21 Ultimate Gifts: Espresso Maestro
A fully outfitted espresso bar for your home—designed by Lamill Coffee CEO Craig Min—including a top-of-the-line La Marzocco machine.
Your own personal barista, trained by Lamill experts, on call 24/7 for a year.
Lamill coffee blended to your specifications and delivered to your home each week for a year.
A cupping session with Min at Lamill’s workshop in California and a private dinner for two hosted by chef Michael Cimarusti at Providence.
Round-trip, first-class airfare for two to Los Angeles plus two nights’ accommodations at the Ritz-Carlton,
There are coffee connoisseurs, and then there is Craig Min. His kitchen is outfitted with a water-filtration system that restores minerals, a La Marzocco espresso machine calibrated to half a degree of accuracy, and six other pieces of precision equipment—from an $11,000 Clover extractor to a Hario ceramic dripper. (No refrigerator, though: "We pulled the fridge out of my kitchen to make room," Min says with a smile. It went into his garage.) As the CEO of Lamill Coffee, a specialty roaster and coffee boutique in Southern California, Min approaches the beverage as art, science, and utter hedonism.
With this gift, one Robb Report reader will join Min for cup after perfect cup, made precisely to personal specifications. Min will begin by designing a home espresso bar as obsessively over-the-top as his own, complete with a GS/3 La Marzocco machine—"the Bentley of espresso machines," according to Min—a dedicated water-filtration system, a La Marzocco burr grinder, and a custom refrigeration unit.
The setup will not take over the kitchen, as Min’s own did. "With three feet of counter space, you can have a fully functional commercial espresso bar," he says. And to be sure things are purring smoothly, a personal barista will be on call, or available as scheduled, to froth the perfect café latte 24/7 for a year.
Min took over his family’s coffee company in 1997, just a year out of high school, but he was hooked long before then. "I remember riding my skateboard on the smooth floor of the concrete warehouse," he says. "I fell in love with coffee and started roasting when I was 12 or 13." Now he has about 35 employees and sells to exclusive restaurants and resorts in the United States and East Asia—including Providence, a Los Angeles restaurant with two Michelin stars. Its chef, Michael Cimarusti, created the dining menu at Lamill Coffee Boutique, Min’s jewel box of a coffee house (where the coffee has its own six-page bound menu).
The centerpiece of the boutique’s coffee machines is the La Marzocco. La Marzocco’s espresso machines have been made by hand in Florence, Italy, for more than 80 years—and always with cutting-edge technology. Among the commercial unit’s features is a tool that measures the temperature of the water 100 times a second to maintain it within half a degree. "We’ve been getting ideal results from our espresso at 197 degrees," Min says, "but blends will vary; some coffees taste better at 200, some at 201."
The La Marzocco GS/3 included with this gift has all the capabilities of Min’s commercial unit but with a footprint of less than 2.5 square feet. The machine can be customized with glass side panels or engraving on the case.
To ensure suitable ingredients for the machine, Lamill will deliver one pound of custom-blended coffee to the recipient’s home each week for a year. The company sources its beans from plantations all over the planet and roasts them to order in small batches at its Alhambra, Calif., workshop. The recipient of this gift and a guest will travel to Los Angeles to join Min for a private tasting, called a cupping session, at the workshop. Min will then create four seasonal, custom blends matched to the recipient’s preferences, which might include a spring selection that incorporates the ultrarare Hacienda La Esmeralda Geisha, a variety that produces only 75 to 100 pounds annually.
While in Los Angeles, the ultra-caffeinated recipient and guest will stay in an executive suite at the Ritz-Carlton. After the cupping session, they will head to Providence, where Cimarusti will host a private dinner for two. Whatever is on the menu, it will no doubt conclude with a perfect shot of espresso.