MUMAC Academy Talks, the format devoted to coffee professionals’ stories is back: the second episode on fully automatic machines.
The episode features Raimondo Morreale, one of Italy’s leading figures in the brewing discipline and an established roaster in Trentino, who has chosen fully automatic machines for his roasting plant.
Born in Agrigento, Raimondo Morreale grew up among the coffee shelves in his mother’s store. After moving to Trentino when he was just eleven years old, Raimondo made his first forays into the world of ice-cream making. At the same time, he developed a passion for the art of coffee and turned this dedication into a profession. After graduating in agriculture, he continued working in bars and cafés, first as a barman (for which he also participated in and won several competitions), and then as a barista. The turning point came in 2010: Raimondo came into contact with SCA and began his training. This was followed by competitions in his favourite discipline, brewing. Raimondo’s journey with SCA culminated in 2018, when he officially became an AST. The next year he joined the judging panel in the Italian SCA competitions. Today he is one of the leading Italian figures in the brewing discipline and an established roaster in Trentino. However, Raimondo continues to train and experiment with new techniques to make his own personal contribution to the world of Italian specialty coffee.
He is the star of the second episode of MUMAC Academy Talks, the first format dedicated to the stories of the faces of the coffee world and their professional, technological and training experiences.
What made you decide to use fully automatic machines in your roasting plant?
“At first I was driven by curiosity: I wanted to find out how extraction works with this type of equipment Then, little by little, it fascinated me and this led to the idea and subsequent study of a mixture that would be perfectly suited to the machine’s functionality.”
What makes you recommend fully automatic machines to certain types of customers and which ones?
“I recommend it because fully automatic machines are, effectively, automatic machines that can help all those customers who are not trained as professional baristas, but still need to provide optimal espresso extraction. Consider, for example, car showrooms, fashion studios or, as is most common in my area, the breakfast rooms of hotels, where guests sometimes serve themselves at peak times.”
What benefits have you experienced from using this equipment?
“One of the biggest advantages is that you can always rely on proper extraction and cleaning. When we go into any café in Italy we see the milk being heated several times to make a macchiato or cappuccino. This does not happen with a fully automatic machine, improving the value and quality of milk-based drinks. The self-cleaning function on fully automatic machines is also very useful: it improves extraction, but also helps to maintain the mechanical parts, thereby extending the machine’s service life.”
How is the drink produced by a fully automatic machine perceived by the end customer before they actually taste it?
“The end customer is still very hesitant, almost reluctant to consider that a drink extracted from a fully automatic machine could be acceptable. There is still an impression that it is something that is not exactly artisanal, that it is not manual and therefore less valuable in quality terms.”
How can one help to change this impression?
“In my view, the only way to change a customer’s mind (whether they are the owner of a hotel, establishment or business) is to let them see and test the machine for themselves, accompanying them step by step and explaining how it works.”
How important was it to be properly trained in order to make optimal use of the product?
“Training is always essential because the mechanisms of fully automatic machines are an evolution of semi-automatic machines. The extraction formulas and related techniques are the same. We should also bear in mind that in order to produce a good, high-quality cup, operators need to educate themselves and above all be familiar with the characteristics of the coffee they are going to use and its origins, i.e. the entire coffee supply chain.”
How can you choose the best fully automatic machines for your needs? What are the requirements that must not be ignored?
“Firstly, you need to have a clear idea of the customer flow and what to do if there are extreme peaks. Consequently, characteristics that should not be ignored are those relating to machine performance. For example, the number of cups/day and the type of service, whether traditional in a ceramic cup or take-away.”
Is it easy for anyone to use a fully automatic machine?
“In my opinion, anyone will be able to use a fully automatic machine once it has been properly set up and they have learned the basics of how it works.”