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SP9 Finalist Number 5 – Espresso Lab Microroasters


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The point in question is “How will the Sp9 improve our business”? It’s not so much how it will improve our business, but how can a small sexy looking brewer such as the Sp9, change perception and create a movement at the same time.

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In South Africa it’s a given, the man on the street believes that quality coffee is brewed through an espresso machine. Mesmerized by espresso geekery and shiny bling bling of stainless steel sitting front and center of every cafe, espresso is the bread and butter of every coffee establishment throughout South Africa. By no means conclusive, but I would confidently say, 80-90% of most orders coming through a cafe are brewed through an espresso machine.

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Apart from most filter coffees tasting vile, part of the problem is it’s image. In all honesty a tried and trusted filter coffee machine lacked appeal, and never caught the eye of the avid coffee drinker. The combination of an effective brewer, easy on the eye, delivering tasty coffee rivaling that of espresso, would help us greatly in kickstarting filter coffee programs throughout the country.

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Our current filter coffee program is restricted to manual brews, which limits our capacity to mass produce. The need to brew larger batches, is the achilles heel of our manual brew coffee program. We lack the manpower, speed and efficiency that can only be delivered by an automated brewer.¬†With many batch brewers available on the market, their overall footprint on the bar counter and their rather behemoth looks, always put us off in purchasing a batch brewer. We also felt that again, filter coffee machines were struggling from an image problem. They are butt ugly… ūüėČ

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Enter the Sp9, with its sleek periscope looking fonts and hidden under counter boilers, you have the makings of a piece of equipment that delivers in both quality and quantity, consistently.¬†Our busiest days are on the weekend, whereby a food market draws in hundreds and thousands of foodies to the complex we are located at. We serve a large amount of coffees, all through espresso. Our filter coffee program does not operate on the weekends, which is a huge frustration. Given the complexities of brewing manually, we are just not confident enough to effectively brew coffee fast enough and with the amount of precision required.¬†Should we be fortunate enough to win a Sp9, we would further compliment our menu with an automated brewed coffee option. The potential in exposing more people to filter coffee will go a long way in debunking conventional wisdom, that filter coffee is only purchased because it’s the cheapest offering on the menu.

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In summary, we hope to serve as an example to coffee outlets in the country, and worldwide, that batch brewing is sexy. It is possible to rival espresso with a fun quirky brewing device that frees the hand of the brewer and allows them time to sell coffee and more importantly engage with customers about the benefits of filter coffee, and more importantly to convey the message that there’s more to coffee than just espresso.

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Author: Renato Correia