At Birmingham Coffee Festival, I met the very nice Adrian, the MD of Fracino. Fracino are a Birmingham based manufacturer of espresso and cappuccino machines. When Adrian invited me for a nose around their factory, I leapt at the chance.
On arrival, I was met by Business Development Manager, Josh, who made me a very tasty latte and told me a bit about the company. Fracino, which is short for ‘Frank’s Cappucino’, began in 1962 with one second hand coffee machine. Company founder, Frank Maxwell, found the machine in a shop in Italy. A machine tool designer by trade, Frank bought it, took it home and stripped it down and got it working.
The machine is still working today, and is on display in the Fracino offices. A business was born in Frank’s garden shed, before beginning trading as Fracino in 1990. The company is now run by Frank’s son, Adrian. Fracino very much believe in keeping the company in the family, and instead of moving to a new location, they just keep buying more units on the industrial estate where the company had it’s very first office. From humble beginnings in the shed, Fracino has become a huge company, selling machines all over the world, even to Italy!
Suitably caffeinated, Josh took me for a look around the factory. Fracino is unusual, as they order in very few parts, and in fact fabricate as many parts of the machines as possible on site. Their staff are highly trained specialists, and consider themselves designers as well as engineers, as the creation of a Fracino machine is more creative than your standard factory line.
They also offer a full service (sort of the coffee machine version of an MOT), where the machine is stripped back, thoroughly cleaned and repaired. I was surprised by how small the team seemed to be working on the machines, but there is clearly a lot of pride in the work. I was also amazed to see packing crates ready to take Fracino machines off as far as Japan and Australia.
In the original Fracino office, there is now a mini museum where the original Fracino machines can be seen. It’s fascinating to see how much the machines have changed from the originals from the ’60s. It’s also lovely to see the pride in each stage of the company, from shed to global brand.
Fracino have recently opened a shiny new showroom, where you can check out examples of their machines. Josh walked me through, explaining the different products.
They produce a frankly mind boggling array of products, including traditional espresso machines like the petite Bambino, the domestic Piccono, automatics like Attimo, manual fill like the Classico, the bean to cup Cybercino, the enormous P.I.D, grinders, hot water boilers, roasters, ice machines and glass washers.
There were a few stand-outs that struck me as particularly clever. The Velocino is a commercial machine that combines the best of traditional machines and bean to cup. Aimed at large chains, this machine allows newer staff to turn out great coffee with the automatic settings, but still offering the artistry of a manual machine for more experienced staff members. The clever Dual Fuel machines can be plugged into the mains, or run on gas, offering portability, making them a very popular option for coffee carts and food vans.
Tour complete, Josh made me another latte and we had a chat about coffee culture in the UK. Josh believes that we Brits are actually pretty ahead of the game on coffee, as we’re quick to embrace trends and experiment with coffee beyond your average filter. We agreed we both love the coffee scene in Birmingham. If you like your coffee, there are lots of fantastic independents serving it (often with a Fracino machine…), but there’s a lot less snobbery about coffee than in other cities leading the charge on trendy coffee.
Before bumping into Adrian, I had no idea that Fracino were based in Birmingham. It’s amazing that such a massive name in coffee is based not only in Britain but right here in good old Brum. My morning with Fracino was so interesting, and it was great to have an experience a little outside the blogger. Massive thank you for the invite, guys!
I was a guest of Fracino for a tour, a coffee and a natter, and under no obligation to produce any particular content. All opinions are honest and my own.