Gorgeous Otto espresso maker is like time capsule from the future, full of joe


It is 9:48am and I am drinking instant coffee out of a gigantic mug shaped like the hollowed out brain pan of an anthropomorphic cow. I love the ease and comfort of instant coffee. Simultaneously, I am admiring the OTTO espresso maker, with its bright, world-flipping mirror polish, as metallurgically liquid and mercury-like as some sort of device sent back in time by advanced creatures from the last moments of the universe to record our lives. The discordancy of it all is enough to make a hungover Berliner sneeze brain out of sheer incredulity.

OTTO espresso maker - stove top espresso maker [Appliancist]

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  1. Why this looks remarkably similar to the Atomic coffee maker.

    Crema Magazine

    It has quite a following, and it seems that, like the Otto, Australia is the best place to pick one up.

    Hmm, should I buy the more expensive shameful ripoff, or the original?

  2. I used to own an Atomic espresso/cappuccino maker years ago. It was a crema-coloured aluminium model with a SS steaming pot. I bought it because it looked really cool.

    The coffee was unremarkable and the steaming capacity was .. underwhelming. The low wide steaming bowl loses too much heat – narrow and high is more efficient.

    (Trying) To steam milk: after making the coffee, I would refill the unit with water to just under the safety valve then heated it until the safety valve opened. Even then there was enough stored energy in the hot water to just barely heat up enough milk to make a tiny cappuccino. Maybe it’s meant to be used on a gas stove. Not enough water capacity, in any case.

    If I wanted to make a café au lait, I’d have to go through at least four cycles of opening the steamer’s valve until there was no more steam, closing the valve, then waiting, then opening the valve, etc…

    Give me ‘ugly but it works’ to ‘gorgeous but bad engineering’ any day.

    Go with the plain old cheap stove-top mocha espresso maker and steam the milk in your microwave oven. Or spend a lot more money and get a higher-end machine.

    My current machine (I’m very satisfied) is the Solis SL90:

    The measured shots are very nice. It’ll steam a half a litre of cold milk to boiling in one go. Good engineering.

    Ditch the ‘crema-maker’ coffee baskets that come with some espresso machines – including this one. These just oxidize the coffee – greatly reducing the complexity of the flavours. Get old-style baskets and learn to tamp your coffee.

    Talk to Cory about Reg Barber coffee tampers. Curved bottom. Good in women, good in tampers.

  3. People or company should really get this straight. What ever this device can do, it will not produce Espresso because it doesn’t have a pump to drive up the pressure enough to make a shot. Steam alone just doesn’t cut it.

  4. @Anonymous: I suppose the term ‘stovetop espresso’ would be more appropriate to this coffee maker, in the same class as the Moka (i.e. not a high-pressure espresso device). However … from many years of experience with an Atomic in the home and on safari in Africa, I can guarantee you that the coffee it produces is FAR superior to the Moka, as it DOES develop a higher head of steam before rushing through the basket (whereas the Moka half-percolates the coffee). Much more like real espresso.

    @PaulR: experimenting with the fineness and packing of the coffee grounds with my Atomic let me eventually steam as much milk as I could possibly use – however, I’ve almost always used it on a gas stove. That said, it’s worked very well over even coals on a campfire!

  5. Hi,

    John, thank you so much for posting OTTO and for the fabulous write up !

    My name is Craig Hiron and I’m the proud owner of OTTO espresso pty ltd. I’ve loved my Atomic for over a decade and still do. Inspired by this love, I’ve spent almost four years developing OTTO and more recently enjoying many remarkable shots from “the little guy”.

    Just to set the record straight, OTTO is stainless steel redesign. 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.

    Please email me directly through the site if there are any questions I can help with.

    Kind regards,

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