Coffee equipment manufacturer and distributor Espresso Supply has entered the new year with a flurry of activity. Earlier this month, the exclusive worldwide distributor of the Bonavita brand announced that it has gone nationwide with its distribution of the Rattleware Cupping Brewer.
Also earlier this month, the company welcomed its new Director of Coffee, Marcus Boni. Boni was on staff at at Espresso Supply for about a year prior to his more recent year-plus as Vice President of Retail at Intelligentsia Coffee. Now back in the ES fold, he’ll not only be a liaison in keeping the Bonavita and Rattleware brands closely engaged with the specialty coffee community as well as home consumers, but he’ll also be involved with product development.
Before Boni stepped away in 2015, he had a hand in planting the seeds of the cupping brewer at Espresso Supply, or transplanting the seedling, as it were. The Rattleware Cupping Brewer originated as the Kong, the brainchild of former competitive barista and current director of quality control for Denver’s Novo Coffee, Josh Taves. In March 2015, Taves launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund manufacturing of the device, though it ended 30 days later having only achieved about seven percent of its goal.
“Let me start by saying that I am not the most internet savvy person there ever was,” Taves told Daily Coffee News. “In my research I learned that successful Kickstarter campaigns really rely on successful online marketing of that campaign which, as stated, is less than a forte of mine.”
Meanwhile, beyond what could be seen from a web browser, the merits of the device were nevertheless finding enough interest to keep the project on its way to market through more established means.
“In the end, I am much happier that I failed at the Kickstarter,” said Taves. “The value for me in the campaign was that I got to present my product to a lot of movers-and-shakers in the coffee industry.”
Boni was one such mover-shaker. “I helped introduce Josh to Laura Sommers at Espresso Supply, knowing that this product was awesome,” said Boni. “I knew that it would be received very well from the Espresso Supply side of the business. And knowing Rattleware and Espresso Supply, knowing that they had the connections and the means to take a concept and move it into mass or larger-scale production was what exactly Josh wanted.”
The Rattleware Cupping Brewer is unique in several ways. There are the twists and turns of its backstory, but more significantly, it’s also perhaps the only manual brewer on the market that is completely “filter-free.” The brewing method is identical to that of a professional cupping procedure, therefore once the grinds are gently skimmed by a spoon and the remnants descend to the bottom, a stopper seals those grinds into a lower chamber of the vessel, allowing the brew above to be poured out without passing through any kind of metal or paper filter.
The device is also technically Rattleware’s first foray into manual brewing. Best known for its espresso tools, accessories and other commercial café wares, the closest Rattleware has come before in terms of manual brewing gear was by way of its cupping accoutrements — a category in which this brewer does fit, if still in its own niche context. The cupping brewer is ultimately a tool for public educational cuppings, allowing guests to experience the aromatic evaluation and the sip a characteristically similar brew without having to slurp from a spoon or dip their spoons into a shared cup.
“The SCA does have a cupping protocol that requires a certain volume.” Said Boni. “Although it deviates from that volume, what it is doing is affording you the opportunity to sample coffee like on the cupping table but in a more approachable way.”
“It is not intended to fundamentally change the cupping culture and process,” said Taves, who notes that while it’s handy for group demonstrations at events or other industry settings, it’s also just a delicious and unique way to brew coffee for enjoyment in any context.
“Oftentimes I will be asked if it isn’t similar to a French Press,” said Taves. “The metal filter of the French Press when plunged causes a lot of agitation of the coffee bed and stirs up lots of fines. When the liquid is poured, those fine will easily pass through the metal filter and translate to the cup. The RCB totally seals off the lower chamber where any agitation of fines may occur and allows for the ‘cleaner’ liquid above to be isolated and poured. Because of this, I see the RCB as significantly different from a French Press.”
The Rattleware Cupping Brewer is currently for sale on the Espresso Supply website, and the company is also seeking retail partnerships with roasteries and cafes for brick-and-mortar shelf space around the U.S. Boni will be demoing the brewer at the Seattle CoffeeCon on January 27-28, and at the U.S. Coffee Championship Qualifying Event in Austin, Texas, on February 11-12.
(Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the relationship between Espresso Supply and the Bonavita and Rattleware brands.)