• Reneka Techno

    by  • October 28, 2015 • Espresso machines • 16 Comments

    The rise of high-end espresso machines

    The Techno was a dual boiler machine designed for light commercial use. Because of its features, it was a good choice of cafés, lunchrooms, or small restaurants, where the emphasis isn’t on coffee. The Techno became popular among home users, because of its compact size and modest price. In addition, the Techno was fairly unique in its design, with separate boilers for brewing coffee, and for steam and hot water, and the independent electronic temperature control.
    At that time, there were few espresso machines with similar features. Most were large, cumbersome and costly devices, only useful in commercial settings. None of those was intended, or really convenient for home use.

    Reneka Techno, promotional picture

    Reneka Techno, promotional picture

    Machines such as the Expobar Brewtus, Izzo Alex Duetto, La Marzocco GS3, and Dalla Corte Mini had not yet been conceived. There certainly was a group of highly educated, high income consumers knowledgeable about espresso. The same people who might spend several thousand euro on automatic watches, or carbon fiber racing bikes without blinking. And these consumers weren’t satisfied with the simple espresso machines available to them, or the quality of the coffee those made.
    The idea that this would be an interesting market for expensive, high-end home espresso machines had not occurred to the management at these companies. They probably hadn’t even the beginning of a clue.
    The fact probably also came as a surprise to the people at Reneka. And most likely they were terrified when they found out.

    A brief history of the Reneka Techno

    The first generation Techno V1 was launched in May 2000. The Reneka Techno V2 arrived at the scene a year after the introduction of the first generation. It featured a slight restyling, and some minor updates. It was easy to use, made an excellent espresso, and was small enough to fit on the counter. This was the machine I bought in 2002.
    Meanwhile, an espresso enthusiast in New Zealand had arranged an agreement with Reneka to sell the machine to consumers. His patient explanations about the pros and cons of the machine further heightened its popularity among consumers.
    The Techno V2M came about shortly after, with updates perhaps most driven by (consumer!) input. The temperature control was improved and could now be set to 1°C precision, and the machine featured an internal manometer for pump pressure.

    The heart of the Reneka Techno, two vertical boilers mounted on the same heavy brass carrier.

    The heart of the Reneka Techno, two vertical boilers mounted on the same heavy brass carrier.


    A year later, early 2003, trouble struck for Reneka, when consumer owners started complaining about a foul smell coming from the Techno’s hot water boiler. Reneka temporarily halted production, and engineers eventually came up with a solution (by using Viton boiler gaskets, instead of the usual EPDM gaskets).
    In later years, it turned out the problem wasn’t due to the material of the gaskets. The primary cause was using in an area with heavily chlorinated water, without a proper filter as the manufacturer had advised.

    Looking back, the gasket problem may have been the start of the Techno’s demise. The affair had probably tainted the Techno’s reputation of solidly build, hassle-free machine. Once the online rumour machine gets started, it’s near impossible to stop.
    Perhaps it was also what changed Reneka’s attitude towards consumers. The company had for the longest time been a B2B operation. It had neither the experience, nor the staff needed to deal with large numbers of impatient consumers demanding immediate attention.

    Whatever the reasons may have been, Reneka decided to cease production of the Techno in 2007. That means my initial review isn’t just somewhat dated, it has also become somewhat irrelevant. It is no longer a review of a machine you can buy tomorrow, it’s a look in the rearview mirror.

    Fast forward to 2015

    After 13 years of use, my Reneka Techno still works. It still pours my daily espresso. It continues to make good espresso that many guests feel is better than what is served even in 3rd wave shops. Every cup is at the least decent, and some are actually outstanding.
    Mind you, although the Techno’s features may seem subpar when looking at current day dual boiler machines with PID control, the Techno was years ahead at the time. Reneka’s engineers did a great job when designing this machine.

    Internal arrangement of parts in the Techno. On the left the control box, in the middle the boilers with the group mounted on the same carrier, on the right the rotary pump.

    Internal arrangement of parts in the Techno. On the left the control box, in the middle the boilers with the group mounted on the same carrier, on the right the rotary pump.

    The craftsman at Reneka did an equally good job putting it together. The fact that an espresso machine still works great after 13 years is compelling evidence for its build quality.
    Truth be told, my machine did require a few serious service jobs. In 2008, both heaters burned out, probably due to a power surge. Fixing that wasn’t any difficult. The Techno is put together very well; all parts are logically and neatly arranged, and easily accessible. Although it did cost me a pair of new heaters, the technical manual made repair as easy as assembling an Ikea cupboard.
    Apart from that minor problem, and occasionally descaling the solenoids (three times in 13 years), the Techno has given me absolutely no trouble at all. The water in my area is relatively soft, and I’m using a good water filter/softener.

    The Techno's top boiler carrier with solenoids valves allows for very easy maintenance.

    The Techno’s top boiler carrier with solenoids valves allows for very easy maintenance.


    Opportunities for a Reneka Techno V3

    The market has grown considerably since the introduction of the first Techno, and many present day double boiler machines seem more interesting in features. All these machines are fairly compact, feature PID temperature control, and differ only in internal construction. Unfortunately, most of these are also rather predictable. Most are similarly style blaring chrome boxes with an E61 group attached to it, like uninspired clones of the VBM Domobar design.

    Nonetheless, I think that if the Reneka Techno were reintroduced tomorrow, it might still be a viable choice, if only for its build quality and durability. Well, that and of course for that excellent 3-prong bayonet group that makes for fast and easy insertion of the pf. For the machine’s superb maintenance-friendly modular design. For the steam tip that makes gorgeous pourable foam. And simply for the delicious espresso it makes.

    Perhaps Reneka would be clever enough to throw in a few updated features, such as a PID control for the brew boiler, a way to control pump pressure for (progressive) preinfusion, perhaps a flow restrictor from brew boiler to 3-way valve, VST-like filter baskets, and maybe a slightly sexier package – one that doesn’t feature high polished chrome, or an E61 group.
    All those modifications aren’t major headaches, but relatively small changes. It wouldn’t be designing a new machine from ground up, but rethinking an existing, and proven platform.

    If Reneka were to take that approach, it would make such a Techno mk III (or whatever it would be dubbed) an interesting and competitive 21st century machine, that could easily fetch a price in the € 2000 – € 3000 range.
    That would be a good proposition for both light commercial use, and for serious home baristas. And I might just be among the first to order one.

    Of course, considering the Techno’s history, Reneka would not be too eager to market it to consumers. It may be persuaded to do so through a separate operating company.

    16 Responses to Reneka Techno

    1. Rick Howard-Smith
      April 7, 2016 at 15:54

      Hi Robert-jeroen,
      I am a Techno fan too. I bought a V2 around 2003 from Rene. I have modified mine by adding a 2 inch glycerine filled pressure gauge to the right of the button panel, and last year moved the pump off the machine to make it cheaper to repair. I like the fact that it is much quieter now too. The only problem that I have not solved is the hot water valve hard water issue. It is not really s problem since the brew head serves the same purpose. I am planning on stocking up on parts to prevent a total loss of use. Things like the heating elements with gaskets which might not always be available. What are your thoughts about this idea.
      I helped a friend buy a used one from Halifax Canada. I sent my original shipping boxes to that city so that his machine would get safe shipping.
      Best Regards,

      • Robert-Jeroen
        April 11, 2016 at 00:47

        Hi Rick,
        Good to hear from another Techno fan! Your modifications make a lot of sense. I also liked the idea of using a needle valve, René was experimenting with at the time. There’s certainly room for improvement, if Reneka were to launch a Techno successor.
        As to the hot water boiler, everything in and around it accumulates scale, but that is a common problem for dual boiler machines. I usually descale the valves every few years, but may need to replace the hot water valve all the same. I’m also about to replace the heating element for the second time, which burnt out due to scale (despite using a softener).
        Wrt stocking up on parts, that’s certainly a good idea to prolong your machines life. A friend pointed me to Eevad as a good third party source for Techno spares. Prices are decent, and the people at Eevad are friendly and very helpful. I ordered already ordered a few parts from them, including the group gasket, and new boiler gaskets.
        Best regards,

    2. Robert mckee
      December 11, 2017 at 07:11

      I bought a Reneka Techno from Rene about 2007 (approx). Never hooked it up (health issue, then the 220v delay). Now that parts are hard to find, I’m thinking of selling it and buying something like tha breville with PID temp control. Any guess what I could sell it for (I see none on eBay). Robert. Anyone can find me on fb, last name mckee (the pic of renaissance fair is me).

      • Sam Bachman
        April 9, 2018 at 17:50

        If you have a spare unused reneka techno, I am interested. I have one but it needs rebuilding and I just don’t have the time…if the price is right and we can arrange cost effective transport. I’m in northern va-washington dc area.

        • April 20, 2020 at 07:11

          If you are still interested in the reneka techno (never used, but 10y old), let me know. I just bought the ECM Synchronika. I’m looking in to shipping cost..

          • Rinus SCHUURMAN
            February 15, 2021 at 20:26

            Is techno reneka still available

    3. Sam Bachman
      April 9, 2018 at 17:47

      I too bought a Techno….may have been one of the first to do so in 2004 with the new Mazzer-Mini Electronic with funnel (no doser), also purchased from René in NZ as middleman between the consumer and Reneka. After 3-4 years, I took apart and had to descale the copper boilers and heating elements and a temp probe or two. Also cleaned out the solenoids. Was using the special undermount Brita filters that were to soften, but not sure if they made corrosion an issue. Noticed corrosion on the bolts holding the boilers to the brass parts…..maybe because two different metals….not sure.

      I really miss my Techno as it has some type of malfunction about 3 years ago…assume it may need new heating elements, to be descaled, maybe new probes and solenoids.

      My time is limited and I wish there was someone I could just do this work for me. I had it plumbed for water supply and drain and adapted for 220V. Been sitting in my garage for several years…but not sure if I have the skills to rebuild or if parts are still available. It is probably too heavy for shipping as I believe it is close to 60lbs.

      At this point I am looking at the dual boiler Breville 920XL….about $1100 and repurposing my Mazzer Mini to espresso duty from coarse grind pourover duty!

      • EltonNoway
        May 24, 2019 at 18:24

        Hi Sam. I remember you well from all the various Techno forums from years ago.

        I know this is an old post…but read it and felt your pain. My Techno V1 220V was purchased from Boyds Coffee in 2003 as part of a “study group” prior to it receiving a UL certification. Like you mine is also plumed, drained etc. Mine officially died about a month ago… it actually flooded the kitchen when the brew boiler blew out the bottom o-ring. I knew I had the skills to rebuild it but not the desire. In desperation I purchased a Keurig (yikes)…

        Anyway… after looking at it on the counter for a couple weeks, powered off, dark and cold… (how sad) ,… and my wife telling me to get rid of it, I decided what the hell. I got my moneys worth out of it. I could try to sell it for parts but the shear weight of it and the hassle of preparing it for shipment was more than I wanted to contend with. (I’m 70 years old… ugh!) I gave myself two options.Throw in in the trash and move on. Or, tear it apart and worse case I break something critical and trash it anyway. I decided to tear it apart. Due to its age and corrosion on some fittings, using BreakFree and other lubricants I carefully dismantled much of the unit. Fortunately Reneka sent me replacement o-rings for the boilers back when I purchased it due to some problems users were reporting with them. I never installed them and still had them on hand. Had to order a few small parts found at eevad.com. Long story sort… earlier this week.. I turned on the water and applied power. Eureka… my Techno lives to brew espresso again.
        Don Task

    4. Theodore.
      August 11, 2020 at 08:54

      Hi guys.
      I am another one Techno fan,writing in the Home-Barista, with a dead machine.It seems that something got wrong in the electrical components,so when I open the steam it kills my house electrical connection.Before this,all the kitchen fills of steam.
      I finally found a technician to try to fix it but if it is not possible,i think I buy a Lelit Bianca.

    5. Theodore
      September 27, 2020 at 10:39

      At last,I found a very good service and they could fix the machine.It had the thermal resistances blown up.Because there were not originals,they could make new customized.So,I will drink espresso again.
      By the way,can some guy tell me what is the dimensions of the filter baskets and the shower filter,so as to search the IMS list to replace the original baskets with the ones of IMS?

      • Robert-Jeroen
        September 28, 2020 at 06:26

        Hi Theodore,
        Good to hear you found a place that offered good service! As to the filter baskets, those are a bit of a problem. Reneka uses a filter basket size of 57.5mm, so just a notch under the more common 58mm filter size. There are a handful of aftermarket manufacturers that offer filter baskets compatible with Reneka machines, check with your local suppliers if they can supply those.
        If you’re looking IMS or VST filter baskets or similar precision filters, I’m afraid you’re unlikely to find those in the exact size needed. Regular 58mm filter baskets are a tight fit in the Reneka portafilter, but you could just about make it work by bending the wire a fair bit.
        The real issue is the rim of the 58mm basket. It protrudes just a bit too far to make it fit in the group head. It would be possible to cut a mm or so of the rim to solve that issue, but that is no easy feat.
        Hope that helps,

        • Theodore
          January 7, 2021 at 14:04

          I am here again Robert.I hope you are well and going.
          I finally could put the IMS filter baskets with no problems.Now I ask the following.
          When I open up the machine and after a while,the steam wand begins to send out lots of steam from 1-2 minutes.Then,it stops.But before I shut off the machine,this is repeated several times.Also,the green lights are blinking.
          I put the steam temperature to 109ºC,so as to minimize the pressure,but no better results.
          Can you make a suggestion please?

          • Jeremy
            March 1, 2021 at 20:56

            Hi Theodore, sorry for the tardy reply. Not sure what’s up with the blinking leds. Could be a fill error, perhaps the solenoid failing. If you don’t have it, I think it would be best if I send you the tech documentation, so you can work out the issue. Let me know.

    6. robin
      October 3, 2020 at 11:25

      hello , can somebody tell me how i reset the waterfilter alarm of a reneke live 2 groups? and how i get in the programming modus of the reneka live ?

      thanks already

    7. Theodore
      October 11, 2020 at 12:05

      Thank you very much Robert-Jeroen.
      The technician has put the IMS basket and the shower, very well.

    8. Theodore
      October 11, 2020 at 12:10

      Something I forgot.
      How much time lasts the preinfusion?

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