Beverage Trend – Single Brew Coffee
The latest beverage trend is about the medium not the product. Single brew coffee. It’s ironic that if you hold onto something for long enough it will once again be en vogue.
When I moved to NYC in 2004, I was staying with my aunt and uncle, who had been in the same apartment in Gramercy Park for 30 years, possibly using the same brewing method for those 30 years. It went like this: 1) boil water, 2) place glass carafe on grid sitting atop burner, 3) place cone with filter atop carafe, 4) put coffee grinds into filter, and 5) pour water over grinds.
Obviously this isn’t a realistic process for most people because it takes time and manual. But, somehow this is now all the rage, likely because it allows coffee snobs to choose the coffee variety to be brewed. One might say Starbucks wasn’t late to this trend because select locations have a bar where one can get any type of Starbucks coffee on the premises brewed, such as upstairs in the new Harvard Square location.
But the first time I really saw single brew coffee in action was at the Harvard Square Clover restaurant. Clover has a few restaurants and many food trucks in the Boston-Cambridge area. The brand has a cult following, which is great because the service isn’t speedy. That said, single brew coffee is not a speedy process anywhere. But apparently it’s a growing trend. In addition to Starbucks and Clover, I saw single brew stations behind the counters of Philz, a Bay Area coffee company, and another San Francisco area food retailer, The Plant Cafe Organic, which single brew coffee, in addition to smoothies, juices, and vegan and gluten-free options.
At Philz in Palo Alto, I was unaware that when my cousin told me it was a coffee-only spot for serious drinkers, she wasn’t exaggerating. Seeing the various tubs, I said, oh can I get a matte latte? A what, the “barista” behind the counter said? OK nevermind, I’ll have an au lait please. Again, a blank face. OK I’ll have a drip coffee. To which he responds, which one? One of those 18 varieties behind you. Novocaine or something like that?
WTF, it’s just coffee, the last legal vice. I remember my first flight abroad. I was 16 headed to Santander, Spain, and people could still smoke cigarettes on planes. Not to date myself… Now thankfully people can’t smoke in buildings or restaurants, let alone planes or most cafes. And we’re supposed to limit our carb and sugar intake. And not drink too much alcohol. And eat more fruits and veggies. And hit the gym.
You get the message. There’s so much we can’t have but unless one is on a string cleanse, coffee has always been acceptable and many studies tout its benefits. So maybe coffee is the one thing we can savor and that’s what these single brew junkies are after – a way to savor the blend.