Compared with stale store-bought beans, even the most humble coffee varieties pack a staggering depth of flavor if you can brew with them soon after roasting. Sadly, transforming raw beans into a proper cup of coffee is arduous. The $800 Bonaverde Berlin Coffee Maker, which debuted on Kickstarter in 2013, is supposed to change all that.
The Bonaverde Berlin is now fully backed (to the tune of $681,000, a few multiples of its original $135,000 goal) and ready to ship.
If this machine delivers as promised, it will be the only consumer appliance I know that's engineered to roast, grind and brew green coffee beans by itself with minimal human input. The creators of Bonaverde Berlin claim the machine is small enough to fit onto your kitchen counter, eliminating the multiple, and bulky, appliances you'd typically need to tackle this task.
This promise makes the Berlin worthy of attention. Besides roasting, the brewer has a burr grinder with adjustable coarseness settings. Bonaverde also says the coffee maker will have "intelligent" water temperature control. This, combined with a large "shower brewing head" to evenly soak grounds, should ensure optimal flavor extraction while brewing.
It turns out it's a big one. To communicate roasting instructions swiftly to the Berlin, individual packs of beans sold by Bonaverde will rely on RFID tags (inside the packaging). The real shocker is the planned price of $11 to $14 per pound. Mind you, these are green and unroasted beans we're talking about.
At the website Sweet Maria's, a popular source with home-roasting hobbyists, beans run between $5.50 to $7.50 per pound (not counting specialty blends). If you then factor in the sky-high $800 price of the Berlin Machine and the entire proposition starts adding up quickly.
In Bonaverde's defense, the company says customers can roast whatever beans they like in its product. All you have to do is use one of the RFID tags included in the kit that are color-coded to match their roasting recipe. Think lighter hues for light roasts and dark shades for darker ones.
Experience tells me though that a device this complex will be tricky to bring to life. So far, the best coffee makers tend to be crafted as simply as possible. Ultra-utilitarian products such as the Bonavita BV1900TS and the Technivorm Moccamaster KBT 741 spring to mind.
It'll be a while before you can expect to get your hands on a Berlin machine. At the moment, "beta" units are shipping, but only to early Bonaverde Kickstarter backers. Everyone else will have to drop $20 to reserve a spot in line when production coffee maker models hits stores in bulk. According to Bonaverde, that'll be by the end of 2017.