, but I did find downsides about its operation and outcomes that I would like to share.

I would like to by reviewing some typical ways to prepare coffee. The following brewing methods are used today around the world:

  • Steeping (brewing method of coffee grounds mixed with hot water sometimes for an arbitrary length of time, includes the French press, siphon method, coffee bags
  • Boiling preparation (Includes the Middle East traditional style); filter, which is commonly used in our Western countries
  • Pressure machines

These machines in both pictures served coffee in old Café shops, and could be considered as a blend between a steeping and espresso device. In addition, most of these coffee shops were located around coffee production areas. The ambience of these places is usually accompanied with Tango music from Argentina.

The aroma of the fresh roasted coffee from the new harvest, lovely songs from the south of the Continent, as well as attractive machines have been luring clients for decades. However, the handcrafted machines are currently sold with premium prices and do not offer a versatile or quick way to prepare a beverage. I found that the gold machine with 32,6 inches height and 16,53 inches of diameter can hold about 15 liters of hot water (4 Gallons). It has two filter baskets where the pressure would never reach 8 to 10 bars to extract a good shot. In addition, the vendor suggests not to tamp too hard otherwise it would get clogged.

The filter baskets should be filled up with 1 to 1,2 ounces of middle-coarse ground coffee. It works as a simple mesh filter, so the coffee could be considered as Americano or “lungo” (long). The manometer indicates the pressure inside the water container only, in addition, two hot water faucets and one steam wand to froth liquids are provided. The set is nicely distributed in this mechanism but some of its functionality such as the drip feature has not been clearly indicated or set.

I would say that it may be considered to prepare Americano or “lungo” beverages rather than espresso. Nonetheless, this is such a nice looking device that you may want to place it in a public space to show off how beautiful equipment can be built to prepare coffee.

—Picture courtesy of

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