A Café’s Centerpiece

On the Northwest coast of the United States is Washington, the birthplace of Nirvana and Starbucks. Below it is Oregon, the afterbirth of the caffeine rush and the fusion of cool and coffee.

It would almost be safe to say that American coffee was born here and with the relatively new (10 year-old) company Stumptown taking form and setting up shops all the way to New York, it may be more than the coffee that’s grabbing headlines.

Stumptown has decided to use the Mistral in their cafés. The Mistral is an espresso machine so beautiful, so delicate in design that you could pretty much put the monstrosity in an empty room and call it chic.

It’s also marketed that way by La Marzocca, the money behind the genius of designer Kees van der Westen. The Mistral, “ideal for radical & trendy locations” is made by a man infatuated by cars and old school espresso machines. It should come as no surprise that one of his designs is called the Speedster.

Westen has an attraction to the artistic qualities of the fifties and sixties, so most of the machines he creates have the futuristic tones of that era. Scrolling down his past inventions, made me think of The Jetsons, 2001: A Space Odyssey and of course Klingon warships. Doppios and lattes escaped my mind as I got lost in space.

There is no doubt that these machines are gorgeous and would be the centerpiece in any café. It contributes to the ‘third wave’ theory, the way coffee culture is developed, and is bringing back the ooh’s and aah’s to coffee making.

This is practical art that can be used as a draw for business and be the focal point in conversation. But it does not guarantee good coffee. If the barista can’t live up to the machines’ aesthetic stature, it becomes a waste of space and the café will not ‘live long and prosper’.

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