On a recent trip to the college town of Chapel Hill, NC, I ventured into a small coffee shop and couldn’t help but noticing this coffee-making machine:
I was instantly mesmerized by its vintage looks, to the point that I decided to do some research on the brand. The machine was made by La Marzocco, a famed Italian manufacturer of ultra high-end commercial coffee machines, with a long history and tradition in the business.
After checking the Products section of their website, it turned out that the machine I saw was not a vintage model, but part of the company’s current lineup.
Here are two pictures taken from La Marzocco’s website, which show the front and the back of the particular model I saw:
The back (the part not immediately visible to customers) exudes a modern, high-tech feel: dials, buttons and knobs neatly organized over a stainless steel surface give access to functions like electronically controlled brewing temperature, digital shot timing, a dual-boiler system, and other impressive features that I can’t possibly begin to describe here.
The front, however, is the antithesis of tech: bulky, rounded edges, vintage color, old style logo and a top tray to place real coffee cups and plates; all of them important visual cues leading to the mental image of a small Italian coffee bar from times gone by.
I decided to walk into that coffee shop instead of the Starbucks across the street because I was not just looking for good coffee. I was looking for quaint, independent, artsy, traditional and unique. While the high-tech, state-of-the-art inner mechanics of the machine delivered a superb cup of coffee, it was its vintage looks that helped deliver the experience I was looking for.
Now more than ever, great brands depend on their products’ ability to tell a story, just like this coffee making machine does.