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I went into Caffe Vergnano (a chain of coffee shops in London), and my cuppa was prepared with the following device:

enter image description here

From a rudimentary inspection, it seemed to be an arcanely constructed espresso machine, but is there something special about it?

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Elektra Belle Epoque P1C:

enter image description here

See this page: http://www.elektrasrl.com/belle_epoque_2grel_cr.php

You can still buy these, they are very expensive of course, I don't think there is anything particularly special other than the design and finish: http://www.elektrasrl.com/belle_epoque_details.php

The home version is this one: http://www.elektrasrl.com/fam_retro_1grsa_c_a1c.php

enter image description here

Which will set you back over 1000 English pounds: http://www.myespresso.co.uk/product.php/27/elektra-mini-verticale-semi-automatic-espresso-machine---chrome

You may be wondering how come I answered this so quickly, it is because I have also been to the very same cafe you showed, the one on shaftesbury avenue, and was intrigued myself. The finish of the machine is hand made so it takes time for one to be delivered to you. I don't think there is anything particularly special about it but one of the nice things is the internal covered area for storing and warming cups. The internal guts are no different to other modern espresso machines.

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    I've seen these made out of brass and copper, and just dreamed about what one might look like in my home. The one I saw at a hotel actually had an external steam boiler attached to it, with this cool relief valve that let off a puff of steam into the air as the machine worked - just epic. – Tim Post Jan 29 '15 at 17:02
  • @TimPost they also make ones that take coffee pods with a piston handle for engaging the pump, a bit like pulling a pint of bitter: elektrasrl.com/fam_retro_1grlv_c.php – EdChum Jan 29 '15 at 17:42

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