Vintage espresso machines are amongst my all-time favourite industrial design objects. One of the most beautiful machines is the La Faema E61, especially the model with two groups, from 1961. Since this is a rather large, professional machine for bars,
however, it is less suited for home use. Another of my favourites is the La Cimbali ‘Microcimbali’ espresso machine, designed by famous Italian industrial designer Joe Colombo (1930-1971) around 1960. I almost bought one a few months ago at the Arezzo antiques market, and today at an antiques market in Florence stumbled upon the same machine, for a real bargain I could not refuse.
The La Cimbali ‘Microcimbali’ was one of many different espresso machines with a lever, placed onto the market between the 1950s and 1980s. Other famous examples are the Faemina and La Pavoni. These machines were often designed by famous designers, such as Joe Colombo for the Microcimbali. Technically, this machine uses the same sleeve cylinder and kettle design as the 1948 Gaggia Gilda – the first espresso machine for domestic use that can create ‘crema caffè’ – with the difference that the Microcimbali has a spring in the lever.
The machine I bought is one of the earlier models with the old-style switch, and without a pressure gauge. Colour scheme is chrome and red. According to the seller it was used as a display unit in an Italian bar for a number of years. It looks like it is in pretty good condition with all of the mechanical parts in place and operational. Should any replacements be needed, new gaskets and various parts are still available. Somehow the machine just lost two of its separate parts: the coffee filter holder and the drip tray, hence the very low price. These parts should be possible to find on eBay or from a collector. Any tips are most welcome and appreciated!