barry wrote:how well does the reintroduction of the e61 coincide with the exhaustion of the patent?
According to Roger, the Futurmat Ariete's first use of the group in '67 was a patent violation. Faema then bowed to the prospect of navigating the Spanish court system (think of South America with a lot of "last of the grandees" arrogance added) and licensed the group to them. It was out of protection by the early 70s. From that point on Futurmat sold it to a lot of Spanish manufacturers, and developed the solenoid version as well which sold even better. However. Roger is not aware of any Italian machines using knockoffs in the 70s or 80s. Grimac was the first Italian company to make a copy, and use it on their catering machines. Again according to Roger, they screwed up the gicleur/preinfusion/dispersion screen on early models around 1990, making it almost impossible to control the flow and leading to a lot of quickly worn out grinders. However, recent Grimac models, like Dan's Valentina, do splendidly. At some point in the 90s, the Rossi group started making one too; and it is found on the Wega, Brasilia, and Vibiemme machines. You know Roger thinks these guys the evil empire, so his take on that head has to be taken with a grain of salt.
I'm not sure if the Vibiemme or the Giotto was the first home machine with the head; but I think the use by Pavoni and Elektra of E61 style heads post dates their introduction.
I have no clue what goes on in Italian espresso manufacturing circles; but the more I think about it, the less I believe the reuse of the E61 has much to do with perceived shot quality. They seem to take the "bad workman blames his tools" attitude on that. Machine design has gone more retro, more sculptural, all round; and the 70s and 80s two box design is going out of style. So my guess is that it may be the visuals of the E61 that is appealing to them. Why build a complicated super designed enclosure, when sticking an E61 and some curvy spouts on a simple box looks just as cool?