Rumors have been swirling for months, but Sprudge can now finally report that San Francisco based start-up Blossom Brewing Company and our friends and partners at the ninety-five year old French-based Unic espresso machine manufacturer will join forces. We’re not even a month in, and 2014 is already looking to be another year of intense competition in the ever-changing realm of prestige coffee equipment.
“Since the beginning of precision brew equipment [Clover], I have always believed that espresso and brewing companies should work together to create a ‘Whole Bar’ experience,” says Anastasia Chovan, the Business Brand and Development manager of Unic-USA.
Chovan was the Director of Sales for the Coffee Equipment Company, the business that built the Clover in 2005, and was then purchased by Starbucks Coffee Company.
She now heads the brand development side of Unic-USA operations, based in Seattle, and has spearheaded the ongoing Barista Nation series of traveling speciality coffee lectures / demos / parties. On the partnership with Blossom, Chovan posits, “Collaboration is key to equalize the bar and make sure that espresso, brewed coffee, and tea are an incredible experience for every customer. The goal for 2014 is to combine our resources, knowledge and experience to provide a precision equipment system to make extraordinary espresso, brew coffee, and tea.”
“We have equipment in the field that is over 30 years old, and hundreds of espresso machines on campuses in Silicon Valley,” Chovan told Sprudge. “Unic believes the Blossom brewer is a great compliment to our line and we will back the Blossom with our sales and service network.”
It’s an interesting partnership, given Chovan’s background with Clover, and also the previous work of Brian Cornelsen, a Unic-USA team member who worked previously as the Director of Strategic Business Development for Fetco. And while the Blossom brewer has already been launched – with appearances at the 2013 Speciality Coffee Association of American convention show floor and articles in Mashable – this new partnership will mean increased visibility for the Blossom, and a prospective price drop to entice new potential buyers.
For more on what this means for Blossom, we spoke to Blossom Coffee co-founder and president Jeremy Kuempel via email.
Blossom is turning two in a few weeks – can you tell us a little bit about how these last two years have been for the company?
It has yielded a few pretty exciting adventures. I’ll never forget the first public demo we did of our early prototype at the 2012 SCAA in Portland–only about a dozen people showed up, but of those few, there were people like Tim Wendelboe and Tim Varney, Jay Caragay of Spro, Joseph Rivera from coffeechemistry.com, and the crew from Slate Coffee Roasters before Slate even had a physical location. We’ve got enough stories like those from the last two years to make a whole blog post, although most of our time is spent engineering and testing designs.
Teaming up with Unic, a company turning ninety-five this year, is a big deal. How did you two meet?
My favorite piece of business advice came from James Warren of Chromatic Coffee when he told me “Jeremy, business is all about relationships.” Anastasia Chovan and I met last year through coffee and recognized instantly that we have this shared passion for precision brewing (the moniker we have started to use for the Blossom brewer, Clover, Alpha Dominche, and the like). She had previously lead sales for Clover, and through our conversations it seemed that company had really started to tell a story about coffee brewing that got cut short by engineering challenges and corporate acquisition. I’m still learning about business, but when hard working people have a shared vision, that seems to be a good foundation for building relationships and doing business together.
What are your goals for the next two, five, heck, even ten years with Blossom and Unic?
Great question! The partnership with Unic allows us to think about equipment in a new way: by designing a whole coffee solution rather than just individual pieces of coffee equipment. More specifically, I’d like to see us collaboratively approach equipment design by putting ourselves in the shoes of the baristas and cafe owners, envisioning a line of customers out the door, and then thinking through the best way to get great coffees into all their hands. Espresso and precision brewing equipment are really two peas in a pod, allowing cafes to offer unique and high quality drinks in both categories. I hope to continue this design process and see more collaboration among equipment guys to make the best possible products for the industry.
Operationally, the next two years for Blossom will be all about making sure each and every customer is as happy as possible. Inspired by some startup advice from Paul Graham, we’ve been focused on doing all we can for our first customers and designing solutions that work specifically for them. We know that support and reliability are essential to great coffee equipment, so that will be priority number one for us.
What’s in the works for the 2014 SCAA Event show floor in Seattle?
We’ve been developing a new iteration of our core precision brewing technology. Since the announcement of the Blossom One Limited a little over a year ago, the goal has always been to eventually drop the “Limited” part and bring the price down. We’ve been open with our customers about this plan and they’ve been excited to help us incorporate their feedback. This announcement will be more than just a fresh face and incremental changes, we’ve actually redesigned every component in the system (even filed two more patents!) and innovated enough in the design and ownership experience that we can confidently call this an all-new product.
UNIC and Blossom Coffee will showcase the Blossom Brewing Technology this weekend at the Good Food Awards Marketplace at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, serving the winning coffees from this year’s Good Food Awards. Sprudge.com is an official media sponsor of the Good Food Awards, and partners with Barista Nation / Unic.