I’ve slowed down on my coverage of new coffee products being released to the market. There are so many to keep up with, but very few stick out in a way that really gets me thinking.
The latest innovation to catch my eye and keep it is the VOOM Coffee Scale.
Departing from traditional scale functions, VOOM’s LCD screen doesn’t just show you the weight and time of your brew, but a variety of things that coffee lovers of all stages will find practical and useful. See for yourself.
VOOM For Experienced Brewers
As someone with plenty of experience brewing coffee, I’m particularly thrilled about the chance to interact with the larger coffee community using the intuitive brewing profiles. I may have the chance of emulating the brewing styles of baristas I look up to like Matt Perger or Chris Baca – and they might even try my profiles once I’ve shared them.
VOOM For Newcomers To Home Brewing
If you’re still new to brewing coffee at home, I think the VOOM could be an invaluable coffee companion. Learning to brew great coffee by watching YouTube videos only goes so far. There’s a disconnect between the digital video and the physical actions of brewing – but that gap is bridged, thanks to the on-screen brewing curves and other data.
I believe the dynamic coffee to water ratio display will also be big for many newcomers. Understanding ratios can be a challenge. I’ve tried to break it down as much as I can, but I understand that doing math early in the morning (especially before caffeine) can be a no-go for many. With the dynamic display of the current ratio, the math is done for you. All you have to do is pour until you reach your target ratio (I like 1:16).
VOOM For Businesses
This scale’s community-oriented features provides businesses an innovative way to interact with customers. Roasters can create brewing profiles for specific coffees. Cafes can share their recipes with customers who also brew at home. This is a clear and easy way to maintain engagement with customers after they leave your physical location, which can mean increased brand loyalty in the long-run.
As a former coffee shop manager/trainer, I also see training value in the scale. Now trainers can let baristas work on espresso and filter brewing on their own, without the trainer having to stand over them and tell them when to pour and when not to pour. Trainers can then review and compare the brews on the app to see how well the barista is doing. This could help many cafes streamline their training.
Honestly, I’m very impressed with VOOM. I believe the scale’s on-screen features are far more empowering than those of other smart scales in the space. That you can see important brewing data (like the dynamic ratios and brewing curves) is incredibly clever and very empowering for veterans newcomers to great coffee.
You can see the full campaign on Kickstarter. If you’re interested, get in quickly while the VOOM’s available at the $99 price (regular price $199).
Despite working in a coffee shop for 3+ years, I never had the chance to play with a drip cold brew coffee maker before a couple months ago. I had always used the immersion cold brew method exclusively. And, frankly, I was skeptical of drip cold brewing.
Drip cold brewing just seemed so fickle and tedious. Why would I fidget with the water drip rate if I could just throw it all together in a french press for 12 hours? Immersion cold brewing is consistent and straightforward. Drip cold brewing seemed unnecessarily difficult.
When Osaka contacted me and asked if I wanted to try their drip cold brewer, I had to accept. It was time to put my expectations to the test. Would drip cold brewing be as tedious and energy-consuming as I imagined?
Osaka Cold Brew Dripper Review
Honesty time: Osaka provided me with this product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. If I wouldn’t suggest this brewer to a close friend, I wouldn’t waste your time (or mine) writing about it.
The first thing that struck me about the Osaka Cold Dripper was how different it looked and felt. I see a lot of copy-cat coffee products out there, but this isn’t one of them. This was a breath of fresh air for me.
The carafe is made of borosilicate glass. It feels sturdy and classy like any great coffee carafe should. The other parts (upper dripping chamber and coffee chamber) are made of a durable plastic. These three main pieces stack comfortably and give you a view of the entire process. Altogether, the brewer stands 10.5 inches tall, which makes it suitable for any kitchen.
The dripping adjustment mechanism made me nervous initially. Though it doesn’t feel flimsy, I had my doubts about how long the plastic would last with repetitive twisting. After I used the brewer a few times, however, that concern drifted away. It’s there to stay.
Overall, the entire brewer feels streamlined, durable, and simple.
Function + Ease Of Use
The entire process is more simple than I initially imagined:
- You grind coffee at a medium-coarse setting and place it in the coffee chamber. Then you place the dispersion screen (stainless steel mesh) over the grounds.
- You place ice and some water in the dripping chamber and assemble the tower.
- You slightly adjust the dripping speed so that 1-2 drops fall per second.
- You adjust if needed over the next 2-5 hours.
After going through this process several times this Summer, I realized that – to my surprise – it’s not much more effort than the immersion method. Adjusting the dripping, finding the right grind size – these things aren’t burdensome or annoying after all. Even clean-up is easy since the grounds are confined to a small area.
I also discovered that it doesn’t take 12 hours to make cold brew coffee using the slow drip method. It takes 2-5 hours. That’s a big difference. Being able to set up the brewer in the morning and enjoy a glass of iced coffee in the afternoon is a big plus in my mind.
The only issue I ran into was the melting of the ice. My ice cubes are large and kept fusing into one giant ice blob. A couple times they clogged the draining area, which stalled the brewing and probably messed with my results. I’m not quite sure what I could have done differently in regards to this, but it doesn’t spoil the entire experience for me.
For the most part, the cold brew turned out great. It featured the characteristic low acidity and bitterness I appreciate in cold brew. The mesh filter helped bring out some fuller flavors by letting the oils and some micro-grounds through, but the mouthfeel was still on the lighter side compared to immersion cold brew.
I was satisfied with the coffee quality, but not always amazed. Some of the batches were just not quite there quality-wise. I believe these consistency and quality issues resulted from my ice problem. This could probably be worked out with a little more experience.
I love brewing with the Osaka Cold Brew Dripper. It’s well built, is simple to use, and brews great cold brew coffee in just 2-5 hours, depending on batch size and drip rate. At $30, it’s far more affordable than those giant Hario towers or other similar devices.
This brewer (and drip cold brew in general) is more than a visual gimmick – it’s a legitimate rival to immersion cold brewing.
If you’d like to explore the world of slow drip cold brewing, I highly suggest this brewer.
Osaka Cold Brew Dripper Brewing Guide
Let’s look a little deeper at the brewing process. While I became well acquainted with this brewer over the course of the Summer, I’m not a slow drip expert. This is my first drip cold brewer, after all. If you find an improvement to the process, I’m all ears!
- 40g Coffee (medium-fine grind)
- 125g Ice
- 75g Water
Collect your materials. Place the coffee grounds in the center chamber, shake to level, and top with the metal dispersion screen.
The official Osaka guide says this about the water to ice ratio:
Do not use too much water as it will not be cold when finished, and do not use too much ice as it will clog the dripper. Try to find an even balance.
Frankly, that’s not helpful at all. I eventually landed on using about 125g of ice and 75g of water. It worked well, but I’m not certain that’s the ideal ratio. You also want to add about 10g of cold water directly to the coffee grounds. This helps prepare the grounds for absorbing and releasing water.
Here’s the fun part.
Slowly twist the drip adjustment handle so that 1 drop of water falls every 1 second or so. The dripping rate will change slightly as the ice melts, so don’t stress over being uber-precise here. You should see the drops hit the dispersion screen and begin to saturate all the grounds evenly.
Come back every hour or so and check the drip rate. If it has slowed or sped up, adjust appropriately. After 3-4 hours, all the ice should be melted and water drained. Take apart the brewer and clean out the coffee area.
You can store your cold brew concentrate in the fridge for up to two weeks. When you’re ready for a glass, enjoy it as is (super strong) or cut it with an equal amount of cold water and top with ice. If you’re feeling adventurous, try out a few of these creative cold brew drinks.
If you’d like to try out the slow drip cold brew method for yourself, check out the Osaka Cold Brew Dripper.
If coffee ground static gets on your nerves as much as it does mine, you’re going to love this trick. James Hoffmann, 2007 World Barista Champion and author of the World Coffee Atlas (an incredible book), released a video in May demonstrating how to eliminate coffee ground static that occurs when you grind your coffee.
My primary grinder, the incredible Baratza Virtuoso, is notorious for creating a lot of static and causes my coffee counter to be quite dirty sometimes. This trick fixed the issue in no time. I’ve been doing this for the last two weeks and my counter has never been cleaner.
Here’s the video, which first appeared on JimSeven, James Hoffmann’s blog.
There’s no shortage of coffee subscription services in the world, but very few have captured my imagination like Crema.co. This young company launched in late 2015 but has already established itself as a leader in the online coffee marketplace world through great coffee, compelling storytelling, and an innovative platform.
Emily McIntyre is one of the co-founders of Crema.co. She has her own consulting business, Catalyst Coffee Consulting, is writing a novel, and loves delicious coffee. Captivated by her work and passion for coffee, I sent over a few questions about her time with Crema.co. Her responses made me thrilled to be part of the specialty coffee industry, and I have a feeling you’ll be inspired by them as well.
Photo by Ashley Tomlinson of The Little Black Coffee Cup
What about Crema.co draws you in as more than a casual employee?
When Tyler Tate invited me to join him as a co-founder of Crema.co, I jumped at the chance because I believe that the platform has the chance to help shift the way coffee is traded globally, toward increased transparency, better wages for everyone, and more information on all fronts.
I love the storytelling side of this industry, naturally, and am obsessed with the relationships we create together by pursuing this magical liquid in all its passion and ritual and hard work. Crema.co is a beautifully-designed platform for this kind of relationships.
What makes you most excited about the things coming up at Crema.co?
Two things: first off, as of May 1, we are giving between $.10 and $1 per bag we sell to Food4Farmers, a nonprofit that works in Nicaragua to mitigate seasonal hunger for coffee farmers. We are excited to join in and help with the urban farming, microfinance, and education that’s happening on the ground in the Jinotega area.
Secondly, we are about to launch office coffee! We are stoked to sell the same delicious coffees in 5-pound increments for teams around the country, and we will be doing it through a Slackbot integration that allows users to upvote coffees, leave feedback, and even communicate with each other about coffee right in their normal workflow.
What inspired the Netflix-like “Brew List”?
My co-founder, Tyler Tate, has a background in creating the search experience and had put a lot of thought into how to present single origin specialty coffees. This approach allows the user to choose a custom coffee experience (drag and drop!) while also indicating how frequently he or she wants to receive coffees. It works really well.
Does Crema.co partner with farmers and roaster in a unique way?
Yes; we are the only coffee subscription that connects so many great artisan roasters and with customers all over the world in a choose-your-own-adventure, roasted to order, format. We don’t partner directly with the coffee farmers at this time, but we work with roasters that have an emphasis on careful, responsible sourcing and on treating farmers well.
Do you have a favorite farmer story?
Some of my favorite coffee stories happen when my life as a coffee pro and writer/photographer collides with Crema.co. Like with the Ethiopia Shantawene from Dapper & Wise: that’s a coffee I sourced with my other company, Catalyst Coffee Consulting, and those photos are ones I took at the Shantawene mill. I love it when a farmer I know and respect is featured on my site. Connection, you know. That’s what we all want.
What’s changed at Crema.co since the Kickstarter campaign and launch?
Lots of things! More coffees, more roasters, better systems, and a great team of folks who make this all run smoothly. The Kickstarter campaign was important: we had the privilege of inviting all Kickstarter backers in to our beta period to give us feedback as we developed the site and everything that goes with it. Building on their feedback, we built the site you see now, but we’re always tweaking and refining it. We’ve learned a lot about making the process easy for roasters, about sharing the stories and making better coffee possible through our Brew Guides, and about building the ultimate coffee destination. We have a long way to go and all sorts of ideas for the future!
What’s the outlandish dream embedded in the Crema.co mission?
I hinted at that above. We want to be instrumental in shifting the way coffee is traded globally: away from a commodity and toward community. We want to see farmers, roasters, and everybody else who participates in the coffee value chain receiving fair value for their work as well as real recognition for their contributions, and to see innovation and quality soar. I think it’s possible.
Speaking of Crema.co, I’m drinking an iced pour over of a coffee from One Village Coffee, one of their partner roasters. Over ice, this washed process Papua New Guinea has a gentle apple sweetness that turns into a pleasant orange acidity. The coffee has a smooth aftertaste with a note of toffee. Yum!
I personally backed Crema.co’s Kickstarter campaign in early 2015 because I thought the business would do great things for the global specialty coffee community. And I was right. Two years later, the business is thriving, farmers are becoming recognized, and great coffee is spreading.
If you’re in the market for top-shelf, sustainably sourced coffee beans, give Crema.co a shot. You won’t regret it.
For the first time in years, a new coffee product has seriously disrupted my regular coffee routine.
I’ve been brewing coffee manually for a while now. I’ve found my own systems, my preferred brewing methods, my typical routine. Just when I thought no new product could shake things up and cause me to reevaluate my coffee habits, some cloth filters from Coffee Sock arrived in the mail.
I’m a big paper filter guy. I love how easy they are. I love the lighter body and crisp flavor. But these cloth filters seized my attention. I haven’t used a paper filter in weeks because I love using them so much. Let me share with you why.
Coffee Sock generously offered me a couple of products in exchange for my honest feedback. Since I’ve enjoyed using the filters so much, I decided they deserved a blog post. I assure you that these words are my own and that my opinions are in no way influenced by the generosity of Coffee Sock.
1. Cloth Filters Encourage A Syrupy Body
I’ve always been a champion of the crisp and clean body that paper filters produce, but the syrupy, juicy body that comes about from cloth filters is captivating. The cloth allows the coffee’s natural oils to slide right through. These give the final mug a smooth, syrupy feel and contribute towards a fuller flavor. The coffee grounds and micro-particles, however, are kept from entering the final mug.
While I still appreciate the thick and clean mouthfeel that metal and paper filters produce, I’m loving this in-between zone where I get to experience the feel and flavor of the oils without the sediment.
2. Cloth Filters Can Be Used For Ages
I’ve been using these cloth filters almost exclusively for the last two months. They’ve gotten a little darker in color, but I’ve seen no tearing, thinning, or any other kind of decay. They function just as well as they did the day I opened the package.
While rinsing out the filters isn’t a quick as throwing a paper filter away, it sure is more rewarding knowing that I’m not producing a lot of paper waste over time. These cloth filters compliment my values of minimalism, practical purchases, and reusable tools.
3. Cloth Filters Are Travel-Friendly
Lauren (my wife) and I are preparing to travel internationally and work remotely for the next year or so. We’ll be living out of backpacks, so space will be very limited. Instead of lugging around 50 paper filters or a metal cone (which we’re less fond of, though still enjoy), we’ll be able to take a single thin, reusable cloth filter.
Specifically, we’ll be taking the Coffee Sock Travel Filter, which is designed to be used on the road. It consistent entirely of a cloth cone and a holding wire. So simple. So travel-friendly.
I didn’t think I’d be crazy about cloth filtered coffee, but I was wrong. I am slowly being converted to a full-time cloth filter user.
If you’d like to try cloth filters for yourself, I suggest taking a look at Coffee Sock. The Texas business (my homies) focuses solely on cloth and sells filters for pour over brewers, cold brew, Aeropress, tea, and beyond.
Who knows? Maybe you won’t be able to stop yourself from converting as well.