Kees van der Westen | The Eindhoven of
The espresso machines which many consider to be the best in the world are designed and made in Waalre, close to Eindhoven. Espressonistic Works’ production area is full of espresso machines, all at different stages of assembly. Kees van der Westen, the founder of this internationally respected brand, takes us from machine to machine and points out specific details. “The important thing is what we make here - not my story,” he says cheerfully.
So how do you set about designing a machine?
“Espresso is a fast coffee. There is an urgency about it. I love that element of speed, just as I love anything and everything that looks fast. And these machines fit in that category. Notice that I say ‘machines’ and not ‘devices’. Obviously, everything has to fit together perfectly from a technical point of view. You see a lot of metal and it has to look streamlined and fast. Old speedboats, race cars and aircraft are things of beauty to my mind. A machine has to look as though it’s about to race off into the distance. And it has to be easy to operate - in an extremely intuitive way. That’s a useful feature in countries like Australia. They have a huge espresso culture there. Some Australian coffee bars brew between 1000 and 1500 cups a day. And speed really helps in that situation.”
What about the coffee culture in the Netherlands?
“Well, at the end of the 80s, things were very different from today. At that time, coffee was nothing like as trendy and hip as it is now. Innovation in espresso machines started in Seattle in the United States. And then spread to the rest of the world, including the Netherlands. I think young people have made coffee trendy again. They continuously introduce new things in this field, thanks to their huge inventiveness. The future of coffee is looking much rosier now. Several coffee bars in Eindhoven are using my espresso machines. That’s fantastic.”
The future of coffee is looking much rosier now.
Kees van der Westen
So what made you decide to start making espresso machines?
“I had to come up with a graduation project, so I decided to make an espresso machine. It was the time of wild Italian design: the Memphis group and Studio Alchimia. They used crazy colours and shapes. Italy has a long and rich history in terms of designing fashion and furniture. But their espresso machines go against the grain; they are just neutral boxes. As a young and self-opinionated student, I decided to show the Italians how to do things. Many students choose furniture: making a chair is relatively simple, but there are already so many designs out there. Hence my choice of an espresso machine. They are quite complicated, but not so complicated that you can't understand the principle and design and build one on your own.”
Is there a specific reason why you work from the Eindhoven region?
“I have lived and worked in and around Eindhoven since I was a child. Philips put Eindhoven on the map, helping it become the large town it is today, and it is now also the most industrialised part of the Netherlands, I believe. Masses of suppliers, high-tech industry on practically every street corner and then of course you have the developments originating from Eindhoven’s University of Applied Sciences. This is a fantastic region for a company like ours. Whatever we dream up, somebody here is able to make it for us. Which is ideal of course. We work with many different companies.”
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