Friday, October 22, 2021

Midwestern coffee shops use tech to elevate coffee

The world’s coffee scene is increasingly thirsty for coffee bars serving new innovations in style, technology and design. From Japan’s throwback artisanal cafes to the slew of European and American experimentation, fresh coffee is shifting from the intense-but-serious variety of caffeinated coffee drinks to the more approachable and inventive cafés with passion from independent brands such as Paul and the Nobel coffee shop in Detroit.

High-tech labelling at The World of Coffee, a compact coffee lab founded in California by entrepreneur Grant Yang. Click image to go inside

Americas headquarters for The World of Coffee, a portable coffee lab set up by Yang in 2012 and named for its windows and polished concrete floor, focuses on fermenting beans in massive vacuum tanks and brewing specialty drinks with a focus on information. The lab keeps modern, responsive design on its agenda.

“I didn’t want to show the beans off in a crowded coffee bar,” he says. “I wanted to be private and stress how much time we devote to those beans.”

The exuberant colors and graphic design-heavy kitchen for Paul, a Latin-themed coffee shop in Detroit, Michigan, features custom cabinetry, a large state-of-the-art espresso machine, and wood-filled countertops. Numerical labels communicate coffee-making technologies as well as the brewing temperature and duration.

Paul vies with competitor The Homebrew Shop for the best coffee drinks in the city. The price and drink-serving options depend on how elaborate the craft coffee adds to the coffee shop’s history. The cafe encourages experiments with the brewing methods.

“If you run a $500,000 espresso machine, the line’s too long to use,” Yang says. “We want to help educate and showcase food like vinegar-drying.”

The Innovation Test, a self-serve kiosk at The Homebrew Shop, dispenses 175 cups of cold brew coffee per minute. The machine uses liquid nitrogen to speed up the brewing process, then compresses the juice into creamy coffee to collect air for the brewing device to escape.

At a booth at a forthcoming gourmet food market in San Francisco, Yang shares a trough for compressed air with a number of visitors. The target drink is Pierre Giraud’s milk-based coffee drink.

“We’re happy to dilute Pierre Giraud’s milk or a European type of coffee so people will be willing to try things,” Yang says.

The generous serving of milk for Paul’s cocktails, inspired by champagne cocktails and Japanese teahouses, is a boon for those in the know about the best coffee. Ordering a $20 shot of Pierre Giraud’s specialty is a total bargain to many from a society of coffee purists, particularly after a toasty drive with a crisp cup of coffee that sat long in the car with an affable employee.

The amount of coffee a long press is supposed to take to extract the maximum amount of flavor is not a scientific formula and will depend on the moment of brewing. That’s a function of the particulars of the mix and the strength of the heat at which the beans are pressed. The rush to boil the kettle top off before getting started can stir up a rush of coffee from beans already rich in flavor, and a buildup of steam from sopping up fat as the French press steams over water.

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