January 2015 Newsletter
Our best wishes to all our customers and friends for a happy and
safe new year. We're looking forward to the rest of 2015, since it
will mark our 30th anniversary in the coffee business, a long time
in anyone's terms.
During my holiday break I've been contemplating the future courses
of the various coffee brewing technologies. It seems to me that the
silicon industrial revolution has a fair way to go yet. The advent
of new materials and the ability to manipulate them in ways only
dreamed of in science fiction is producing sensor and control
technology faster than it can be applied.
It means that we're getting brewing machines that can control just
about any parameter you can think of, in the search for your own
personal best brew. This comes at a price, of course. Five years ago
an average Breville espresso machine was about $250.00, these days
their top of the line Oracle machine is $2500.00.
While the quality and performance have increased in line with the
price, so has the complexity of the machine internals. Repairs on
these machines are not a simple process, and it's often cheaper for
the manufacturer to simply replace the machine if it breaks during
the warranty period.
The fact that all this slick but expensive technology exists has led
some inventive people to propose that they can build even better and
cheaper machines. If only they had the money. Which, given the
socially networked age we live in, leads inevitably to crowdfunding,
via Kickstarter. By pledging money to a project, you can be among
the first people to receive that item, usually at a substantial
discount to the eventual selling price.
The Granddaddy of these machines was the ZPM Nocturne Espresso
machine, a PID controlled machine with variable temperature and
pressure profiles. Initially (2011) supposed to cost around US$400,
you can now preorder one for US$799, although a production machine
has yet to ship. Then came the Invergo filter brewer, the Bonaverde
Roast, grind and filter brew machine, and lately the Arist superauto
Sad to say, it seems to me that the Arist machine is a total scam
(there is no way to get the performance and functionality at the
price level and size they are claiming, and the backers will never
see a finished machine or their money back.) The Invergo is at least
half a scam (they used the money pledged to set up a company to seek
venture capital, not to make the product.)
Bonaverde also seems to be in trouble, as much from inexperience as
anything else. It appears that most of the offerings are from
graphic designers and engineers who lack real life experience with
actual coffee equipment. I suppose the moral of all this is that if
someone is proposing a brewing device that sounds almost too good to
be true, it probably is, and any money committed is a gamble.
In all honesty I don't think flash equipment does all that much to
improve results in the cup anyway. Better beans trump machines, and
we've got some of the best this month.
This peaberry bean has an intense nutty aroma, soft sweet acid front
palate, medium body and a milk chocolate finish. Seriously
smooth. It will be our standard Cuban for the next few months. Now
that the USA and Cuba are talking again it might get even more
scarce in the near future.
Until next month