Like many creators, design concepts are born through frustrations and needs. While the product designers behind Sinonimo were in search for some good tools/accessories such as a grinder, tamper, tamp station, knock-box, and cleaning brush for their studio and home espresso machines, they realised they could not find any collection of items that were a good balance between function, experience, and appearance. The problem was that the products they found were all non-cohesive to their modern living space like their homes and design studios in terms of experience and aesthetics. The root cause was:
- Legacy: taking the exact same function, experience, and design from commercial settings to modern living spaces.
- Fragmentation: from tool manufacturers who develop independently and not as a whole.
In commercial settings such as cafes, baristas are under pressure to pull tens and hundreds of high quality espressos in efficient time, where at home and office it is a moment of ritual and ‘zen’ (like tea brewing experience), enjoying every point of the process from warming up your cup to throwing away the puck, for only a few times day compared to hundreds.
Based on the incoherence of experience, function, and appearance caused by legacy and fragmentation, we went from coffee break discussions to building a product and brand.
Enter Sinonimo Essentials—a coherent collection of essential tools for espresso making that are designed to live within modern living spaces such as your home or office. The essentials includes a tamper, tamp support, funnel, knock-box and lid/base that are coherent in form and function. It is designed to adapt and enrich your everyday ritual of an espresso making experience. When not in use, it simply becomes part of your environment. Once the ritual begins, it will quietly enrich the journey of espresso making with considerations of every single point of the process, from removing the lid with tamper, tamp station, and funnel to knocking out the puck using the tactility of dense cork. The ritual is completed once you have placed the lid with tamp station on the knock box and you will see the moisture from the puck evaporating out the two outlets.
The design team went through hundreds of sketches, 3D CAD, and prototypes using various mediums from 3D prints to CNCed aluminium, wood, and cork parts, and testing with different types of coatings and environments for over two years. Most importantly, they continuously tested their hypothesis, whether it was the hydrophobic coating on the wood and its response to moisture or how the coated aluminium responds in a prolonged period of usage and testing to see if the prototype experience met their goal of cohesiveness or not.
Since there are no standards in 58mm portafilter designs in terms of size, weight balance and details, every manufacturer of espresso machines have slightly different 58mm portafilters. So the tamp station’s overall depth is defined to cover the majority of leading 58mm portafilters out in the market. Soft continuous curvature on the inner edge is present to prevent contact with sharp stainless steel edges of portafilters, minimising scratches and yet functions as visual warmth and depth.
The knock-box’s overall dimension is specifically driven to contain only 6-8 coffee pucks instead of 10s to avoid moulding and encourage joy of emptying and giving it a good wipe once or twice a week. The side gap between the knock cork and wall is driven to allow people to get their fingers in the gap to easily wipe during cleaning.
It is important for products designs to be long-lasting and timeless, and for Sinonimo this was particularly important due to the context of Essentials. If maintained, espresso machines are built to last for decades and even passed on to loved ones, allowing them to age with dignity. The designers made a conscious decision from the beginning to curate materials and manufacturing processes that would give a timeless appearance and almost indestructible material with patina by normal wear and tear usage. It was also very important to choose materials and tactility that are familiar to people in the spaces where their espresso machine might live in.
We’re excited to see how the Sinonimo brand evolves in this space, and as coffee drinkers ourselves, we’ll be following intently.