The reimagined Faema President espresso machines take customisation and ergonomics to new levels. GCR finds out how.
Faema has a long history in coffee manufacturing. Among other achievements, it is best known for creating the now-standard E61 group head. For the past 60 years, the Italian manufacturer has continued to develop new features and machines, with its recent E71E model winning a Red Dot Design Award in 2019.
Its latest model is a reinvention of the 1960s’ Faema President, with the company turning to the past to create something new for the present.
“We realised there is a market trend towards industrial-style designs. We wanted to combine that look with a sense of our identity,” says Maria Vittoria, Product Marketing Manager at Faema.
“We looked at the history of our company for inspiration and realised our past President model – which was a big success at the time – had the perfect style to re-actualise with new technology.”
The influence from the 60s President is most obvious in the model’s façade, featuring a familiar yet updated layout, rear panel, and logo. Filippo Mazzoni, Coffee Technology Specialist at Faema, says this results in a look that is “modern and vintage at the same time, with a shape that in some way remembers the classic Faema President”.
“But the technology is not at all like in the past and includes many considerations of the current market,” Mazzoni says. “For example, it features a low profile so it can be installed on the front of the espresso bar and still facilitate conversation with the customer.”
Another contemporary feature available in the Faema President is the Italian manufacturer’s Group Thermo-controlled with Infusion (GTI) system. GTI uses heat-controlled, independent boilers to manage temperatures and infusion times for each group head. Faema provides two versions of the President – one with GTI, the other with a traditional thermosyphonic system – to cater to the requirements of different venues.
“The traditional version is really for customers that want a machine that is easy to use, is consistent, and can produce high volumes of commercial coffee,” Mazzoni says.
“However, the GTI technology was developed with the specialty market in mind. It’s really the ‘barista model’ and allows them to finetune the temperature and pre-infusion.”
GTI’s process begins with blooming, which uses a high flow rate of coffee and can be set from zero to three seconds to control the amount of coffee to involve in the infusion phase.
Once blooming is complete, the machine starts pre-infusion. During this stage, the machine lowers the flow rate so the user has greater control and can determine the length of pre-infusion. Mazzoni says this stage can range from one to 10 seconds, which, combined with blooming, equates total infusion time.
“You could set one second for blooming and four seconds for pre-infusion to maximise acidity. Or you could set 1.5 seconds for blooming and nine seconds for pre-infusion, wetting the entire cake for a longer time in order to have more bodied coffee,” Mazzoni says.
These extraction settings as well as dose can easily be adjusted at the group head. The President comes in three-button, five-button, and touchscreen variants, each providing different degrees of control and catering to different skill levels.
“The wider coffee market is moving towards specialty. Everyone wants to be a specialty barista, even if they haven’t received all the training,” Vittoria says. “Using a machine with the best technology means anyone and any shop can achieve that level of quality.”
Making the President adaptable to different environments was a key consideration in the espresso machine’s development, from performance to visuals.
“Faema knows that as well as making great coffee, an espresso machine is a decorative product that must be in perfect coordination with the place it is installed – whether that be a coffee shop, restaurant, or lounge,” Vittoria says.
Black matte and stainless steel dominate the Faema President’s exterior, while the Faema President GTI features satin and chrome-plated steel alternates with a pewter finish and wooden details. The thermosyphonic version also allows for customisation with an easy-to-remove base and bodywork.
“Faema provides the ability to customise the President either with our suggestions and guidance or by yourself,” Vittoria says. “The same size and shape of screw is used throughout the machine. With one screwdriver, it’s possible disassemble the [outer panels] without compromising the layout or functionality of the machine.”
In the President GTI, it is also possible to customise the rear panel with different materials and graphics. This provides the user the opportunity to make the machine unique to them.
“We offer an additional seven panels so the machine can be customised to fit its location, and with easy disassembly, make it possible for the machine’s owner to paint its components whatever colour they want,” Vittoria says.
Design considerations did not end at customisation. Mazzoni says many steps were taken to improve the user-friendliness of the President. For instance, the group handle – available with a wooden finish or made with soft touch plastic – was crafted to sit comfortably in the hand of a barista.
“We have done more than 100 barista tests in order to guarantee the best ergonomics of the handle, especially over repetitive daily use,” Mazzoni says. “We are confident the handle is one of the best on the market, and that there is no issue in terms of safety or injury.”
To further reduce strain, the filter holder bottom has been made completely flat to ease the pressure of tamping. The micrometric spout ensures that extracted coffee is equally divided into two cups. The spout can be modified and drip tray height adjusted with a knob on the side of the machine to accommodate most cups.
“This allows the barista to conveniently fit anything from a 16-ounce takeaway cup to a small china cup for espresso under the spout at the desired height,” Mazzoni says.
Once the barista has extracted the coffee and it’s time to steam the milk, they can simply flick the lever down to initiate a purge, which occurs internally thanks to a new steam wand valve.
“The purge doesn’t come out from the wand tip and instead goes back into the machine. This way, the customer cannot see the purge, providing a ‘cleaner’ experience,” Mazzoni says. “Then, the barista can move the lever up to open the valve and work on the milk.”
With its focus on customisation and ergonomics, Mazzoni says the revitalised Faema President is able to cater to a wide variety of users.
“We have designed a very flexible system in order to achieve the best result in the cup in any circumstance,” he says.
“A good coffee machine must be constant, but it also needs to be able to adapt to different coffees and requirements you find in the market.”