People have been asking “what is the Sanremo café racer, what’s behind it and what makes it special?”, so we thought we’d provide you with a little explanation of Café Racer history, and an insight into what this new machine is all about.

Cafe racer in use

Nostalgia and heritage

In the 1950s the motorcycle was having a glory moment. Rock ’n’ roll was young and there were no speed limits on the newly laid arterial roads across the UK. Mods and rockers drew their battle lines, and on the highways surrounding London, a group who were to become known as the ‘Ton Up Club’, stripped back their motorcycles in a bid for speed and agility. The challenge; to reach 100mph on their motorbikes, otherwise known as ‘the ton’.

The culture that grew up between the fast changing cultural and mechanical developments of the ‘50s, found a place of refuge and like-mindedness in the surge of cafes along the new A roads while the way in which these speed loving rockers customised their bikes arguably laid the groundwork for many of the high performance sports bikes of today.

It’s this raw engineering, stretching the boundaries of power and stability, not to mention a nostalgia for the racer’s heritage that inspired Sanremo's idea for a coffee machine that had the look and feel of a stripped back custom motorbike. The name ‘cafe racer’ was born.

Ace Cafe - cafe racer
Amongst the most famous of these hangouts was the Ace Cafe in North London, which still thrives today, and remains a meeting venue for large numbers UK and international motorcyclists.

Enhanced performance

And so to today and the Cafe Racer coffee machine. Combined with Sanremo’s technological developments over recent years, a drive to enhance machine performance, the fit with the cafe racer ethos was like a glove. Where riders were trying to optimise performance, so too was Sanremo, their goal to produce a machine that looked classic but was powerful underneath the ‘tank’, retaining its stability under the pressures of consistently high (commercial) performance.

CAFE RACER against white wall
The Sanremo Café Racer Renegade, one of the factory built custom models in the Racer range. It has stitched leather side panels and copper plated metal work.

At first glance a showpiece, the Cafe Racer is an aesthetically unique machine. But it’s not just about looks, it has performance and a new level of stability in its arsenal, as well as being one of the easiest machines on the market to operate. As World Barista Championship winner and owner of ONA Coffee, Sasa Sestic says: “…it looks sexy. Seriously, the Café Racer is a machine that looks stunning and has quite unbelievable performance. But is also very, very approachable and easy to use. It ticks all the boxes [for today’s busy coffee shops] in my opinion.”

Challenging 20 years of tradition

With three buttons instead of the average five or six, it challenges the configuration of traditional espresso machines which hasn’t changed for the past two decades. Sanremo looked at the way baristas work in today’s market along with the commercial competitive challenges presented by service efficiency and tailored the ergonomics and simplicity of the machine to optimise productivity, while at the same time making another step in coffee machine stability and extraction precision.

3 BUTTON cafe racer
Unique button arrangement, makes for fast and easy barista work

The result is a machine designed to be operated simply and quickly, maintaining stability regardless of demand. It has one of the highest power ratings on the market, but that power is managed through multi-point PID controls which act a bit like cruise control does on a car. This allows for the Holy Grail of desirability, consistency and consequently an efficient use of power.

coffee dripping cafe racer
Beautiful coffee extraction is easy with a new step in consistency

As specialty coffee goes from strength to strength in its popularity, whether with people looking for a sophisticated pick-me-up on long journeys, or reading the Sunday papers at their favourite Hackney haunt, the Cafe Racer makes high volume, consistently well extracted coffee available to a broad market where other machines fall short in either usability or performance.

Commercial impact

With an inspired design and exceptional performance the Café Racer brings something thrilling and new to coffee, and the impact, like the thrills of reaching the ton in the 1950’s, is already proving exciting to baristas, owners and coffee drinkers alike.