About two years ago Sumi and I started brainstorming a crazy product launch — not our current #beansandzines one mind you, which is also really crazy. Our idea: what if we made an attachment for the popular aeropress that let you use Keurig or Nespresso capsules? We were surely not the first to think of this we assumed, but saw nothing on the market. I reached out to my old friend and renown coffee gear guru and tinkerer Terry Ziniewicz to see what he thought. Of course he immediately messaged me back with photos of his own working prototypes.
Now why in the world would we be interested in making it easier for someone to use horrible, wasteful, over-priced crap capsule coffee? Isn’t that one of the things I’ve railed against my whole career? Didn’t Keurig and Nespresso gobble up the premium home coffee market to the tune of billions of dollars that ought to have gone toward a global third wave coffee utopia?
Terry and friends have brought the device, dubbed Trestle, to market today on Kickstarter and I think we should all support it, and here’s why…
I haaaaate K Cups and Nespresso. Not merely because they’re low quality. Not just because they’re an incredible ripoff at upwards of $50 a pound. Not just because those companies snatched up most of the premium home consumers at a time when the best coffee roasters were too busy training baristas to pour pretty ferns in the fussy lattes you waited in line 20 minutes for to notice the market was slipping away. My biggest beef is a bit more abstract.
It’s an issue of how easily we get fooled into thinking that making good coffee is some sort of NP-hard problem that only marvelous machines or Jiro-like craftsmanship can unlock. We’ve taught everybody to put more energy and faith in all these toys than the beans they put in them. A great cup of coffee is ultimately just great fresh beans and water. The devices we use to mix and filter the resulting brew don’t change the fundamental equation much at all. Good coffee should be as easy (or easier) than making a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese. Machines aren’t magic. Capsule coffee machines are the apotheosis of this fraud.
Pre-portioned capsule coffee is undeniably convenient. It’s easier to deploy in offices or hotel rooms. It doesn’t require much, if any, instructions (and I’ll be honest and say I still glance at the box instructions every time I make Trader Joe’s Rice pasta mac n cheese — don’t want to overcook those macaronis!). Capsule coffee isn’t going away any time soon. Our team lost that battle long ago.
Maybe with something like Trestle we can help people see past the gleam of a shiny machine or a blue LED and understand that brewing coffee is, at it’s essence, an easy just-add-water simple pleasure.