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!


  1. I am looking for a stove top esspresso maker with the steam hose attachment. Can you help me find one please

  2. I have been using the Otto for several weeks now, and there is an experimental learning curve in getting the best cappuccino from it. For what it is worth, here is my experience.

    The Otto has two baskets. The espresso basket with many holes for espresso ground coffee, and the supermarket basket with about 30 holes for courser grinds.

    Pre ground coffee, even the espresso grind while using supermarket basket, extracts over 60 mls of coffee, tastes terrible, and has limited steam pressure.

    Freshly ground coffee beans, with a burr grinder on fine setting using the espresso basket produced more drinkable coffee; 60 mls in 90 seconds, no crema, limited frothing of milk due to low steam pressure that took up to 7 minutes.

    Using burr ground beans with the supermarket basket produced 30 mls of espresso in 90s seconds, great steam pressure, milk frothed in a few minutes and produced a very fine cappuccino. Proper extraction and good steam pressure are closely related. With my beans, I was unable to “choke,” the Otto. In the DVD that comes with the Otto, the recommendation was to have about 15 mls of espresso in each glass. You can get up to 30 mls. Other users have more success with the espresso basket, depending on the quality and age of the beans.

    I have not managed to get much crema from my current choice of beans. Others have had more success. The light foam that develops at the end of extraction is not crema, it is the product of over extraction starting, so you should remove the collection cup at that point.

    So in my experience to get the Otto to work to its full potential, the espresso should be dripping a drop at a time, not pouring out, to get 30 mls to 60 mls total in 90 – 120 seconds before the extraction starts to cut out. If you get too much, you are under extracting and will have limited steam pressure, and just end up with coffee, not espresso.

    My reference for what makes a perfect cappuccino is the local hospital cafeteria that is run be an experienced barista having years of experience using a heavy duty commercial machine. The cappuccino from the Otto is not as good as his, but it is better than most of the cappuccinos I have had in other restaurants and cafes.

    As the DVD that comes with the Otto states, it is not a pushbutton machine, and it will be somewhat frustrating initially to get the results you want. It took me three weeks to get it in the zone.

    The website has a forum and review of the Otto.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.