Advancements in grinding and in espresso craft are important and often steal the show when bombshells drop, despite the fact that a cafe’s sales in straight espresso are rarely more than but a tiny sliver overall. Perhaps to the chagrin of purist baristas, milk drinks and batch brews are typically the most crucial to a shop’s bottom line, and so in that regard, 2016 turned out to be a year in which commercial cafe science revealed its more pragmatic developments.
While there were no major bombshell advancements in professional espresso or grinding per se, humbler yet equally important facets of the service counter saw plenty of progress. Earlier on there was a coincidence of two new batch brewers revealed, both of which take the decidedly least sexy but still vital method in literally spectacular new directions. Later on, we took note of new ground being broken on the milk front, both in its delivery to machines and the performance of said machines in steaming it up.
In keeping with the pragmatism trend, 2016 also saw progress on pop-up-style portability, equipment cleaning, and tamping efficiency. It’s as if the rank and file stood up to the shops’ resident extraction geeks and said, “You know what? Our espresso is excellent already. These pop-ups and events aren’t easy, though, and I’m breaking my back all day with the tamping, bending down for milk, scrubbing out these portafilters… A little help, please?”
Their call has been answered:
“Advancements in barista tools and tech don’t increase the comfort and convenience of barista work merely for pleasure’s sake. While the best tools for the job can aid in worker satisfaction and physical wellbeing, promoting short-term retention and long-term career aspirations of professional baristas, they can also improve product consistency, waste reduction and service speed — all positively contributing to a café’s bottom line.”
“The Ground Control’s foremost departure is that it’s not a drip or pourover-type brewer at all. It’s closer to a full-immersion type of brew, but not exactly. The Ground Control basically subjects a given bed of grounds to a series of quick mini-brews, drying the grounds completely between each brew and depositing all into a single vessel as the method proceeds, for a finished, combined batch consisting of only the sweeter, more desirable and nuanced early extraction, and none of the later, bitterer compounds that come out over longer extraction periods, according to the company.”
“‘On top of producing a better cup, the coffee and teashops that spend a fortune designing a charming interior now have a batch brewer attractive enough to be showcased and not hidden on a back counter.'”
“‘All electronic machines are trying to do, all this technology, what we’re trying to do is mimic or copy what the hand pull machines do, and do very well,’ said Todd Millar, cofounder of Pull Luxury Espresso Machines.”
“The Slayer Steam is designed not only to do for the craft and service of milk-based espresso drinks what their original machine did for pure espresso, but to do it specifically in high-volume, fast-paced settings.”
“Blake’s espresso-focused 1,500-square-foot customization studio just north of Seattle, Wash. is where all the magic happens, involving a combination of low and high-tech methods. ‘We do a lot in a pretty small amount of space,’ Ellul-Blake recently told Daily Coffee News.”
“A robust and well-crafted solution for retail coffee service, portable or permanent, a Barista Capsule is a prefabbed station that’s roughly six feet long, three feet deep and of appropriate height for above-counter coffee gear. Each has built-in copper plumbing, a 100-amp electrical panel, and various configurations to accommodate a given business’s needs.”
“Having already undertaken nanotechnological R&D to alter the surface of the steel out of which they forge their steam wands to achieve an inherently more hygienic, non-stick surface that does not depend on an additional coating that eventually wears off, the company has now employed that same technology to their portafilters. Going forward, all new NS machines will ship with filter-holders enhanced on the molecular level to be easier to clean.”