Predictions for 2009 – Analysis

Well.  I really didn’t do well this time!  Having done ok on my 2008 predictions I must say that I can’t quite claim the same level of success for 2009.

My predicitons were:

1. Coffee Packaging takes a step forward

Nothing here to report.  I don’t know if anyone has done anything interesting in 2009 with roasted coffee packaging but I certainly haven’t seen it, and I don’t think it has had an impact.  A poor prediction.

2. Improved Green Coffee Packaging

This is a tricky one.  I am sure that this year people have received record quantities of vac-packed, or grainpro packed coffee.  I know that a substantial amount of coffee that we’ve bought this year has come this way.  I also know that it leaves me conflicted over the amount of waste this packaging generates.  An OK, passable, but not great effort at prediction.

3.  Someone invents a grinder worth getting excited about.

Nope. Nothing here.  I know why, from an R&D cost Vs sales perspective, this hasn’t happened.  For some reason I guess I thought it just would.  A complete failure of a prediction.

4.  Decent Coffee Press in the UK.

I am going to claim this one.  You could argue that the quality of writing hasn’t been where it could be but I think this year we’ve seen unprecedented levels of coverage for speciality coffee – mostly in response to Gwilym’s win – but also covering the blossoming of London’s coffee culture.  I hope it continues.  A pretty successful prediction.

5.  Producing countries in the WBC Top 6.

Another utterly failed prediction.  Raul was just outside the top 6, and I think there was some surprise at who made the top 6 and who didn’t.  Nonetheless I can’t even vaguely claim this one as successful.

So…  Barely 1.5 out of 5 I reckon.  Not good work.  I shall have to try harder for my prediction for 2010, or just give up entirely!  I hope next time I don’t confuse speculation and prediction with wishful thinking!

The one interesting thing, in terms of me trying to salvage my credibility, are the two main predictions that I got wrong in 2008 – the rise of pressure profiling and increase in green coffee pricing – have somewhat come true in 2009.

There can be no argument on the pressure profiling front.  From the Slayer to Strada, but also to Cimbali’s rather impressive pressure profiling machine – the technology is now here and seems to have perhaps captured the interest of manufacturers more than baristas but I think it will continue to be incorporated into new machines.

As for green coffee – it may not yet have reached the peak of March 3rd but after a steep drop it is definitely back on the rise:

(couresy of Wolfram Alpha – the rather splendid search engine for this sort of thing.)

I’ll post my predictions for 2010 around New Year.

6 Comments Predictions for 2009 – Analysis

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  2. Mark

    I think the Vario is something to get mildly excited about, regarding grinders, only because of its potential scope outside of the home or dedicated coffee testing area. In my opinion, it’s actually the first viable solution for pitching multiple-coffee “coffee lists” to restaurants. Instead of them droping $1.5K, $2K on a Ditting or Mahlkonig for medium or higher volume use, drop in three Varios, each carrying small quantities of high grade SOs, and the restaurant can offer a 3 coffee selection list. The one person on staff who “gets” coffee can dial in the three program buttons for 3, 4 and 8 cup presses. The staff just has to press the appropriate button on the appropriate grinder when the order comes in, dump the coffee into the press pot, pour water, stir, cover, use an auto 4min timer (bodum sells ones that sit on the plunger). Wallah, awesome coffee in a restaurant. I’m working on getting a pilot project done here in Vancouver with this very setup in February.

    But, that said, there’s been no real advances (other than tiny steps) in espresso grinding. We still are stuck in the 1950s when it comes to these monsters. I blame Mazzer mostly, but the other companies need to get with the times.

    On coffee packaging – have you seen Barefoot’s bags?

  3. James Hoffmann

    While I love the potential for the Vario in certain types of business (my Mum’s cafe use one to do french press to order), I don’t think it is a revolutionary grinder in any way. Of all the problems we face with grinders – heat build up, grinds retention, an irritating path between burrs and basket – it solves none. I do really like it, I think its well built, extremely useful but this year I had hopes for so much more.

    Unfortunately I suspect that it will be a home enthusiast who makes the breakthrough, who comes up with an idea that they’ll hopefully patent so it does just get borrowed by manufacturers!

  4. Lori

    What do you think is currently the best grinder solution for a fairly busy shop offering multiple single origin coffees brewed to order (v60’s, abids, or siphon)? I can see how the Varios work in restaurants but is there a similar solution for higher volume coffee shops? Right now we are using a Mahlkonig for grinding pre-dosed single origin coffees (4 or 5 offerings at a time).

  5. Tom

    Hi James,

    “but this year I had hopes for so much more”

    Can you be a bit more specific? minimal grinds retention I believe is possible with ‘open’ designs, so burrs pretty much out in the open, without a huge amount of metal surrounding it. Heat build up, partially connected with grinds retention, but mainly caused by friction, solvable by minimising grinds retention and active cooling (?). Short burr-basket path also solved by an ‘open’ design, perhaps also by a vertical burr alignement, althought I’m not sure if it’s going to work with conical burrs.


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