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Coffee News Roundup

Keurig All The Things!

When a company does something particularly innovative -- especially when substantial sums of money follow that innovation -- it's a sure bet that copies of, and variations on, that innovation are soon to follow. Keurig has made billions by combining variety and quality with convenience, and we're seeing the first stirrings of a wave of imitators that are taking the Keurig model that's already been tweaked by the Nespresso and Senseo (among others) far beyond coffee.

New York Magazine reports that a handful of machines making their way to market will soon allow consumers to "brew" everything from beer to miso soup. Each machine works on much the same razor-and-blade model that Keurig has used to great effect: start with an affordable delivery system, and profit mightily from the raw materials that allow the machine's owners to make their food or beverage on demand. The SYNEK replaces kegs or growlers with a one-gallon beer baggie that the machine carbonates. The Somabar uses refillable vials (soon to be replaced, the designers hope, with proprietary cartridges) and a smartphone app to blend cocktails on demand. Genie promises ingredient pods that help to deliver fresh-baked meals in a flash, with "the mind blowing aroma of a chef" (I'm not sure how I feel about that last part). In a sense, even Keurig is iterating on its earlier success; the company hopes that its Keurig Cold, developed in tandem with Coca Cola, will do for cold drinks what the earlier generations of Keurig machines did for coffee. Of course, each of these machines will have to compete for counter space with your Keurig, your food processor, your toaster, and that abomination that makes awful breakfast sandwiches. Only time will tell if Keurig's model stands up to replication, or if the company caught lightning in a bottle.

World Barista Championship News While some people have lately been obsessing over March Madness and baseball spring training, we've been eyeing the leadup to the 2015 World Barista Championship. Grub Street introduces Charles Babinski (of Go Get 'Em Tiger and G&B), who will be representing the United States at the Championship. The secret to his success? Top-notch coffee skills, and a signature drink that sounds equal parts beguiling and intriguing (Honduran espresso blended live onstage with pine-tree honey, juniper syrup, and a grapefruit reduction, per Grub Street). The 2015 World Barista Championship takes place from April 9 to 12 in Seattle, Washington.

But wait. There's more.

While we've got our eyes on 2015, changes are in the offing for the 2016 version, which will be held in Dublin, Ireland (home to World Coffee Events, the company that produces the competition). Beginning next year, the cappuccino portion of the competition will be replaced by a "milk drink course" that reflects how tastes and techniques have changed. Baristas will also find that the espresso machines and grinders used (the Victoria Arduino “Black Eagle” espresso machine and Mahlkönig K30 Vario grinder, respectively) will be standardized, leading to a more level playing field. In the meantime, we're rooting for the "local" barista to do us proud.

DIY Latte Art (Almost) I like latte art. My morning won't be ruined if there's not a leaf drawn in the foam on my cappuccino, but there's something about that added human touch that reminds you that your coffee is hand-crafted. Well, it did 'til now, anyway. Enter the Deco Latte. According to online magazine OZY, the Deco Latte is a slide-on decal -- essentially not much different than a temporary tattoo, but for your coffee -- made of derived collagen and cocoa, leaving a design that lasts for about three minutes. While I would hope that any self-respecting cafe would stick to making latte art the old-fashioned way, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit disappointed to find out that Takara Tomy Arts' first design (a Snoopy-themed pack) sold out when it was unveiled at the Tokyo location of Tower Records. If you manage to get your hands on Deco Latte, try them on our Liberty Lungo pods for Nespresso with a side of Pocky, Crunky, or other Japanese snack food of choice.