The Espresso Machine Restoration site
A non-commercial site for those interested in espresso equipment repair and restoration.
Metal finishes
What am I talking about?

I am referring to the panels that cover your machine and ultimately defines the entire look of it.  For example the
Isomac machines are great to look at because of their retro styling which just gleams away in your kitchen.

We have all been in the same situation when we have a new piece of equipment - it is so new and shiny that you are
too afraid to use it in case you scratch it!  Let me explain the various finishes and what you can do to preserve or
restore them.

How did I get interested in metal finishes?

This all stems from my vintage watch collecting hobby.  Within a few years I learned a lot about restoring the watch
cases and bracelets back to their original factory condition.  Most of this work I learned myself by practising on
cheap inexpensive watch cases but also from visiting a friend's watch case factory across the border in China.
Mirror finish

Along with brushed steel mirror must be the most popular finish to our machines there is.

Usually when you buy a new machine the mirror polished panels will be covered in a white plastic film.  What
happens is that the sheet stainless steel manuf. supplies the sheets already polished and then protects them with
the white sticky film.  The metal company that makes the panels will keep this on when they cut, form and bend the
parts of the machines.  

How is it done?

Without going into too much detail we use a metal polishing compound, a mop, a polishing motor and a great deal of
skill, patience and brute force!  The mop refers to the round wheel which is made from dozens of layers of soft cloth
sticthed tightly together.  The mop has a hole in the centre and is then placed on the spindle.  The spindle has
some tapered thread on the end and it is this that secures the mop in place.  

So standing with the motor spinning you load up the mop with some compound. Different metals require different
compounds which are colour coded.  Basically all you do is firmly and securly hold the item to be polished up against
the spinning mop.  The item being polished will get extremely hot - too hot to hold in fact but you should never wear
gloves in case it gets caught by the motor.

It is hard work and to do even a small piece - e.g. a drip tray may take up to 30 mins.  

My precious Isomac Tea is all scratched what can I do?

Don't worry, any metal shop worth their salt will have it back to original condition very easily.  
Brushed finish (aka Satin finish)

I must confess, I just love a brushed finish.  The Linea is a great design for me because it features both mirror and
brushed and contrasts them against each other very well.  

How is it done?

Well as the name suggests it is done by brushing an abrasive along the metal in one particular direction.  The
abrasive may be some form of sandpaper done either manually or by a linishing machine.  You may also use the
scothbrite pads.  Of course at a sheet metal factory they wouldn't waste any time they would just use their huge
linishing machines.  

Can we do it ourselves?

Yes of course we can but before you reach for the scouring pad you have to realise a few things.  What you are
doing is scratching your steel.  It is as simple as that.  However the difference is that by scratching it in the same
exact direction over and over again it looks great!

I don't really want to encourage people to start modifying their machines but if you are interested then please email
me.  The benefit of brushing is that the tools required are some wet/dry papers or some scotchbrite pads and a
straight edge.  It is far quicker than polishing and is fairly easy to do.
This website is created by Paul Pratt, Hong Kong 2004. If you would like to use any of the images or text I am sure I
will say yes, but please ask first!  

Email me here.
This website is created by Paul Pratt, Hong Kong 2004-05. If you would like to use any of the images or text I am
sure I will say yes, but please ask first!  

Email me here.

The Linea has both brushed and mirror finishes.
The base is mirror finished steel.
Mirror finish on the drain trays.
The green block is the polishing compound.
One of my polishing motors.  The two rods are the spindles onto which the mops thread on.
The mop on the end.
Satin brushed finish.
A good contrast beween mirror and brushed.
A nice brushed finish on the Linea body.
I think Mr. Bambi likes the brushed finish - here it is on the GS2.
Some fancy finishes

Circular brushed pattern.  Quite tricky but if you have the right equipment it is straightforward.  Here are some parts
of a Linea frame I experimented on.  This is also the finish applied (in smaller detail) to the main plate of high end
watch movements.   Like the watch industry the finish doesn't alter the performance of the machine but it is just a
way to illustrate how much care and effort was taken.  And to think the owners of the machine picture below have no
idea I customised their machine (:

Now if you want completely over the top here is a 1G Linea with the boilers polished.  It is a sort of sand-blasting
technique I played with.  Again the sad part is that only I (and now you) knew I did it.  Why then do I do it? Why does
a master watchmaker do it to the watch movements, why do Aston Martin hand build their cars?  There is of course
no rational business answer since it takes longer to produce.  The simple answer is because the person doing it
wants to give the customer the best product possible and in so doing add a bit of his/her personality into the

My own opinion (thinking out loud) is that coffee is a very personal business - the best coffee is always the one you
have prepared the way you like it using the origin and roast you like.   I feel nowadays that coffee equipment is
becoming very mainstream and companies are knocking out generic machines in their thousands on production
lines using "just in time" production methods.  

OK I know I sound like I want everything - I want craftsmanship together with perfect quality control at prices that can
only come from mass produced machines.

Metal polishing is not exactly rocket science but you do need to correct tools to do it properly and safely.   My
polishing motors scare the crap out of me since they are very powerful so my advice (if you want to get an old
machine mirror finished) is to find a metal company in your area to do it for you.   You can try a satin brushed finish
and I am preparing a page with "How to" instructions at the moment.
The boiler struts of a Linea.
In place.
In place with all components installed.
Nice shiny boilers.
A better pic.
This was a 3 year old machine that I overhauled.
My little circle pattern again.
With components in place.
Some fancy work on the boiler mounts.
Close up of the boiler mounts.
Lft side original scratched. Right side after polishing.
Same panel.