Teardown Of The Barista


iFixit has done a tear down on the symbolic do-it-yourself Espresso machine, the Starbucks Barista. Believe it or not, there is not a single circuit board in the works. There doesn’t seem to be much to the Barista; A few switches, some solenoids, a heater, and one way spring valve among other things. The assembly of the device is very simple. It is noted that in a pinch it may be torn down with a pair of pliers and washer; in place of a flat head screw driver. We have pondered the possibilities of this machine numerous times, while enjoying a cup of cappuccino. Though most conversations end at the bottom of the cup, many survive such as this Silvia PID looped expresso machine. The very name “Mecha turbo crazy coffee roaster” seems to encapsulate the effects of caffeine quite adequately.

15 thoughts on “Teardown Of The Barista

  1. i don’t find it surprising at all that there’s no circuit board in it. most appliances like that are built to be as simple and cheap as possible. the new black & decker toaster oven i just bought is controlled solely by a mechanical timer dial!

  2. What part of this even needs a circuit board? It is essentially a steam-powered device. You would actually have to go backwards in robustness, functionality, complexity, reliability etc. to add one.
    A microcontroller is not always necessary or a value add. The fact that this is constantly a point of amazement to the younger folks worries me in ways I can’t quite explain.

  3. Just because the technology exists does not make it necessary. I applaud the designers of this appliance for not falling into the “young engineer” trap and overcomplicating a simple control task. I think most engineering schools have forgotten how to teach simplicity as a key to robust design.

  4. in my senior design class, we tore down and documented a $50 krups machine. we were able to redesign a much better one and estimated the cost at $17. another example of massive markups. how much would you say all those parts are worth? yet this machine sells for $250-300.

  5. djrussell: Value means different things to different people. Dollars, while they are imperfect, are a mere communication of value between two parties. The Starbucks Corporation has determined that some people value a Starbucks crapaccino maker more than they value two hundred and fifty pieces of green and yellow paper with pictures of dead US presidents on them, and they are happy with the number of people who see this valuation. There are probably people who would be willing to pay $500, or even $1000 for such a device; the point is, everyone’s valuations of goods and services versus their valuation of dollars is different.

    The relationship is a two way street. Starbucks Corp values $250 more than they value yet another machine. This disparity in how Starbucks Corp and Starbucks customers value simplistic coffee machines is the very mechanism that makes trade possible, and why free trade always increases the value held by the parties involved.

    A company should absolutely charge as much as “the market will bare”, because to do otherwise is inefficient. A company has a responsibilty to pay its employees and share holders, and they can only do that well when they are making a profit. Efficiency is a very hot topic in today’s political and social discourse. To focus our efforts on just the efficiency of motor vehicles and electrical grids is incredibly naive and myopic, as inefficiencies everywhere add up.

  6. agree, sean. i’m not a person that sees enough value in a starbucks espresso machine to pay that much though. that’s probably why it seems crazy to me.
    also, just got some deja vu like i’ve read a similar post before…

  7. These espresso machines make shit coffe compared to the machines which use paper filter, also they break a lot.

    What I always wanted to make is a modded coffe machine which can fill the watertank automatically and you can turn it on with wireless remote. Filling up the coffe is not important cause I can just put it in a day before.

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