A few months after having bought a stylish but rugged ‘Microcimbali’, I bumped into a very elegant vintage espresso machine, built by Arrarex from Milan in the 1960s, at a Florence antiques market. The machine is in close to mint condition, with almost no scratches, and with the original stickers still in place. The lady who was selling it made me an offer I could not refuse, since that day she wanted “to get rid of things.” The machine, so she said, was in perfect working condition, as the remains of fairly fresh coffee grind in the filter indicated.
The machine is of the model ‘Caravel’, created by Dr Emilio Salati of Milan in the mid to late 1950s. The design of the machine is an absolute masterpiece, tastefully blending elements of Art Deco, Modernism, and Futurism. Dr Salati created the Caravel for one specific purpose: to produce small shots of perfect espresso. The little coffee filter basket takes around 14 grams of freshly ground coffee; just move the lever to the top and pull it slowly down for a strong ristretto or espresso. Like myself, Dr Salati must not have been a big fan of macchiato or cappuccino, since his machine has no milk frothing capabilities.
The design is in fact very simple and functional. The main elements of the machine can be disassembled without tools and cleaned within a minute. The boiler, piston chamber, portafilter and filter basket are all made from INOX Stainless steel. The heating element is not submerged, but fitted underneath the open boiler.
Unlike other Caravels, my machine does not have the Caravel-logo on the front, but instead a logo of a rooster with the words ‘DUE GALLI’, and the indications ‘MASSA’ to the right, and ‘TEL. 41303’ to the left. Since the metal part with the logo can be easily removed by hand, could this have been a logo fitted by a shop or distributor?
height 33 cm | width 20.5 cm | depth 29 cm | 220 V