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High-End Technology Brews Café-Caliber Coffee at Home

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April 24, 2015
High-End Technology Brews Café-Caliber Coffee at Home

Prefer a cappuccino to a simple cup of coffee? You’re not alone.

A March survey from the National Coffee Association shows espresso-based drinks are “significantly” more popular among those aged 18–39, and that demographic is seeking out gourmet-type coffee, too. That’s no small market, considering that the survey said 59% of Americans drink coffee daily.

You may have already gathered as much from the lines that snake well outside of some Starbucks (SBUX) and other retailers. But this popularity raises another question. How has the maturing gourmet coffee market changed the way that caffeine addicts or casual consumers brew and drink at home?

Kevin Sinnott, author of The Art and Craft of Coffee and the blog Coffeecompanion, said espresso-based drinks like lattes and cappuccinos are how a lot of young adults are introduced to coffee consumption. This may help explain why coffee-machine manufacturers are developing retail brewers that can create a better cup of joe and more than one style of beverage from a single machine.

So Long, Black Swill

At the spring 2015 International Home + Housewares Show, manufacturers displayed coffee pots that could do everything from varying temperature settings and pre-infusion times, such as Behmor’s eight-cup pot ($200), to machines that make a dozen different types of coffee drinks.

Sinnott said for aficionados who want to make a coffeehouse-style espresso at home, the only way to come close is to shell out for the ultra-high-end coffee machines. That’s because the lower-end machines can’t match the technology yet.

Some of the higher-end coffee makers available to the public are from Jura, a Swiss-based coffee manufacturer that sells the Giga 5 ($5,599 at Bloomingdale’s), a machine that allows the owner to make 19 individually programmable specialty coffees via a touch screen. La Marzocco, the Italy-based makers of espresso machines for commercial use, now makes a version for home use that can be custom built. And how’s this for high tech? It’s called the GS3 and comes in black and walnut accents, fetching around $8,220.

This writer had a cappuccino from Jura’s Giga 5 and found the quality similar to one from Starbucks, and just as fast.

“If you want to invest the time into the hobby of coffee, spending a few thousand on a machine isn’t far-fetched,” Sinnott said.

He also said another trend is for consumers to have more than one coffeemaker in the house.

“You may have a Mr. Coffee automatic drip or a K-cup [single pod] coffee maker to grab a quick cup during the week on the way to work, but on the weekend when there’s more time, you may have a manual Chemex-style maker ($43.50) for pour-over coffee like you see at Intelligentsia” or other high-end coffeehouses.

Not Drinkers … Connoisseurs

Gourmet coffee consumption is on the rise, Sinnott added. Coffee drinkers are seeking out single-origin varietals where coffee is grown in one country or even in a certain part of the country. The improvement in what’s available for the home barista means that consumers can taste the subtle differences in coffee, he said.

“Cupping parties,” where people buy a few pounds of coffee and have friends over to taste the difference, is another trend. “The growth of pour-over coffee method, of all filter methods, which lets you taste where the coffee is from, has become popular, especially with millennials,” he said.

Brewing Potential Profit?

There’s no doubt that coffee consumption is big business. You can research machine manufacturers, bean roasters, and retailers with the Stock Screener feature from TD Ameritrade.

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