In our continued quest to find the very best coffee, we came across the Kickstarter of Berlin-based start-up Bonaverde. Their revolutionary new machine not only grinds and brews with the push of a button, but also roasts raw coffee beans first. The entire system, from farmer to cup, offers a lot of transparency and even more control. And after trying the machine at CH HQ, we can say it makes a really great cup of coffee.
Two years ago, Bonaverde founder Hans Stier started out with a vision and an ensuing mission to change the coffee industry. He learned more about the roasting process and found that they are traditionally middlemen—coffee growers do not roast their own beans. As he explained to CH, "Normally the coffee beans that you purchase are a blend. This is truly a single-origin product. You can see that it is pure and natural." Stier and his team have established relationships with farmers from Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, India and Brazil, but their grand vision means having options from everywhere. Farmers will be able to sell their coffee directly through Bonaverde's platform; allowing consumers to chose beans directly from the source. Stiers also hopes that consumers directly interact with growers, adding a face to the service and sending more money straight to the people nurturing the world's second largest commodity.
"When we think of the best coffee, we often think of Italy," Stier continued. "But Italy doesn't produce coffee. They just roast." With direct trade, all intermediaries are skipped and green coffee beans arrive directly to your home. There, it is as easy as measuring out the appropriate amount of beans, setting your desired roasting time, and pushing one button. Just 12 minutes later, you have an incredibly fresh pot.
The settings are highly customizable, but can be as simple as setting the meter to roast lighter or darker. The interface is very user-friendly, and you can check up on the coffee as it roasts within a high-alloyed internal stainless steel container. An air-vent absorbs the smoke, but allows the scent of roasting beans to escape. The entire process—which takes just three to four minutes—ends with cooling, during which time the beans are also degassed. Grinding takes less than 90 seconds before the coffee is then brewed in the "magical-tropical-rainforest-unit"—pre-heated water rains down upon the grinds. Two to 12 cups are made in roughly 12 minutes.
Bonaverde is on their fifth generation of prototypes; having developed this system, tested it and tweaked continuously over time. The design is also the upshot of a crowd-sourced design challenge, and the prototype we used at CH was not only slightly mesmerizing, but produced exactly the cup we were looking for—rich and bold. With the roasting taking place right in the office, less acidity is developed, so despite the fullness, there is a gentle drinkability. Equally interesting, Stier called to our attention the fact that decaf raw beans do exist, thanks to a process that washes out all caffeine.
Bonaverde's coffeemaker is available from Kickstarter, with an early-bird delivery date expected in October 2014. There are various packages ranging from $5 to support their operation, to $250 for one of the first machines and up to the $10,000 Travel Package where you and a guest can travel with the Bonaverde team to one of their partner farmers from Brazil to Ethiopia.
Photos by Nara Shin