Museum of the coffee machine, Milan, Italy

Museum of the coffee machine (MuMAC) is an exhibition space dedicated to the history, technology, design and culture of machine espresso from the bar. Via P. Neruda is located in Binasco, in the province of Milan.

Conceived by the Cimbali Group to celebrate its 100 years of activity, the MuMAC was inaugurated on October 12, 2012. From 2018 it is part of the Lombard Circuit of the Design Museums.

Gruppo Cimbali: Over 100 years of espresso
The company has been run by the same family for over 100 years. A family that has been able to hand down a set of genuine values from generation to generation, regardless of the economic, environmental and social issues that characterised a turbulent 20th century.

The company holds over 50 patents for innovation solutions which are both closely linked to its Milanese origins and oriented towards the international panorama. It is no coincidence that the Cimbali Group is now one of the most distinctive companies in the professional espresso machine industry and an ambassador for coffee culture around the world.

Innovation in motion, from copper to crema
Ever since the company was founded over a century ago, a desire to keep innovating and producing advanced solutions has been embedded in its DNA.

It was in 1912 that Giuseppe Cimbali, a hydraulic copper worker, opened a copper workshop in central Milan’s Via Caminadella 6. Alongside his two employees, he dedicated himself to producing the parts essential for the newly invented coffee machines, including the water boilers.

In the early 1930s, the workshop moved to Via Savona and expanded with the acquisition of a client SITI, which specialised in the production of espresso coffee machines. It was the birth of Ditta Giuseppe Cimbali: copper constructions – coffee machines– and soda carbonators.

During the same decade, the company created La Rapida, a column-style machine that became the first LaCimbali brand model. Immediately after the Second World War, it produced l’Albadoro, which featured two separate water boilers to meet the growing needs of Milan’s cafè.

LaCimbali’s onus on practical innovation led it to adopt lever technology in 1950, which enabled users to produce espresso with the famous crema. The success of La Gioiello was undeniable: espresso with crema conquered the Italian market – partly thanks to the economic boom – and began to look beyond national borders.

Although revolutionary, lever technology was laborious and risky. It was for this reason that La Cimbali launched the Granluce model in 1955. This was the first coffee machine fitted with a hydraulic system, which overcame the inconvenience of lever technology without comprising on the quality of the coffee produced. It also reduced the risks and physical efforts involved in preparing good coffee.

Technology and design conquer the world
After the company’s move from Milan to Binasco, which came about following a collaboration with the Castiglioni brothers, the Pitagora model went into production in 1962. In the same year, the model was awarded the Compasso d’Oro, becoming the defining symbol of Italian excellence.

The three decades that followed saw LaCimbali busy conquering global markets and constantly developing new technology.

In the mid-1990s, LaCimbali acquired its long-term competitor Faema and later formed the Cimbali Group, which now includes the LaCimbali, Faema, Casadio and Hemerson brands. It is the leading organisation in the world for professional coffee and cappuccino machines.

Technological innovation continued, with new trends including designer collections, the introduction of buttons which allowed users to pre-programme the amount of coffee they wanted to produce and the advent of more recent espresso machines, both super-automatic, which produce perfect espresso with minimal input from the barista, and traditional, where it is possible to customise each and every cup of coffee a machine produces.

The celebration of a dream: MUMAC and the spread of coffee culture
Cimbali’s history was marked in 2012, the company’s centenary year, with the inauguration of MUMAC and LaCimbali’s M100, a machine-cum-sculpture which is both a summation of previous models and a starting point for future experimentation.

Since its inauguration, the museum has become a real asset in terms of communications strategy for the Group and its brands. It has become a point of reference for a diverse audience thanks to initiatives, openings and events oriented towards not just stakeholders but also enthusiasts, families and students.

The museum is constantly growing, with new machines put on display, the acquisition of unique exhibits, such as the Faema bicycle ridden by Guido Reybrouck when he won his three titles in the 1960s and the development of innovative resources to help visitors get the most out of the museum, including the MUMAC guide app, available in ten languages.

The project is the work of the designer Valerio Cometti and the architect Paolo Balzanelli who renewed the space previously used as a spare parts warehouse. Outside the building is characterized by a facade with curvilinear metal slats of the “Cimbali red” color. While inside – developed on an area of about 1,700 square meters – the skylights illuminate the white of the walls and ceilings (more than 8 meters high) with mezzanine: in contrast, the floor is sepia in color, reminiscent of the color of the coffee. According to the Chinese publishing house Jtart, the museum has been recognized as one of the 101 most beautiful buildings in the world.

A wave of red slats in curved metal attracts and intrigues visitors. The wave stands inside the headquarters of the Cimbali Group, where once there stood a depot used as storeroom. Nowadays, the building – with its typically industrial style and 1800 square metres of reinforced concrete and grit – has been converted into the biggest coffee machine museum in the world thanks to an architectural project of rare elegance and modernity.

Multi-functional space
The curvy, harmonious forms of this multi-functional space were designed by the architect Paolo Balzanelli and the engineer Valerio Cometti (link a pagina dettaglio intervista), who oversaw the entire project – from deciding on a logo to designing the spaces, exhibition layout and furnishings. Your attention is immediately captured by the “Cimbali red” curves that cover the existing building, evoking the steam given off by coffee in the cup.

Inside MUMAC, starting from reception the visitor is launched into a series of highly evocative rooms which reflect the spirit of a particular historic period and allow people to relive the essence of the time. As visitors move from room to room, the café and bar counters are replaced by simple supports which allow the espresso coffee machines to take centre stage. The models seem to evoke the historic period in which they were designed and created. Despite the stylistic uniformity of the white walls, with skylights which create a contrast with the coffee-coloured floor, each room feels very different. The visitor is catapulted from decade to decade courtesy of several unexpected surprises. Indeed, MUMAC doesn’t just display coffee machines. It recreates the very essence of the historic period in question, with typical furniture, background music and evocative graphics (link a Esposizione).

Culture and training centre
This fluidity and stylistic coherence enable the visitor to immerse themselves in MUMAC, emerging culturally enriched having experienced a range of emotions and sensations. The relationship between museum and visitor reaches its climax in the tasting and training rooms, where the MUMAC Academy holds its courses, and the final room, where a red shell conceals and then reveals an exploded view of LaCimbali’s flagship M100. The exhibit showcases the hi-tech heart that hides within every coffee machine.

“MUMAC expertly combines emotion with knowledge,” explains the architect Paolo Balzanelli. “It is structured into a linear exhibition route which begs to be discovered. Along the way, each room and era is designed to have a big impact, to keep the curiosity levels high and ensure the visitors are learning.”

Museum area
It is designed to document the profound changes that this machine, an icon of Made in Italy, has undergone since the end of the 19th century to the present day. The museum itinerary is divided into six historical periods: “Albori”, ” Rationalist era “, “Invention of the lever “, “Under the flags of design”, “International dimension” and “New Millennium”.

Benchmark for continued professional development
MUMAC Academy is a cutting-edge facility where the art of coffee is analysed from every angle, taking in both theory-based and practical approaches. It is a must-visit institution for those working in the modern coffee industry and for anyone keen to discover what lies within their coffee cup.

Coffee Machine Academy in the spotlight
A hub of excellence where flavour methodologies and practical tests mingle with tasting and roasting rooms. It is a place where you can develop your palate and broaden your knowledge, while the training centre offers courses focusing on the latest preparation and tasting techniques. The academy provides training to coffee specialists and coffee lovers, bringing people together in a unique space.

The collection is made up of the Archive (books, documents, objects) and the Enrico Maltoni collection together with the Cimbali collection (over 200 espresso machines for bars) on permanent display. The machine models are exhibited in an environment that recreates the various phases of the 20th century. Many models are unique or rare or very successful and are signed by the most famous names of Italian design such as Achille Castiglioni (who won the Compasso d’oro with the Pitagora model in 1962 ), Ettore Sottsass junior or Giorgetto Giugiaro.

Cimbali Family Collection
A story of awards, patents and unique espresso coffee machines. A permanent display designed to celebrate coffee culture

Pavoni Winning Collection
Named the Ideale, this was the first machine capable of making coffee on the “express” request of a customer

Enrico Maltoni Collection
A unique passion for coffee machines. Enrico Maltoni has written books and organised exhibitions, but together with Maurizio Cimbali he has now realised a dream: to help create MUMAC

The Enrico Maltoni collection has been merged with the Cimbali Group’s Historic Archive to create a specialist library featuring texts on the world of coffee, patent designs which can be viewed by appointment and plenty of other material, over 1000 volumes, catalogues, designs and patents.