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The E61 Legend and E61 Jubile: Two Modern Gems Based on a 1961 Classic

FAEMA was founded in 1945 by Carlo Valente in Milan, Italy. The name "FAEMA" is actually an acronym. In Italian, it stands for Fabbrica Apparecchiature Elettromeccaniche e Affini (in English, "Factory Electromechanical and Analogous Equipment"). In Italy, FAEMA became the model of the post-World War II production boom in Italy. FAEMA was (and still is) known for always striving for technological innovation.

From the onset, FAEMA's primary products were espresso machines. And FAEMA is famous for making numerous innovations in espresso making technology. In the 1950s, FAEMA's machines were typical for the time: featuring horizontal boilers and lever-operated pistons for espresso extraction. In 1961, FAEMA introduced a revolutionary new machine, called the E61, which incorporated numerous innovations that were "firsts" in the industry, and that are still used in espresso machines today.

The first innovation (that is now ubiquitous) was replacement of the lever-piston apparatus with an electromechanical pump that delivered uniform and reproducible pressure. This ensured that all espresso extractions were the same. It also (for the first time) allowed anyone to make high quality espresso; this no-longer required the experience of a professional barista.

Another innovation was that the pump would start with cold water, and push that through a heat exchanger, which was run through a tube through the center of the steam boiler to "flash heat" the water on the way to the grouphead. The reason that this is so important is that the water source is not from the boiler. The ideal water temperature for espresso extraction is in the 195-200 degree (Fahrenheit) range, but the water in the boiler must be kept near the boiling point (212 degrees) so as to produce steam on demand. The E61 separated the two so as to optimize both.

But "signature" innovations in the E61 were in the grouphead: this particular grouphead has been copied by many others, and is instantly recognizable (at a glance by those in the "know" - just like the grill of a Rolls Royce) as the E61 grouphead. The E61 grouphead has internal channels through which hot water (from the boiler) is kept circulating with a "thermosyphon circuit." This keeps the grouphead hot, so that the pressurized water is not cooled during the extraction. And when the activating (extracting) lever is only partially depressed, the grouphead allows a small pre-infusion of hot water into the coffee puck. This results in a more complete extraction (and a smoother flavor) when the pressurized water is introduced.

The E61 also had an enormous influence on the home espresso machine market. A replica of the E61 grouphead, together with the innovative use of a (separate) heat exchanger and boiler has become a standard in most high-end home espresso machines. While the aesthetic appeal of the E61 group is cited as a main reason for its popularity, the espresso quality resulting from those innovations are clearly just as important.

The numerous technological innovations of the E61 were truly revolutionary within the industry. This enabled FAEMA to capture significant market share during the 1960s, and to become one of the strongest players in the industry today. FAEMA is still known as the leading innovator in the commercial espresso market. And the FAEMA espresso machines are known as the very top of the line. They are unsurpassed for overall quality, workmanship, and durability.

As a testament to the quality of the FAEMA line, even today, there are many original E61 machines still in operation, and their owners maintain them jealously - like the owners of classic automobiles. But in 2001, to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the E61, FAEMA introduced the E61 Legend. While the E61 Legend is (aesthetically) a reproduction of the beautiful stainless-steel design of the original E61 machine, it features several new innovations.

Faithful to tradition, the E61 Legend features updated technical advances designed under the strictest of safety standards. The E61 Legend features a new automatic boiler fill feature, which maintains the water level in the boiler so as to ensure uniform steam pressure. A new volumetrically efficient pump has been incorporated into the heat exchange system so as to facilitate a more optimal boiler design. And a new thermal balancing system allows the water temperature in each head to be set independently to allow for different extraction temperatures (which can be desirable depending on the characteristics of the set of coffee blends being extracted).

The features of the E61 Legend ensure the best results in extracted espresso under all conditions and for any coffee blend. Today, becoming the owner of an E61 Legend results in instant prestige to your shop (or home), and it means joining an exclusive club of espresso connoisseurs who can say with pride that they own a machine that has set the standards for quality espresso brewing throughout the world.

The E61 Legend is the new semiautomatic version of the original E61. The E61 Jubile is the fully automatic version. The Legend (semiautomatic) comes in 1-group, 2-group, and 3-group versions. The Jubile (fully automatic) comes only in 1-group and 2-group versions.

...written by your friends at The Coffee Brewers


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