Breaking news from Lavazza who have kept their launch with Fiat so deeply under wraps, that the first some of their own European offices knew of the matter was when the news was released to the press.
The international press has been quick to pick up on the story of the new Fiat car which carries a built-in coffee machine whereas the coffee industry will be more interested in the detail of the scheme
The car is a Fiat 500, which fifty years ago was described as ‘Italy’s answer to the horse and cart’, and the feature which has captured everyone’s attention is the espresso machine.
The extreme secrecy with which the news was contained, has led to some intriguing news reports around the world, with many motoring writers floundering.
One report from the States tells of the unit sitting ‘by the gearstick’, making the suggestion that there is now ‘no need to pull over’ when you feel like a coffee. However, other writers have reported that the machine is situated between the rear seats, which makes the suggestion of a coffee on the move even more disturbing a prospect, which in turn is probably why there has already been a reported interest from the legal profession in the litigation-conscious USA.
However, one broadcasting organisation alone has reported that the espresso machine can only be operated when the car is in ‘park’ mode.
Motoring correspondents around the world have also been speculating on how the machine works. One has reported that the system works on the same principle as a stove-top espresso maker, with cold water in a lower chamber boiling and rising to infuse the coffee in the upper chamber, and others have vaguely referred to ‘pods’. More reassuring is the realization that the machine carries the A Modo Mio logo, which shows that Lavazza appears to be using the considerably more secure capsule system.
The Lavazza-branded kit is reported to come with a sugar container, ‘pod dispenser’, and a spoon, and two ‘auto friendly’ cups. One American writer complained that there is ‘no word about milk or cream’.
The FIAT 500L was launched last month in Turin, and goes on sale in Ireland at the end of the year. The price is in the region of £15,000, with the coffee maker an optional extra at around a couple of hundred pounds.. Fiat is clearly not thinking of the item as just a novelty, as the Serbian factory is reportedly under contract to make 200,000 of them.
It is also reported that the Fiat 500L is ‘the first production car in the world available with a fully integrated espresso coffee machine’, which is careful phrasing.
In 2006, Audi and WMF co-operated in a machine which was sited in the central arm rest of the Roadjet, a ‘concept car’ which Audi said was being shown to illustrate the innovative electronic systems that could be expected from future production models.
Handpresso recently launched a model which would operate using power from a car’s cigarette lighter. “Simple and easy to use, Handpresso Auto can be placed in the cup holder,” said the maker. “Just plug the espresso machine into the 12V cigarette lighter, add water and a coffee pod. Then press the button, wait for the three beeps and the espresso is ready.”
This method did of course require a little more input from the driver – the coffee pod was of the ESE type which is used in espresso machine portafilters, and the consumer had to add one shot-measure of water from a thermos.