Philadelphia-based high-end brewing equipment manufacturer BKON has announced a partnership with coffee industry veteran Nils Erichsen and the Germany-based private equity group Wave Investments GmbH.
BKON burst onto the specialty coffee scene with the introduction of its negative-pressure-centered BKON Craft Brewer in 2014 before recently receiving a $2.5 million dollar investment from a group of private investors, including Chris Lowe, former President of Coca-Cola’s foodservice division, who joined BKON’s board of directors.
Wave, a new investment firm based in Hamburg established to focus entirely on the specialty coffee industry, has led an additional investment of $1 million. A past president of the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe and longtime executive at Mahlkönig GmbH & Co. and Hemro Group, Wave CEO and Partner Erichsen will also join BKON’s board.
BKON Co-CEO and Co-Founder Lou Vastardis, who launched the company with his brother Dean Vastardis, told Daily Coffee News that the investment and partnership with Wave will help lead business development surrounding BKON’s newest product, the industrial-scale Storm cold brewer, which was introduced to much fanfare at the most recent SCA Global Specialty Coffee Expo in Seattle. See our coverage of the Storm here.
The investment will also go toward BKON’s forthcoming headquarters, Storm-focused production facility and R&D lab — dubbed by the company as “Raincraft,” in reference to the BKON’s trademarked RAIN (Reverse Atmospheric Infusion) technology. Located outside Philadelphia, the 14,000-square-foot facility will be used for recipe and beverage development, with multiple Storm units installed in separate labs.
“Lab A is customer facing, allowing us to work with partners while seamlessly moving from recipe ideation, to testing, to the production floor,” Lou Vastardis told Daily Coffee News following an announcement of the Wave partnership. “Lab B will support confidential beverage development efforts for customers and BKON’s new skunkworks projects.”
Vastardis added that the company plans to pursue SQF Level 3 certification for the facility, which will have a capacity of approximately 140,000 gallons per month for coffee companies seeking production services.
“While the BKON Craft Brewer was the company’s entry point, BKON’s efforts are heavily focused on Storm development opportunities, hence the importance of Nils Erichsen and Chris Lowe as active board members,” Vastardis said.
In an announcement released yesterday by BKON, Erichsen said, “As someone who has evaluated and participated many new coffee innovations, I feel BKON’s strategic direction and transformative RAIN process represent the truest example of a disruptive technology for the coffee and tea industry.”