Coffee machine engineering contest – take on the Italians!

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Last week we were lucky enough to attend Esteco’s UM14 event for ModeFrontier users in Trieste, Italy, where we found the spiritual home of all Europe’s coffee culture.

Illy, the espresso experts, are based in the city, while the docks at one point were the import port for all the continent’s un-roasted coffee beans (now ‘only’ half arrives here – the other in Genoa), and in great style Esteco launched an engineering competition with Illy at the event.

The competition challenge is for teams of student engineers and designers to design a system for the production of pressurised hot water to be used in an automated espresso coffee machine, using principles of engineering to find the best solution within the set constraints.
“The submitted work should be innovative and should demonstrate the use of the ModeFrontier optimisation platform; the jury will favor designs providing significant improvements in energy usage and sustainability,” reads the blurb.

“The most successful entries will be those that leverage advanced or novel engineering applications while adding creativity to the entire design process. The objective of the competition is to draw students to prototyping, design and device manufacturing stages; the scope of the design problem is intentionally broad so as to foster creative thought and produce innovative devices.”

But be warned – the Italians are the utter masters of perfect coffee (as we learned from from a chat with Illy over how it designs its machines differently to every other manufacturer) – so you’ll have to know your beans…

The full details can be found here.


Rather nicely for this day and age, all intellectual property generated during the competition will be wholly owned by the inventors. ESTECO and illycaffè will not claim a stake in the students’ IP as a result of their participation.

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