Each year when the SCAA gathers for its annual event, the organization recognizes the best new products in the industry for both consumers and professionals. To make it even more fun, there are two separate competitions in each category: one voted on by a professional panel and one, The People's Choice, voted on by attendees at The Event. This year's biggest surprise was how much the People and the professionals agreed. They concurred in four major categories: the Specialty Beverage, Consumer Coffee or Tea Preparation, Food and Coffee Accessories categories. Some of these products are already available. Others will be on your store shelves or showing up in your favorite coffee shops soon. Here are a few that we found most interesting.
2014 Best New Coffee AccessoryYou saw it here first. Back in December, we highlighted the Acaia brewing scale, a nifty and very stylish scale specificially designed to deal with the foibles of weighing your drip-brewed coffee. We thought it was pretty neat, and apparently, the rest of the coffee world agrees. The Acaia scale, with its accompanying app, was voted best new coffee accessory in both the professional and the People's Choice contests.
2014 Best Coffee or Tea Preparation & Serving - ConsumerPeople and pros also agreed that the notNeutral GINO Glass Dripper was the best new coffee preparation product for consumers. The sleek mug-top dripper is certainly pretty enough. It's made of tough-but-lightweight borosilicate glass, just like the Chemex and other top coffee carafes and glass brewers, and its slim profile makes it a standout among other drippers. We haven't had a chance to test it out yet, but the specs on it look interesting.
2014 Best Coffee or Tea Preparation - CommercialThe people and the pros spilt in one major area: the best new coffee or tea prep product for 2014. Both choices are pretty impressive, and you may see either one make an appearance at high-end coffee shops in your area. The pro's choice, the BKON craft brewer, has kicked up a lot more buzz on the specialty tea circuit than in the coffee sphere, but it's actually meant for use with any infused beverage, including coffee and cocktail infusions. It works via "negative pressure infusion" -- i.e., a vacuum chamber ( Food&Wine magazine referred to it as "the world's most expensive vacuum"). According to BKON, the pressure allows for full flavor extraction at very low temperatures, which could make the BKON a game changer. At $13,000 it's not likely to wind up on just anyone's coffee bar, but if you want to try it out for yourself, you can sample what it does for coffee at NYC's Counter Culture or at Metropolis Coffee's Granville Cafe.
The People's Choice winner in the same category was the Wilbur Curtis Seraphim, a slick, under-counter coffee brewer that puts all the working pieces out of sight so that coffee appears magically from a showerhead above the bar. The Seraphim isn't in production yet, but is projected to start shipping in the late fall/early winter. For those who want to know more about it, the Seraphim FAQ is not just informative, it's entertaining to read. (Q: Does it grind coffee? A: Does your coffee grinder brew coffee? We didn't think so.) We'll keep an eye out and let you know where you can find a Seraphim in the wild when they start rolling out.Stay tuned for more follow up on the SCAA Event later in the week, when we'll be looking at the winners of the coffee championships.