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Handcrafted coffee combines with high-tech drip

The two worlds of artisan coffee and convenient drip collide at Seattle's Global Coffee Expo.

Brian Bennett Former Senior writer
Brian Bennett is a former senior writer for the home and outdoor section at CNET.
Brian Bennett
3 min read
Watch this: Look at this crazy coffee tech from Seattle

Global Coffee Expo 2017 has come and gone, but that great caffeine-fueled convention in Seattle leaves a lasting impression. The future of home coffee technology was on display in plain sight, both in terms of real kitchen appliances and truly wild contraptions meant for your local cafe. The big takeaway -- handcrafted coffee is here to stay. However, the "handcrafting" could just as well be robotic, mechanized, or at least aided by app-connected smarts.

Humble coffee pots no longer

One trend that struck me this past weekend is the imminent demise of the the lowly drip coffee pot. To be clear, I'm not saying Mr. Coffee is dead. There were certainly plenty of basic brewers and programmable java pots filling the aisles of the convention hall. The products that excited me most (and companies were eager to pitch), happened to be coffee makers designed to both serve your daily cup as well as tackle geekier brewing styles.

Case in point is the Breville Precision Brewer Thermal, which might look like your ordinary programmable coffee maker yet is anything but. Priced at $299, £233, or roughly AU$395, this appliance is by no means cheap. For all that cash, it turns out the Precision Brewer is aptly named. The machine has a built-in PID controller to tightly monitor and guide water temperature through the brewing process. You can also tweak these settings yourself to suit your tastes.

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Breville's Precision Brewer is very advanced for a drip machine.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Espresso Supply, the outfit that distributes and markets the Bonavita line of drip brewers, launched two premium home coffee-makers under its new Motif brand. Starting at $169, the Motif Essential is built to brew quality pots of joe in keeping with the SCAA's (Specialty Coffee Association of America) guidelines for "golden cup" coffee. The $179 Motif Elements coffee maker takes things a step further by melding programmable brew times with performance to match the SCAA standard.

See Seattle's wild coffee tech up close

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If you want quality pots of morning drip but would rather spend a little less, consider this machine that also made its debut at the show. The $150 Bunn 10-cup Programmable Coffeemaker is designed to do what its moniker suggests: whip up big carafes of quality hot java.

Help from smarts and automation

Electric coffeemakers are nothing new. What is novel though is how traditionally manual brewing methods such as pour-over and espresso have become automatic or aided by app-connected smarts.

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The Motif Mentor scale uses Bluetooth and mobile app to help you make better coffee.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

For instance, the $99 (£77 in the UK, roughly AU$130 in Australia) Motif Mentor scale can walk you through the process many styles coffee making with the help of a Bluetooth link, companion app and a paired smartphone.

Likewise, the Breville Precision Brewer cleverly transforms into an automatic hot water supply and brewing platform for third-party pour-over cones and filters. This trick does require you to buy an extra accessory from Breville.

Breville also showed off its first fully automatic espresso machine at Coffee Expo 2017, the Oracle Touch. Priced at $2,500, £1,956 or roughly AU$3,308, this piece of hardware is clearly meant for the well-heeled. Still, if you crave cafe drinks made almost entirely without having to lift a finger, then this appliance looks hard to resist.

As the year unfolds, many of the coffee makers and gadgets showcased at the Global Coffee Expo will appear in the marketplace. Hopefully the most exciting examples with live up to their promise. Check back soon as we get our hands on them to find out.