When I worked as a barista, my absolute least favorite drink to make was a pour over. Essentially a single-serving cup of coffee made individually, the process was fussy and usually took five minutes, which held up the line and stressed me out.
Coffee design company ESPRO has developed a new single-serve coffee brewer called BLOOM meant to improve on the traditional pour over method. BLOOM is currently wrapping up a successful Kickstarter campaign. This week I got to try it out myself to see what all the fuss is about.
Based in Vancouver, ESPRO had already made its own versions of several tried-and-true coffee brewers, including French Press and Cold Brewer. “Now we’re tackling the pour over,” ESPRO’s co-founder and President Bruce Constantine told me over the phone last week.
The main innovation by the BLOOM brewer is its flat bed — that is, the base of the brewer where the coffee comes out. BLOOM’s is larger than average and has 1,500 tiny holes, which means it can brew coffee faster than a traditional pour over device. According to Constantine, this shape also means that the coffee extracts more evenly, so the end result is more consistent. “It’s the first time the pour over has been reinvented in 30 years,” he told me.
Since the BLOOM has a non-traditional shape, it also requires specialized paper liners. ESPRO currently has patents out for both the paper and the BLOOM brewer itself.
Constantine says he expects that the BLOOM will be a 50/50 product in terms of customers: 50 percent consumer, 50 percent foodservice in coffee shops and cafes. With COVID keeping more people at home, however, he said that they’re going to focus on the consumer market first.
Home brewers certainly seem to be interested in the BLOOM brewer. ESPRO launched the Kickstarter for BLOOM on April 15 with a goal of $20,000. It was fully funded after eight hours. At the time of writing this, the Kickstarter had raised over $63,000 with eight days to go.
Kickstarter backers can get the BLOOM and 50 papers for $35. Constantine said when the device debuts in retail, it will cost $50 for the device and 10 papers. Packs of 100 papers will sell separately for $10 each. The company plans to sell the BLOOM directly through their website, and have already confirmed placements at retailers like Williams Sonoma, Sur La Table, and Nordstrom.
Constantine said they expect to start shipping BLOOM to backers in July. As with any crowdfunded hardware product, there’s no guarantee that ESPRO will be able to hit that timeline — especially as COVID is disrupting manufacturing supply chains around the globe. But Constantine said that since they’re producing in China, which is over the worst of the virus, they actually aren’t experiencing any manufacturing slowdowns right now.
In these uncertain times, things can change moment to moment. But it is comforting that ESPRO has already helmed four Kickstarter campaigns, all of which successfully shipped their products.
I got to give the BLOOM a try to get my caffeine fix this week. The process is extremely simple: put a filter into the brewing cone, place it over a coffee mug, add your ground coffee, then pour in the water. Coffee convention recommends that you “bloom” your coffee first (hence the name), which basically means pouring just a little bit of water into the grounds and letting it sit for thirty seconds to make space and let bitter carbon dioxide escape. After the bloom, I poured in the rest of the hot water and had a tasty cup of coffee in a minute and a half.
A minute and a half is a speedy brew time for specialty coffee. My typical Chemex routine takes around six, and regular pour overs take four to five. The coffee itself was delicious, and cleanup was a snap thanks to the paper liner, which gives it a definite edge over the French Press for me.
There’s no question that the BLOOM is easy to use and looks beautiful. However, after trying it out I was left wondering: “Is it really worth it?”
Sure, a traditional pourover and Chemex both take a few extra minutes to brew. But the amount of required active time is essentially the same. A Chemex costs around $45, on par with BLOOM, while a regular ceramic pourover is roughly half that. I’m not sure if a slightly faster brew time justifies purchasing a BLOOM in addition to these other brewers.
I think that the bigger opportunity for BLOOM is in cafes — where time actually is of the essence. But since COVID-19 has basically nixed pour overs from the menu — and might shutter some coffee shops for good — that might not happen for a while.
Until then, if you’re looking to speed up your morning coffee routine, or just add a fun new gadget to your collection to spice up quarantine, BLOOM could be a good fix.