The Marco Über Boiler

February 11th, 2009

This will probably end up being quite a long post, and sorry for being a bit cryptic on here the other day.  I want to explain the history of this little project, and give credit where it is due.

This morning I got up early to fly over to Dublin, to the CatEx show there.  Apart from catching up with Stephen, and lots of other lovely coffee people, and catching a little of the Irish Barista Championship, I was really there to see the guys at Marco and the new machine they had on their stand.

I am not going to be able to get very far in all this without talking about the Clover first.  The reason that the Clover got me excited initially was that it was going to be a potential way to keep promises 1 made when serving coffee.  Some people hated the amount of control it offered (deeming it soulless automation), while others got excited about dialling in coffees.  No doubt the profiling it offered really appealed to the people who bought the company.

After the Clover disappeared from the market the industry seemed to take a step back and then dig out all its old coffee brewers and start playing with them again.  More French Pressing, Vac Pots popping up everywhere, and every self respecting coffee nerd having a Chemex in cupboard.

While researching different bits and pieces for a potential cafe Anette unearthed the Quooker Tap. Nice idea, but some problems when it came to coffee!  I began to wonder if it was possible to add a mix tap to add cold water, maybe drill a little hole in the end of the spout and put a probe in and live mix a desired water temp.  Stephen, Anette and I hammered the idea out a bit more but didn’t really know what to do with it.

At the Caffe Culture show last year we got chatting to Paul Stack from Marco about how possible the idea was.  His proposal was awesome – they would take on the project and build us one.  For them it was a great research project, and they are a bunch of wonderful coffee obsessed people who immediately understood where we were coming from.

Paul came over to the roastery in August last year and we went into greater detail about what we wanted.  I demanded typically ludicrous things:  I wanted a built in scale, a live temperature display, I wanted to be able to jump between temperatures for different coffees quite quickly.

During development Paul sent across piles of data and I was extremely impressed in the consistency of water temperature delivered – a swing of around 0.2°C with their testing kit once the boiler had stabilised.

What I worked with today is still very much a prototype – it will be developed a little more before it is shipped over to us for further testing.  Hopefully a drip tray, a built in timer unit and a few other bits and pieces will be added soon.  I am not going to go into great detail about how it works operationally because it is likely that that will change to something a little more intuitive.  Before use it requires switching to ‘BOOST’ mode that cycles water right up around the font to heat and stabilise the water lines for consistent delivery.  We’re going to work on more intuitive movement between brew temperatures and I probably don’t need to explain how to use a scale.

Water delivery speed was relatively slow – good for Chemex, and not too slow to be frustrating when making a press.

Some pics (remember this is a prototype!):

Marco Boiler

Scale control and water delivery

Scale control and water delivery

Live brew temp

Live brew temp

Built to fit a large Chemex underneath!

Built to fit a large Chemex underneath!

All credit to Marco for working towards a very creative, versatile boiler that would suit people who want to embrace all brewing methods yet still want control and repeatability.

Initially the plan was just to build one for us but I think the reaction it has recieved at the one tradeshow alone means that they will be looking to produce more units if the demand is there.

For those interested I’d recommend e-mailing Marco, and they will keep those interested up to date on the boiler.

Oh, and it doesn’t have a name yet – suggestions welcome!

If people have thoughts or questions then please post a comment and I will do my best to answer.

  1. there is a big long post coming baout making and keeping promises with brewed coffee – soon!  ↩︎

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