Artisanal Technique Meets Modern Manufacturing at IMS Filters


A visit to the IMS factory brings decades of dedication to improving coffee filtration to the fore.

BY TANYA NANETTI
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE

Photos courtesy of Tanya Nanetti

On the outskirts of Pavia, Italy, not far from Milan, stands one of the most historic factories in the area: IMS Filters. IMS was founded in 1946 by Nullo Dandolo Monti and his son, Francesco Ferruccio, but in some ways it’s even older. The company’s history with filters for coffee machines began in the early 1900s, when Nullo Dandolo, collaborating with some coffee machine manufacturers, first designed filters and showers for the earliest models of espresso machines.

Over the course of four generations, the family has specialized in the study of espresso filtration. More recently the engineering company has transitioned into the new millennium by revolutionizing the filter drilling technology—still today the flagship of the company—studying models of showers and net showers for all brands, and creating the foundation for the evolution of the company. Recently, the next generation has taken over the company, with Giulia Monti and Emanuele Monti serving as its current CEOs.

Exterior of the IMS Filters factory in Pavia, Italy.
The IMS factory may look unassuming from the exterior, but the tech inside is cutting-edge.

Inside the IMS Factory

But how big is IMS nowadays? And how is it involved in the coffee world?

Giulia Monti, while guiding an in-depth tour of the factory, explains more about IMS’ production. “IMS, thanks to its 27 employees, produces about 30 to 40,000 pieces per day, in different variants and for many different markets,” says Giulia. “The company’s core business are filters and showers for professional espresso machines, but IMS also produces filters and micro-filters for super-automatic machines, filters for the vending market, for paper pods, etc. Both large brands and small companies around the world always have direct access to IMS and our know-how, and we are always excited to collaborate on new projects and pass on our historical passion for coffee.” She continues, “In recent years, the trend has pushed towards an ever greater personalization and differentiation of products to satisfy different tastes and needs for each customer.”

IMS Filters created for La Marzocco.
Rows of filters created at IMS and customized for La Marzocco.

IMS Makes Filters and Its Own Machines

The factory itself is a huge warehouse where many machines and as many employees produce different kinds of filters. What is striking at first sight is how high-tech, but at the same time artisanal, all those machines look, starting from the old lathe that is more than half a century old.

A lathe machine built more than 50 years ago and still in service at the IMS Filters factory.
Some of the machinery at IMS has been working for more than half a century.

“All the machines are designed, designed and manufactured internally by the company, and the drilling line, being the flagship of filtration technology, has been patented by IMS.” Giulia explains. “For IMS, continuous research and development in the industrial sector, as well as the product, is very important to optimize and industrialize the processes in order to always push for improvement both in terms of quality and in terms of internal control, which has always been in favor of sustainability.”

After the walk downstairs, it’s time to go upstairs and reach the most modern wing of the factory, where the competition filters produced by the E&B brand are made.

The E&B Lab, Built for Research

The E&B lab, launched in 2016, was created as a way to study the most common methods of extraction of coffee that use metal filters, from dripper and AeroPress up to the classic and very Italian Moka pot.

High-end competition filters from IMS.
Filters for competition at the IMS factory.

“This project was initially born with the study of steels for AeroPress filter and creation for the most common manual extraction methods, and obviously with the of the innovative Moka Competition Filters,” Giulia says. “It was only later that the idea was born to propose a line of artisanal Moka pots handcrafted in Italy. AeroPress filters, V60 cones, steel drippers for various methods, accessories, and glassware are strictly handmade by IMS or by Italian artisans.”

Giulia continues, “Also belonging to the E&B lab line is a selection of high-end filters and showers for espresso machines which, in addition to the highest quality of the IMS competition line, have a quartz nanotechnological coating to further improve performance. At the moment there are therefore many varieties of filters that differ in shapes, heights (capacity and weight), diameter, and arrangement of the holes (which identify the filtration), as well as treatments such as electropolishing, which makes the material more stainless as well as shiny and smooth, improving coffee delivery and filter clearing.”

And again, sustainability comes into play, with its packaging made up of recycled paper and cardboard packaging printed by green and eco-friendly Italian companies.

IMS CEO Giulia Monti
Giulia Monti continues the family tradition as the IMS CEO.

What is most striking about E&B production is the extreme care given to any single piece that bears this brand: every single filter, basket, and shower is closely inspected to ensure the highest possible quality. After all, the IMS Competition line was born from the needs of baristas during international competitions to obtain the maximum performance and the best result in the cup for their coffee, so everything should be perfect.

From the E&B Moka pots to the AeroPress competition filters, and from the stylish dripper with a metal filter to the small professional espresso machines, everything here is ready for the next brew. At the conclusion of our tour, Giulia offers us a delicious cup of espresso from a small local specialty coffee roaster, and then it’s time to go.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tanya Nanetti (she/her) is a specialty-coffee barista, a traveler, and a dreamer. When she’s not behind the coffee machine (or visiting some hidden corner of the world), she’s busy writing for Coffee Insurrection, a website about specialty coffee that she’s creating along with her boyfriend.

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