Coffee Cup
"Espresso! My Espresso!"
An Ongoing Internet Novelette
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2010 - All rights reserved

Coffee Cup
110
SCAA EXHIBITION - 2010
Anaheim Convention Center
Anaheim, California

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

      Hard to believe, but I am home after my seventh appearance at a SCAA Exhibition. How time flies! As with my presence at most of the previous shows, I wore two proverbial hats at this one- one concerning my activities here on Espresso! My Espresso! The other is working with Hottop in their both. Between the two I had little time to do much else except rest my feet for the following day, but it was a fun and rewarding weekend. I got to meet a lot of old friends and acquaintances, make a few new connections, drink a lot of delicious coffee, answer lots and lots of questions, and see a bunch of real great new products.

      One of the pleasant observations I made this year was that nearly every booth I visited which was showing a brewing device was glad, even proud, if you will, to share what coffee they were using to demonstrate their product's abilities. You may remember that at a past show the Nuovo Simonelli folks wouldn't tell me what coffee they were using. This year, I am happy to say that I only had one cup that I did not like (not from anyone you know), and all the rest were good to excellent, and the one that was good just had less body than I prefer, but the taste itself was good.

      As you can see from the opening, distorted photographic panorama taken from my room, I was located close to the convention center, so I had a short, five-minute walk to get to the show. I actually prefer a slightly longer walk as it gives me a chance to warm up, wake up, and get some harmonica practice in on the walk, but the mutually exclusive relationship of beggars and choosers sometimes precludes that. But the weather was beautiful for the entire time I was in Anaheim, and the flight in both directions was uneventful, and that's a good thing.

      My favorite part of the show is walking the aisles looking for items that might be of interest to my readers. For the most part I look for things that are appropriate to the home user, but not always. In any case, let's get to the bling:


CROSSLAND COFFEE
(no website at this time)

      They say that one should save the best for last, but this is just too exciting! While hanging around the Baratza booth, congratulating the folks there for the success and positive comments that the Vario has garnered them, I looked behind me, into a corner of their booth and saw two small machines sitting quietly in the corner. Fortunately, I had found the items which excited me the most all weekend, both from Bill Crossland of Crossland Coffee. Bill use to work for La Marzocco but has now gone off on his own and is on the verge of marketing these two espresso machines. They are so new they do not have names or model numbers yet. I was able to talk to Bill for a number of minutes to at some general info on these machines for you.

      The first is the one I referred to as "the Silvia killer" which gave Bill a giggle. He is not sure of the street price as of yet, but this machine may sell in the $750 range, somewhat less than a Silvia with an added PID. Looking at the specs, if it performs as it looks like it will, I would not hesitate getting this machine over a Silvia.

      This is a single boiler, dual use machine like Silvia, but has a built in PID, real time temperature display, and stainless steel boiler. All functions are controlled from the two dials and the LCD display on the front. Specifications at this time include:

  • - 500cc stainless steel boiler
  • - 2 liter reservoir
  • - H-15" W-12" D-19"
  • - Power - 1110 watts 120 Volts
  • - Portafilter 58mm
  • - Volumetric programming
  • - Electronically controlled, user adjustable boiler temperature

      As impressive as that machine appears it will be, the other machine Bill had on display just may shake up the pro-sumer range of espresso machines.

      This machine may just be the dream home machine many have sought. Small in size (a bit deeper, but two inches narrower than the other machine) this machine packs in technology that many have only dreamed of.

      A patent pending, low-mass brew group is used to allow the machine to precisely control the brew temperature. Beyond just PID, this machine monitors the water temperature as it is about to hit the coffee and controls the temperature by mixing hot water and cold water in real time during the extraction. And as exciting as that is, this temperature is profile programmable! In one-second increments, the user can program the entire brew temperature profile allowing you to do whatever you like. The theory is that using a higher temperature at the early stages of extraction and lower towards the end limits over-extraction. The programmed profile also reacts in a smooth sine way and not just in square-wave steps!

      All functions are controlled and adjusted right from the control panel on top of the machine.

      Do I have you attention yet? It gets better! Once again, the patent is pending on this machine's ability to vary the brew pressure. And just like the temperature profiling, the pressure can be profiled throughout the extraction, in sine-wave smoothness. You can use the first few seconds at a very low pressure for a pre-infusion, raise it for the early extraction, then lower it at the end to avoid over-extraction, or whatever else you wish to do.

      For cleaning, the low-mass brewhead can be removed from the machine for cleaning, virtually eliminating the need to backflush.

      Internally the boiler is what Bill calls a Hybrid Design. It is a sort of HX design, but instead of using a high volume heat exchanger Bill has designed a low-volume, coiled copper tube that holds just enough water for an extraction. The small diameter tube gives more surface area to volume for faster heating of the water and avoids the injection of cold water which would be more difficult to control in his system. Bet I have your attention now!

      This machine is in its final development stages, but Bill stated that it could be ready for production in as little as six months. After talking to Bill on Friday, I sat in my room all evening thinking about it, and the excitement I had was still there with me when I awoke on Saturday morning.

  • Height - 13"
  • Depth - 17"
  • Width - 10"
  • Power - 1250 watts, 120 Volts
  • Pump - Vibe or Gear Pump
  • Boiler Capacity - 3 liters
  • Water Reservoir Capacity - 3 liters
  • Electronically controlled brew temperature and pressure both with user-profiling.

      For those asking about what may be on the horizon worth waiting for, this machine may just fit the bill. The prices is yet to be determined, but Bill stated that at this point the price has yet to be determined (changed from original post. I evidently was consfused as to the pricing. -R.G.). I did everything but beg Bill to keep in touch with me concerning these machines, so stay tuned!

      With the home barista in mind, I give Bill my personal, "Best In Show Award."


ESPRO PRESS

      You are probably familiar with my review of the Espro Toroid Pitchers. It was by chance that I ran across their booth, tucked away in a less-then-easy-to-find corner of the show. This small, Canadian company, eh, has a limited number of items in their catalog, but they spend a lot of time developing them to make them the best they can. When I reviewed the Toroid they had told me to stay in touch as they had a new item to show me.. It was there at the show, their first appearance at an SCAA Exhibition. The Espro Press!

      The Espro folks had looked at the French press, examined how to make it better, and this is the result. A double-walled, vacuum insulating, stainless steel pot with a patent-pending filter system that takes what makes press-pot coffee good and improves it to a great degree.

      Note that the coffee does not go into the filter basket, but into the pot with the hot water as with any press pot. Note the rounded bottom in the inner chamber of the stainless steel pot which should make it easy to clean.

      The system uses a stainless steel filter basket Coffee is placed into the pot and them water added as with any press pot. The vacuum between the walls of the pot keep temperature as consistent as possible. The plunger is sealed to the walls of the pot with a silicone O-ring, and the specially-designed stainless steel mesh filter allows the oils through but not the sediment. They even carefully designed the pouring lip of the vessel to eliminate drips onto the counter when pouring.

      I sampled two different coffees brewed on the spot with the Espro press, and both were excellent with good body, yet none of the nasty sediment associated with press pot coffee. I will be receiving one of these items as soon as they are available so look for a review on this website.


GENE CAFE

      Gene Cafe was at the show, showing the same home roaster they have been selling for a few years now. I consider it the best mid-range home machine for its capacity and ease of use, but its lack of user control, and lack of effective cooling after the roast ends makes it a bit more difficult to roast darker, particularly for espresso. But they did have on display the following roaster:

      It is a prototype, high capacity roaster, with an ejection mechanism and cooling tray with agitation arm. They had no information as to possible production, but if it is programmable for profiling they may have something here.


BUNN TRIFECTA
(no specific web info on this device is available at the time of this writing)

      The Bunn name is one of the best-known when it comes to commercial coffee equipment, and indeed, many homes have Bunn drip brewers on a counter. This year the Bunn folks presented the Bunn Trifecta. I suppose you could refer to it as a single cup, automatic press pot brewer, but this is more than what that description implies.

      The barista has a full view of the brewing process, and while difficult to see here, the two support columns leave the center open allowing the customer to see their coffee being brewed as well.

      A portafilter at the bottom of the glass tube holds the coffee just as in an espresso machine, but a much more coarse grind is used. Once locked in place, the barista starts the brewing process. Preheated water from a boiler inside the machine is injected into the chamber. Air is used to agitate the water and grounds for a more thorough extraction. At the end of the steeping time, air pressure from above forces the water through the coffee and into the serving cup. The portafilter is manually removed and knocked out, and the machine is then put through a self-cleaning rinse cycle. All those functions (brew temperature, infusion time, agitation time, steeping time, water volume, etc.) are programmable from the digital keypad.

      The coffee was excellent and the machine a beautiful example of design (I was drawn to it originally by its visual appeal). The Bunn Trifecta was my favorite commercial device at the show.


COMPAK GRINDERS

      The Compaq folks were there showing their line of quality espresso grinders. Their new(est?) grinder was on display. I am a bit embarrassed to say that I am not sure of the model, and it is so new that they do not list it on their website. This one had the larger hopper of their commercial line. It has electronic adjustment of the grind time with time-controlled dose as well as manual grinding with the push button between the dosing forks. Grind is easily adjusted with the twist-knob on the side of the control panel, and the display shows a relative number for the grind setting. The electronics can also display when the burrs need to be changed, the amount of grinding time user-programmed, based on the user's requirements.


MARLEY COFFEE

      You just never know who you might run across. One of Bob Marley's sons, Rohan, is on the verge of selling coffee grown on the family estate in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, only awaiting approval of his Jamaican Coffee Industry Board license. At the show he was one of the judges of the late art contest, and spent a lot of time in his both visiting and having his picture taken with whomever asked.

      While awaiting approval, he has been assisting coffee farmers in other parts of the world. He offers various shade-grown blends from areas which include Central and South America, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia. He also has an organic, single origin from Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia. All of the coffees are certified organic by the USDA, and the Pacific Agricultural Certification Society of Canada (PACS), and comply by the company's ITAL standards. Keep an eye on this enterprise!


TAMBAROO - "THE FRENCH KISS"

      No adult content involved here. One of the major problems of press pot coffee is the clean up. The mess at the bottom of the press has to be dumped, and you are lucky if it all goes into the trash receptacle and not the floor. The rest must be rinsed out, and as coffee grounds are high in cellulose content they they tend to accumulate in the drains. A solution to this is is The French Kiss.

      So very simple to use- add the amount of coffee you desire to use into the device. As you can see, it is divided into fourths so you can easily measure the amount desired. Drop The French Kiss down into the press pot and add water and agitate. After pressing the plunger down the magnets around the outer edge on the item cause it to affix itself on the plunger's screen support. When you withdraw the plunger the grounds stay in The French Kiss and it comes out with the plunger.

      It is made from silicone and can be flipped inside out to knock out the remaining grounds. As I am in possession of one of these new devices, watch for a review of The French Kiss in the near future on this website.


OTHER EYE CANDY

      Wandering the aisles there are always things that catch the eye whether you are interested in the items being sold or not. Here are just a few:


Proaster company
(unknown web address)

      If you just have to have that small roaster or sample roaster tat lures folks to your store, this just may be what you are looking for. Certainly, for the home roaster, this is for the barista who already has everything. Wow!


Meissenburg Designs

      Walking down an aisle my eye fixated on this booth. The stylized old wood signs were photographically produced and affixed to particle board. There was no one at the booth when I visited, but more info can be had at their website. All signs are made in the USA, presumably in Big Fork, Montana where they are located.


      Next year's show will be in Housten, Texas... See ya'll there!


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