By Jeremy Martin
Having had a full day to absorb all the wonders of the showroom, and a good few hours of nearly sober rest Friday night, I was able venture back into the Washington State Convention Center on Saturday morning with fresh eyes and an inquisitive mind, ready and willing to be wowed by all things coffee.
Some of the products I may have missed the day before all of a sudden took on a new light, announcing themselves like caffeinated sirens luring me into their booths.
Now, maybe it was still early or maybe all the free Nespresso in the SCAA Media Lounge was getting to my head, but was I the only one who thought the Roaster Dynamics display looked like it could have been lifted directly out of Goldfinger’s underground hideout?
What turned out to be a highly technical, intimately programmable roast control system, in the harsh florescent light of day seemed out of place without a suave super villain on the ready to cut James Bond in half with a lazar.
What the machine did have however was an affable, talkative, and very charming creator named Paul Ribich who was happy to speak about the awesome work he has been doing for the past decade.
“I’ve been doing profile and control systems for coffee roasters for ten years now. This is a sample I brought to the floor so people can see the way the software is and how we can set something up. I do everything from logging systems to just profile burner controls all the way up to adding full automation on machines,” Ribich said
If early 60’s gold hording megalomaniac isn’t your motif of choice, Curtis was putting to use a new brewing system apparently inspired by the seamless lines and sleek design of everyone’s favorite cleaning robot, WALL-E.
When I passed by, Curtis’ Seraphim Brewer was being demoed by Byron Betts of Victrola. Betts touted the machines programmability, ease of use, and it’s below bar boiler and water tank which frees up valuable counter space.
“It’s pretty awesome, I had never seen it until this morning, but within 10 minutes I had two coffees dialed in to where I really like them. It’s been very consistent, every single brew has pretty much been exactly the same,” Betts said.
I sampled a Guatemalan which had a velvet, chocolate feel without coming across as overly sweet. Betts rightly towed the company line hinting that good coffee is good coffee, but he seemed pleased at how the Seraphim contributed to the final product.
Curtis also had an oatmeal dispenser; I want one for my bedroom.
This is where I stop and give a shout out to Black Owl Café in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the first place that ever trusted me to operate a Siphon Brewer. In case you’re wondering, I only broke one.
I mention this because our tiny, 100-percent salvaged wood café would have felt like less of a tinderbox of death if we were using the new Espresso Parts Halogen Siphons instead of an open butane flame.
An extremely hot Halogen lamp is embedded in a durable control box which may or may not come in other colors besides black. The siphon brewers are placed on top of this rectangular box and, well, you know the rest: the water boils, the coffee brews in the top chamber, and all of your customers go ga-ga over the ‘Breaking Bad’ style meth lab/coffee set up that just made them a cup of coffee so hot they’ll have to wait another 10 minutes to drink it.
Or maybe Siphon brewing is your method of choice—I don’t know. Me, I like Softbrew, the porcelain pot steeping method designed by Sowden.
So how stoked was I to find out that the company is planning to release a new line of pots, for both tea and coffee that come in funky colors? They’ve even for some reason decided to give the new line human names. ‘James’ is black and cylindrical with roundish edges and has a green lid. I like James. I’m going to buy him when he is released.
Check back here on Barista Magazine’s blog for my third and final installment of wild and weird finds on the SCAA show floor, coming to you Sunday night.
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.