Single Cup Brewing

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Postby timd » Wed Mar 24, 2010 11:24 am

So after reading my email I see SCAA will be addressing the single-serve market at the symposium. Since many of us will be on the outside looking in on this conversation, I figured why not have one here.

I'm not so interested in the Via, K-Cup and pod machines for home use, in fact I believe these do a tremendous disservice to consumers and in the case of a K-cup specifically, create a ton of excess trash. If they disappeared to the shelves of Odd Lots or Ross, I'd be just as happy.

In retail settings we see a wide array things from low-tech and classic up to the fabled Clover. The new Trifecta is generating some conversation but will it prove to be a commercial success? Tru-Bru and various knockoffs are popping up everywhere, Clever gets kudos and bashers, Chemex, a "new-old" option has vocal detractors and supporters. Vac Pots, single serve french presses, flannel socks and elaborate glassware that can turn your shop into an alchemist's lair or make it look like the local bong shop.

With each brewing method there seems to be a million and one "THE way to do it" with very little standardization. Elaborate counterclockwise stirring rituals with old growth bamboo harvested only during the blue moon and carved by 15th generation woodcarvers, up dosing to an extreme, imported water kettles with NASA engineered spouts, greatly variable extraction times, temperature variables etc. (forgive the hyperbole, but it ain't far off)

In some ways it is a clash of cultures in our industry. There has been a neat, orderly way to achieve a standard. Pretty much the debate was: Bunn, Fetco or Curtis? Now we have what amounts to a no-holes barred race to the sweet spot. As is often the case in our industry, people have a strong opinion.

Is the vanilla of a drip brew with an airpot a thing of the past? Can outlier brewing methods become the standard-bearers?

What methods do you count as your favorites? What do you consider an abomination? Do you see single-cup as flavor of the month or is it here to stay? Which methods are most accessible to your average guy who makes coffee at home during the 15 minutes he has to get dressed and out the door?

Questions from a guy who wakes up to a french press (I know, a real sin in this day and age)
Tim Dominick
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Postby ChrisSchooley » Thu Mar 25, 2010 4:34 pm

I really do hope that manual (or at least manipulatable) single service brewing isn't just a trend. I feel like it really blows the doors open as far as playing around and getting new and interesting things out of a coffee as opposed to volume brewing, which really needs to be rigid and standardized in order just to get a quality cup, which itself is incredibly time sensitive in the end. I've still had some really great cups of volume brewed drip coffee over the years, and even recently, but I feel like there is more opportunity to have a really amazing cup with manipulatable single service brewers. Amazing is the key word here. There is a disease in our industry wherein people throw around these definitives and absolutes when it comes to brewing. The pursuit of something amazing is a whole lot more enjoyable than the pursuit of the myth that is perfection. It's about appreciating a brew method for what it is and not slamming it for what it is not. Right now I really dig the clever dripper, and I've been really into the Aeropress lately as something that you can really play around with and get some really nice cups and it's super convenient and easy set up and clean up wise..
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Postby jen apodaca » Fri Mar 26, 2010 1:35 pm

I'm not a fan of pods and most of the single brewing methods on the market right now. We have several hotels and one of our hotels has 2 cup brewers in the hotel rooms. The housecleaning staff regularly runs white vinegar through them to keep them clean. Also, at check in the conceirge will ask you what kind of coffee you would like to have freshly ground and delivered with your morning paper.

Since the company I work for is not focused on coffee it can be daunting to try and train and serve our roasted coffee to the customer. At our nicer restaurants I would like to offer the customer any of our 8 coffees. How to do it with out sacrificing quality is the problem. We have started a french press program, but in a restaurant atmosphere, cleaning the presses has become the main obstacle followed closely by brew times. I have thought about drippers. Maybe that is the way to go for us. Or a syphon coffee trolley that comes out with the dessert tray!!!!!

I think it has been said before by many on some forum (i can't remember who or where), isn't the ultimate single service machine the espresso machine?
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