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Blossom One - SCAA 2014 Show Report
Author: Mark Prince
Posted: April 30, 2014
Article rating: 9.0
feedback: (2) comments | read | write
Blossom One

First there was the Clover. Then Starbucks bought that. There's been a lot of expensive specialty coffee brewing systems since (anyone remember how the New York Times claimed Blue Bottle's siphon burner stand was $20,000? it wasn't, that was the cost of that entire buildout portion of their cafe, but you get the picture).

Then there was the $11,111 coffee brewer first talked about last year - the Blossom One Limited. It was an exclusive, hand built prototype with a lot of fantastic specifications, and only a few were built. That was last year's Blossom One. The current Blossom Limited will list for $4,950, and should be more widely available.

What's special about the Blossom is that it is the first brewer to maintain a brewing temperature to within 1F for the entire brew cycle within it's brewing chamber. The company is targeting pourover stations, like the V60 stations and Chemex stations, as their direct competitor (in terms of taste quality and cup type). The price is a lot higher than a typical manual pour over station, but there's a lot of promise in terms of the holy grail of cafe manual cup-at-a-time coffee brewing: consistency.

Jeremy Kuempel is the guy I talked to about the Blossom One at the SCAA show. He pointed out the ease of use, cloud connectivity the product has, and how easy the machines were to maintain, being held in place by a few easily accessible and removable bolts and hex nuts.

So what's different between the original Blossom Limited and the Blossom One? Aesthetics mostly, to get the price down. Gone is the wood, in is metal and more durable materials) for cafe environments.

Units we saw were self contained; water reservoir on top and running off 110V at the trade show. You can brew with both a steel mesh filter, or with special filter paper they source from lab stock - oxygen free, lab certified inert filter papers. They both fit in what looks like a super-oversized portafilter. The company has information on how to brew with the Blossom One if you'd like to check it out.

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Control Panel showing various settings
Blossom One portafilter with optional paper filter
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Stirring the Slurry is an optional part of the brewing process.
Barista doing final press out and shot brewing

We had a short interview with Mr. Kuempel about his new product.

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Jeremy Kuempel, Blossom Founder

Q: What are the main differences between the Blossom Limited last year, and the current model?

The Blossom One Limited was a limited edition, fully custom precision coffee brewing machine.  Each unit featured design elements unique to the customer and only a limited number were ever produced. In the process of developing and distributing the One Limited, we found that there is a large group of coffee professionals and enthusiasts who desired the precision control technology of the One Limited, but wanted something more versatile and better suited to commercial cafe service.

We went back to the drawing board and redesigned the entire system, maintaining many beautiful design elements of the One Limited and all the precision technology while optimizing for durability in high volume cafe situations. We paid close attention to manufacturability and volume production so that we could bring the price into a range more suitable for a small business owner. The result is the One Brewer, a product designed by coffee professionals for the perfectionist in all of us.

Q: Is the machine available and/or convertible to plumbed in and reservoir use?

Yes, the Blossom Brewer can be operated in reservoir mode, as shown at the SCAA event in Seattle, and alternatively can be plumbed in for both fill and drain.

Q: What is the power draw of the machine, weight, reservoir volume, boiler volume, brew max volume?

The shipping weight is 27.2kg (60lbs), and it runs on 110V 20A service (ed note: 15A is normal household plug power; 20A is a special plug found in some kitchens). The reservoir holds almost 2 litres (1.9l, 64 fl.oz.) and the maximum brew volume is 450ml (15.2 fl.oz).

(As to the boiler volume), the boiler recovers heat while the coffee is brewing and is fully recovered in under one minute.  Most brews are 1.5-3 minutes in duration, thus giving the Blossom Brewer effectively instant response.

For reference, the boiler holds 36oz / 1L of water but dispenses 450mL at maximum.  A small size, rapid response boiler was designed so that the Blossom Brewer can always be ready to brew at any exact temperature.  Larger size boilers are less responsive and, when compared to a small boiler with our precision tuned feedback control, no more accurate in temperature.

Q: We talked about the Blossom being cloud connected - can you explain more about what that is, and how you use it today, and what plans you have for the future with it?

Currently, Blossom Brewer will log its performance and sensor data to our server. That data is used to monitor brewer performance and recommend service intervals. Over the next two years, there are three main areas we intend to launch software innovations.

First, Blossom owners will be able to create coffee brewing recipes in the web application and save and share them to their Blossom Brewers. We believe that computers and mobile devices are powerful tools for interaction, so our system is designed for an easy and fast on-machine interface  -- which is perfect for cafes -- and a more powerful set of controls in the web application.

Second, Blossom owners will be able to monitor the performance of the Brewers and benefit from predictive analytics for maintenance. Connected device data can recommend when to perform regular service based upon total cups served and other data like local water hardness. For owners placing Blossom Brewers in wholesale and customer accounts, quality and reliability can be maintained across a fleet of brewers far more efficiently than possible for standard, unconnected coffee equipment.

Third, Blossom Brewer performance will increase with ongoing software updates. We intend to develop features like nonlinear temperature profiling for our brew group. Imagine being able to sketch on an iPad exactly what temperature you want as a function of time--the Blossom Brewer will have this functionality available as a free software update once we get the control algorithm developed. As our PID feedback control algorithms improve, so will the algorithms of current Blossom customers with their machines in the field. The Blossom Brewer will be the first coffee machine that has performance that actually improves as you own it, rather than just wearing out and becoming outdated.

Finally, all of these updates will be available to Blossom owners for free through our over the air updating system.

Q: What is your target market. I assume it's cafes, but do you see this for home use? Or will there be another model down the road for home use?

Our objective was to provide volume commercial capability with 110V power and a small footprint so that it would be easy for any coffee bar, even the cluttered and cramped variety, to install a Blossom Brewer. Along the way, we found that our precision single degree temperature control makes the Brewer an obvious choice for any coffee lab desiring a hyper-consistent brew environment for profiling their coffees. Finally, we also found that the small size, craft quality, and limitless potential for coffee geekery made us a desirable choice for private individuals building out their own (home) coffee labs who may also be shopping for a La Marzocco GS3 or similar espresso machine. No matter where it ends up, every Blossom Brewer is designed to be able to serve coffee all day, every day, in a commercial environment for years.

After finding our customers spanning coffee bars, to labs, to private individuals, we realized that the real customer for a Blossom Brewer is not defined by a job description, but by a passion for coffee and a desire to have the precision controls required to make the most out of any cup. Many people with this belief are professionally employed in the coffee industry, and many others have coffee as their passion or hobby while making a living elsewhere.

The Blossom One is available now for ordering, and information can be found on their website.

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Ellie Partington, of Caffe Ladro Roasters
Ellie was serving up coffee all day from the Blossom One and really seemed comfortable with the machine
Cleaning between uses
Cleaning between uses involves some rinsing, wipedowns of various areas and more. Some of the cleaning seems like it could be more automated.

Article rating: 9.0
Author: Mark Prince
Posted: April 30, 2014
feedback: (2) comments | read | write
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