By Jeremy Martin
Sunday afternoon on the showroom floor: the crowds have thinned out, the excitable buzz of show goers has significantly dulled, and admittedly the luster of what was once brand new and curious has dimmed a bit following three days of convention center wanderings.
The attention of those remaining has invariably turned to the arena where the best of the best brewers, baristas, and latte artists will finally be whittled down and the king or queen of coffee will bask in the glow of their adoring fans.
But I don’t need that, I don’t need to be reminded that I pour the same shaky rosetta every single time and that I can’t tell the subtle nuanced difference between the essence of tangerine and tangelo. No sir, I’ve got my old trusty friend the show room floor to keep me company, and I’m pretty sure it’s still got a few nice surprises up its sleeve.
Just as I was thinking I’d never be good enough to compete in the barista championships, along comes a booth touting its ability to teach me all I need know to be the world’s greatest barista, or at least a better one than I am now.
The American Barista and Coffee School, known for its brick and mortar classrooms in New York City and Portland, have as of recently joined the ranks of the mighty University of Phoenix online and are now offering its full list of courses and seminars in an easy, work-from-home format.
Director of business development Justin Schlieder explains that what the ABC offers is “an employee training platform where coffee shop owners are able to let their employees go through and take lessons and modules with exams at the end. We also built in a retailer tool where the business owners can educate themselves on roasting, going to origin, anything from operations to business development.”
The company is also producing feature-length online and DVD documentaries which examine nearly every facet of the coffee industry. There is no word yet on whether they intend to purchase the naming rights for a professional football stadium.
Speaking of living online, the good folks at Roastlog are totally taking roast profiling ‘next gen’ with their innovative hardware, software and iPad app.
The California-based company founded about four years ago by a pair of lifelong friends and self-proclaimed computer and coffee nerds want to help roasters, large and small, to track profile data, create new roasts and store that information in an easy, accessible, and mobile way.
“We wrote our own software and built our own hardware that can interface with the roasting equipment. It’s an integrated system that began with roast profiling, trying to help people really dial in their roasts, but we’ve evolved into this business platform, managing green coffee inventory, sourcing green coffees, cupping logs. Everything before the coffee is roasted and sold, that’s kind of where we sit,” company co-founder Linsey Fan said.
For those roasting at home, perhaps in the basement or just on your kitchen counter, Roastlog can help you really dial in that perfect flavor, but then you’ll probably still need something to literally put the beans into when you’re done.
Tightvac might have your answer. No, this product isn’t coffee specific, and yes it looks like something you might purchase at 4am from an infomercial, and yes, yes and yes it is definitely something you can put your weed into, but the air-tight, self locking container is also pretty darn handy for storing coffee.
It comes in a whole ton of sizes and colors and is as simple to use as it is genius. A valve on the inside of the canister locks away outside air, and pressing a button on the outside of the lid releases the valve and the air seal is broken, allowing the lid to be taken off.
Bing, bang, boom, super easy.
Lastly, I leave you and the floor with a trend the whole industry has been working towards for quite a while: energy efficient, ecologically friendly equipment.
Wega has a pretty cool machine on the market now. The idea behind the Greenline was to create an almost self learning tool that will automatically adapt to its surroundings and to the people interacting with it.
“It learns your usage, it knows when it doesn’t’ have to run at full speed. Also you can program both the groups to go into sleep mode where the energy usage drops to about half and stays like that until you need it, you push a button and it comes back up,” said the older gentleman whose name I forgot to get.
That way if you hit a lull at the café, you can continue using one group as normal but have the second essentially take a nap until the next rush comes.
New improvements in the four year old design now allow you to track when to change your water softener, replace hopper blades and keeps a watchful eye on other easily overlooked aspects of café life, or at least the details that relate to pulling espresso; anything beyond that might be a bit creepy.
Now I can’t stop thinking about self aware, man eating espresso machines, thanks Wega.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeremy Martin is a freelance writer and photographer who has reported on coffee, craft beer, college sports, and business for a variety of publications over the past six years. A veteran of the café industry and graduate of Western Michigan University, Jeremy lives in Seattle where can often be found making sandwiches from whatever is left in the fridge and cracking wise for the amusement of his adoring wife Amanda.