As with all great origin stories, ours starts with two bandmates in a basement. In the early 2000s, Corey Waldron, guitarist by night, was working as a barista and roaster when he started thinking about the disconnect between drink production and drink consumption. As a barista, he understood the craft going into each drink, but didn’t feel it always translated to the customer standing on the other side of a big countertop machine.
Corey’s initial thinking, combined with bassist Aric Forbing’s experience as a machine pattern engineer, soon turned into a brand new way to design an espresso machine, with the inner workings tucked neatly under the counter.
part of the la marzocco family
First introduced to the under-counter concept in 2007 at the SCAA Expo in Long Beach, La Marzocco was an early investor in Modbar. In 2016, La Marzocco took a more active role in supporting Modbar and as of March 2017.
Modbar and La Marzocco now work closely together in all aspects of the business, from sales and service to marketing and manufacturing.
As Corey and Aric moved forward on their original design with La Marzocco, they began to play with the idea of a truly a la carte setup. Where, rather than locking customers into one setup, they could allow them to create their own custom bar flow/spaces piece by piece – I want a couple of these taps, a couple of those and now let’s drop it into the bar. Each piece would be supported by individual stereo-sized modules sitting below the counter.
They built a prototype and presented it to La Marzocco, who were so blown away that the group decided collectively to focus solely on this fully modular concept. On March 1, 2012, Modbar LLC was born.
Corey and Aric started working full-time on Modbar, building a revolutionary new espresso machine from the ground up. They moved feverishly and in a year had developed every element of three fully-functioning systems: espresso, steam and pour-over – displaying the first working models at SCAA Expo in Boston in April of 2013.
Initial demand for the systems far exceeded supply, leading to 6 month lead times. The small team struggled to keep up with orders and the dedicated technical support these new machines required in locations all across the world.
In 2016, La Marzocco, seeing the room for improvement, began to share best practices with their sister company as they took a more active role in supporting Modbar. Product management and development teams started to work more closely, coming up with creative ways to incorporate tried-and-true La Marzocco components and processes into the Modbar systems to speed manufacturing and improve reliability.
As a young company still, Modbar continues to make progress. Yet the same goals drive our design today, just as they did in the beginning – helping cafes create an open bar with the ability to truly interact and engage with customers.