Starbucks Espresso Machine

Starbucks Espresso Machine

If it seems like you see a Starbucks on every corner, it is because there are over fifteen thousand stores in the US. With over $29 billion of revenue each year, Starbucks is one of the most successful companies in the world. Their profits, unsurprisingly, come mostly from coffee—coffee made by one mythical machine: the Mastrena espresso maker. 

History of Starbucks

Starbucks is the biggest coffeehouse company in the world. The coffeehouse, founded in 1971 in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, received its unique name from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Today, Starbucks is a multinational giant that has dominated the business for decades.

In 1983, a year after joining Starbucks, Howard Schulz (who later became the company president) took a legendary trip to Milan, where he fell in love with the now-famous Italian espresso. Charmed by the Milan coffeehouses, Schulz sought to replicate the experience in America; in 1984, he introduced the first espresso to his Pike Place customers. 

Schultz took a risk when he brought the espresso to Seattle; most people were unfamiliar with the drink, so the market was virtually non-existent. Today, most Starbucks drinks we know and love have a base of espresso and velvety milk.

Though it is simple to make—the process consists of forcing hot water through very finely ground coffee beans under high pressure—the espresso is a complicated drink. Making good espresso is all about chemistry. Its unique taste and aroma profile are the product of molecular interactions, which depend on subtle factors like extraction temperature and pressure. 

Because the quality of the espresso depends on molecular characteristics, the machine that makes the drink is the primary determinant of its taste and texture.

The Mastrena Espresso Machine

The process of making an espresso requires the use of a machine. Historians attribute the invention of the espresso machine (and thus the drink) to Angelo Morindo, an Italian man who applied for a patent in 1884, 100 years before Schultz brought the beverage to the States. Since then, coffee companies have made strides in developing more elegant and powerful espresso machines. But nothing beats the Starbucks-exclusive Mastrena machine.

The Mastrena is a commercial espresso machine that differs from others in its capacity and quality. The Mastrena holds many beans and enables baristas to make multiple cups at a time without having to replenish the reservoir. It boasts many unique features—including an artificial intelligence system that allows it to customize and perfect individual drinks. 

The story of the Mastrena is also the story of Starbucks’ success. In 2008, Schultz teamed up with Thermoplan AG, the Swiss manufacturer of the Mastrena, and teamed up with Starbucks to create the super-automatic machine. Today, Starbucks owns exclusive rights to the product.

The Mastrena was part of Schultz’s massive transformation plan to guide Starbucks safely through the 2008 financial crisis. The company not only survived but also flourished, with analysts attributing much of that success to the powerful espresso-maker from Switzerland. By 2010, most Starbucks stores were using the Mastrena and making espressos at unprecedented speed and capacity. By 2014, every Starbucks location—21,000 at the time— had a Mastrena, and the modest coffeehouse became a global giant. 

Features of the Machine and Its Cost

The Starbucks company refers to the Mastrena as the gold standard among espresso machines for its unique features. The tool allows baristas to grind beans to order, deliver drinks at a much faster rate, customize beverages, and make eye contact with customers. 

The Swiss espresso-maker is a super-automatic machine; it does everything from grinding beans to brewing and frothing milk. It is much faster than other machines and more efficient, allowing Starbucks employees to dedicate time to customer service.

The machine holds a high capacity of beans due to its UFO-shaped bean hopper, which allows baristas to make multiple drinks at once. This feature is paramount for a big commercial company whose franchises churn out thousands of coffees daily. 

New Versions of the Mastrena

The newer versions of the Mastrena use a built-in artificial intelligence system to assess every factor of the perfect cup of coffee. It has a computerized memory and is programmable so baristas can better customize drinks. Built-in frothing wands shut themselves off when the milk reaches the right temperature. The machine also informs employees when it needs cleaning and will even stop functioning if it gets too dirty. This feature ensures the highest quality of espresso—all day long. 

Another significant selling point for the machine was its reduced height. Baristas could now make eye contact with their clients, introducing a human element to an otherwise fast-paced environment. The Starbucks brand depends on customer service and comfort. And the Mastrena ensures that productivity does not come at the risk of these valuable interactions.

Mastrena Cost

A full-size Mastrena costs thousands of dollars (between $17,800 and $40,000). Starbucks makes a cheaper espresso machine ($79–$179 depending on the model) that you can buy on Amazon or at Best Buy and other select stores.

The home espresso machine is called the Verismo System. It boasts a wide variety of settings and includes the ability to brew pods. The pods are available in most signature Starbucks blends and roasts—it also takes espresso pods, milk pods, and tea pods. 

Its dual-pressure technology pulls smooth or strong espresso shots—which means you can make lattes and cappuccinos and electric stovetop compatible. Most importantly, it is easy to use.

History of Thermoplan AG

Many people associate the taste of Mastrena espresso with Starbucks. However, Starbucks does not manufacture the machine. Schultz purchased exclusive rights to the tool from Thermoplan AG, a small Swiss company based in a tiny mountain town called Weggis (population: 4000 people). 

The quality is no accident. The manufacturers of Mastrena, Thermoplan AG, gave time and attention to ensure high quality for each product. Every machine must produce 100 perfect cups of coffee before it is shipped off. Founded in 1974 by Esther and Domenic Steiner, the family-owned company has only 420 employees. Yet they produce machines for one of the largest conglomerates worldwide. 

The Steiners developed their first fully automatic coffee machine in 1994. The game-changing innovation introduced the company as a powerful competitor among espresso-makers; the small company went on to win numerous awards and design newer and more powerful machines. 

In 2007, Thermoplan presented its fully-automatic espresso machines with added milk frothers and began its partnership with Starbucks. Thermoplan has received numerous awards for its products, and coffee connoisseurs consider their espresso machines the best in the business. 

Why the Mastrena Is Exclusive to the Starbucks Experience 

The Mastrena is exclusive to Starbucks, meaning only this company can use it commercially. That is why the taste of Starbucks coffee is so unique and hard to imitate. With its dual-bean hopper, milk frother, and high-pressure water system, the Mastrena produces rich, authentic espresso that competitors can not beat.

Starbucks’ success is due to its successful branding as a comfortable and laid-back coffeehouse that produces flavorful, high-quality coffee. The Starbucks espresso machine has proven integral to the success of this coffee giant—its popularity speaks for itself.

Final Thoughts

You can try a Mastrena-made drink at your nearest Starbucks since there are thousands of stores across the United States. Or consider buying a Verismo system to enjoy espresso at home!

Leave a Comment