FWx took the stage at last weekend's South by Southwest Interactive conference to explore the future of coffee technology, with F&W Deputy Digital Editor Lawrence Marcus leading a session featuring Counter Culture's Meister and Invergo inventor Cameron Hughes. The future, as it turns out, is bright indeed. Here, five of the group's predictions for the future of your morning cup.
1. Single-serve is the future. All three panelists thought coffee drinkers had fallen for individually brewed cups, whether from a BKON (a $13,000 brewer that uses vacuum technology) or a Keurig (which the panel didn't seem so fond of).
2. Coffee beans will get tastier. Meister gave us a rundown on Cup of Excellence, an online auction that lets small roasters buy beans from the best small growers in the world. As more money flows to individual growers, they'll have access to the technology that can help them better produce more coffee.
3. Brewers will join the Internet of Things. The Blossom One can download specific brew settings for a given coffee. At $6,000, few homes are going to get that machine, but the technology is likely on its way to your kitchen. Hughes envisioned a future where you'll scan your bag of beans, and the brewer will know exactly how to coax the most flavor from them.
4. We'll buy our beans online. Not everyone has a great roaster in their town, but it's getting easier to buy beans from any little business in the country. (We're particularly bullish on the new Kickstarter concept Crema.)
5. We'll give up milk and sugar (some of us, at least). Until pretty recently, it was all but impossible to find coffee in the US that wasn't over-roasted, stale and poorly brewed. That's not to say it didn't taste pretty good with some dairy and sweetener. But as more of us taste the natural sweetness and fruit flavors of truly great coffee, we'll find that there's no need to alter it. The panel said it was like the American beer palate waking up to craft brews after decades of nothing but bland macro lager.