Coffee’s higher grounds

In an era where information is omnipresent, we all have ample opportunity to better ourselves and our lives with new skills and—to the delight of marketers—new products. Why be “okay” at something when you could be good or great? That must have been the question marketers asked themselves when they created the concept of “prosumer” products—consumer goods good enough for the pros. With product lines such as Canon’s Rebel series and any array of full line kitchen appliances from GE Profile, Wolf, Viking, and Miele, brands are empowering consumers to, if nothing else, “feel” like a better photographer or chef, let alone truly be more proficient. Extending products into new lines to serve new audiences is a great way to grow business and innovate. And as a lifelong coffee and espresso drinker, 2012 appeared to me as the year coffee makers made a notable impression, extending the range of product types and price points. ba_coffeegrounds What happened to the $24.99 Mr. Coffee? If you’ve lived in Seattle, the Bay Area, or any other metropolitan coffee hub, it’s possible that “La Marzocco” may mean more to you than just words in Italian. But for those of you who don’t recognize that name, prosumer / commercial quality espresso makers for the home really made a mark in late 2008 when Miele introduced its beautifully crafted $3,000 CVA 4066 model. Now dozens of brands from around the world offer specialty coffee makers priced from the low hundreds to several thousand dollars. Today we can choose from machines that automatically grind the beans, steam the milk, brew the coffee, and keep the cups and saucers warm. Or for the purists on the other end of the continuum, cafe-grade machines allow home baristas to handcraft their java to their discerning taste. If only Mr. Coffee knew 20 years ago what we know now!