The LIGRE youn Brews up a Quietly Rebellious Design

07.08.24 | By
The LIGRE youn Brews up a Quietly Rebellious Design

Designed by industrial studio Relvãokellermann, the LIGRE youn portafilter espresso machine doesn’t look like the part of a rebellious design. But in fact, the minimalist machine is intended as a direct response to both an icon and the status quo it helped shape. Where most high-end espresso machines borrow heavily from the muscular and mechanical Faema E61 designed by Carlo Ernesto Valente in 1961, the German studio’s efforts have produced something more minimalist, monolithic, and modern intended to reflect how we drink and live today.

A modern black LIGRE youn espresso machine with a digital display showing temperature settings stands on a gray surface against a beige background.

Credited to designers Ana Relvão and Gerhardt Kellermann (with the assistance of Florian Giele, Ingrid Kussatz, and Theo Luvisotto), certain tropes associated with German design and culture are cited as integral to the contemporary coffee machine’s design, specifically an emphasis upon “efficiency and functionality” alongside the creation of space.

A person adjusts the temperature on a modern, sleek LIGRE Youn espresso machine with steam coming from a metallic frothing pitcher. A matching grinder and tamper are placed next to it.

Close-up of a modern espresso machine's control panel with three buttons and an LCD displaying temperature settings at 94°C and 130°F, showcasing the precision of the LIGRE Youn series.

Stripped of any expressive curves, the anodized aluminum sheathed slab is scarcely interrupted across its face, with only a cylindrical group head, linear steamer wand, and lapel-sized monochromatic display adorning the otherwise seamless Ligre youn’s angled front. A trio of large physical butterfly buttons grace the top, representative of Liger’s “sensual engineering” intended to simplify operation to most easiest of actions versus the screen-laden controls of many modern coffee and espresso machines.

Modern countertop coffee-making setup featuring a LIGRE Youn espresso machine with a wooden handle, digital display, stainless steel milk frother, tamper, and various coffee accessories on a wooden surface.

The only bit of warmth offered beyond the beverages the machine produces is the punctuation of wood of the youn’s portafilter handle. Despite its austerity, the design warmed up judges, earning it both an iF Design Award and gold at the German Design Awards.

Minimalist display featuring a modern LIGRE Youn espresso machine on a short rustic stone pedestal and its matching grinder on a taller, weathered stone pedestal against a plain backdrop.

A minimalist kitchen counter featuring a modern espresso machine, a milk frother, a grinder, a tamper, and a ceramic mug. Decorative flowers are placed in a small vase to the side.

Alongside its matching sidekick, the Ligre siji, the youn’s dedication to intuitive simplicity does hide a slew of sensors hidden within designed to optimize coffee extraction. But the machine keeps users more than arm’s length away from such concerns, operating using both an ‘Easy’ mode for times you just want a cup immediately, alongside ‘Nerd’ mode where all brewing parameters can be tweaked to a user’s exact preferences.

Modern espresso machine with a sleek design, featuring a metal body, wooden handle, digital temperature display, and branded "LIGRE youn" on the lower right side.

Available in matte black or silver-beige, simplicity doesn’t come cheap, with the Ligre youn retailing northward of $4,300 with its matching grinder nearly $1,300 before even factoring in the cost of the brand’s own selected roasts into your morning brew equation.

Gregory Han is a Senior Editor at Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at