With baristas able to draw masterpieces in a macchiato, the days when going out for a coffee meant a cup of something scorched in an urn seem long gone. Unfortunately, if your tastes run more toward brewed coffee rather than a double decaf, skinny, venti latte (that's half-dry foam with a shot of hazelnut vanilla for the uninitiated), you’re still likely to be pointed to a vacuum-flask at the end of the counter. Alpha Dominche’s Steampunk Coffee and Tea Brewer aims to redress the balance of power by asking the espresso machine to make room for a computerized coffee maker that gives baristas the power to replicate a wide variety of brewing methods.
First unveiled at the 2012 Specialty Coffee Association of America Exposition (SCAA), where it took the Best New Product prize, the American-made Steampunk Coffee and Tea Brewer doesn't do espresso, but Alpha Dominche claims that it “consistently replicates a wide variety of popular brew styles from French press to siphon to pour over,” which is a step up on a gritty cup of instant.
The Steampunk achieves this by using a steam boiler and a computer to control a wide range of specific parameters, such as water temperature, agitation and water pressure as well as three grades of metal filters to reproduce a range of brewing methods. An added benefit of the system is that it’s programmable, allowing baristas to create new coffee recipes that can be recreated at the touch of the screen. This programmability also means that the Steampunk requires only minimal operator training.
Able to brew up to four cups of coffee or tea simultaneously, the Steampunk is much faster than conventional methods. Where a conventional French press, for example, might take three to five minutes to make one cup of coffee, the makers claim that the Steampunk can crank out up to 80 cups per hour.
Steampunk 4.0 is now going national this year and the latest version, the Steampunk MOD, will soon go on the market. The Steampunk MOD is a modular version of the machine with the boiler installed under the counter instead of in the machine. Available in two- and four-crucible models, the Steampunk MOD allows cafe owners to configure the system to meet their needs while reducing counter clutter.
“We are committed to creating the best brewing machine on the market and worked closely with key roasters across the country to implement their valuable feedback, including automation and design changes that further refine the Steampunk brewing process,” said Khristian Bombeck, founder and inventor at Alpha Dominche. “With the Steampunk 4.0 ready for its national debut, we are already looking for ways to make this brewing technology even more accessible, and are excited to introduce cafés of all sizes to the new Steampunk MOD.”
The downside is that the Steampunk isn't cheap. It sells for US$15,000.