Long-time coffee enthusiast Dion Milanesi is turning his dream into reality with the opening of the Black Shag Espresso and EAtery in Invercargill. The boutique coffee store will be unlike anything else in Southland, with Milanesi’s rebuilt 1970s Italian coffee machine.

It took him six months to rebuild the vintage equipment, including having to replace every nut, bolt and washer, sandblast the boiler tank and even built his own replacement parts. He did all the woodwork on it himself including the handles and outer shell. Milanesi bought the machine in Dunedin, and the plans to rebuild have been long in the making.

However, the difference between and standard coffee machine and Milanesi’s lever-operated one is important, he said. “Because the water has more of a contact time with the coffee, there are more oils and it's more concentrated."

For Black Shag café, which opened on Monday, Milanesi partnered with Viking Coffee, based out of Christchurch. The respect is mutual between Milanesi and Viking Coffee owner Markus Hirner.

"It's not just about the machine, it's about how Markus roasts his coffee. Knowing how passionate his is about coffee made it an obvious decision."