Trade up [in Chicago this Sat.] for better coffee?

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On Saturday (11/5), Counter Culture (CC) is offering Chicagoland coffee lovers a unique opportunity to get their gear on. This is one of those times that I wish I still lived in the Windy City. Details for the curious courtesy of Facebook, after which I’ll chime in with a few thoughts:


“Time: Saturday, November 5 · 2:00pm - 4:00pm

Location: Counter Culture Coffee Chicago, 177 North Ada, Unit 106, Chicago, IL

Counter Culture Coffee Will Trade Elegant Home Brewing Kits for Electric Drip Machines

We want to help you make the best coffee possible in your own kitchen, and we're even willing to give the brewer and free lessons to get you started. Counter-top, "electric drip" coffee brewers, though ubiquitous, don't do a very good job of brewing delicious coffee. The elegant Counter Culture Classic Pourover Brewer simply makes better coffee and is just as fast, and just as easy, to use. We believe in it so much that we are willing to give it away in exchange for your current coffee brewer. On Saturday, November 5, from 2-4 p.m. (CST), the Counter Culture Coffee Chicago Training Center will host a special Trade Up event, in which people who trade in their counter-top electric drip machines will receive:

- Counter Culture Classic Pourover Brewer

- Hario 4-cup glass server

- Natural Paper filters

Throughout the event, we'll also offer tastes of several seasonal coffee offerings, including farmhouse – our new seasonal blend concept – while demonstrating how to use the Counter Culture Classic Pourover Brewer at home.

We're partnering with the Chicago Salvation Army's Harbor Light Center to find a home for the trade-in electric drip machines. The Salvation Army Harbor Light Center is one of the larger and most respected substance abuse recovery programs in the United States. It provides comprehensive, specialized services to persons seeking to overcome the disease of alcohol and substance abuse.

The event is free and open to the public. The grinder in the event photo is not included. Please join us, bring your old brewer, and put the craft back in your coffee."


First off, how cool is this deal? I like the effort to elevate coffee in an unpretentious way (more details here).

Second, about the equipment, I gather that the cone they’ll be giving away is this version of the Bonmac, which sells for $16.95 on CC’s site. I’ve never used it, to be honest, but I’ll bet it’s more forgiving than the Hario V60 cone. According to CC’s online pourover brewing guide, no precision pouring is necessary. As long as you keep the cone between ½ and ¾ full and aim for a 3-4-min. extraction time, you should be golden. The 4-cup server sells for about $30, and you could probably use it with a variety of alternative cones if the custom Bonmac doesn’t satisfy for whatever reason.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, will people who are truly unfamiliar with manual brewing be “converted” as a result of this trade-in event? I’m not sure. The kit that CC is giving away doesn’t technically require a grinder, which is a plus, but it does seem to presuppose that users have a kettle at the ready. After all, pouring just-off-boil water from the side of a pot into a cone would be fraught with danger. Still, a bigger problem could be that drip machine owners will be accustomed to a full pot of coffee. CC’s kit may make *better* coffee, but you’ll undoubtedly get *less* of it if you use the brew ratio listed in the brewing guide. Even I still keep a cheap drip machine around the house for use when we have company.

Anyway, uncertainty aside, I do hope that the event succeeds and spreads to other cities. CC seems to be trying to change people’s coffee habits for the better, and they’re doing so in a less heavy-handed way than, say, Apple did in seeking to change people’s music habits a while back. Here, there’s no purchase involved and no real equivalent of Apple’s proprietary software or music file format—just nice, low-tech gear that should allow most folks to brew great coffee from any roaster they choose. More power to them.

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