What happens when you gather thousands of coffee industry professionals in one large room to show each other all their newest innovations? Well, to tell you the truth—most of them skip past the gelato making machines, conveyor toasters, lid companies, and booths adorned in the traditional textiles of coffee-producing nations, and gather around five or six booths in particular which have the very coolest toys. Here are a few of our findings of the new and cool from last weekend's Specialty Coffee Association of America show in Boston, some of which may be appearing on counters near you very soon—maybe even your own.
No, it's not dressed up in skinny tie, but it's still a sharp-dressed piece of coffee equipment: this piece of counter revolution takes all the biggest infrastructure elements of commercial brewing out of sight of the cafe customer and stows them all away. Modbar reveals only a supersleek bar-top with built-in taps for the simplest and prettiest pieces of the brewing process: a pourover coffee stand with controllable water sprayer, an espresso spout, and a milk steaming wand. Look, ma, no boilers! None showing, anyway.
This beauty, which drew both investment backing and technical input from minds at espresso machine manufacturer La Marzocco and water-heating experts Marco, comes from a three-person company in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and debuted at the Counter Culture Coffee booth this weekend. Will you be able to throw your espresso machine, water tower and fancy kettles away now? Stand by as they hammer out the details.
La Marzocco Linea PB
Hotly anticipated at this year's SCAA was the big reveal of the new La Marzocco Linea PB, an updated version of the company's classic, 20-year-old workhorse espresso machine—if you've gone out for an espresso, you know, ever, you've seen one. This machine brings the user-controllable enhancements La Marzocco's more recent machines have made standard, but to this sturdy, streamlined model. Individual boilers—which the barista can control the temperature of—better lights, digital controls to attenuate all the finer elements of brewing, improved temperature stability—espresso simplicity just got a little more elegant.
Bonavita Ceramic Immersion Dripper
Leave it to the busy hands at Bonavita to continue a steady stream of "why didn't someone just make it like that?" coffee inventions. This time they're back with a ceramic full-immersion drip cone brewer, or in simpler terms: someone finally made a Clever-style dripper that isn't made of plastic. It's ugly as sin (possibly more ugly than the Clevers they were knocking off to begin with), but something coffee people have wanted for years. Like a Clever, the dripper allows for a full-immersion brew for as long as you prefer with final release over top of a cup using a manual valve. We can't wait to try one.
New Award-Winning Aeropress Technique
Still a brew method more popular in Europe than in its home country, the Aeropress stealthily claims its own international competition space alongside better-known contests like the World Barista Championship (to take place in Melbourne in May), World Cup Taster's Championship (to take place in Nice, France, in June), and so on. Washington, DC coffee-master Andy Sprenger (himself a repeat Brewer's Cup champion) took the US Aeropress title this weekend with his new, multi-layered Aeropress brew method, demonstrated with this sexy video over at Sprudge.com. Beyond simply using the Aeropress as a brewing chamber, Sprenger created a two-stage brew where he pours a second dose of coffee over top of the coffee in the Aeropress using a paper V60 filter. What? You'll have to see for yourself—and of course try it at home.
We've written about the Steampunk before on these pages, but the Utah-based company has gone back to their design hive and tweaked and tinkered with their pipe-organ-cum-French-press brewing masterpiece and brought it back to the SCAA show for the second year in a row, now ready for the real world. Look for it to debut in cafes nationwide in coming months, as it officially launches in New York, Philadelphia, Santa Cruz and beyond. Oh, and another thing—it also makes tea.
About the author: Liz Clayton drinks, photographs and writes about coffee and tea all over the world, though she pretends to live in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently compiling photographs of the best coffee in the world to be published by Presspop this spring.