Please forgive me if I have a bit of a memory lane moment.
Ahhh, Pasquini.... my first "super serious" espresso machine, circa 2000. You made beautiful espresso for me... you opened my eyes to how good espresso could be.... why did I sell you??! Why!?
Oh, I remember. I needed the dough.
I can't believe it's taken me almost eight years to meet Guy Pasquini, the owner of LA-based Pasquini, a machine importer, and designer / manufacturer. I bought a Pasquini Livia 90 back in 2000, when there were very few heat exchanger machines available on the market for consumers; it changed the path of my espresso pursuits.
Pasquini is a unique beast (both him and his machines). He was an importer of machines (La Cimbali, I believe), and one day, his mother, of all people, talked to him about home espresso machines. Florence Pasquini wanted a good machine for the home, so Guy researched a few and made some suggestions.
"No, Guy, I want a machine that can steam and brew at the same time!" she said. Guy looked around, and there weren't any machines readily available that ran on 110V and did what Momma wanted.
"So I went to Olympia with a set of specifications and, after a lot of dealing and talk, had my machine" Pasquini told me. That machine was the Livietta, which he brought to the US in the late 1970s (it was featured in a NY Times article about "high end espresso machines" in 1979). The market didn't even exist, but Pasquini slowly built it up.
In 1990, after running for over 10 years with the Swiss-made machine, Guy approached Bezerra to build his next generation model, the machine that would become the Livia 90 (and one that is still for sale to this day). There were many challenges with this machine too, including Bezzera's recent (last five years) forray into "prosumer" machines, selling a machine that's essentially identical to the Livia90, but with a plastic body for hundreds less.
All through that time, Guy Pasquini was a true pioneer in the world of consumer espresso. He is most likely the first person to bring a heat exchanger machine to the North American market. His Livia 90 model is the second longest-running heat exchanger machine still available today (honours for this spot go to Elektra's Micro Casa Semi Automatica, first available in 1983). One big difference is that the Livia 90 is Pasquini's "spec" - he came up with the design and parameters for the machine, and Bezerra built it. Without Pasquini's intent to meet his mother's wants and desires for an espresso machine in the kitchen, the entire prosumer landscape might be radically different today.
More recently, Pasquini has resurrected the "Livietta" line and name with a new range of just-under $1000 machines that feature dual thermoblocks to get the job done, and as he described it, "we went with an on-demand, actuated aluminum thermoblock system that is completely dry between uses and uses less power". Pasquini said that the brew on demand system has "no compromises whatsoever for the normal espresso loving consumer" but at a decent price - especially with how high the Euro is going these days.