Customized. Making Equipment Your Own

First appeared in Barista Magazine August/September 2012
Find the conclusion of this 2 part article in Barista Magazine’s December/January issue.
You can subscribe to Barista Magazine here.

Cafe Evoke Linea Roburs

Have you ever considered customizing your espresso equipment but weren’t really sure where to begin? If so, you’re not alone. Over the last few years there has been an increased demand for custom modifications on espresso machines and grinders, so much so that customization projects have earned a permanent place in equipment budgets of most startup cafés and restaurants. A customized piece of equipment can become the focal point and theme setter for your entire business, not just a necessary bar tool.

Equipment customization can be split into two main modification (mod) categories: cosmetic and functional. Both mod types can add tremendous value to your equipment if the work is performed by a skilled professional. Cosmetic mods include custom color and finish work, body shape design, accent and underbody lighting, accent work (wood, brass, glass, etc.), and custom engraving and graphic designs. Functional mods can include electrical enhancements, hydraulic and mechanical upgrades and functional changes.

Here are a few inspiring examples of customized equipment:


Double Tall, Tokyo, Japan, 2009

Hybrid five group La Marzocco Linea

Shojiro Saito wanted a multipurpose five-group matte black espresso machine.
Espresso Parts modified a five-group Linea MP so that the left two mechanical paddle
groups could be used for tea extraction for tea and milk-based drinks, and the right three groups could be used for espresso.

The espresso side has two groups with programmable touchpads for predosed
drink sizes and one mechanical paddle group for experimenting with preinfusion.
GB5 steam valves were added for their easy 180-degree knob movement, and foot pedal
operation was added to the center steam valve. Add to that a matte black finish with remote control underbody lighting, and Shojiro got a multi purpose stretch limo of a machine.

Cosmetic mods:
●    powder coat and matte finish
●    remote controlled under-body “ground effects” color changing LEDs

Functional mods:
●    group configuration (MP, MP, AV, MP, AV)
●    GB5 steam valves (center valve is foot pedal activated)
●    custom wiring and controls
●    custom machine plumbing with integrated pitcher rinser in drain tray
●    modified group screens and screws
●    modified steam tips
●    PID of brew and steam heating controls

Double Tall 5 Group La Marzocco Linea

Double Tall 5GR Linea

Double Tall 5GR Linea-2

Double Tall 5GR Linea-6

Double Tall 5GR Linea-8

Double Tall 5GR Linea-9

Double Tall 5GR Linea-3


The Grounds of Alexandria, Alexandria, NSW, Australia, 2012

Restored, hybrid four group La Marzocco GS2.

This machine started as a stock GS2 and had been in storage for years; it was in bad shape. It was then torn apart and rebuilt with restored original parts and new, current production parts. New MP caps and GB5 brew boilers and steam valves were added. It has custom wiring and controls with displays on the operator and customer sides of the machine so that machine temperatures and shot times could be viewed by both. The end product was a hybrid of old and new, all done while keeping the original look and body shape of the classic GS2.

Cosmetic mods:
●    powder coated frame and steam boiler
●    engraved glass sides
●    custom material and finish body panels
●    wood and acrylic accents
●    interior machine lighting
●    chrome and brass plating

Functional mods:
●    GB5 mechanical paddle groups
●    brew boilers with dual regulated pumps
●    GB5 steam valves and wands
●    modified steam tips
●    updated safety equipment
●    custom wiring with modified GB5 controller

The Grounds GS2-18

The Grounds GS2-5

The Grounds GS2-7

The Grounds GS2-23

The Grounds GS2-10

The Grounds GS2-20

The Grounds GS2-24

The Grounds GS2-30

The Grounds GS2-26


Ma’velous, San Francisco, CA 2010 Musashi

Hybrid four group La Marzocco GB5

This machine started as a stock four group GB5 EE. It then was completely disassembled and customized from the ground up with individual boilers and regulated motors for each group. The body was completely changed, exposing the groups, with engraved glass sides and back revealing a powder coated steam boiler, polished tubing and manicured wiring.

“The four groups, each with its own motor, allow my baristas to dial in different pressure and temperature profiles for the coffees they serve. Right now, I have one for the Ecco, one for the Black Cat, one for the Wendelboe, and one to experiment with,” explains owner Phillip Ma.

Cosmetic mods:
●    chrome plating
●    powder coated steam boiler
●    engraved glass body panels
●    wood and acrylic accents
●    body shape redesign and exposed groups

Functional mods:
●    individual brew boilers
●    exposed mechanical paddle groups
●    individual regulated pumps
●    foot pedal operated steam valve
●    custom wiring and controls

Mavelous Custom GS2 Update-6

Mavelous Custom GS2 Update-4

Mavelous Custom GS2 Update-3

Mavelous Custom GS2 Update-2

The Grounds GS2-25

Mavelous Custom GS2 Update-7

Mavelous Custom GS2 Update-10

Mavelous Custom GS2 Update-8

Mavelous Custom GS2 Update_12


Boxcar Coffee Roasters, Boulder, Colorado, 2011

LM/Synesso hybrid two group

Collaboration build and restoration with owner/roaster Vajra Rich. Vajra used a restored and chrome plated classic GS2 brew boiler with modified, totally exposed paddle groups in an LM/Synesso hybrid he built with a custom body, Mistral steam valves and a lot of creative,
hard work for his café and roastery.

Cosmetic mods:
●    all chrome exposed GS2 paddle assemblies
●    mix of modified and original body paneling

Functional Mods:
●    replacement of mechanical thermostats with current PID controls
●    Synesso steam boiler with custom tubing and wiring
●    Mistral steam valves
●    updated safety devices

IMG_1796

IMG_1797

IMG_1795


Cafe Evoke, Oklahoma City, OK, 2012

La Marzocco three group Linea with matching Mazzer Roburs

Cosmetic mods:
●    two-tone powder coat body color with matte finish
●    matching grinders with rally striping
●    custom graphics and wood badges.

Equipment customization is a balancing act of keeping simple things simple while making complex things possible and accessible. The goal is to package everything in a unique, personalized and fully functional way, so the end result is a tangible expression of your vision showcased as a work of art.

Choosing to customize your equipment will lend to an industry that reflects the diversity and individuality of baristas and business owners, and will transform a daily tool into an expression of your personality and style.

Cafe Evoke Linea Roburs-6

Cafe Evoke Linea Roburs-5

Cafe Evoke Linea Roburs-4

Cafe Evoke Linea Roburs-3

Cafe Evoke Linea Roburs-2

First appeared in Barista Magazine August/September 2012
Find the conclusion of this 2 part article in Barista Magazine’s December/January issue.
You can subscribe to Barista Magazine here.

To see more EP Custom Shop Builds head to our Pinterest!

5 thoughts on “Customized. Making Equipment Your Own

  1. Hola soy José de Chile y soy duelo de cardumen cafe, ubicado en Pichilemu en la capital del surf de Chile y nuestra cafetería funsiona on the wave y necesito saber los presios de la máquina marzocco evoke con los dos molinos amarillos
    Saludos de Chile

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