Coffee Industry Offering Innovative Options This Holiday Season

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Chemex has long been associated with carefully brewed gourmet coffee. This manual brewing method, invented by chemist Peter Schlumbohm in 1941, is supposed to produce better coffee by removing certain oils from the coffee beans.

The downside of the Chemex brewing method is that it requires a lot of work on the part of the user, who must heat water to the perfect temperature in a separate vessel, “bloom” ground coffee, and then manually pour the water and wait for it to percolate through Chemex’s iconic narrow-waisted flask.

“[T]he sleek hourglass’s promise of the perfect cup had long convinced coffee lovers everywhere that hand brewing their coffee was the only way to go. Automatic coffee makers were NOT taken seriously by the true coffee nerd,” Julie R. Thomson wrote for the Huffington Post Dec. 16.

But the maker of Chemex has announced, just in time for Christmas, that it will be releasing an automatic version of Chemex called the Ottomatic. According to its makers, the machine uses the same glass beakers, but heats the water, manages pre-infusion blooming, optimizes water-to-coffee contact time, and keeps the hot plate precisely between 176 and 185 degrees. Thomson says she’s willing to bet “it makes an even better cup than the traditional hand-brewed method because almost all possibility of human error has been taken out of the process.”

So if you’re among the 65% of Americans who likes to drink coffee with your breakfast every morning, the new machine can put a gourmet twist on your 6 a.m. caffeine jolt. The two major downsides are that it costs $350 and it won’t ship until the new year.

The holiday season also has something in store for coffee drinkers who don’t want their coffee to energize them: The Boston Globe reported Dec. 16 that Counting Sheep coffee, a Canadian-based company that makes a gourmet decaf containing natural sleep aids, is coming to the U.S. It will soon start selling in Market Fresh and Market Basket locations, and is scheduled for a meeting with Walmart next month.

The company offers two blends: 40 Winks, which contains a small amount of valerian root in it to promote drowsiness, and Lights Out, which is stronger. As the brand’s slogan puts it, “The best way to start your day is now the best way to end it.”

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