Source: Perfect Daily Grind
machines are a technical marvel. These expertly crafted appliances have come a
long way since their first inception in the late 1800s. The 19th-century steam pressure
system has evolved into pump-driven and electrical technology. Baristas are now
able to dial in using apps on their smartphone, without even touching the
happens when a machine breaks, or becomes a bit outdated, and needs to be
refurbished? To find out, I spoke with Francesco Bernasconi, Sales Manager at
espresso machine manufacturer Dalla Corte and the man responsible for
the inception of their refurbishment programme.
Why Do We
Buy Refurbished Espresso Machines?
many reasons refurbished machines are in demand, but two of the biggest are the
reduced environmental impact and the huge financial savings.
refurbished espresso machines can cost as little as half of their original
sales price, while still maintaining high standards of appearance and quality.
With brand-new commercial machines selling for thousands, refurbished ones can
be a tempting choice for those on a budget.
It can also
be a more sustainable and environmentally conscious investment. It reduces the
number of new parts that need to be manufactured and the amount of material
that needs to be recycled or taken to landfill. Refurbishing generates less
waste, as well as using less resources.
an old machine can also make it less hazardous. Piping and soldering in older
machines can contain lead, which can leach into the water that comes into
contact with these components. The continuous ingestion of this water could
have potentially harmful effects on our organs.
explains that at Dalla Corte, replacing old piping and soldering
with lead-free components is of huge importance in the refurbishment process.
The Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) law created by the European
Union inhibits the use of any components and substances containing over a
certain amount of lead in electrical products.
Espresso Machines Are Refurbished
steps needed will vary according to the machine and its issues, the process
will follow this order:
Receiving The Machine & Diagnosing Issues
step is evaluation. Especially with older machines that may not have been used
in a while, pest control is important. This involves removing the outer casing
and visually checking for any signs of insects or rodents, such as droppings or
nests. If such signs are discovered, the appropriate means are used to
eliminate pests and any traces of them.
outer casing is replaced, the espresso machine can be plugged in and switched
on. Some issues will be immediately obvious, e.g. electronics that no longer
work or a steam wand that doesn’t function correctly.
some issues may be more difficult to locate and fix. Trained technicians will
be required in order to find and resolve them. Francesco oversees Dalla
Corte’s Second Chance programme, in which inmates in
Bollate Penitentiary, Milan work alongside technicians to disassemble, fix, and
refurbish Evolution espresso machines.
He tells me
that they use a software program to detect issues. “Our machine can tell you
via alarms what the issue is… Our [technicians]… will know exactly what to do
and how to promptly fix the problem.”
diagnostics have been run – and most importantly, after the machine has been
completely switched off and unplugged – then it’s time to disassemble the
be stripped down completely. All panels and trays need to be removed to leave
the frame with the piping, group heads, and boilers still intact. From there,
each part can be carefully removed from the framework. They should be inspected
for any signs of damage and thoroughly cleaned.
tells me that some components can be recycled. “The most important parts…
copper, brass, and metal parts are completely, 100% recycled. Sometimes [we
send] them back to our main suppliers, like the foundry that forges our… group
machine is disassembled and cleaned, it’s possible to know which parts need
fixing or replacing. Certain components will usually need to be replaced such
as pumps, valves, and screens. Gaskets and O-rings will need to be reordered
and replaced. These would have been cut away from the machine during cleaning.
the espresso machine completely disassembled, descaling can begin. “Calcium and
limestone are the worst enemies of any machinery working with hot water!”
stubborn substances will quickly form on any metal surface. Excessive amounts
of them is the biggest reason why a machine might need refurbishing in the
and pipes are the main components that will need descaling. They must be dealt
with carefully since indentations could attract further limescale buildups.
dedicated machinery able to descale the [required] parts,” Francesco tells me.
“But again, we completely replace all [metal] parts with new ones, avoiding any
future issues. The old ones will be 100% recycled.”
appropriate machinery, the descaling would have to be done by hand. This would
mean soaking all the components in what is typically citric acid for a long
period of time. The machinery both saves time and ensures the descaling is
can be a lengthy process, especially if the components have been exposed to
particularly hard water. Yet all visible evidence of the limescale must be gone
before the boiler and pipes can be refitted. Sometimes, this may be impossible.
When this happens, these parts should be recycled and replaced with a new
boiler and piping.
Control Checks & Legislation
experienced and well-trained technicians is the best way to ensure quality.
Francesco explains that Dalla Corte is selective about which inmates
participate in the Second Chance project. “[It] is based on their basic
mechanical, electronic, and hydraulic know-how,” he says, adding that they then
receive extensive training and are overseen by experienced onsite technicians.
control checks are also imperative – both for legal and ethical purposes. They
guarantee that the refurbished espresso machines are not only safe to use but
are of a high quality.
example, in the UK, any equipment or machinery containing fluid at over 0.5
bars of pressure is affected by The Pressure Systems Safety Regulations (PSSR)
2000 legislation. It applies to the manufacturing, repairing, and refurbishment
of equipment, even if it was originally manufactured prior to 2000. Quality
control checks should make sure that the machine adheres to this, as well as
reaching the technician’s standards.
machine should receive a quality control check, ideally performed by a
different technician, and a record of this and any comments should be kept.
While spot checks are often performed when there is a heavy turnover of items,
for high-quality products such as refurbished espresso machines, it is better
to check every single item.
Reassembly & The Finishing Touches
reassembly will usually happen in reverse order to the disassembly: the boiler
will be reattached to the frame first, then the piping, then the components,
and finally, the trays.
completely rebuild the machines with brand-new material, piping, group heads,
and the electric board,” Francesco tells me, adding that they all are
“certified” according to European requirements and to the same standards as “a
should be double-checked by qualified electricians before the panels are attached.
Then it is time for the last quality control check. “Before sending the unit
back to the client, we do the final test with our… [internally used]
machinery,” Francesco says.
any superficial work such as redoing the paintwork or adding branding can be
refurbishment journey is time consuming and labour intensive, but the result is
impressive. It breathes life into broken or outdated equipment. Espresso
machines with history and character can perform on the same level as brand-new
ones. And as refurbishment encourages more sustainable and environmentally
conscious manufacturing, it brings the coffee industry further into the future.