What do you buy for the person who has everything? Designer-engineer Paolo Mastrogiuseppe has just the thing.

By Henri du Pleases

The craftsmanship and skill of design displayed by Mastrogiuseppe has the answer we have all been seeking when out on a limb for that special something.

We are talking about a coffee machine. Yes, that item so loved in Italy, the country of this particular craftsman’s origin.

And who better to redefine the design of the not-so-humble coffee machine than an Italian?

Mastrogiuseppe, from Bedfordview in Johannesburg, will not supply you with a custom-painted Lavazzo, or a lowered Delonghi. Instead, he has taken another Italian passion – that of fine, high-performance engineering – and applied it to the world of coffee in his own unique way.

For three years, Mastrogiuseppe has been making perfect scale model Formula 1 racing engines which function as espresso makers he calls Espresso Veloce.

The engines, made in half scale, have been a success story on their own. He has sold his machines to collectors around the world. They are so authentic, that they are considered functional artwork.

The artful designer-engineer has launched his latest object of desire, giving his unique concept wings, in a manner of speaking.

His latest creation, the Aviatore Veloce, is a quarter-scale military jet engine and displays the typical attention to detail for which his Formula 1 engines have become famous.

The new machine is also a perfect scaled-down rendition of the real thing, but instead of propelling aircraft, it produces coffee, tea, or boiled water.

“The dream of Espresso Veloce and Aviatore Veloce were designed at the same time,” Mastrogiuseppe said.

“I started with a V12 Formula One Grand Prix engine and a prototype military jet engine. My Aviatore Veloce jet model is an exact quarter-scale recreation of a prototype that was never put into production during the Cold War era.

“I began the project using authentic aerospace alloys in its total construction and prototype phase. In essence a real jet engine is designed to generate thrust. To create it in quarter-scale and to function as a coffee and tea dispenser is challenging in terms of design and manufacture.

“These units have been thoroughly tested in a laboratory before I put them on the market to ensure that they comply with global health and electrical safety regulations.”

The sliding engine cowl or turbine shell is authentic to the original design of the real jet engine.

Just as the shells part to begin the tea or coffee-making process on the scale model, in its original form the shells form the basis of the reverse thrusters on the full size engine. The engine-cowling splits in the middle once the plane has landed and a braking effect is needed.

“What makes these quarter-scale Aviatore Veloce units so special is that the turbine shells are metal spun from authentic alloys which are used for the fuselage skin on commercial jets. It’s very high-end stuff and a nightmare to form,” Mastrogiuseppe pointed out.

“One would assume that in starting such a project you might make a dummy using lower grade materials, but that was not feasible. I started off working with the very expensive, authentic materials from the outset, because that’s the only way you can gauge the way metal spins, the way it performs in terms of springback, elongation and forming, and the overall time it takes to machine the other components and assemble them to create a masterpiece.

“It is the only way to accurately gauge whether the time-scale of manufacture is feasible.”

The machine is comprised of 300 components utilising various disciplines of engineering practice and no commercial coffee-machine components are used. Everything is specially made for the Aviatore Veloce.

Parts such as bearings, which Mastrogiuseppe cannot make, are sourced from Germany and Italy.

The filter housing and bearing housings – among many other machined components – are made in South Africa and Switzerland.

The motor and gearbox that drives the turbine blades on the jet has built-in slip clutches in its drive-line as a safety precaution, stopping the turbine blades immediately as there is minimal torque on the spinning shaft. It runs at a low 38rpm and will not damage any item that is inserted into the induction cowl.

The 28kg unit is mounted on a sub-frame made of high-end S/S 316 TI alloy and is also authentic in terms of the way the actual engine is mounted in an aircraft.

In essence, this is no ordinary coffee machine.

It does not use capsules like the newer models flooding the market, but instead makes use of coffee from ground beans, coffee bags, tea leaves or tea bags. It also dispenses hot water.

“My true loves have always been high-performance cars and high performance jets,” Mastrogiuseppe said.