Customizing coffee machines. It’s all the rage. Surely you’ve seen those pimped up, super shiny showpieces front and centre on many benches across the country. It’s all part of the third wave of coffee and honing in on the details to create that specialty coffee experience that’s so highly sought after today.
And one man driving it is Dan Schonknecht, Director of Specht.
Dan and Specht are behind some of the country’s best customized machines. In fact, Dan created this beast for us at the Melbourne International Coffee Expo last year.
Dan is a furniture maker by trade. Design and being handy with the tools is in his blood, but coffee is his passion. He made the move into coffee machines slowly.
“My love for coffee all started with a Gaggia machine that a tenant left behind at a house I was renting. I got into coffee and with that first machine I started tinkering around and making little parts for it. I eventually sold it but realized I loved improving machines. I played around with a few more home machines and then bought a La Marzocco GS3. It’s a fantastic machine but I didn’t like all of the plastic parts on it, I felt that it made an expensive machine look cheap so I decided to make parts for it.
I did a wood turning course and bought myself a cheep wood lathe and some chisels and got started. I thought if I get into it without breaking the bank and it didn’t work out as a business I could justify it as hobby.
From there I started making handles and with a bit of encouragement I put some photos up on Instagram and started selling a few bits and pieces. I was still working as a cabinet maker for a builder at that time but quickly grew restless with my day job and coffee just took over.
It really took off with the GS3. It was a second hand machine, all the panels were scratched so I powder coated them, installed a new gauge and made wood handles and paddles. The interest it generated when I posted it to Instagram was incredible. I went from 100 to 1000 followers overnight and was basically the catalyst for starting Specht Design.”
Dan started working out of his home garage, as most start-ups do. But he quickly outgrew it and set about looking for a space to expand the business. A small warehouse in Williamstown popped up. Specht is now at home in a clean, modern warehouse amongst a business park in Williamstown. He has built a woodworking room to separate the dust from the clean room where machines are assembled and prepared for returning to the customers.
If you’re thinking about customizing your machine but don’t know where to start, the options are endless. Dan tells us that budget is really the only limitation. “We can do whatever can be imagined. I complete all the woodwork. I work with a machinist and metal worker to make any metal parts. We can basically do anything from powder coating or painting through to completely reimagined external panels that are totally custom shaped.”
A starting budget of $500 would get you a set of wood handles and steam leavers. Then you could spend up to $1,500 on powder coating, custom cup rails and timber handles. The most expensive Dan has done to date is Veneziano’s completely customized Gravimetric Black Eagle which cost approximately $5,500.
In a market where creating a coffee and dining experience is becoming more and more sought after, it’s details like these that help elevate the customers perception of you. It will draw attention to you coffee offering, act as a showpiece for your café and be an “instagrammable” feature people will return to time and time again.
If you’re interested in customising a machine, contact Dan on: