La Marzocco Unveils the KB90, Featuring an Ergonomic Portafilter Design

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The La Marzocco KB90 espresso machine. All photos courtesy of La Marzocco.

Renowned espresso machine manufacturer La Marzocco has unveiled a major addition to its commercial lineup, the KB90.

Named in equal honor of the company’s recent 90th birthday and for former LM International CEO and current Chairman of the Board Kent Bakke, the machine’s two key innovations focus on the group head. They are an ergonomically beneficial design called Straight-In, and an auto-purging and self-cleaning system called Steam Flush.

The Steam Flush feature sends a blast of steam followed by a rinse of hot water automatically through the brew pathway, without requiring the barista to push any additional buttons. The company said this saves time, improves machine hygiene and results in better tasting espresso.

16 Steam Knob

“We think it’s easiest for the barista to let the automatic flush function do all the work for them,” LM Global Product Manager Scott Guglielmino told Daily Coffee News of the feature, which is user-programmable but will ship pre-programmed to what La Marzocco considers optimal. “The use of steam exponentially increases the cleaning power compared rinsing with hot water alone.”

The goal of the Straight-In-Portafilter system is to reduce barista wrist strain. To insert the portafilter into the KB90’s Straight-In system, the barista slides it directly forward and then upward to lock, rather than twisting it in horizontally with upward force. The company said this change not only improves the ergonomics of the task and reduces the risk of repetitive stress injury, but also offers a simplicity that shaves seconds off the drink-making process.

04 Straight-in Detail 2nd phase

La Marzocco redesigned its portafilters specifically for the mechanics and the ergonomics of this system. Older, traditional LM and third-party portafilters will not be compatible with the KB90 Straight-In system, according to Guglielmino.

Beyond these innovations, the new machine is otherwise a sibling of the Linea PB, featuring the same dependable and easily replaceable components on the inside, a similar 3-button interface, auto-volumetrics and the option for Advance Brew Ratio drip-tray scales to be built into the drip tray. The KB90 is also the second machine to be equipped with the “Drip Prediction” technology introduced last year with the Modbar AV.

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Aesthetically, the company said the “retro” shape is inspired by 70s-era automotive styling as well as the shape of the La Marzocco Lion logo shield. The new machine is available in two and three-group options, with tall or short legs, and will come in a standard red case with stainless steel trim. The company said custom colors are available for an additional charge. A 2-group KB90 2AV machine pricing starts at $22,400.

The KB90’s first public appearance in the United States will take place at the La Marzocco Cafe in Seattle’s KEXP building located at 472 1st Ave N in Seattle on February 4. Kent Bakke will provide an overview on its use and features, especially the new Straight-In portafilter system, at a special presentation and launch event starting at 6:30 pm.

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