Interview with Superkop / Dutch Designed Manual Espresso Machine

Manual Espresso Machine

Superkop is a Dutch design. And it has been an idea for a long time. It took us quite long before we got to the final design and working device, but we did it as a kind of project.

And it was really to replace an expensive coffee machine where we had to service a lot. Boilers needed to be cleaned, et cetera, and descaled, et cetera. So we went back to the espresso basics, which is good grounded beans with hot water, time and pressure.

And with the Superkop, you can, with a lever, create a substantial amount of pressure – eight, nine bars that is needed. And you press down a piston to extract espresso. The water cup that you see in the middle is effectively the secret ingredient because it holds the pressure, but also doesn’t absorb heat.

So the coffee is really hot when it gets out. You don’t need a lot of parts. You don’t need a lot of electric tonics and everything is back to what we call human powered. And the lever needs to be pushed down six times to create the shots. And that means that anybody in the household can make coffee and it’s very simple.

Interview with Superkop / Dutch Designed Manual Espresso Machine

The workflow for espresso with a normal machine is the same. You put ground coffee in the portafilter, you tamp it, put the water cup on, and pour water in it. Then six times, you push down the lever and when you are done, you can remove the water cup, knock out the coffee puck and restart again. 

So it’s fairly simple. For a household you can easily make multiple espressos one after the other. If you have hot water and ground coffee then it’s okay. So if you have a grinder it goes fast. 

And the idea was really to be a little bit more sustainable, durable. It needs to be, so you can repair it yourself, et cetera.

It’s much less expensive and really for life. It’s built with aluminium and stainless steel. And there’s only five parts that need to be replaced by yourself.  

The History Behind Superkop

So we started in 22, when we had a final machine working, with the ratchet mechanism and the lever mechanism working.

We started with a Kickstarter,  then we got into six countries roughly by the end of the year. So Thailand was one of them, Switzerland, the US, and Benelux. We sold around 750 the year after. Last year, we got into many more countries, and we sold around 1,500 Superkops worldwide. We added Japan, France, Germany, et cetera, and Australia.

We are also with a partner in Melbourne. He started small, but he will slowly grow into the Melbourne area and then find retailers and other shops like in Sydney. And we know that Australia is a coffee country, so we need to penetrate there.  This year we are working on more opportunities like South Africa, et cetera.

Superkop In Australia And Global Distribution

It’s mostly via the website of my partner in Australia. He is now trying to find retailers in Australia that work with him. And he’s talking to various roasters. He’s going to the farm market with a roaster and trying to get the Australian public aware of Superkop. 

We’re working effectively to get more sales points in the country, but also more countries where we are present. We’re working now in the UK and Indonesia. 

The Team

I’m the partial owner and manager, focusing on business development, sales and the logistic production. Jorien is working on marketing the social media site and our website, to make sure that we get more brand presence and product awareness around the world.

The target is to grow, and then with more growth, do more Supercop items. 

Mechanisms In The Manual Espresso Machine

The product is really mechanical. It’s very simple, with only a few moving parts that can be replaced. So there’s two seals in the piston and in the water cup that over time might need to be replaced, due to wear and tear.

There’s two springs that operate the ratchet, and then there’s a gas spring that moves the piston back up when you release the ratchet. So you go down six times, then you push the lever back up straight, and then the piston goes back up automatically and you can restart. We made it as transparent as possible so that there are no hidden secrets.

You can see the ratchet, the mechanism, and you can open it up and repair it yourself. Superkop is built out of materials that will last a lifetime. So your kids will fight over it. And the magic is in the water cup that you put on. It’s plastic and you can put a single shot or double shot in, and it doesn’t absorb the heat and pressure. Therefore it is more or less unbreakable. 

What is a bit unique is that you can also wall mount it. Normally we deliver it on a base with a stand, but you can remove it from the stand and then with a drip tray wall set, you can mount it in a smaller apartment, kitchen, or in your camper van.

Design and the mechanism is trademarked or patented for the next  few years so that we are protected, and to make sure that we get a limited amount of copycats.  

The Superkop Project Line

The product range at the moment includes three colours: red white and black. There is the wall set, and the bottomless portafilter, which a lot of people like because you can make Instagrammable  espresso shots. Anything that comes on top is accessory and replacement parts. 

Marketing The Superkop Manual Coffee Machine

Our go-to market, effectively, is simple. We try to find distributors. It’s a nine kilo device, so it’s expensive and costly to send across the world. We would rather work with a distributor that is present in the market, and they need to find or already have their retail shops that can do demonstrations to the public and the consumers.

Because we think it’s important that you get to know the device, people can test it and get convinced. The retail price is around 800 euros. We try to apply the same recommended price around the world, and are focused on creating and customer demand. Our primary aim isn’t to sell. It’s to get distributors and retail shops, and push the product via those existing channels. We did a lot of marketing last year, and got our Instagram, YouTube, and all those social media channels working. 

Awards And Reputable Reviews

We also got into Barista Magazine with a review. It’s a U. S. magazine that’s  well read in the coffee world. Then Wired wrote a review by their coffee specialist. Mark Prince, the coffee geek from Canada, also wrote a review and he even put it in his kitchen as one of the only devices that he likes so much, it can stay in his kitchen next to all his other things.

We got an award for innovation in the manual espresso or the traditional espresso machines from Foodpath. We were also mentioned by TIME magazine for the top  200 inventions, for which we got a very nice article about something that was unique and innovative.

We also do a lot of campaigning around camper vans, children making coffee, where we are, where you can apply it, to show how it is used and where you can use it. This is just a summary from what we had last year.

And that’s why I’m also talking to you, as we need more exposure and more reviews. We need people to review the device, because only then you can get into the top searches. 

Designing The Superkop Manual Espresso Machine

The process started with a pretty clumsy prototype that worked with, let’s say a piston that you could push down. And then with a water cup where water would be in, we got an industrial engineer designer involved, who perfected the rigid mechanism and really thought through how you do it.  We started with a prototype together with a factory in China, from some Dutch people who had moved their factory to China.

We gave the design studio a task or an assignment and said, “Can you design around this mechanism?” And they came up with two designs, and we picked the Land Rover design. So robust tools, like transparent materials, no buttons, no hidden secrets.

It was effectively an assignment of a bureau in the Netherlands. Then we finished all the drawings around it, and we started production.  

Once we had the design fixed and the drawings fixed, we went to this company that is based in Ningbo, China. They have moved their company from the Netherlands there, and they effectively started with all the production. We produce with them, and then we ship worldwide. 

Spreading The Word About Superkop

We go to shows, like the coffee fest. We went last year to the Amsterdam coffee fest, which is a mix between retail shops and the public.

This year and last year, we went to World of coffee, which is an event run by the specialty coffee association. It was in Athens last year. They have one in Busan, Korea, and one in Copenhagen. At the end of this month we will go to Copenhagen, where we have a stand.

We do a lot of social media, Instagram, et cetera. We have some influencers and we’re trying to work now towards an ambassador program, where we have some people that are really keen to promote our brand in the country.

We also try to be in as many shops as possible over time, which is where the real work is. I think that if we have more shops where either you have a roaster, or it is a Coffee specialty coffee shop or a kitchen appliance shop, then they can demonstrate Superkop. 

Organic Search, SEO, And The Superkop Website

If they know Supercop and they want to know more, people will search “Superkop”. We want to be a number one or number two search result. When people search for “espresso tool” or “espresso maker” or “espresso machine”, we also want to be up there, but that’s harder. 

If they go for “manual espresso maker”, then we hope to be high in the results. But ultimately, our aim is that people need to be aware of Superkop, and that’s a longer play. And when they decide to go after a new coffee machine,  we want to be in the back of their mind for the research.

What Sets Superkop Apart?

It’s a pop from the rest of the other manual Espresso makers. Ours is, I think, a little bit easier to operate. It makes cleaning is easy, and the workflow is easy.

We selected 58 as the size for the portafilter so that you can use some of your items that you may already have in your coffee set up. I think it’s just easier,very robust and it will not break very easily. 

For every Nespresso machine or Senseo machine, when things break, it is thrown away. Longer term we should be thinking more about the planet, and thinking about how we can do it better. And in addition to sustainability, it’s more fun to make a coffee like this, than to just push a button. 

And I think that there’s definitely countries where sustainability, durability, repairability, etc. is becoming a bit more of a front focus. If we can get more people aware of Superkop, either via design or roasters or kitchen or social media, it all helps.

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