The SCAA 2013 Event ended on a somber note, but there's still so much good stuff that happened last week, so much awesome happening in the specialty coffee industry, and we're excited to be able to share it with you. Red Cross USA is always open for donations – these people save lives, and they saved lives in Boston on Monday.
We return to our regularly scheduled Boston coverage with the latest in showroom floor reporting from Sprudge.com staff writer Alex Bernson.
Specialty coffee, you fancy! Everywhere you turn on the show floor this year, someone is bringing a new level of polish and consideration to the the tools we all use. A lot of consideration is being put into design, and it's paying off. We've collected some of the most carefully plucked and tucked new products and product refreshes from the floor for your ogling pleasure.
Bonavita Immersion Dripper and Stands
Last year at SCAA Portland, Brian Gross from Bonavita camped out at his booth, selling the variable temperature pouring kettles that have quickly become ubiquitous. In the back of that booth he had a binder full of potential product renders that he'd show you if you asked nicely. Well, fast-forward a year, and now you can find him at the Espresso Supply booth, surrounded by a cornucopia of real, available for sale products based on those renders, including a new immersion dripper, various brew-cone stands, and a new brewing scale.
The new immersion dripper really speaks to Bonavita's strengths: they pay attention to what baristas need, and they have strong design and production capabilities. The dripper pairs the ease of use of other immersion brew devices with a more durable and attractive build. The cone is bone china on a solid feeling plastic base, with a silicone valve that you open and close with a small lever on the side. The whole thing is dishwasher safe and designed for heavy use. Nordstrom are already using the dripper in all of their cafes for foolproof by the cup brewing (with coffee roasted by CBI), and Bonavita wants to see it in a lot more places. Bonavita was kind of blown away by the initial demand for their products, and in the last year they've focused on improving their distribution and support channels, partnering with Espresso Supply for world-wide sales. I see these as being equally distributed between cafes and homes.
The new grinder from Baratza builds on the success of the Vario-W, beefing it up and refining its look for better service in high-end coffee environments. The internals of the machine have been improved with a more powerful, higher-duty cycle motor and drive system. The automatic weight based dosing feature has been improved with a fancy auto-convert to time grinding mode for portafilter use as well. These internal improvements will certainly make the grinder even more attractive for high traffic environments, but the external improvements are just as exciting.
The new all-metal enclosure and touchscreen look really sleek and professional, making the Forté a grinder that looks as refined and powerful as it actually is. They've clearly considered the aesthetic desires of their customers, and the new removable hopper shows they're also thinking about the barista's functional needs. All of this comes in at under $1,000 – pretty remarkable.
An attention to the holistic needs of your customers, from function to aesthetics obviously pays off: the Forté won Best New Product at the show from the SCAA.
New Breville Colors
Breville is rolling out black and red color options in medium gloss across their entire espresso machine line. Thank. God. We've already established that I think the 900XL is very cool and the new Oracle is super exciting, but I don't think that the original gray color scheme does justice to the machines. It looks a little cheap and dumbed down, when the machines themselves are super advanced. I'm happy they've decided to offer finishes that look like they belong in high-end kitchens, offices or catering operations. And as much as the picture look hot, these machines look even better in person.
Metal and Rubber Hario V60s
Hario had a new line of metal and rubber V60s on display in silver, a sort of burnished brass, and black. The metal cones had detachable black rubber discs so that you could easily mount them on a brew stand or rest them on a cup. It all looks super sleek, though it remains to be seen if a materials refresh will be enough to help the V60 keep pace with competitors like the Kalita Wave.
I finally had a chance to go hands on with the Prima Tamp, and it feels great. The wood handle is very attractive, the locking and adjustment mechanism feels solid, and the wrist and elbow alignment it created felt natural.
Of course the proof is in how your arm and shoulder feels after a slammed bar shift, and I haven't had a chance to try that. But it's great to see companies putting serious thought and effort into making baristas' lives on bar easier, with products that serve real needs in attractive packages you would actually want to use. I'll also mention, this is probably the product that working baristas are the most interested in trying, and yet have the least access to currently. We need to see more of these tamps out in the wild.
Original photography by James Hanna for Sprudge.com