As soon as we learnt that Victoria Arduino VA 388 had been named as the Official World Barista Championship espresso machine for the next three years we were eager to know more about this espresso machine whose name sounds a little mysterious. Here is what we found.
Imagine walking into a coffee bar and finding an eagle, stock still, sitting on the counter with its claws extended, while raising its wings as if about to take flight. An eagle that is not at all threatening but that draws you closer to admire its brilliance. An eagle you can admire while enjoying a delicious espresso.
The eagle that awaits you is not an imposing bird of prey—beautiful to look at but best to keep a safe distance from. No, ours is the VA388 Black Eagle, the latest addition to the Victoria Arduino line of espresso machines. A machine that, like its predecessors from this brand, will make a mark on the history of espresso.
“The entire working area, when in use, has
a form and feel that is soft and smooth yet
strong and decisive, reflecting an aesthetic
and responsiveness often seen”
in the luxury automotive industry
Since the early 20th century, Victoria Arduino machines have brought a special atmosphere to coffee bars while at the same time guaranteeing reliability and technical performance. The perfect combination of advanced technology and a stylish look – its espresso machines have never failed to please. More than a century after the birth of the brand, Victoria Arduino espresso machines continue to stand for thoughtful design, high functionality and especially for innovative and advanced technology.
The VA388 Black Eagle, while keeping with the tradition of Victoria Arduino, goes even further, and is projected to be the future of espresso. It aroused great interest at its premiere at Host Milan 2013 and, in the spring of 2014 when distribution began, ignited the passions of coffee lovers, café owners and baristas. With the new Victoria Arduino they are immersed in the history of espresso machines that is encapsulated in a glorious brand, aesthetic appeal and the most advanced technology.
But on the VA388 Black Eagle, one feature stands out the most. It is sought after not only for its beauty and stylish innovation, nor simply for its advanced technology that includes T3 and gravimetrics.
But first things first.
“The end result is a coffee machine that cannot
go unnoticed; indeed it becomes the local point
and attraction of any room”
It is difficult to separate design from technology when talking about the VA 388 Black Eagle, because its forms are also functional. But for those who don’t know the machine, its visual impact is the first positive impression it makes. While fully modern, the Black Eagle maintains the regal appearance inherent to all Victoria Arduino machines, and indeed many of its aesthetic details are nods to the past.
Nuova Simonelli wanted to build a top-of-the-line machine with the latest technology, enabling professional baristas to enhance the characteristics of specialty coffees, while at the same time promoting proper interaction between barista and customer. With a team of highly qualified researchers, professional designers and top baristas, we’ve accomplished each of these goals. In particular, designer Carlo Viglino worked closely with 2007 WBC champion James Hoffmann, designing a machine with a lower profile than previous models. This helps to eliminate the barrier between the two sides of the counter, promoting conversation between customers and the barista preparing their drinks.
The Black Eagle’s central body is also raised above the counter by “claws” that make cleaning around it easier. Side panels consist of gleaming, forged steel that recalls the shape of an eagle’s wings, which is, well, as impressive as the queen of birds from which it takes its name.
For the barista’s ease of use —and giving them something lovely to look at — groupheads have a precise shape that enhance the beauty of the chrome, and are seamlessly integrated with a functional display with a black background, making it easily readable. The entire working area, when in use, has a form and feel that is soft and smooth yet strong and decisive, reflecting an aesthetic and responsiveness often seen in the luxury automotive industry.
The various controls, from digital to manual, are designed to be extremely functional and ergonomic and at the same time reassuring for the user. Like other products from Victoria Arduino, the VA388 Black Eagle lives through its details: four supporting claws; fluid, forged design on the sides; a neoclassical image on the back panel; a fine work surface; Push and Pull steam nozzle and asymmetrical buttons.
The end result is a coffee machine that cannot go unnoticed; indeed it becomes the focal point and attraction of any room.
It is hard to satisfy a top barista with an espresso machine that doesn’t feature cutting edge technology. The VA 388 Black Eagle cannot disappoint — and could even help an average barista become a top barista.
The technology under the Black Eagle’s hood is truly the most advanced of any espresso machine. The first is T3 technology that has was covered extensively in the Espresso Ideas 9 & 10 edition. First introduced in the Aurelia II Competition, the official espresso machine of the World Barista Championships (2012-2014), and later in the Victoria Arduino Adonis and Theresia, T3 technology sets a new standard in extraction, flexibility, control and thermal stability for espresso.
Completely new and first introduced in the VA 388 Black Eagle, is gravimetric technology which, combined with T3, makes this Victoria Arduino machine the most innovative on the market today. Gravimetrics allow the barista to preset the weight of the coffee liquid to be dispensed for each blend, allowing the perfect consistency of espresso and giving the barista constant control over the extraction phase of preparation.
Gravimetric technology is particularly useful in coffee shops that offer customers various quality blends, requiring different extraction parameters. Each coffee needs a different brew ratio – a different relationship between the weight of ground coffee and the liquid in the cup. The brew ratio may also vary depending on customization by the barista. Before the Black Eagle came along, accuracy in executing the ratio was no simple feat. But with the machine’s gravimetric technology, the barista can select the group and the weight in the control panel, save the settings, and all subsequent extractions will result in the same amount of espresso in the cup. Using this precise measuring tool, there is full control of the output parameters, ensuring the required amount of coffee is extracted.
To achieve this accuracy, the VA388 Black Eagle incorporates a hidden electronic scale under each group of the machine. The scales take into account the weight of the empty cup and are connected to a load cell behind the group, away from the drip tray. The scale weighs the volume of liquid extracted directly into the cup, with the weight of the liquid displayed on the readout screen above the group. Software inside the machine helps control the flow and ensures the accuracy of the weight. As the machine measures the amount of espresso in the cup, the scale communicates with the electronic control unit to stop the flow of coffee when it reaches the exact weight programmed into the group. The result is a high level of consistency and control.
Gravimetric technology was developed by Nuova Simonelli after several years of research, to assure the new VA388 Black Eagle meets the standards of the top baristas in the world. The company benefitted from the experience of James Hoffman, who gave valuable advice during the design of the machine and for whom the Black Eagle, “is the ideal machine to control the mass of liquid in the cup, get the right consistency of espresso, and ensure the highest exaltation of flavor in the cup.”
“The ideal machine to control the mass of liquid in
the cup, get the right consistency of espresso, and
ensure the highest exaltation of flavour in the cup”
James Hoffmann, 2007 World Barista Championship
The New Frontier
Gravimetric technology has set a new standard in the espresso machine industry, and the Victoria Arduino VA388 Black Eagle has introduced a new frontier in the world of coffee. As news spreads of advancements in espresso preparation and culture, along with the Black Eagle’s status as the ultimate specialty machine, it is the company’s hope that an expansion and elevation of specialty coffee shops will also occur. The best coffee shops demand the best equipment, and the features, performance and design of their espresso machines are among the most important aspects of their business. The VA388 is the ideal machine for meeting all their needs.
Impressive at first glance, the Black Eagle is strongly built. The entire machine is made of metal, with the highest quality internal components. As stated by Nuova Simonelli director of marketing Maurizio Giuli, “Starting from the base, up to the hydraulic circuit, everything is made of pure materials including copper, stainless steel and aluminum.” Copper, being one of the best conductors of heat, has been used where high thermal efficiency is important. Stainless steel being strong, is used where maximum strength is required.
Aluminum is light and is used in parts of the frame to limit its overall weight.
The VA388 Black Eagle is also competitive in terms of sustainability. All of its materials are recyclable. In addition, it is designed to prevent energy loss and provides at least 40% energy savings compared to standard espresso machines. Other notable features and specifications are the TFT display with rotary switch menu, Cool Touch thermally insulated steam nozzles, and Push and Pull levers that allow the barista to work in total safety.
Like all preceding Victoria Arduino machines, the VA388 Black Eagle is not just an espresso machine. It is a symbol of the broader concept of excellent coffee. It is an object to be carefully guarded, proudly displayed, and handed down to future baristas.