Sprudge.com was in attendance as the rolling Alpha Dominche road show stopped by Blue Bottle HQ on Monday, November 11th, to show off what has got to be one of the fanciest coffee carts in the world. The evening's highlight? A custom Steampunk counter in the Blue Bottle public cupping room in Jack London Square. Walter and Isaac Bombeck from AD were on hand to brew Blue Bottle's Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Konga Sedie Natural and Guatemala Acatenango Gesha, meant to showcase the machine's flexibility and production capability.
On display was the Steampunk Mod 2.1 from our friends and partners at Alpha Dominche, a full emersion precision brewer that can be integrated into a countertop. The boiler is tucked underneath in a tastefully wood paneled chamber. The model I saw had a kind of knock box and variation on a pitcher rinser inset, along with a stealthy Mahlkonig Tanzania grinder. The brewer's distinctive “crucibles” and the Google Nexus 7 control panel are on top.
The Steampunk is made of custom machined stainless steel and cut glass. The relatively transparent machinery up top creates a theatrical brewing process, where everything from tamping to preinfusion, to agitation and pour via tap handle are out in the open. Isaac (Ike) Bombeck cuts the glass tube stock himself in the basement of Alpha Dominche HQ in Salt Lake City. And Walter Bombeck told me: “99 percent of the machine, by weight, is made here in the U.S.”
Using a custom app for the Nexus 7, you can execute recipes that you’ve created or that others have published. The kind of overall pitch we heard at the event went something like this, as quoted again from W. Bombeck: “This is about taking the guy that makes really good pourovers, your director of coffee, and being able to repeat that every time, no matter who is brewing it. It’s about creating consistency, quality, and efficiency.”
Hypothetically, in a production setting, the Steampunk 2.1 can make roughly 40-50 12 oz cups an hour. A four group model could scale that up to over 100 cups an hour, for which a busy café could dial in a coffee and run the same recipe for every brew. The Steampunk controls temperature, time, agitation, and the barista selects one of three metal filters and has the option of adding a paper filter. With those filters the machine can emulate everything from a French press to a Chemex in terms of mouth feel and extraction profile.
The Alpha Dominche Steampunk 2.1 should be ready to ship later this year – they’re waiting on both NSF and UL Certification. Apparently the Steampunk had to undergo some pretty rigorous stress tests: to test the integrity of the glass, the NFS testers required Alpha Dominche to whack the brewer with lead balls. To test the resilience of the control panel, founder and CEO Khristian Bombeck apparently opened up a spigot to dump brew temperature water all over the Nexus 7, which is, apparently, splash proof.
The Alpha Dominche crew, Walter and Isaac Bombeck, who manage Customer Relations and Facilities respectively, along with PR Expert Jessica Tocci, will continue their trek along the US West Coast, stopping at the likes of Four Barrel Coffee and Ritual Roasters in San Franisco, and Sambalatte Torrefazione in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, we've heard of Steampunks prepping to be shipped as far away as Wellington, New Zealand, where Flight Coffee has not one but two on order for the hotly anticipated refit of their Flight Coffee Hangar cafe & bar concept.