Kees Van Der Westen Espresso Machines: Best Picks and Reviews
A gorgeous espresso machine is the perfect focal point for a high-end cafe. Not only does it look beautiful, but it shows your customers that you take coffee seriously.
Kees van der Westen is a Dutch brand known for quality espresso machines with incredible style. No one will doubt your commitment to specialty coffee with one of these bad boys on the bar!
They make four different models, each with its own selling points. In this article, we’ll review and compare all four.
At A Glance:
The 4 Best Kees Van Der Westen Espresso Machines in 2021
Kees van der Westen (KVDW) makes top-end commercial espresso machines destined for the best coffee shops. They brew incredible espresso, but they stand out aesthetically from Italian brands like La Spaziale and Vibiemme machines, thanks to cool steampunk styling and endless customization options.
|Kees van der Westen Slim Jim Duette||
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|Kees van der Westen Speedster||
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|Kees van der Westen Mirage Duette||
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|Kees van der Westen Spirit Triplette||
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The Slim Jim is the newest addition to the Kees van der Westen line, but it has quickly become our favorite. Combining the best of the Mirage and the Spirit has become something more than the sum of its parts: incredible functionality at an affordable price.
While the Mirage uses a heat exchanger to brew water at each group, the Slim Jim has an individual brew boiler at each group like the Spirit. This gives the barista better control over brew temperature.
Each group is equipped with a large display, which you can use to program shot volumes and temperatures. When pulling a shot, it automatically converts to a shot timer.
As with all KVDW machines, pre-infusion is a priority (1). Each group has a pre-infusion cylinder that provides a slow automatic ramp-up in pressure as the shot begins, yielding more flavorful and complex shots.
Kees van der Westen machines are primarily designed for commercial use, but the single-group Speedster could work in a home or small business.
It falls among the more expensive home machines on the market and undeniably among the best and most beautiful.
The Speedster is ideal for a catering business, espresso cart, or small cafe. It has an impressive capacity for a relatively compact machine, with a 3.5 L steam boiler and a 2 L brew boiler. If you’ve spent time researching espresso machines, you’ll know that 2 L is large for a coffee boiler, but this is an intentional choice that improves brew temperature stability.
As of 2020, the Speedster has seen some valuable upgrades. Its longevity has been improved by relocating the electronics, replacing brass components with more durable stainless steel, and strengthening the brew lever. Also, the pre-infusion cylinder size has been increased, allowing a smoother ramp up to a higher pre-infusion pressure.
The Mirage is the brand’s original model, still popular after all these years. It relies on the traditional E61 technology that has been the foundation of top espresso machines for decades, but with some unique upgrades. Without going into rigorous detail, the KVDW design provides improved temperature stability.
You can pull shots using a bastone lever or touchpad, allowing 2 or 4 programmable shot volumes, respectively. Each group includes the patented pre-infusion cylinder that allows for a finer grinder and a more flavorful brew.
The Mirage has a few energy-saving features, which can add up when it runs 24/7. For example, the hot water tap achieves the perfect Americano temperature with the minimum of hot water. It can be programmed to enter low-power ECO mode when not in use.
4. Kees van der Westen Spirit Triplette – Best for Busy Cafes
Number of groups: 3
- Boiler design: One steam boiler + separate brew boilers per group
- Boiler material: Copper steam + stainless steel brew
- Boiler size: 19.5 L steam + 2 L each brew
- Dimensions (HxWxD): 17.7” x 51.1” x 28.0”
For the average cafe, the 3-group Spirit Triplette might be overkill, but if you’re regularly faced with long lines of thirsty customers, this is the model for you. According to Kees van der Westen himself, it’s full of features designed to enhance efficiency without sacrificing quality (2).
“The Spirit is built for super-high capacity, and yet it remains very precise at all parameters: temperature, pressure, quantities, infusion.”
It has separate pumps for extraction and refilling the boiler, so you need never break from pulling shots to refill the boiler. This is key during busy rushes.
Each group has a 2-liter coffee boiler with a PID temperature controller, and a large group head display lets you program temperature and shot volumes and acts as a shot timer.
The Spirit was engineered with ergonomics in mind. Baristas working long hours with a steady stream of customers will appreciate how the design avoids unnecessary repetitive strain.
How to Choose the Best Kees van der Westen Espresso Machine
Kees van der Westen only makes beautiful and ultra-high-end espresso machines. So when it comes to choosing one, it’s about finding the model that best meets the needs of your cafe. This buyer’s guide will walk you through the key factors dictating which model to buy.
Size and Capacity Considerations
When buying for a commercial coffee shop, capacity is the essential factor. Estimating how many customers you plan to serve per hour will help you choose the correct espresso machine.
But underestimating capacity is even worse. If you buy a machine with more capacity than you need, you’re wasting money and counter real estate. You won’t be able to keep up with demand, leading to impatient and unsatisfied customers.
For busy coffee shops, more group heads are vital for preparing several drinks at a time. More oversized boilers are also important, allowing you to make more drinks in a row without emptying the boiler or losing temperature stability.
You may want to consider choosing an automatic over a semi-automatic, which will free baristas to steam milk and chat with customers. It’s also worth looking at ergonomics, according to World Barista Championship finalist Fabrizio Sención (3).
“The barista needs to feel comfortable when using the machine, and also the steamer should be at the right angle for the milk steaming process.”
Workers in busy coffee shops are more prone to repetitive strain injuries.
On the other end of the spectrum, small businesses like espresso carts, caterers, and restaurants can often get by with a single-group, semi-automatic espresso machine. As long as they are commercially rated, like the Speedster, some of the best prosumer espresso makers are great candidates.
Boiler Designs and Why They Matter
KVDW uses two styles of boiler design: the traditional heat exchanger in the Mirage and the more modern dual boiler in the Slim Jim, Spirit, and Speedster.
Their heat exchanger system is very efficient, an updated version of the long-popular thermosiphon-based E61 design. It requires fewer components, making it less expensive, more compact, and easier to maintain.
The dual boiler provides more precise control of brewing temperature.
You can program a specific brew temperature to suit the coffee you are using, and you can trust that it will be accurate within a small margin.
The heat-exchanger design is an excellent choice if you plan to serve the same espresso blend every day. But if your shop likes to experiment with different blends and single origins, consider spending the extra cash on a double boiler.
Interestingly, Kees van der Westen varies their boiler materials in each machine. You’ll find a copper boiler in the Mirage, stainless steel boilers in the Slim Jim and Speedster, and a blend in the Spirit, which has a copper steam boiler but stainless steel brew boilers at each group.
Both copper and stainless steel are high-end choices, each with pros and cons. Copper is more expensive, but it has the best thermal properties. It heats up fast and maintains its heat well. As a bonus, it is naturally antimicrobial. What stainless steel lacks in thermal conductivity, it makes up for in durability and lower cost. It is more resistant to corrosion and the build-up of scale.
Kees van der Westen makes some of the finest commercial espresso machines in the game. They’re expensive, but their beauty and quality more than justify their cost.
Anyone would make a fine focal point for a cafe, but our top pick is the Slim Jim. This new model combines the best features of the Mirage and Spirit, giving you a lot of bang for your buck.
Kees van der Westen espresso machines are made in Waalre, close to Eindhoven in the Netherlands. The company was founded there in 1984, initially making custom one-off espresso machines for clients.
Commercial espresso machines are so expensive because they need to withstand more continued use than home machines. To handle pulling shot after shot all day long, they need higher quality components, which increases costs.
Commercial coffee machines don’t have water tanks because they are designed to be plumbed directly to a water line. A water tank that needs constant refilling would negatively impact efficiency and make the machine much larger.
- Joseph, H. (2019, December 10). Longtime Espresso Pro Michael Teahan on Pre-Infusion, the Problem with SO, and Much More. Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2019/12/10/longtime-espresso-pro-michael-teahan-on-pre-infusion-the-problem-with-so-and-much-more/
- Hof, K. (2010, February 22). Kees van der Westen: The Sprudge Interview. Retrieved from https://sprudge.com/kees-van-der-westen-93613.html
- Ospina, A.K.M. (2017, June 14). A WBC Finalist’s Advice for Buying a New Espresso Machine. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2017/06/a-wbc-finalists-advice-for-buying-a-new-espresso-machine/