With mixology and DIY designer beverages on the rise, it's no wonder that users want more control. Enter BKON's new Craft Brewer, an impressive piece of machinery that infuses liquids in a perfect vacuum. Gizmodo recently got a hands-on demo at the iconic Counter Culture in Soho, New York. This thing can brew.
The Craft Brewer allows an expert amount of control that is virtually unparalleled in the market right now. Imagine manipulating coffee, tea, beer, or any number of spirits and liquids perfectly and consistently each time. The device comes fully loaded with hundreds of preconfigured recipes and also features a cloud sharing system so you can explore limitless content.
Brewing fine coffees and teas can be cumbersome. They also take time and patience. In fact, some teas don't fully develop in flavour until their third infusion. Therefore, it's impossible to manually speed up that process. That's where the Craft Brewer comes in: it can actually replicate those three brews in around two minutes.
The BKON Craft Brewer boasts a new piece of technology called RAIN (Reverse Atmospheric Infusion) that's responsible for essentially bending space and time. This process takes place in its small vacuum chamber, and allows each brew to not only be precise, but to be programmable to your specifications as well. BKON writes:
You can't change physics. But you can change the rules of extraction. Standard brewing methods are limited by standard atmospheric pressure. Using primarily contact time and water temperature, these methods make it difficult to extract pure, optimal flavours with precision. RAIN's control over negative pressure allows extraction to occur with unmatched accuracy and with less exposure to flavour-damaging hot water.
Tea leaves are usually so tightly wound that their most unique flavours are only released once the leaves fully open. When using normal brewing methods, this process can take around 15 minutes, as you have to brew several pots of tea and wait for the leaves to unfurl. However, the Craft Brewer gently unravels them through the use of negative pressure.
On the right are the delicately bundled tea leaves that you would steep in hot water. On the left are the leaves completely unfurled from just a few minutes in the Craft Brewer. Once opened up, you can see those leaves have a maximised surface area, thereby allowing the full flavour to emerge. Additionally, trace amounts of sugar that are hidden in the stems of tea leaves are released faster and easier, which serve to naturally sweeten the tea. The result is a smooth, full-bodied tea with a texture that rests nicely on your tongue.
Likewise, with coffee, the BKON Craft Brewer can fine-tune any recipe and mimic lighter or darker roasts with the touch of a button. In fact, the Craft Brewer gets a little more technical with coffee roasts, as it reacts with captured CO2 gasses caught in the vacuum. Therefore, each brew is an exact science, replicable on demand.
The cup made for Gizmodo at our recent hands-on demonstration was so light, so lively and yet so rich, it actually resembled tea more than coffee. This was, of course, one of their lighter roasts and was delightfully smooth and flavourful.
The most impressive aspect of the brewer is its capabilities outside the world of fine coffees and teas. Take spirits, for example. I have infused a few of my own. Some have turned out surprisingly delicious, while others were less impressive. Regardless, infusing your own spirits is extremely time-intensive, thanks to the tediously long waiting period before you get results. It's also very resource heavy; making small quantities isn't practical.
Using the Craft Brewer, however, you can experiment with different spirit recipes with ease, and they only take a few minutes to fully infuse. Instead of making a whole batch, you can just make custom drinks on demand. Imagine picking out ingredients at the bar for your custom cocktail and having it served just minutes afterward. When we visited the brains behind the Craft Brewer at Counter Culture, they did just that. We watched as they naturally infused a vodka with tea leaves, lemon shavings, dried mango, and a few pieces of crushed sage. It took less than two minutes.
While the Craft Brewer is being introduced this summer as more of a commercial product available to professionals, BKON intends to enter the home market within the next few years with an impressive list of add-ons. One such advancement they're working on? Injectable carbonation, so you can make virtually anything fizzy. The cost, however, is less than pretty—with estimates ranging from $14,000 (£8,300) to over $25,000 (£14,800). Although rest assured, BKON is working on bringing the price down for home versions, and despite the cost, they report that some retailers are already extremely interested.
Lou and Dean Vastardis, the brothers behind BKON's Craft Brewer, envision themselves to be more like the engineers behind Photoshop—they're not the artists and brewmasters, they're the toolmakers. The rest is in your hands. And they can't wait to see how the creative minds of baristas, brewers, cooks, and distillers everywhere will embrace their new technology.
Photos by Gizmodo/Nicholas Stango.