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Kees van der Westen Reinvents the Lever Group with the Idrocompresso

Kees van der Westen Slim Jim Idrocompresso espresso 1

A Kees van der Westen Slim Jim Idrocompresso setup with the Slim Jim Mirage. All images courtesy of Kees van der Westen.

Dutch espresso machine maker Kees van der Westen Espressonistic Works has launched an innovative manual lever machine in its Slim Jim line called the Slim Jim Idrocompresso.

Each spring-assisted manual lever group of a Slim Jim Idrocompresso machine is saturated, meaning it is connected directly to the individual brew boiler that serves it. Its temperature is therefore stabilized by the same PID temperature-controlled water that flows into the coffee.

Kees van der Westen Slim Jim Idrocompresso espresso 5

Though the company’s Slim Jim line overall is geared towards customization of various features and aesthetics, the lever group only available on the Idrocompresso variant and cannot be combined with a regular group on a single machine.

“There are quite a lot of technical changes necessary inside the machine to become an Idrocompresso,” Kees van der Westen, the company founder, told Daily Coffee News. “It is not just a matter of installing the spring-with-lever unit, unfortunately.”

Kees van der Westen Slim Jim Idrocompresso espresso 6

Additional features specific to the Idrocompresso lever mechanism include a dial around the group that allows the barista to adjust the spring pressure and a notch at the top of the group that secures the lever safely until the barista presses a release button.

Another button relieves pressure at the group at any time, allowing baristas to remove the portafilter and prepare the next shot more quickly than in traditional lever groups that depressurize slowly after the lever and spring return to their starting positions.

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A separate mini-lever activates an automatic flush of water to clean the group between shots. All of the water in the standard Slim Jim Idrocompresso is driven by line pressure, although an external pump can be ordered as an add-on and integrated into the system.

The Idrocompresso version is also open to the same wide variety of exterior customization and mechanical options as other machines in the Slim Jim line.

Kees van der Westen Slim Jim Idrocompresso espresso 2

“On all our machines the pump is external for easy access, preventing unwanted noises and vibrations and [enabling] us to design more space efficient and elegant machines,” Van der Westen said. “[For] the Idrocompresso, available in 2- and 3-group models, virtually all custom options are also available, so custom color, different legs, side panels, front panels, cup rails, etc., can still be chosen. The possibilities are endless.”

An automatic shot timer and a real-time readout of pressure measured at the coffee puck are both displayed on the machine. For energy efficiency, brew water in the Idrocompresso machine is preheated as it travels in a heat-exchanger tube through the steam boiler on its way to the brew boilers.

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The product’s own path to the market wasn’t quite as efficient, due to various pandemic-related twists and turns, according to Van der Westen.

“The prototype was actually presented in Amsterdam at the [World of Coffee] fair in 2018,” said Van der Westen. “We’ve had a few drawbacks. At one point we even completely changed suppliers for the group parts, which forced us to redesign the group again and again, as the make process changed with the change of suppliers. Even though the prototype actually functioned at the fair and is very close to what we are offering now, it took a lot of fine-tuning and a road full of hurdles to get here.”

Pricing for the Idrocompresso has not been disclosed. The machine is available for pre-orders now.

Kees van der Westen Slim Jim Idrocompresso espresso 3

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1 Comment


The Slim Jim Idrocompresso:
Has been announced that it will be offered in 2 and 3 group configurations.
Do you foresee in the near future a single group Idrocompresso to be offered for the home market.?

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