His name is Daniel Schonknecht. Originally from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Dan now calls Melbourne home after living here for the past 9 years. He's a qualified cabinet/furniture maker by trade, though he now spends his days customising coffee machines. Coffee became a passion later in his life, so he combined his two loves to create his dream job!
I first saw Dan's work on Instagram. It was something that the industry was lacking. His fresh outlook on coffee equipment and humble personality were refreshing. I was fortunate enough to meet Dan at the Melbourne International Coffee Festival. We started talking coffee and what was in store for him. Here's a little insight into this legend.
What got you into customising coffee machines?
I was given a Gaggia Classic a few years back. Once I'd figured out how to get some good coffee out of it, I decided I was ready for an upgrade. I bought and sold about 6 machines until I ended up with a GS3. Being a cabinet/furniture maker by trade, I have an obvious appreciation for timber and soon started wondering how I could add some to my GS3. I hand made some side panels at first, then bought a wood lathe and got to work making some porter filter handles. I was never one for social media, but my wife Adriana insisted that there had to be others out there, that would love the same work on their machines and created an Instagram page for me. Within weeks I had people asking how they could purchase products from me. It's crazy how fast this has grown!
What has been your best customisation to date?
It's hard to choose one in particular but there are a few that stand out for me for different reasons. The Kees Van Der Wetsen for Clement Coffee, as it was the first of its kind to be customised in this way.
The Slayer for St. Ali. This was the first commercial machine I'd ever customised and a first using leather to completely cover the back panel.
Lastly would have to be my own GS3, because it was my very first experience customising a machine and basically what launched Specht.
Each of your customisations are unique. Where do you get your inspiration from?
I am inspired by simplicity and I feel as though this is something I apply to each of my custom pieces. I take a restrained approach and try to enhance rather than change machines. Although I have done complete custom body changes, I still try to respect the integrity of the original design. I also draw inspiration from the environment that the machine will eventually live in.
What’s next for you?
There are so many projects on the go at the moment, from some big custom jobs to building a new website and online store. Specht is growing this year with my wife Adriana coming on board. She has a love of coffee and a very creative mind when it comes to design. With 2 minds, who knows where Specht will go this year!
Finally, what is your favourite brew method and why?
My favourite brew method would have to be the pour over. I love the manual method of making coffee by hand this way and I think it really highlights the best qualities of the beans.