Luca D. Majer
Coffee  Music  and Other Things  


Coffee is the most popular drink in the world and - most likely for this reason - also one of the most enigmatic drinks man ever invented.

My 600-page book talks about coffee and a bit also about my respect for coffee. Clearly, you should not expect the usual book on coffee... Here it is a brief sampler, from the chapter discussing coffee machines and their industrial design.

(Italian-English translation by Alastair McEwen)

"The two Jakes": Bob Evans with Jack Nicholson



FIRST a seventeen-year-old DJ in pro-American Havana, then an actor, then a salesman for Evans-Picone, selling the first pants to American women, and finally a film producer with Paramount, married to Ali McGraw (for whom he produced “Love Story”), bosom buddy of Jack Nicholson (for whom he produced “Chinatown”), and an enemy of Francis Ford Coppola (for whom he produced “The Godfather”, which he radically modified), a photo on the front page of The New York Post because he was arrested by the DEA during the purchase of extremely pure cocaine (a lot, but “for personal use”), four strokes in two days, and a recognized lady-killer. This is Robert Evans, in whose incredible autobiography The Kid Stays in the Picture, makes very frequent use of the attribute most prized by those whose lives are based on constant vicissitudes: cojones. Of the type: some have them and some don’t.

Bob Evans and his cojones immediately come to mind talking of design, the thing that (to simplify matters for our purposes here) casts a merciful and aesthetically pleasing veil over the robotic transformation of society. It is the ribbon on the gift parcel, the frosting on the cake of post-industrial society. (*) But this does not mean that the average industrialist pays much heed to industrial design: when he does, either it is because technically he has nothing to say and tries to distract the purchaser with other things, or he does it with grace and the product – such as Apple or Alessi – becomes a university case-study.

The industrial design of products is often left to those who don’t have the specific cultural background, but try. This also holds even though constructing a “beautiful” product doesn’t necessarily cost more. True, but two conditions are necessary: you need good taste, which is a rare quality, and above all courage, if you are to go boldly where others have never gone before and improve aesthetic tastes.  In other words, you need cojones. As for the rest – as an Italo-American machine-manufacturer put it to my father a half century ago, when he scribbled on a piece of paper a cost structure of a coffee machine: all you need is “10 dollars’ worth of good wax”.


(*) The brilliant designer Shiro Kuramata (1934-1991), whom I met in Tokyo on my first visit there, summed this city up for me in a few words: “a barracks with interior design by Walt Disney”. Still better than a barracks without Walt Disney design