Hack Espresso: the coffee machine for community, passion, and sharing

human-centred design

The Context

Australians have an obsession with coffee - and in their booming cafe culture, baristas (who are seen more as chefs than waiters) are on a relentless mission to pursue coffee excellence. They see it as a science - where the age of the coffee, atmospheric conditions, blend type, and more are accounted for. Importantly, coffee is also largely about the social aspects and traditions. 

The Challenge

 

Lachlan Major, Dustin Bailey and I (Team Demitasse) were asked by entrepreneur Simon Baldwin to create a domestic espresso machine which thrive in the open-source market for "hackers" and "makers". He envisioned a device that was integrated into a digital environment, and wanted the idea to be taken through a human-centred design process.

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The Solution

A domestic espresso machine with the following features:

  • A science-lab aesthetic with precise dials, clean geometry, and information displayed in a style reminiscent of the periodic table of elements

  • Ability to articulate temperature, pressure, and volume for each extraction 

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  • A beaker for easier filling and monitoring of the water tank

  • A portafilter situated for improved visibility and seamless installation and removal

  • The removal of excess material for a more environmentally sustainable product (such as perforated aluminium components internally for a 30% saving on material. Easy disassembly for recycling purposes as well as hackability

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  • An Arduino board as a familiar platform for modification and hacking of the machine

  • An app that enables users greater control through editing pressure bell curves and other parameters. The app also serves as a platform for the Hack Espresso community to share their favourite recipes and machine hacks. 

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As part of the research phase, we interviewed coffee machine users. baristas, and people in the maker movement. We also analysed current products on the market, interviewed coffee machine repairmen, and even went 'cupping' - where the aroma, taste, and qualities of coffee beans are compared and discussed. To truly grasp the functionality of a machine's internal componentry, we disassembled an old machine. 

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