Restoring An Espresso Machine To The 21st Century

[Rhys Goodwin] has a wonderful Italian espresso machine, a Brasilia ‘Lady’. But the electronics in it are a bit outdated. So he decided to give the entire thing an overhaul, while keeping it as original as possible!

As far as espresso machines go, this model is pretty simple. It uses a 300mL brass boiler with a 3-position solenoid valve. The thermostat is one of those simple bimetallic button thermostats which sadly, aren’t even that accurate — you couldn’t build a simpler machine, there’s not even a microcontroller in it. [Rhys] had his work cut out for him.

Arduino. PID controller. LCD display. New custom machined components, including a polished aluminum face plate for the LCD! He didn’t skimp out on this restoration. He even designed his own custom PCB to house the Arduino and provide the outputs for his new electronics, impressive!

His build log is more of a gallery then a real log, but is a pleasure to scroll through — he put some serious thought and time into this project.

It’s quite similar to this custom espresso machine build we saw a few years ago.

10 thoughts on “Restoring An Espresso Machine To The 21st Century

    1. Complaining about vertical videos has been going on suspiciously long. There must be some super powers available. Otherwise it’s understandable how people have the energy.

      And the ones who have energy to give +1 for it. And the ones complaining about it.

  1. Coffee runs through too fast, probably needs finer grinding (or, maybe, need better coffee?). 98°C is too hot for most types (there are some roasts that like to be brewed that hot, though), let your taste decide. Rule of thumb: Coffee sour = probably too low temperature, coffee (very) bitter = probably too high temperature, coffee tastes like burned wood = definitely not good.

    Aside from that: Yes, a small espresso machine with a PID is THE THING to get started into a hobby, that, over time, may costs you a fortune. There are so many coffee types (sources for the “beans”, or better pits), roasts, experiment with storing them a bit a longer or get them even more fresh …. argh … NEED ESPRESSO. NOW.

    1. Here is a link to the “official” specs of Espresso…

      • Necessary portion of ground coffee 7 g ± 0,5
      • Exit temperature of water from the unit 88°C ± 2°C
      • Temperature of the drink in the cup 67°C ± 3°C
      • Entry water pressure 9 bar ± 1
      • Percolation time 25 seconds ± 2,5 seconds
      • Viscosity at 45°C > 1,5 mPa s
      • Total fat > 2 mg/ml
      • Caffeine < 100 mg/cup

      • Millilitres in the cup (including foam) 25 ml ± 2,5 (25ml = 0.84 US oz … 1 oz = 29.57 ml)
      • Cappucciono: 25 ml Espresso 100 ml Milk

      As for the hobby cost… indeed so true…one can spend $1000's on a machine and grinder… and that would be for used ones… new machines can easily approach $10K… and grinders around $2K

      1. > Entry water pressure 9 bar ± 1

        That one is an ongoing discussion. I am not yet in that camp. Although my Bezzi is, sometimes, she just won’t do me the 11 bar I ask her to :-)
        As for the water temperature: 88 definitely is too low (what coffee and roast are using at 88°?). I have a DELICIOUS Kuba “bean” which NEEDS 96-97 degree, below that it just tastes like Melitta.

        Personally I am more the “4M” than the “official rules” guy. 4M as in: Machine, Mill, Material, Man. Material being the coffee. You need all four to get a good shot. One failing means all failing.

  2. The coffee tastes great to me. Except when the beans are crappy which does happen from time to time. I agree the shot I pulled in the video was a bit fast. I’ll keep playing around with the temps too.

    Thanks for the info.

    As for the video orientation comments – Lots of people on this great internet of ours have something to contribute. I find a certain value in each and every contribution.

  3. So much has already been said about the video alignment. So, I would not go onto that again.

    I liked your trick but it does not come out with good colors sometimes.

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