Blossom One has shed the flashy wood paneling of its earlier iteration, The Blossom One Limited, and retails at less than half of their original machine’s list price.
Prior to the SCAA Event in Seattle, Sprudge Bay Area desk chief Leif Haven stopped by the Blossom World Headquarters in the SOMA neighborhood of San Francisco to talk to Jeremy Kuempel, Blossom’s President, Matt Walliser, Blossom’s Chief Engineer, and Matt Leanse, Blossom’s Product Designer. Here’s a closer look at the new Blossom One, showing this weekend in Seattle.
Blossom HQ is on Clara Street, a tiny dingy back-alley that hardly looks like the home of a startup precision brewing manufacturer. Or maybe looks exactly like the home of a startup precision brewer company. That’s San Francisco. The garage where Blossom Brewers are born is non-descript and unmarked. It’s also shared with Rip Van Wafels – Kuempel described it as “one delicious garage.”
Kuempel, Walliser, and Leanse showed me around the small office and talked about the thinking behind the Blossom Brewer. Their collective resume looks like it could belong to someone working on a Mars mission, or perhaps cold fusion, with experience at NASA, Apple, Tesla, and more. Instead they’ve made the Blossom Brewer, and plan on expanding their team in the coming months.
The Blossom One Limited claimed to be the first coffee brewer that could maintain temperature for the entire brew cycle within a degree. The Blossom One Brewer, listed at $4,950 (less than half the price of the now sold-out Limited) purports to do the same thing, but this time it’s optimized for the high-volume café environment after testing at Artis in Berkeley and Contraband in San Francisco. Some minor changes have been made, mostly to make it more durable for a high-volume café environment.
But the big changes came in the aesthetic department in order to drop the price to a more accessible level. Sure you lose the wood paneling, but stainless steel is perhaps a more versatile choice in the first place. Where the $11k Limited screamed Porsche 911 – hideously fast and gloriously opulent, and gawked at by the likes of Mashable for its high price tag – the new Blossom One is more Corvette Stingray: nothing but business and just as fast at half the price.
According to Jeremy Kuempel, Blossom is aiming to end the reign of the V60 as the default single cup brewer. Love or hate it, if you’ve spent quality time making coffee on a V60 you know how difficult it can be to produce the same cup of coffee every time, even in the most practiced hands. Blossom offers easily repeatable, programmable parameters; brew it twice, and you should be able to achieve identical cups.
The Blossom guys assured me that this was certainly still a handmade product. In fact, there’s nothing not artisanal about a cup of Blossom coffee, I was told after perhaps insinuating something to that effect. To demonstrate the care necessary to use the Blossom Brewer, and the control that you’re given as a barista, I was (politely) forced to personally brew some Blue Bottle Burundi Twese Twoterimbere.
The Blossom One can hold a multiple preset recipes that include brew temp, grams of water, grams of coffee, and time. The brewer also comes with some basic recipes for coffees from different regions to use as starting points. You can see Blossom’s own guide on how to brew with the machine here. The thing to keep in mind, and the key to the temperature stability of the device, is that the water is heated in a boiler, but the brew chamber is also actively heated. That means the brew temperature is consistent throughout the brew cycle, rather than plunging precipitously after you’ve poured the water from your kettle.
“Temperature control is what gets you up to the plate with the bat,” Jeremy Kuempel told me. “Other things, like agitation, are just swinging the bat to hit the ball.” If you’re not up at the plate with the bat you can’t really hit it out of the park, I think is the point. Inside the Blossom office you’ll find a series of prototypes, including the first machine, built at TechShop, a shared workspace in San Francisco. Once the Blossom boys hit the temperature stability goal they were aiming for they went about refining the machine to make it fool proof, durable, and barista friendly.
Blossom’s goal is to give baristas complete and repeatable control over the brewing process. These guys are trying to empower everyone to make better-brewed coffee. “Other brewing methods are like painting with a broom,” said Kuempel. “You don’t even know what you’re missing. The Blossom is like painting with a much finer brush.” According to Kuempel, the Blossom lets you crank up the definition and see the differences between really small adjustments in temperature or brew time – in other brewing methods it’s harder to control those variables with nearly as much accuracy.
Kuempel also told me that the goal was to create a degree of brewing accuracy beyond the point where the human palate could distinguish change. Apparently, despite the high accuracy of the Blossom One, it’s still quite possible to taste single degree brew temp difference. It’s pretty clear that Blossom will continue to aim at increasingly higher degrees of brewing precision.
Baseball and painting metaphors aside, the cups of Blue Bottle coffee we brewed on the Blossom were round, well extracted, and crystal clear. One other interesting part of the Blossom Brewer are the oxygen cleansed, chemically inert paper filters, used in laboratories to remove particles as small as 8 microns from solution. You can also do without the paper filter and instead use a steel mesh filter for a thicker, dirtier French press/Kone style cup, if that’s your thing.
Tinkerers and shop owners will appreciate the field-serviceable design of the Blossom One. There are no proprietary fasteners – you can take the thing completely apart with a few Allen keys, wrenches, and a screwdriver. I even got the chance to play a little tinker toys with the naked chassis. Inspired by a PC chassis, it’s pretty much modular. While the Blossom may continue to evolve on the inside, the body is something that they’re probably sticking with.
Is the Blossom One a harbinger of change in the industry away from rustic kettles and wood panels toward a more precise utilitarian ethos? Is the Blossom, with its Silicone Valley roots, part of a high-tech zeitgeist in the coffee industry? Who knows. Some café owners will certainly appreciate adding one more paintbrush to their paintbrush case, or a nice new bat to their bat bag, all in the pursuit of a better cup of coffee.
The Blossom One will ship in July.