Spot the difference: take a look at the world’s first coffee machine

By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: Italian coffee specialists Saeco is currently celebrating the 25th anniversary of its first ever fully automatic coffee machine. After rustling around in the archives, has located an image of its breakthrough product, believed to be the first fully automatic machine marketed to domestic users.

The differences between Saeco’s current hero product, the Xelsis, and this vintage unit, called the SuperAutomatica Twin, are quite noticeable. Firstly, the 1985 unit requires knobs to be twisted in order to adjust settings. These days, users need only touch the control panel to bring up their preloaded settings to get their desired coffee.

The other big difference is in the design. The 80s were a strange time for fashion (parachute pants, leg warmers, fluoro hair extensions), but it’s still hard to imagine that grey plastic on white was ever considered desirable. Fast forward to 2010, and the stainless steel rectangular lines of the Xelsis are the height of fashion.

The 1985 Saeco SuperAutomatica Twin.

The 2010 Saeco Xelsis.


Also in 1985…

– Bob Hawke was Prime Minister of Australia.
– ‘We are the World’ dominated on radio.
– ‘Back to the Future’ was the highest grossing film.
– The computer game ‘Tetris’ was first released.
– It was officially the worst year in history for aviation disasters.

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