The Story

I like drinking coffee. More than drinking I like making it. It turns out to be one of my hobbies, actually. From early cold mornings to the ritual after meals in chatty Italian tables the fun for me is in the process of making it (yep, with my own hands, old school).

Curious but avoiding the excesses of some "experts", I started getting into the art of it: choosing the grains, grinding them manually just before, experimenting different ways of brewing it. Drip brew and french press to moka pot, I was still looking for a cleaner and better (but still manual) way of making an authentic espresso at home.

Then I found the Presso Espresso machine. It was love at first sight and after reading a few reviews I bought myself one. I had been using it since last May and was trying a ground slightly thiner than the usual, following a review's hint. After applying pressure on the levers for some time like usually it just exploded on my face. The levers collapsed and the cylinder cracked. I had hot water splashed all over and a sharp fragment of the cylinder came in my direction.

Fortunately I didn't have any injury but I was startled by the burst and, after examining the way it has broken, with what could have happened to my hands and face. I then re-read the product's manual (front & back) looking for any tip or warning about pressure but the only thing I could find was "use coffee ground for expresso machines" - which can vary from grinder to grinder, not to mention the tamp pressure.

My biggest disappointment however was when examining the broken connection arm. It turned out to be hollow exactly in the corner where it has broken. You don't need to be a mechanical engineer to realise it is one of the parts which suffer the biggest stress in the system.

After exchanging a few emails with the manufacturer, I lost my delight and confidence in their product as I didn't have any consistent answer to my safety concerns (specially regarding to the General Product Safety Regulations). The matter is now in the hands of the Trading Standards department but, independently of the outcome, I decided to retire my Presso and look for a better product.

I couldn't finish without thanking the people from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and from the Trading Standards (update: never got an outcome from them to my case) for their professionalism, attention and support to this issue so far. You have my respect.


Anonymous said...

That looks really dangerous. Good thing you weren't hurt! That being said, defects happen with all products. sounds like you were pushing harder than usual on it too. hope they did not charge you for the replacement parts.

Ande said...

Hi there, thanks for your comment!

I really didn't expect going that far. All I wanted was a bit of attention on my first contact, as I've seen in other occasions in other countries, but once I had to go through the law to have some attention, there's no why stepping back now.


Anonymous said...

it doesn't look like you were very open with them in your first emails. Why didn't you just tell them you had a problem to begin with? It seems like you were already starting an argument with them by the time you said your coffee maker broke and then they sent you the parts.

Ande said...

Yes, reading one after the other it gives me the same impression. The fact is that I really didn't expect the answers I had from them at the very beginning, what made me look for advise and legislation (completely unknown by me at that point).

Putting myself on their shoes: If somebody is questioning about my product's safety is probably because they might want to *buy* it or most probably they have had a *problem* with it. I would at least have asked WHY in whatever my reply was .... or contacted the customer by phone as this probably doesn't happen every day.

I would have phoned them as I did to the vendor, but unfortunately the only contact info on their website is their email. (nothing on the packaging or product's manual as well)

In other countries I've seen they offering to replace units much earlier and for much less than that.

DH405 said...

You came across as hostile from message 1 in your e-mails. They were very responsive the moment you actually TOLD them about the problem. They offered to make it right, and you were rude.

This is a case of a faulty consumer. Failures happen, but you don't have to throw a royal fit over it.

DH405 said...

"In other countries I've seen they offering to replace units much earlier and for much less than that."

Earlier and for less? They responded the next day to your email telling them about the problem. They offered to replace it for FREE. Did you expect them to knock at your door with a replacement unit and a free car ten minutes after their product failed???

Anonymous said...

Faulty consumer?! DH405, get off your high horse. I fail to see how the first email was in any way hostile. And he made it very clear in subsequent communication that it wasn't a personal attack, he simply wanted to be sure the product he was using was safe, whether this was an isolated incident or a symptom of failures in quality control. After all, there are no CE markings on the box or product. Yes he could've been more verbal in the first emails, but how typical of a customer service team was that first response! You can almost hear them laughing to themselves. And of course they became concerned when they discovered the guy's machine had spectacularly failed. Shame they didn't take him seriously before then. Confidence already lost.

Anonymous said...

Ande, was there any outcome from the Trading Standards communications? My machine failed today...

Ande said...

Hi Anonymous, thanks for your message and sorry to hear that. Please feel free to write about it and include links to pictures if you want.

Regarding your question, I received an email from the Trading Standards on the 11th October 2010 as follows

Presso Coffee Machine
General Products Safety Regulations 2005
Cooking Utensils (Safety) Regulations 1972
The Material and Articles in Contact with Food Regulations 2005

Your complaint concerning the above product has been forwarded to me by the City of London Trading Standards Service. I am currently investigating the importer’s compliance with the above Regulations in connection with that product. I shall inform you of the outcome of those investigations.

Yours sincerely


Hope it helps.

Anonymous said...

Ops, another one :-(

Michal said...

Hi, it just happened to me as well. The arms are broken. Being honest, I pushed hard to get nice coffee - but I do not consider myself a strong man.

I asked for spare parts. I wonder - how to remove the connection arm? On the top it is easy, but I have a problem at the bottom? Do you know?


Ande said...

Happy to know you didn't hurt yourself. My parts came with instructions and I replaced it myself as it wasn't a difficult task. I don't have them anymore but I'm sure they would be happy to send you a copy. Basically you need to remove two pins (one each side) with a nail of same or smaller diameter. Hope it helps. Happy new year!

Anonymous said...

Interesting blog. Two friends of mine and myself all own Pressos. Each unit has failed on more than one occasion all in different ways. In one particularly explosive incident the Presso fired the little screws around the kitchen, like bits of shrapnel. In another, the pressure tore through the side of the (metal!) portafilter.

Nevertheless, we all carry on using our Presso everyday, going for slightly less than max pressure when drawing the shot. We are probably idiots and/or addicts but we do love the results the Presso gives.

Our experience of customer service has been pretty good. Replacement parts normally sent out within a few days.

I notice Presso now sells under the name ROK. They say they've increased the strength of the metal by 35%. They also still say "For maximum crema try overfilling the cylinder with hot water to increase the pressure." Which is what I do, but no way would I suggest anybody else does it!

Ande said...

Hey, thanks for the update .. I might be tempted to try it again with this stronger Presso/ROK, specially if they fixed the problems.

I totally understand the addiction and still believe it's a great idea.
Would love seeing a pressure gauge embedded in a future version :)

If you have to, hope you guys keep replacing just *parts*

Take care!

Anonymous said...

Oh man, the emails exchange is hilarious, what a pussy you are man!!!

Anonymous said...

I know this is an old thread but I got here, so others may as well. I just had the plastic piston crack on my ROK and squirt me with hot water, just emailed the company and will see what happens. Quite scary!

Unknown said...

Was there ever any follow with the legal aspects fo this? My Presso broke last week when the plunger broke halfway. It launched pieces in to the air, striking my neck. The pieces were followed by scalding hot water, resulting in 2nd and 3rd degree burns on my neck. After a week, I have blistering, skin loss and lasting redness. This is a pretty significant design flaw, given pressure build up is necessary for proper espresso.... Thanks in advance

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