Admittedly, a $14,000 price tag seems steep for a coffee brewer. But what if that item was a piece of breakthrough technology and a work of art? What if it heralded the future of beverage preparation? Such is the case with the BKON Craft Brewer.
Dean and Lou Vastardis, brothers from Philadelphia, are part of a family that’s been trading and importing coffee for generations. In 2007, Dean and Lou founded the coffee company BKON; the name is pronounced like the word “beacon.” From the start, this organization has been dedicated to high-tech ways of making delicious coffees, teas, and other drinks.
To accomplish its lofty goals, BKON entered into a corporate partnership with Franke Foodservice Systems. Entrepreneur Hermann Franke founded this company in Switzerland in 1911. Originally a sheet metal enterprise, it has since grown into a leading culinary technology firm, and it has designed thousands of industrial kitchens around the world.
As a result of this relationship, BKON has been able to develop its complex Craft Brewer. To understand how this machine works, it’s helpful to look at sous vide. Sous vide is a style of cooking in which a chef takes a portion of meat or vegetables, seals it in an airtight bag, and either places it in a warm environment or submerges it in warm water. That food then stays put for as long as 96 hours.
Under this system, which gained semi-popularity in the U.S. and France during the 1960s, meat is cooked at a temperature that almost never exceeds 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which is much cooler than the temperatures at which meat is typically prepared. Sous vide ― the name is French for “under vacuum” ― ensures that dishes are as moist as they can be and that no part gets overcooked or undercooked.
In 2007, Dean Vastardis watched a chef demonstrate the process of sous vide on a television show, and he was immediately fascinated by the concept of cooking foods in a vacuum. He began imagining that a similar method of brewing coffee might yield exciting results. With that, he found a unique direction in which to take the company that he cofounded.
BKON’s early experiments in this area involved reworking tire valves in order to create special airtight containers. Dean, Lou, and their product testers attached those containers to vacuum pumps. Those initial efforts were successful in every respect but one: The coffee that they produced had a terrible taste. The brothers were undaunted, though, and their trials would go on for years. At last, in 2013, BKON had a patent that it could eventually take to the public.
The BKON Craft Brewer, which is self-cleaning, is sleek in its appearance; it’s rectangular and black. It looks like a futuristic mini-bookshelf, and it can easily fit on top of a desk or a table. Further, you’ll find that the coffee you receive from this machine is significantly less bitter than the typical brew.