Spreading its wings
Melbourne is renowned for its quality coffee, boutique cafés and talented baristas, but the city has been without a dedicated Victoria Arduino knowledge hub, until now.
In late 2020, Italian espresso machine manufacturer Victoria Arduino will open the doors to its new Experience Lab in Melbourne, with the venue set to become one of the industry’s go-to locations for training, events, and hands-on experiences.
“The time is right. We had initially intended to open in April to coincide with the city hosting the World Barista Championship (WBC), then COVID-19 happened and opening during that time would have been disastrous. We’re grateful we’ve had more freedom to take our time with the design and launch at a time when the city is ready for this dedicated knowledge hub,” says Victoria Arduino Sales Manager Brett Dedman.
“Between the equipment Victoria Arduino has launched this year and what’s to come in 2021, this Experience Lab really is going to be an amazing display.”
Located in Breeze Street in the vibrant inner-city suburb of Brunswick, Victoria Arduino’s new Experience Lab is in fine company. Close by are roasters Ona Coffee Melbourne, Market Lane, Code Black, Founder Coffee Co, Coffex Coffee, Wood and Co Coffee, and Wide Open Road.
Brett says the Melbourne suburbs of Richmond, Carlton, and Toorak were all considered for Victoria’s Arduino’s first dedicated Australian Lab, but in the end, there was no looking past Brunswick’s “cool, urban vibe”.
“Melbourne is the coffee hub of the world, so it makes total sense to launch the Experience Lab here. It seems that Brunswick is the newest, up and coming coffee suburb, so I think we’ve nailed the location,” Brett says.
Victoria Arduino Experience Labs are also established in Shanghai and Jakarta, but according to Brett, Melbourne’s will be the “most advanced and sophisticated” to date.
The design of the 100-square-metre venue is thanks to Native Design, a local studio that focuses on sustainably-built environments. The fit-out uses raw materials including polished concrete, exposed blockwork, recycled hardwood and brick, and brushed steel. Tasmanian oak timber is used in the raised seating and meeting area, with the brand’s iconic wings symbol backlit and visible at night.
A Victoria Arduino display wall, similar to the one at the Italian headquarters in Belforte del Chienti, will be full of memorabilia and historic machines. Nearby, a 75-inch television screen will display product presentations, competitions performances, and videos on origin and coffee research.
Dedicated training areas will be available to use, as will cupping benches and a replicate WBC modular bench, which will be accessible to any barista wanting to practice to competition standard.
Down the track, Brett will introduce a reverse osmosis (RO) water filtration system and a traditional filter system to take its water quality to the “next level”. The team will work with different water qualities and use it as an educational tool to demonstrate how much water quality can impact cup quality.
“It is 100 per cent not office space. This space will be super cool and a place to welcome all members of the industry,” Brett says.
“We want our customers to bring their customers to this venue and come down to touch, feel, and play with the machines in person. If you’re considering how Victoria Arduino machines can work for you – bring your milk, jugs, scales, baristas, everything you need to make yourself comfortable. We’ll tune the machine into your specifications, then take an hour or two to play with it. From history, everyone who does so can’t walk away without buying one of our machines. We truly want customers to try before they buy.”
On display in the new Experience Lab will be the new Victoria Arduino E1 Prima one-group espresso machine.
Launched in September 2020, this machine will take pride of place in the venue’s purpose-built kitchen to display “where it belongs” in its intended home or office environment. Prima offers a sustainable alternative that considers the machine’s environmental impact in terms of economic and energy savings. It incorporates Victoria Arduino’s New Engine Optimization (NEO) technology that represents a new approach to heating water for coffee extraction. At the time of print, Brett said 50 units were already on their way from Italy.
Also on display will be the Eagle One, which Brett says has performed extremely well in Australia, in particular due to its energy saving ability and minimal environmental impact.
Already, Brett says three customers have shown him their energy bills with reductions between $100 to $200 per quarter, and the only thing that’s changed, is the machine.
Joining the product portfolio will be the White Eagle as an entry-level machine to the market, as well as the Black Eagle Gravimetric model with Mythos 2 Gravimetric grinder. The original Mythos One and Mythos 2 grinders will also be available.
One machine that’s expected to turn heads is the Victoria Arduino 388 Black Eagle 2020 WBC edition. Unseen until now, the Lab will unveil the painted design that would have celebrated the host city should the WBC have proceeded in Melbourne.
“You don’t need to have Victoria Arduino running through your veins to come to our Experience Lab. But the more people who engage with our product and walk away thinking ‘wow that place was really cool,’ or ‘those machines were memorable’, then the experience will always be front of mind should they want to make a purchase down the track,” Brett says.
In the meantime, the team is hopeful the easing of COVID-19 restrictions will allow the industry to enjoy the new venue in person. Until then, they will dream about hosting latte art competitions with competitors going head-to-head on two VA E1 Prima machines. They look forward to hosting cupping classes on targeted origins and masterclasses on espresso extraction and the science of coffee. They also hope to host industry experiments, occasional domestic classes, and educational talks on the VA range with guest speakers.
“This is a knowledge hub for the industry. It will be a fun place to celebrate industry engagement and sharing knowledge with anyone and everyone,” Brett says. “We really don’t have anything like it.”
Joining Brett at the new Lab will be André Eiermann, General Manager Victoria Arduino Australia, who despite being delayed one year upon arrival into the country, is hopeful of ditching Zoom meetings for real-life interaction with Brett and the extended Victoria Arduino team soon.
“I’m really happy to be working alongside Brett. He’s very humble, he knows the industry and its people. Coffee is about connecting with people, so I’m excited to learn from him, including all his technical knowledge about Victoria Arduino machines, which he knows inside out,” André says. “I’m a former barista competitor so I know specialty coffee well and have a good understanding of the technical workings of machines, but I know that moving to Australia will be great for knowledge exchange.
“Brett’s role isn’t maintenance work but it’s good to know that should any machine need attention he can easily take it apart. Even the global R&D team lets him play around with ideas.”
In fact, André says the 20-gram filter basket on the Eagle One machines is a direct result of Brett’s input.
“So yes, the Eagle One has a little Aussie touch in it,” Brett says. “We’re in a fortunate position where the Italian team are really receptive to hearing about what Australians want and need. Even for the Eagle One professional version they’ve changed the hot water figuration so the water doesn’t flow so fast – another of our little ideas that’s since been adopted into the machine.”
Likewise, Victoria Arduino is proud to have adopted André into its Aussie team. As they countdown to his long-awaited redeployment from Basel in Switzerland to Melbourne to start his transition into Aussie life, André says more than anything he’s excited to see the town’s reaction to the Experience Lab and immerse himself in Melbourne’s coffee culture.
“If it’s anything like the reputation the city has for quality coffee, the venue will soon become a destination for any coffee fan too,” André says. “I can’t wait to experience it myself.”