Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Simply excelent coffee

I just returned from a whirlwind week of touring coffee places in Seattle, and hope to post more about that trip. Meanwhile a couple of articles came my way this week that dovetail nicely with the purpose of that visit: looking at ways to deliver great coffee-by-the-cup both in-store and at home that are much simpler and more integrated from bean to cup than current practices.

This piece on a start-up called Perfect Coffee is interesting to me because it's so novel to see anyone trying to make coffee easier and less arcane for the consumer. Now obviously there's nothing really innovative going on here, but apparently precision grinding and packaging of coffee for long shelf life are okay if done in partnership with Blue Bottle but evil if done (better) in a Nespresso Capsule.

Of much greater interest, it seems to me, is this cool experiment done by a scientist whose interest in brewing a great cup of coffee with the lowest reasonable investment of time and money certainly is representative of the consumers I've dealt with at retail. His blade vs. burr grinder test is certainly at odds with industry preaching, while his Aeropress vs. pourover drip results shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's done such taste tests themselves. I'd love to see his experiment replicated at a venue like the SCAA trade show.


  1. Back in college I dated this girl and at her house her father offered to make me some coffee. Of course! Well he handed me a cup 8 minutes later and WOW! It was fantastic (senses could have been affected by the girl, however). Anyway, turned out to be Costco's Kirkland Colombian ground in a Cuisanart and brewed in a Mr. Coffee. Sometimes the stars just align!

  2. A Rotap machine will determine the grind size. Oxygen-free packaging has been around a little (!) while . . . illycaffe packs in nitrogen and their espresso is fresh as can be after months in the tin. I love how the Third Wave continues to invent the wheel. It's almost cute.

  3. Ro-taps are "old school" Robert but they work. There's much more advanced grind analysis tech out there, but only the large roasting firms can afford it. "Quality" in even the best Third Wave places is a vague aspiration; at Illy and Nestlé it is a measurable reality.

    The issue to me is instead of saying you have "high quality" because you are small and know next-to-nothing but care a lot, why not look at the equipment and procedures in place at firms like these and figure out ways to equal or even surpass their quality while not using the tools in the service of marketing-driven medioctiry? Now THAT would be a Third Wave that represnted real evolution from the second wave.

    Here as one of many, many possible examples is the kind of grinder the big boys use. Contrast this with the idiotic giddiness over the new Mahlkönig plate mill, which is a stone age device by comparison: