One of our shops just got the new Synesso Hydra. I first heard of Synesso from David Shoumer’s book when he discussed different single and double boiler machines. I know that they are top of the line in terms of American machinery. There was a lot of talk about getting one and I was giddy when I heard we had actually ordered one and it was on its way. Just the name Hydra sounds so bad ass. Seriously, no? “Oh what kind of machine is that?” “It’s a f@*$%^g Hydra!” I dunno, maybe that’s just me who likes the idea of working on a machine named after a mythical monster. But really, I loved it before it got to the store. When it came in, I was there on my day off ready to put it to the test and see what Synesso was all about.
The features of this thing are amazing; pre infusers, programmable pressure pump engagers, pressure ramping, double insulated steam wands, pull bars, an automatic back flush system (yes!!), the thing is pretty much a barista’s best friend in terms of personalization. It is the highest quality, well constructed, and solid. It took a little while to get used to some of the features and even though it is totally high tech, I personally rely on my own perception and timing to manually determine when things are done and how I should properly adjust this and that. I think in the hands of someone who is really tech savvy it would be a dream. For me, its a dream because it is so fun to play around on and a new way to learn about different technical aspects of espresso machinery. Since it is the highest end machine, I am sure a lot of snobriety comes from knowing all the terminology and features. But, lets face it, it comes down to an advanced interface for manipulating two very basic functions: putting water through the portafilters and steaming the milk.
So, to depart from the jargon and stuff that, frankly, many baristas do not even know how to master, I would rather talk about how it feels. It glides, it is so smooth I have to make sure it is still on, the display and the PID controls are so fun, and I love the lever. Ok, well, I love the lever, but I have this stupid habit of holding the pitcher with my left hand, leaving my right hand free to work around the machine since I am right handed. On the Mistral, this works fine. On this machine, I have to do this funny cross over to pull the lever and work the PID. The Hydra just feels fun, like I am driving my dad’s new sports car. My usual machine is the Mistral and I still love it. This thing was kind of like “the new baby in the family” for our staff. I straight asked Sam which machine he preferred, he looked at me and said, “you really have to ask”? It is a superior machine, and it isn’t a souless piece of tech. The more I use it, the more comfortable it feels and the more streamlined the process of coffee making seems. The steam wand is definitely my favorite feature. The thing is unbelievable. I have never made better milk in my life; what comes out of there is liquid velvet. Not sure what they did that was so different, but it is killer. What is also neat is the double insulation on the wand itself so you can safely move it without burning yourself. My hands thank you for that, Synesso. The portafilters and the PID system are still kind of difficult for me. We have been playing around with timing the preinfusers, things that are really beyond me. I got some really great shots out of having the pump kick in around 10, slowing the pour around 18, then shutting it down at 25~26. To me, the shot quality is about the same as the Mistral, but the steam wand is …. :).
Overall I love this machine. It is fun, technical, impressive, and hearty. I look forward to covering at the other store so I can get my hands on this beauty ><. Thank you Synesso for a great piece of machinery.