Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Arrival of rare La Marzocco Strada espresso machine puts Dallas on coffee map
Dubbed a "dream machine" by baristas around the world.
DALLAS Dallas is about to get an espresso maker that'll be a game-changer in the local coffee scene and maybe earn us a little gold star on the national coffee map.
The machine is the 3MP Strada, a $15,000+ chrome-fest made by La Marzocco of Florence, Italy -- so rare that it isn't even officially for sale yet. But one will be delivered to Oddfellows, the new Bishop Arts restaurant about to open, later this week.
La Marzocco USA representative Brenna Worthen confirms that few of the machines are in circulation. "I think there's maybe six or seven, total," she says.
Delivering the machine to Oddfellows will be Mike McKim, founder/owner of Cuvee Coffee, an Austin-based specialty coffee micro-roaster and equipment dealer, who's been testing the machine this week. McKim has been working with chef Matt Spillers, one of the principals at Oddfellows and also owner of Eno's Pizza Tavern. Spillers joined McKim on a coffee expedition to El Salvador this summer. (Christopher Wynn previously posted an item about the Strada on Eats.)
To the average Mister Coffee user, getting so enthused about a machine like this might seem silly. But in the coffee geek world, it's big news. This story explores the new realm of $18,000 cutting-edge machines and that includes the Strada, first introduced in the U.S. in June at a "barista jam" in New York.
Gizmodo calls it "Your Barista’s New Wet Dream Machine," and bloggers around the world anticipate getting their own. They say the machine lets them make obsessively minute adjustments to the amount of pressure applied to the coffee, and that makes
them coolgreat-tasting espresso.
"Eno's Pizza Tavern is already using Cuvee coffee, and Matt told me what he wanted to do [at Oddfellows]," McKim says. "Part of it is selfish on my end -- I get to try out the Strada. The other part is wanting to help Matt be really different from any other coffee business in Dallas."
Staffing seems like it would be a sticking point. The people who are drooling over the Strada are experienced java- and gearheads who can't wait to explore its intricacies. But McKim says that the machine has an on-off mode for the morning-commute barista who simply needs to get a bunch of cappuccinos made.
Cuvee has earned notice for its artisanal approach to coffee, with McKim working directly with small farmers and roasting his beans in small batches. Customers in Dallas include the soon-to-open Stir Coffee, the kiosk located inside Good 2 Go Taco.
Cuvee's roots are local: McKim first started the roasting company with a friend in a garage in Rowlett in 1998. He later moved to Houston, where he went to work for La Marzocco selling their machines. He moved Cuvee to Austin two years ago, and has since experienced tremendous growth. The company roasts and sells 150,000 pounds of beans per year, and the coffee has won regional barista championships. Cuvee also offers a barista-training program with weekly classes that cover fundamental and advanced barista skills.
McKim says that, after the Strada is installed in its new home, Oddfellows will host a barista jam so that Dallasites can see it in play.
"In the past three years, Austin's coffee culture has grown a lot," McKim says. "Now, all the indicators are there in Dallas that a coffee culture is starting to emerge."
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