Say Hello to Otto

Meet Otto, a sleek new coffee maker from Australia. Otto, affectionately dubbed “the Little Guy” by designer Craig Hiron, hasn’t even hit the market yet, but there’s plenty of buzz about the aesthetically stunning little machine. The buzz, unfortunately, isn’t all good – but those who are making the “lame-o!” noises haven’t tried the machine yet. Instead, they’re reacting to the pricey $500 AUS price tag and talking about their $20 stovetop machinettas.

No comparison, says designer Hiron in a response to one blog post about the Otto. It’s not even really comparable to the ATOMIC stovetop coffee maker that inspired him to create the design. According to Hiron, this isn’t a “knockoff” but a stainless steel redesign of the original ATOMIC aluminum stovetop espresso maker. He enumerates the differences in his response – in terms that most baristas understand – and makes it clear that the Otto is more than just a stovetop coffee pot. According to Hiron,

OTTO -say hello to the otto coffee maker

“The internal mechanism is completely different to the original machines. The boiler unit is separated and bolts into the base of the body, the steam and water hoses are separated and the water pick up in this unit is restricted to 60 ml (2 shots). The pressure capability/safety valve setting is at 10 bar, significantly higher than the original machines. The steaming pressure is around 1.5 bar, the same as a commercial boiler and the proof is in the texture of the milk.”

In fact, the Otto was originally expected to be on the market several months ago, but, said Hiron, the development team made some design breakthroughs in the final testing phase of the new machine. Those breakthroughs bring the machine’s pressure throughput (and any barista will tell you that espresso depends on enough pressure to pump the water through the coffee grounds without cooking them with steam) into the range of commercial machines.

some more things to recommend the shiny, elegant machine: the total stainless steel construction makes the Otto stovetop espresso maker as durable as it is beautiful. The curvaceous design is fitted with handles that make it easy to move and manipulate the machine even when it’s fresh off the burner. And how sleek is the design? The Otto won the Australian Design Mark at this year’s Australian International Design Awards.

The Otto is expected to be available in Australia sometime in January 2009. The Otto Espresso Website is registering buyers so that you can get your machine as soon as they’re ready for shipping. The web site also has a rather impressive gallery of pretty, shiny views of the Otto, and a great video showing the Otto in action. Go on over and drool over it. You know it will look gorgeous on your stovetop!