Italian espresso equipment company La Marzocco revealed the latest models in its Strada line of commercial espresso machines, the Strada X and Strada S.
The new machines were publicly displayed earlier this month at the HostMilano expo in Italy. They were among a number of launches coming from the La Marzocco camp, including the Pico home grinder, a Brew-By-Weight scale system for the LM Home line (more on that soon) and the Sync System collaboration with grinder-maker Mahlkönig.
With updated exterior styling, the next-generation Strada machines include the wrist-friendlier straight-in portafilter connection mechanism that La Marzocco introduced three years ago with the KB90, plus an entirely new software platform enabling two new features referred to by the brand as “smart saturation” and “mass-based profiling.”
The successor to the Strada EP, the Strada X carries forth the system of individual brew boilers and dedicated variable pressure gear pumps for each group. An additional fixed pressure pump on the X is dedicated to the Smart Saturation feature, which performs a pre-infusion phase determined by an algorithm prior to deferring to the variable-pressure group pumps.
The algorithm is designed to accommodate virtually any rate of increase or decrease in pressure demanded by the barista, including relatively sudden changes, without disrupting the bed of ground coffee. The company said it collected data from the pressure modeling of thousands of shots of espresso to develop the algorithm.
“Until the free space is filled with water there is no ‘pressure’ that is controllable,” La Marzocco Senior Product Manager Scott Guglielmino told Daily Coffee News. “Since this is not a measurable variable on any other espresso machine, there has been no way to control for it. With the Strada X, once the air has been displaced and resistance exists, the barista is free to control the pressure at will.”
The mass-based profiling system on the new La Marzocco Strata X utilizes data from scales embedded in the machine’s drip trays, along with flow and pressure sensors. The system allows the barista to predetermine a pressure profile for the machine to execute, as well as a final cup weight at which to cut off the shot.
“With mass profiling, the barista does not need to re-learn the process for making coffee — instead, the machine will always deliver the programmed pressure at the desired target weight,” said Gugielmino. “This allows the barista to intuitively use grind adjustment to achieve their optimal brewing time, instead of trying to make the grind/dose satisfy new variables.”
The successor to the Strada AV, the new La Marzocco Strada S maintains the same new exterior styling as the Strada X while its exposed groups feature buttons for volumetric programming, rather than activation paddles.
The Strada S also has separate boilers for each group and a variety of features carried over from earlier Stradas, although Smart Saturation and individual pumps per group are only available on the Strada X.
A single-group machine called the Strada X1 is also available on the La Marzocco Home website with a price of $20,000. Pricing on commercial 2- and 3-group models of the new Stradas will be announced soon, with the first machines slated to ship to customers in the United States next month, according to the company.
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Howard Bryman is the associate editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. He is based in Portland, Oregon.