HOSTMilano, held every two years, is the world’s largest hospitality expo, with a huge presence from the coffee industry. This October, we got a chance to check out this smorgasbord of innovation, technology, and good times with coffee folks from all over the world.
BY J. MARIE CARLAN
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos by J. Marie Carlan
I had the pleasure of visiting Milan, Italy, for the first time to attend the 2023 HOST event at Fiera Milano in October. It was a whirlwind of events, presentations, competitions, and new product unveilings. More than 180,000 people came through the convention center, taking an eager look at new trends and classic industry staples, featuring everything from fresh pizza vending machines to furniture and gelato. Of course, I headed straight for the coffee sections to see what was brewing.
There are some cool things happening in the coffee world, and I was honestly impressed by some of the innovations I saw. Mostly, though, I just enjoyed being around people who love coffee as much as I do (or more) and learning from them.
Here are some cool things I saw at HOSTMilano 2023.
New Developments in Tech at HOSTMilano
At the Nuova Simonelli/Victoria Arduino booth, 2023 Italian Barista Champion Daniele Ricci manned the coffee machines, along with Matteo D’Ottavio, former U.K. and Italian Brewers Cup Champion. They were kind enough to show me the ropes on the new E1 Prima EXP. This impressive single grouphead machine offers a touchscreen control for quick adjustments, optional automatic milk steamer, and the new PureBrew extraction method, which brews coffee at less pressure than espresso, similar to “drip” coffee, and with amazing flavor payoff. The PureBrew basket filter is cone-shaped and fits right onto the grouphead. The E1 Prima EXP also comes in some cool colors (the bright red stole my heart), great for those who want a machine that pops.
The biggest buzz around the booth, though, was the Eagle Tempo with NEO (New Engine Optimization), which won a HOST Smart Label Award for functional efficiency. The first day of the expo, the booth was positively packed. And for good reason: The NEO engine uses a unique insulation mechanism that reduces heat dispersion and energy consumption by only heating the water necessary for the drink at hand. The result: The environmental impact ends up being about 23% less than that of a similar machine.
A Reunion with Coffee Champs
2022 U.S. Barista Champion and coffee-fluencer Morgan Eckroth and 2023 U.S. Barista Champion (also fourth at the 2023 WBC) Isaiah Sheese were found slinging espresso at the Middleby/Synesso booth. It was great to see so many industry friends gather around the booth, drinking espresso and catching up.
The delicious espressos on offer included Ethiopian Hamasho natural espresso from Isaiah’s shop, Archetype Coffee, as well as a Panama Natural Anaerobic from Onyx Coffee Lab. Morgan was kind enough to give me a real American staple on my first visit to the booth: an iced latte with oat milk. It was welcome on a hot day after walking through the enormous Fiera Milano complex!
One trend in design seemed to dominate at HOST: see-through espresso machines. Italian espresso machine makers XLVI, who are known for intriguing designs leaning toward steampunk and vintage looks, offered a machine with a see-through back so you could contemplate its inner workings.
The prototype for the Tone Touch E drew a crowd at the Tone Kaffeemaschinen booth. This machine looks incredibly cool … and has no boiler. Yep, it’s the first ever professional grade two-group boilerless espresso machine, which also means it has a smaller environmental footprint. Is this the future of espresso machine technology, perhaps?
More innovations included every imaginable type of coffee packaging. One big standby was environmentally friendly coffee capsules (recyclable, compostable, etc.) for home-machine use. However, I was captivated by Whitextar’s snappy little instant coffee cups, probably because of the tiny coffees from that one episode of Portlandia (“Coffee land!“). This company works with roasters on preparing their coffee for production and packaging it for them, enabling the roaster to focus on the most important part of their mission: roasting.
In a collaboration of epic proportions, Mahlköenig and La Marzocco have teamed up to create the Sync System, which enables grinders and espresso machines to communicate for a more perfect shot. The Sync System launch featured the E80W Grind-by-Sync, which, teamed up with a Wi-Fi enabled machine, will automatically adjust the grind based on information the machine is feeding it. La Marzocco has developed a Sync App, free to download, to help users control their system. The Mahlkönig E80W Grind-by-Sync grinder should be available starting in early 2024.
There were so many things to see and do at HOSTMilano this year. Thanks to HOST for the warm welcome, and to the coffee people all over the world who made the week memorable. We can’t wait to see what’s in store in 2025!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
J. Marie Carlan (she/they) is the online editor for Barista Magazine. She’s been a barista for 15 years and writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. When she’s not behind the espresso bar or toiling over content, you can find her perusing record stores, collecting bric-a-brac, writing poetry, and trying to keep the plants alive in her Denver apartment. She occasionally updates her blog.