Tiffin Project

Style vs. Substance – The Aurelia III

by Colter Jones on April 1, 2012

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No matter how much you spend on the rest of your home, every party that you hold will begin and end in the kitchen. This is not unlike the espresso machine, which is a natural talking point where customers gather around swapping stories while eagerly anticipating deliciousness.

At a point we have to realize that a great espresso machine both produces great espresso and adds character to the café that surrounds it. Why buy something that detracts from the style that you’ve spent thousands of dollars to create in the rest of your café?

The espresso machine has the intangible quality that somehow all machines have. Some are exciting and some are not. The Boeing 747 and 777 are very similar machines and yet I only get excited to fly on the 747. Design lends itself to different personalities. I’m not ashamed to admit that I judge people based on the automobile that they drive. My friendship stops where your PT Cruiser begins.

Nuova Simonelli recently released the 3rd rendition of their Aurelia, which is by all means a brilliant machine. In 2008, Nuova Simonelli took over the title sponsorship for the World Barista Championship from La Marzocco when the technical standards committee met in Vancouver to test a list of quality espresso brewers. The Aurelia shined when its technical specifications were compared with those of other machines, so why doesn’t it excite me?

The Aurelia’s greatest strengths revolve around an unrelenting approach to engineering. It is ergonomically efficient and produces great espresso, but its styling is not conducive to being the centerpiece of a café. Synesso, Slayer, Kees van der Westen, and La Marzocco have all started to produce low-profile machines that allow for more interaction between barista and customer. At six-foot-three I find it hard to see over the Aurelia.

Other machines have also reverted back to a less-is-more approach by simplifying controls and using more unrefined materials like brushed metal and wood to hide away the multi-colored wires and blinking lights that lie beneath. Although technology has improved a lot, the espresso machine is still a very basic and rustic piece of equipment. It is steam-powered like a locomotive, so why dress it up like the skytrain?

For a product that is made in Italy I find it hard to imagine that style has taken a secondary role in the production of the Aurelia. This is a nation known for its fashion that produces the most beautiful production cars in the world. The Aurelia is one design change away from becoming a truly great machine. It deserves the looks to match its performance.

~ Colter Jones

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Shaun Luttin April 14, 2012 at 10:57 am

Hey Colter,

I liked the article. It’s controversial. I agree. Style is vital. I have fond memories of talking with you over the pulpit at 49th Parallel.


If you judge a person by his car, what grade do you give to me? Does my grade increase when you hear that the cobra is now present on Salt Spring Island?

In nostalgia :-)

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