Engineering coffee: experiencing the Alpha Dominche Steampunk
As America has become increasingly infatuated with coffee and the myriad of ways it can be brewed and consumed, boutique coffee shops have enjoyed explosive growth. While K-Cup-like pod-based systems are now accounting for more than 25 percent of ground coffee sales to average consumers, coffee aficionados are constantly pursuing new ways to make the perfect cup of coffee — and coffee shop owners are equally trying to meet the demands of these particular drinkers. We've already taken a look at expensive, hand-made boutique coffee makers for the home, but I recently got to experience the Alpha Dominche Steampunk brewer, an American-made $15,000 machine designed to live behind the counter of your favorite coffee house.
The Steampunk is the brainchild of Khristian Bombeck, founder of Alpha Dominche and a coffee shop owner himself. The product of over four years of development, the Steampunk blends artful craftsmanship, premium materials, and innovative engineering into a machine that can produce world-class cups of coffee with repeatable accuracy. Though its name conjures up images of elaborate 1890s costumes and an abundance of copper, Bombeck told me that it made sense to call the machine the Steampunk because it is actually powered by steam.
But don't be fooled, the Steampunk has modern features and a clean aesthetic that would be comfortable in most any high-end coffee establishment. That's in part thanks to the team that Bombeck assembled to help design and build the machine, which features design-conscious architects and engineers.
What makes the Steampunk different from other coffee makers is its ability to quickly and repeatedly brew cups of coffee to exacting specifications. Bombeck describes the Steampunk as a "semi-automated single serve" machine, meaning that while it's not as automated as the Mr. Coffee on your kitchen counter, operating it only requires a few minutes of training. That's a stark difference to the years of training and experience it takes to become a skilled barista that can operate a complicated espresso machine well. Despite its simplicity of operation, the Steampunk can be configured to brew coffee in any style from French Press to pour over to siphon, with very granular controls over water temperature and pressure.
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