At the SCA Expo in Seattle this week, under-counter espresso machine manufacturer Modbar has revealed to the world the Modbar AV, the first entirely new machine in the company’s product line since the original Modbar system launched in 2013.
While still technically its own company, Modbar’s majority owner is the La Marzocco espresso machine company, with which it also shares personnel at various levels as well certain parts and technologies. And while the original Modbar EP has certain overlapping features with the La Marzocco Strada EP, the Modbar AV’s closest relative is the Linea PB.
The Modbar AV combines the original Modbar’s low-profile under-counter format with autovolumetric dosing and thermal stability systems modeled after the Linea PB, yet with the option of an integrated driptray scale. For enhanced precision and consistency in stopping a shot at its designated target, La Marzocco also developed a new feature call “drip prediction,” which the company said can accurately predict and automatically account for how much additional coffee flows into the cup after the pump ceases.
PB-like temperature stability is achieved through algorithmic coordination between a series of sensors spread throughout the system, culminating in the activation of cartridge heaters embedded in the grouphead itself.
“We’re able to control the temperature extraordinarily well,” La Marzocco Product Manager Scott Guglielmino told Daily Coffee News. “We inject heat as we pass the water over this big surface area that the water contacts that’s stainless steel, and that lets us have the exact same temperature stability as a Linea PB.”
For the drip-prediction technology, La Marzocco engineers made thousands of espressos in the company’s “Experimentale” lab, according to Guglielmino, altering basic parameters in addition to altering baskets, flow rates, roast levels, coffees and other variables — while logging every bit of data to create mathematical models for all potential flows.
“Now, by second 10 or 12, I can tell you exactly how much volume and weight you’re going to have for the rest of your shot,” said Guglielmino. “By doing that, we don’t need to put the scales up there. We don’t need to have one more thing for a barista to be looking at.”
Ultimately all of the Modbar AV’s advanced technologies are employed with the goal of simplifying the experience of the barista.
“As long as we did our job right and the machine works, you don’t need to see that,” Guglielmino said of such stats as temperature and weight. “Leave that all under the hood, and focus on the things the barista actually needs to see. Reduce their cognitive load and let them focus on the person across the bar from them.”
Other focuses of the Modbar redesign include internal parts laid out with easy servicing in mind, as well as what the company calls “add-a-tap” capabilities — which is the ability to add a second group to a single under-counter unit without any decrease in performance.
Guglielmino said the price of a system consisting of two Modbar AV groups and one steam unit will fall between that of La Marzocco’s Linea PB and Strada. Machines for the U.S. market are currently being manufactured in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and will be ready for sale May 1.
Howard Bryman is the associate editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. He is based in Portland, Oregon.