(As always this is long, but this time there is a payoff -a shop promotion beginning June 15th is announced in the last couple of paragraphs).
At the shop we keep trying to think up efficient ways for offering a ‘flight’ of coffees option. It exists for wines and craft beers why not ‘nouveau-wave’ coffee. But you say, oh but there is, a flight of cupping bowls -to which I say soup is for sipping, coffee is for drinking; it should stand shoulder to shoulder with all the other big people drinks. (As a quick aside “cupping" coffee is a time honored tradition for evaluating the quality (an over generalization) of coffee that involves sipping it repeatedly (again over generalization) with a spoon -preferably silver). How can people feel justified spending upwards of $8-$12 for a cup (when that’s what it costs -top auction lots this year went for $230 a pound green) of coffee if you have to sip it like a toddler or like you’re convalescing. Alternatively, if you had enough hands/talent (and the overhead for it) you could brew multiple cups simultaneously. Then there’s always FETCOs and brew pots.
Now cupping is great and educational and perfect for green buyers and/or industry types or as a teaching tool. Where I take issue with it, or find it lacking, is as a consumer who wants to just have a ‘consuming’ experience that has parity with wine or craft beer experiences. I should be able to set four ‘cups’ up for someone, and with a brief overview, let them get lost in a sensual, introspective coffee adventure. It should be -here are four coffees from four different regions or processed four different ways or brewed four …, well you get the idea.
Brewing multiple cups, and least in the ‘new’ (which is old -chemex circa 1941 or ‘42) pour over style, in a simultaneous manner takes a couple of people, which equates to overhead -which sadly or not, is a position we’re not in presently.
Brewing multiple cups in the classic, mechanized, FETCO or BUNN or other brand way seems counter to the whole current coffee experience. The only way to settle this would be to have a brew off -like between Ken Jennings and IBM’s WATSON. FETCO versus person -brewing the same coffee and judged by a panel of their peers. But going down that whole road always leads to SkyNET.
So as always, when it’s your blog you get to stack the argument in your blog’s favor. Thus, no cupping bowls, no Army of Brewers and without question no SkyNET. So what’s the solution? An “overpriced"? (who’s to say) group of ‘group head’ like brewers that are automated or mechanized, but highly customizable and or controllable; also known as the Alpha Dominche Steampunk (a multi-head Clover like device perhaps?) Well, the Steampunk, it’s a real thing, Google it -or better yet link there directly: http://alphadominche.com/steampunk/.
We hope it will deliver an elegant solution to the above invented problem -I mean it’s a real problem, but in a first world sense. Now the caveats. We put a deposit down on it about 4 weeks ago. It is suppose to ship on September 2nd. However, I think there are less than 12 shops in the US that have one of these things -they are all the 4 group counter top versions. We signed up for the yet to be in market (yet to be NSF approved, UL listing pending) mod bar version. So all this means is that I don’t think it will ship on the 2nd. I mean, you have to believe, but I don’t want to be Stark-like (see Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 9) in my naivete.
For this “March Toward the Steampunk", Sump is starting a brew around the shop’s brewing apparati tour that (if you accept the challenge) will generate a free Steampunk brewed cup of coffee for you -when said brewing device arrives. Here’s how it works. Starting June 15th we will be giving out cards that have 6 different brewing devices (symbols, names or otherwise -still planning) on it -essentially collect them all in the shop (with a stamp or punch or something -see above note) and you get a free Steampunk brewed coffee. The following is the brew schedule (and it’s laid out from most clarified cup to most muddled (or full bodied) cup).
June 16th to June 30th CHEMEX
July 1st to July 15th V60
July 16th to July 31st KALITA WAVE
August 1st to August 15th BEEHOUSE
August 16th to August 31st NEL DRIPPER (it’s a sock)
September 1st to September 15th EVA SOLO (supposedly closest to an actual cupping without the spoon)
All the methods will be brewed with our Costa Rica La Pollera (see sumpcoffee.com for the dets on that coffee, but it’s a microlot and a Sump exclusive (thanks Cafe Imports) (and by the by, those background pictures on the site are from our trip to C.R. a zillion years ago). Thus, the idea will be to demonstrate what each of the above brew methods add or substrate to/from the coffee and ultimately what range of possible styles of cups are producible with the Steampunk. Think of it as a sort of coffee BINGO, but with a winning card for everyone who plays.