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HostMilano offers glimpse into the future

Global Coffee Report dissects HostMilano and explores a trade show devoted to technology, innovation, and fashion – in more ways than one.

HostMilano is a universal gathering of the coffee world. The biennial event was the talk of the industry months ahead of its 41st edition in the Italian fashion capital, with chatter among businesses on what to expect, who was attending, and the necessity to take comfortable walking shoes.

When the expo finally arrived, no longer was the Duomo, shopping strip of Corso Genova, or risotto the centrepiece of the Italian city: it was coffee. For a full immersive experience, international guests toured Milan’s historical coffee houses around the city centre, watching baristas smartly dressed in white blazers and bow ties serving espressos in a 10-second drink-and-go experience. Others took the opportunity to discover newer coffees in the form of Starbucks Reserve in the Palazzo Delle Poste building.

When day one of the expo arrived, train stations were full of blue suits, briefcases and umbrellas as a record-breaking crowd of more than 200,000 visitors flocked to Rho Fiera over the course of the expo from 17 to 22 October 2019. Milan’s wet weather forecast wasn’t favourable, but it didn’t stop the international crowd from more than 171 countries, totalling 40 per cent of attendees, strutting on the three-kilometre aqua carpet all the way to coffee-dedicated halls: 14, 18, 22, and 24.

Inside, 2249 exhibitors from 177 countries represented roasting and processing equipment, espresso and grinding technology, and endless vending machines.

HostMilano is a feast of technological innovation, future out-of-home and consumer trends, and hardcore industry networking, and this year’s event didn’t disappoint. The prominent theme and dominating trend at this year’s show was undoubtedly automation and quick-service coffee, followed by the integration of Internet of Things (IoT), sensor technology, the importance of data collection, and partnerships and services that put the customer first.

Automated focus
To that end, Eversys unveiled its limited-edition Cameo X machine at the company’s 10th anniversary party the evening before HostMilano. Eversys Chief Commercial Officer Kamal Bengougam spoke about the vision of Eversys and its story of determination, courage, and talent. He highlighted the danger of changing course, that companies must remain true to their strategic roadmap – their DNA – in order to maintain success. He also talked about the company’s “blue ocean” approach and company vision to further bridge the gap between traditional coffee equipment and intelligent super-automatic coffee machines.

“We want to humanise the coffee machine and produce bespoke solutions without compromise to in-cup quality,” Bengougam said. “We believe the balance of power from traditional to super-automatics will shift by 20 to 30 per cent over the next five years. We must keep on driving innovation forward, but first, consolidate our new technology, and then we’ll need to elevate again.”

Along with the Cameo X, which includes the new e’leveling system to optimise the quality of extraction, Eversys launched the eGhost tap-and-go machine, powered by German company iovent. This machine from Eversys’ Super T category embraces attractive design, emotion, and the ability to create quality products without fuss.

The fascination with automation continued. Over on the Schaerer stand, phones were out in force snapping away at its new Premium Coffee Corner, a freestanding coffee unit with 32-inch display screen, putting IoT, convenience, and flexibility in the spotlight. The manufacturer also unveiled its Soul Select super-automatics range and put the emphasis on tailored solutions and professionalism to meet the growing needs of its customers.

“Schaerer has a 127-year history. The next step for us is beverage diversity and real innovation with IoT technology, which we can do with our Premium Coffee Corner,” said Jörg Schwartze, CEO of Schaerer. “All you need for a consistently quality coffee is a credit card to tap and go. We want a premium offer in vending machines and now it’s possible. There are still lots of sceptics but for businesses interested in moving into the future of coffee, the message is that you can be successful with a self-service machine.”

Over at WMF Professional Coffee Machines, expo visitors became part of the interactive experience at each WMF demo point. Guests could participate in tasting sessions and try WMF’s chilled coffee using the WMF 5000 S+ or the new Fresh Filtered Coffee technology option on the 1500 S+ and 5000 S+ fully automatic machines. The German manufacturing company of 160 years also showcased the latest innovations in its WMF CoffeeConnect telemetry solution, which aims to provide its growing community with a key basis to optimise and develop their business.

Franke Coffee Systems put its new branding on display with the concept line “it’s all about the moment”, demonstrating how its new range of machines successfully combine tradition with progress.

Its first proud moment was the unveiling of the new Franke A300, an expansion of Franke’s successful A-line with a smaller footprint. It also presented its Digital Services 2.0 to demonstrate the advantages of central coffee machine management in addition to its patented Iced Coffee Module. Taking aim at current and future coffee trends, this module can expand the standard range of hot beverages into chilled coffees.

Franke also presented its new Specialty Beverage Station. This device is all about cold coffees thanks to an integrated Media Pump Module and patented Franke technology, which creatres cold brew beverages without additional nitrogen.

“We wanted a machine that can provide an experience for our customers, and if we can help our customers stand out from the crowd, then we want to with this machine,” said new division head Marco Zancolò.

Egro presented the new Next Touch Coffee – a fully automatic coffee machine designed for filter coffee – with four coffee bean hoppers. It also displayed the new NMS+ milk system, automatic iSteam+ wand, revised Connect telemetry system interface, and Tea Brewer. Also demonstrating its connection to the vending sector, Egro revealed its Egro Kiosk protype.

“The market demands high quality products and cutting-edge technologies, and that’s what we are here for,” said Rancilio Group’s new CEO Ruggero Ferrari.

Tradition talks
Over at Simonelli Group, the stand was big and so were the crowds. To begin the tour, most visitors made a beeline for the brew bar featuring the official 2019 World Barista Championship Black Eagle Machine in Boston. Around the corner, the new Eagle One range in recycled wooden materials dipped in resin had visitors transported to an art exhibition.

“Eagle One brings digital innovation to the industry in a simple way. The market is looking for simplicity, so in this machine, less is definitely more,” said Fabio Ceccarani, CEO of Simonelli Group. “We are at the stage where you cannot impact the market with big technology to break the industry, but rather we want to focus on harnessing data and platforms that put the focus on the end user and delivers exactly what the barista wants. The market is changing. It’s volatile and complex, so the more connected we are, the better.”

Also new to the Nuova Simonelli line-up was the Appia Life machine. Ceccarani says this model embodies Simonelli’s focus on sustainability, with a 20 per cent reduction in environmental impact compared to the Appia II.

France-based manufacturer Unic took guests on a trip down memory lane by highlighting espresso machine engineering from the past 100 years. On display was two-group Perco Express from 1930, original one-group Stella from 1954, and E3 from 1972. Centre stage was Unic’s full line of espresso solutions including its Tango super-automatic machine and latest release multi-boilers model Stella Epic.

Melitta showed off its new-generation range of fully automatic coffee machines, including the XT6. La Cimbali went back to the 1960s to revamp its Faema President espresso machine, Wega Macchine per Caffè presented the Nexa, WBar, and Nova coffee machines, and Slayer Espresso had visitors pulling out their smartphones for photos of its “Catwoman”, “Pink Panther”, and “Host Milan blue” customised machines. Growds gathered for Ima’s daily Coffee Hub lectures to learn the importance of coffee handling, processing, and packaging. The Storm Profilo and its music-mixer-like control panel demonstrating its manual ability turned heads.

Carimali’s boilerless espresso machine, using induction heat, was also a strong talking point, as were La Marzocco’s new one-group Leva and Modbar models, but it was the company’s announcement of its venture into grinding equipment that had people interested with its Swift Mini and Swan grinders.

Grinder growth
Mahlkönig’s E80 Supreme was also impressive. The heavy-duty machine was what Hemro Group Product Manager Ansgar Bitz considers the “fastest grinder in its class” thanks to its large engine and 80-millimetre flat burrs. The other new Mahlkönig Grind-by-Weight grinder, the E65S GbW, is equally as impressive, thanks to its ability to eliminate scales in the grinding process.

“This is the biggest improvement in grinding technology because it’s no longer grind by time, but grind by weight. If I measure the weight of the dispensed coffee on a scale to compare the dose, you can see it’s extremely accurate and consistent,” Ansgar says.

This model, set for release in May 2020, features integrated scales and 65-millimetre burrs. Using the Mahlkönig app, users can also monitor how many shots they’ve ground in a day or a month, and will be able to use that data to help improve their grinders, because, as Bitz points out, “the more data available, the more interesting the next few years of grinder development will be”.

Another highlight was Mazzer’s orange Major V grinder, a flexible device with flat burrs suited to high-to-medium-volume coffee shops that want to make the leap to the next level of grinding technology. Mazzer’s Grind Flow Control system includes a new electrostatic charge reduction feature keeps grounds from getting on the counter while getting uniform coffee grounds into the portafilter.

One for all
In the cleaning space, it was specialty coffee machine cleaning agent Cafetto that gained plenty of attention for its range of supplies. Its products remove coffee oils and stains from brew baskets, group handles, servers, coffee pots, and blender jugs. Cafetto also presented its organic range and milk cleaners, suitable for sanitising and removing milk residue and hard water scale from milk lines and frothers.

“We’re here not only as Australians flying the flag for the innovation we’re pushing in our own country, but to show the international market our complete range that really does have something to complement every coffee machine, brewer, or cup,” says Cafetto CEO Christopher Short.

Upwards curve
In the roaster hall, Brambati displayed its BR5 roaster, which can be managed remotely, but all eyes were on its latest generation 600-kilogram batch roaster, the BR6000. Brambati’s interactive stand had visitors carrying out remote roasting tests in predetermined times with its Advanced Specialty Software. Samples of each visitor’s roast batch could be collected the next day at the show.

Probat showcased its new Px120, a 120-kilogram drum roaster that resembles a shop roaster, only a little larger. This model can produce up to 480 kilograms of roasted coffee an hour, catering for midsize capacity requirements.

“The Px120 roaster is the perfect choice for roasters who want a consistent drum roaster with accuracy and flexibility,” said Probat CEO Wim Abbing.

Fabscale, a new joint venture between Probat and Cropster, was also a highlight of the stand. Fabscale CEO Christian von Craushaar presented the first dashboard that displays all the data from the roaster and an overview of the entire plant. The application can be used with any roasting machine and plant technology to help users make informed decisions.

Host is as much a game of endurance and physical stamina as it is a fun fair of new machines. Come the afternoon of 22 October, scooters flew down the aisles, step-counters were monitored one last time, and there was no shame in roaming the gelato pavilions for a few samples followed by a classic, palate-cleansing Aperol Spritz. HostMilano 2019 was an interesting glimpse of what’s to come in the global coffee industry, and judging by the innovation in technology and design, the next two years will prove an interesting space to watch.

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