Saturday, November 01, 2008

LucaTech Industries Unveils the GhettoMax 2000 and Filter Coffee in Australia

Enter Mr Callahan

A few months ago, Adelaide espresso savant Ian Callahan threw down the challenge during conversation:

So here are the rules. Who can find the best/funniest/cheapest/most ingenious piece or pieces of crap to either
A) Chuck Norris (read, brake beat or crush) or
B) McGuyver (read, manipulate or engineer in some way) into a Drip station.

Single drip is okay, bonus points awarded for multiple cup drip/pour-over station, as well as practicality or sheer impracticality.

I feel that we need to set important boundary on the competition - you have until, say, December 14 to enter and you may enter as many times as you wish. (Selected so that my exams will be out of the way and I can have another go.) Your entry must disclose everything necessary to make your pourover station in such a way as to spoil the prior art base for anyone who might wish to patent such a device in future ;P Once all entries have been rounded up, Ian will collate them into a post on his blog and we can vote for a winner, to whom Ian will forward a prize by Xmas ;P

Given that Ian has a blackberry, I expect that he will be aware of what he has signed up for slightly before I publish this blog entry.

What the heck-a-roo?

So, if you're not up to speed on the uber-glamorous world of professional pourover brew stations, you might want to check them out:

4 Cup Station truBru from Taylor Maid Farms - $330 USD

4 Cup Station from the genius tinkerers at Espresso Parts $595

The latest Cafe Culture also features a 4 cup station called the 'terror bar' from Factor Design. Looked expensive - does anyone have a price?

The LucaTech Industries GhettoMax 2000 2 Cup Pourover Filter Station (EXXXTREEEEME)

As you can plainly see, the GhettoMax 2000 has a number of features unparalleled by any filter station on the market:
*Portability (TM) - suitable for catering, you can take the action to your customer and you can save valuable bench space when not in use.
*BrewGuard (TM) technology - owing to the wire guard on the side opposite the brewer, customers cannot touch the streams of filter brewing coffee
*Adjustulon (TM) saucer stands to get the brew vessels at the height of your choice
*PrecizoSize (TM) - the entire modular unit can be washed in a standard commercial dishwasher
*IKEA friendly (TM) - by utilising componentry from IKEA, this station will naturally blend in with the decor of any cafe ... that also uses a lot of stuff from IKEA

And the total cost is ... drumroll ... $5 per unit for the GORM clip on basket and you probably have everything else lying around anyway. To assemble, just buy one of the cheapass baskets, pull out the tin snips and make the necessary bends and cuts to get this:

OK, so it's a total piece of crap. But at least it's a cheap piece of crap.

Part II: Filter Coffee in Australia

Compared with the rest of the world, Australia is truly upside-down when it comes to coffee. We are close to unique in having a retail brewed coffee market that is almost 100% espresso. Until recently, that 'almost' was the nasty drip brewers at McDonalds. You know, the ones where the coffee would sit in glass carafes, baking on a hotplate for days because no Australian would actually buy it? The irony is that standard coffee scoring systems rate coffee for use as brewed coffee. Many is the time that I have had an 80something pointer outperform a 90+ coffee on the espresso machine. That said, brewed coffee is a fantastic way to appreciate the best that the world has to offer. The USA and Japan seem to buy a lot of the world's top coffee for consumption as brewed coffee. We could do worse than develop a fantastic brewed coffee culture in Australia to sit alongside espresso.

Enter the Clover. A few years ago, no-one in Australia had the slightest inkling of interest in brewed coffee aside from roasters, ex-pat yanks and random nutcases. A few brave cool kids bought a machine that produced coffee with a similar taste profile and - bam - people start to show some interest. Never mind the control that it gives you over the brew; people seemed to be more interested in the price tag and the fact that it was a complicated machine more like an espresso machine. Interest continued to gather for a few years and some of the cool kids overseas praised it to high heaven and built up the buzz. It looked like we were at a tipping point.

Out of the blue, checkmate - Starbucks bought the whole friggin' company, patents, kudos and all! A very clever move on their part. Starbucks has phenomenal buying power and reports are that they have been starting to snaffle up a lot of lots that specialty coffee roasters would otherwise like to buy. Is it possible that we could start seeing great coffee coming out of Starbucks? I can't see Clovers being rolled out in Australia for quite some time, if ever. It looks like Starbucks are doing OK, but not brilliantly with their Clovers overseas, with part of the problem being an inappropriate roast level. Still, it's only a matter of time until they get it right ...

Meanwhile, the snapping up of the Clover by Starbucks makes it unavailable to specialty roasters and cafes who might be interested in it. A similar level of control is offered by siphon brewers, but they are a total PITA to clean. You would have to be nuts to try to use one in a cafe ... how do the Japanese do it? Commercial filter brewing machines can produce a great result, but brewing two litres at once probably won't go down well with a public where those that are interested in coffee expect it to be brewed on demand and those that are not won't order it. French press/plunger is gritty and hard to clean. Aeropress doesn't have the clarity of flavour of filter. So, funnily enough, we are left with a renewed interest in single cup, pourover filter brewers - originally laughed out of the room as an alternative to clover. And why not? It's easy. Wet the filter paper, grind coffee, pour over water at the right temperature, serve up the brew and dump the leftovers in the bin. The amazing thing is that pourover filters actually do a much better job of brewing at a decent temperature than some crappy filter machines.

With a nice article in this issue of Cafe Culture, it looks like Toby is trying to take up the charge for pourover filter in Australia. Frankly, I was surprised. I have always pigeon-holed Toby into the high brew ratio, slow dripping, gloopy, chocolatey ristretto camp. After all, legend goes that Toby was critical in helping PB to develop the high brew ratio technique known as 'updosing', which has become as intertwined with the Australian identity in international coffee circles. Everything that I have tasted from Toby's Estate has been consistent with this approach and the TE stores seem to be kitted out with equipment geared towards it. This style of coffee is about as far from the light brewed cup as you can possibly get. Well, in recent years PB has been experimenting with 'downdosing', so maybe this is Toby's equivalent? Maybe Toby's interest simply arises from the similarity between filter brews and the cupping that all roasters enjoy? I'm looking forward to Toby's session on filter coffee as part of the Golden Bean and will endeavour to find out the answers - if I remember!

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At 10:05 PM, Blogger "Grendel" said...

Hot damn - I'm in. See ya later folks, got some garage time coming.

At 12:18 PM, Blogger NN said...

Forgot to include the cost of the awesome filtropa papers... i.e. extreeeeme spec. Or is that Howell spec?

Shouldnt it also include the cost of the ikea flasks and pourover cone?


At 2:19 PM, Blogger yeeza said...

ooh, good timing, a mate is bringing back some Filtropa papers back from his trip in the US next week. I don't know how keen I am to butcher my kitchen appliances, but I'm sure I can come up with something found on the side of the road haha.


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