Peppina is much heftier in real life than in her publicity photos. I was expecting a little tulip of a machine but she's one huge dodo. I keep asking my teenage son to take some pictures of my recently acquired white '92 Olympia Cremina (delicious espresso with Black Cat, and Caffe Fresco's Daterra and Papua New Guinea roasts; some Ambrosia arrived yesterday and will be degassing until Sunday). But my son reminds me that he has a life. But I am sure he'll be willing to snap a few shots of this rare bird, if only to have a good laugh with his buddies at my expense. I'll put the shiny white Olympia and the very dusty black Peppina side-by-side.
Anyway, I have been reading about La Peppina on the web over the past few weeks. Jim Schulman remarked on alt.coffee in June 2004:
The La Peppina has superb temperature stability because it is too primitive to be unstable; what a concept! The only source of instability is the lightweight group, which probably accounts for the 1.5C within-shot variation.
I have seen some interesting pictures of Peppina techno retrofits. So, I am a couple of years behind the curve. But I am wondering what a very compact espresso machine based on Peppina's simplicity might look like... if we were to add the requirement that it be able to steam milk competently. The machine must appeal both to the espresso enthusiast for the accuracy and repeatability of its temperature and brew-pressure, and to the spouse who is willing to indulge the coffee obsession provided it yields a cappuccino or latte. My anecdotal market research tells me this is a common scenario.
What if one took a horizontal box like the Olympia Club and added center-left a Peppina-style pour-over boiling pot but made of brass and one half the size of Peppina's, and broader to reduce its height, and added, center-right, a small pressurized boiler dedicated to steam. PID for maintaining brew water temp. Deluxe model would have thermometer on the face of the chassis for brew water temp and a manometer on the right for the steam pressure. Spring-lever would be mounted front center. Heavier brew group with a heavy brass 49mm portafilter to hold temperature. Trying to keep the machine as compact as possible, that's why a 49mm rather than 58mm PF. The prototype could be manual fill but production model has the convenience of a water reservoir on the left wall of the chassis and a tiny, very quiet pump solely for moving fresh water from the reservoir into the brew water boiling pot and into the dedicated steam boiler. The pump would not have to create brewing pressure. How do you prevent the fill pump from overfilling the unpressurized boiling pot?