Why my coffee machine is so sexy

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My La Pavoni Professional looks fabulous in my kitchen and makes even more fabulous coffee. What else could a coffee machine give me? What about the feeling that I am an extremely clever girl everytime I pull an espresso?

From a usability point of view there is nothing more a kitchen appliance can do for its consumer. I love the way it looks, what it gives me, and how I feel when I use it.

Why is this so?

Form follows function

A theory which has been heavily debated in the forum of modern architecture and lately in industrial design is that form follows function. That is to say the purer the functionality of an artefact, the more beautiful it is – less is more. This concept is attributed to Carlo Lodoli, an 18th century monk whose theories on architecture have influenced many designers. The La Pavoni Professional falls into this category. It has a lever to hand-pull coffee, one button (the on/off switch), a boiler for the water, a small grupa to put the coffee in, and nothing else to interfere with its clean and stylish design. Its form follows its function. There is no confusing clutter.

Aesthetic designs are often perceived by the user as easier to use whether they are or not

When products are stylish, such as a La Pavoni, people are more willing to put effort in to use them. Like beautiful people, beautiful artefacts get more attention and their consumers, seduced by glamour, forgive more easily. La Pavoni coffee machines have appeared in films from James Bond ‘Live and Let die’ to ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’. When a character is sexy so is his/her coffee machine.

Attractiveness is not only La Pavoni’s strength, it has a strong affordance factor. Its design is simple so the user can easily understand what to do to get coffee from it. There are three steps: 1) Switch it on. 2) Put coffee in the grupa. 3) Pull down the large lever to push water through the coffee and watch the lovely brown liquid sizzle out.


The cool design may communicate an ease of use, but it is deceptive. A quick google around the internet shows hundreds of websites all dedicated to making that perfect coffee with a La Pavoni Professional. Forums galore debate exact temperature, granularity of ground coffee, tamping of the grounds, and every other variable involved.

This makes the La Pavoni more attractive as it turns pulling coffee into an art form. Once through that learning curve, the consumer feels a distinct: ‘Get a load of me, I make a mean espresso!’ which gives a sense of satisfaction – a major benchmark in the world of usability.

Control and feedback

Even though it may be difficult in the beginning to pull a good espresso, the consumer aways feels in control because of the design. It is easy to see when the water is hot and when to begin pulling the coffee because of the temperature gauge. There is also a water level indicator to see when to fill up the water boiler. Simple feedback mechanisms give a sense of control.

The rest is up to consumer expertise, or is it? Another great trick of the La Pavoni is that the consumer doesn’t have to be an expert she just needs to work within the following constraints.


Never altering the following factors allows any consumer to get that expert feeling:

  1. Coffee granularity – no. 4 or the smallest you can grind it. Packets of Illy or LavAzza work well as long as the coffee is properly tamped down.
  2. Coffee amount – too much and you can’t actually pull the lever down, too little and it comes out like brown water.
  3. Coffee that is well tamped – use two layers, tamp down a layer on the bottom and one over it so it comes to the top of the grupa. The coffee needs to be even.

By following these three steps the La Pavoni consistently produces excellent coffee and the consumer feels like a sexy satisfied barista – even before taking a sip.


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