For the uninitiated: the portafilter is a filter holder with a handle that contains the filter – filled with ground coffee – this is then turned in the holder under the espresso machine to make coffee. This movement is cumbersome and a source of frequent injuries among professional baristas. For this reason, La Marzocco posed the question: can you slide the portafilter into the machine instead of turning it? This question sounds deceptively simple, explains Spark project leader Eric Verberkmoes. "It is precisely this force, used to tighten the portafilter, that is crucial for sealing and resisting the 10-bar pressure that is built up. In addition, the filter remains in the holder at the right temperature. Alternative solutions had to be found for this in the straight-in design.”
The Straight-In Portafilter is now a fact and as been put into production in La Marzocco’s revolutionary KB90 espresso machine. The portafilter can be placed quickly and accurately in the machine, is amply resistant to the forces that occur, and remains at a constant, high temperature in the filter holder. All this with minimal physical effort of the barista, who slides the portafilter into the holder and then pulls it upwards, after which the water pressure takes over the work.
In terms of design and usability, we went to great lengths to take into account the rituals, expectations, and preferences of the baristas. Every aspect of the new machines exudes tradition and craftmanship, as if the Straight-In Portafilter has always been there.
The Straight-In Portafilter makes ingenious use of elements that are inherent to espresso machines: pressure and heat. This means the design is characteristic of both the elegant functionality for which La Marzocco is known and of Spark’s expertise in integrated product design. Several inventions in the design have now been patented, thus underlining the innovative character of the project. The driving force behind this success is above all the close cooperation between La Marzocco and Spark and the mutual trust in each other’s knowledge and expertise.