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Maker series: La Marzocco

April 09, 2020

Maker series: La Marzocco

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Though we are not yet sure when, a time will come that we're able to showcase Kōkako Commercial Bay, a new and exciting concept for specialty coffee in Auckland’s CBD. In part, this is thanks to some incredible innovation and progressive design from La Marzocco, including the KB90 Espresso Machine and a single group Modbar. Committed to quality and innovation — and progressing the specialty coffee industry, the KB90 was an obvious choice for Commercial Bay. We believe the La Marzocco KB90 is one of the most exceptional espresso machines available on the market at present, uncompromising in quality  — producing beautiful coffee consistently.

La Marzocco and Kent Bakke

Founded by brothers, Giuseppe and Bruno Bambi, La Marzocco has been producing handmade espresso machines since 1927. Within 12 years of designing stand-alone espresso machines, the brothers filed a patent for a horizontal boiler, allowing several group heads to sit side-by-side and pour multiple coffees at once. Combining thoughtful engineering and an avant-garde mindset,  this was the first of what would be many innovative designs by the Bambis. Today La Marzocco manufactures 25 kilometres from Florence in a town named Scarperia, an area famed for the quality of its steel — and the espresso machines are still handmade at one factory. 

It was 1978 when the brothers were approached by Kent Bakke, an American that had been servicing and repairing espresso machines in Seattle in the late 1970s with plans to bring La Marzocco to the Northwest. Kents move filled a vital role in furthering the global specialty coffee scene. Throughout his time as CEO of La Marzocco, Kent continued to sell, install, and repair the machines, as well as teach people about espresso.  In February 2018, Kent stepped down as CEO though he remains involved with the company as chairman of the board and advisor. The La Marzocco KB90 (Kent Bakke) is named after Kent, acknowledging his tremendous contribution to the brand — we even got him to sign our machine on his last trip to New Zealand in late 2019.

The La Marzocco KB90

Launched in February of 2019, the KB90 was explicitly designed to increase the speed of service, while addressing “barista wrist”, setting a new standard in high volume café performance. Beyond that, the KB90 elevates espresso machine design and functionality to an entirely new level. La Marzocco essentially engineered a better reality for the baristas who help drive coffee as a culture and community. “The ergonomic design of the straight in portafilter eliminates the need for the twisting motion that has led to so many repetitive stress injuries like “barista wrist”. The portafilter clicks in place with one simple straight-in action, improving natural workflow and output”, explains Tom Handiside, General Manager at La Marzocco New Zealand. Efficiency is also increased thanks to the Steam Flush that keeps the group clean with an automatic burst of steam and a flush of hot water between extractions, keeping the machine clean even during that pre workday rush!

La Marzocco Modbar

Our coffee bar also features a single group La Marzocco Modbar, an added module that has allowed us to create a separate espresso preparation area to our main machine. "Modbar, a part of the La Marzocco family, is the original under-counter brewing manufacturer", says Tom. While delivering a seamless customer-oriented café experience, Modbar pushes the boundaries of what a café can be. It's a premium product that lends itself to truly iconic spaces" explains Tom. Present in the KB90, the drip prediction technology first featured in the Modbar, measuring the extraction flow rate of each espresso, calculating for every shot how early or late to stop, delivering a perfect espresso every time.

The Modbar is essentially a coffee machine that sits under, rather than on the countertop where people can watch as their coffees are prepared, opening up the entire coffee-making process. We will be looking to feature Kōkako single-origin espresso on our Modbat at Commercial Bay - this includes our rotating selection of single-origin decaf espresso. 

"With the under-counter design, baristas are given the freedom to engage with their guests without a bulky machine in the middle. It places hospitality and relationships at the forefront of the experience" explains Tom. For us, this under-counter design creates more space for our baristas to engage with coffee drinkers without compromising design and workflow.

From our La Marzocco KB90, we will feature our main coffee blends Aotea or Mahana alongside our Cascadia Decaf. Whether you're on your way to and from work, passing through between meetings, or in the precinct for leisure, we think you'll find our new space in Commercial Bay to be the perfect stop (when we eventually get to a place in time where we are able to!). For updates, event notifications, such as public cuppings and brewing workshops, follow us on Instagram or sign up to our email newsletter.


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