Barista Group sets the Tone for boilerless brewing

tone boilerless brewing

Barista Group has partnered with Swiss company Tone to bring the next generation in recipe development and boilerless brewing technology to Australia.

The are many variables that influence the flavour notes and profile of a coffee. Control of these elements – like brewing time, temperature, and water flow – is a big part of why specialty coffee shops have embraced filter brewing. 

But the time and attention it takes to consistently brew single cups of filter coffee can pose a challenge to the workflow of a café.

“If you go to a bar and request an expensive $15 coffee, you know it’s going to take time to brew,” says Joe Chalhoub, General Manager at Barista Group. “From the café side, you want to be as efficient as possible, but that’s not often the case when brewing manually.”

Barista Group’s mission is to find and supply products that actually improve and progress the operation of a café. Seeing the challenges cafés faced when it came to filter brewing, Joe set out to find a product that could make the brewing process more efficient and found it with the Tone 03 single serve brewer.

“The Tone 03 opens avenues to draw more flavours out of coffee by controlling the temperature, flowrate, and different stages of brewing throughout the extraction,” Joe says. “We don’t take on any product unless it meets certain criteria, and I believe this machine will breed champions.”

Baristas can play with brew recipes using the machine’s intelligent recipe development system – accessible via a Wi-Fi-connected tablet.

In Basic mode, the Tone 03 comes with four built-in settings labelled as mild, medium, bold, and xbold. These have pre-defined temperature and pulsation. Baristas simply need to input the volume of water and filter type – v60 or Kalita-style flatbed – into the tablet.

In the Advanced mode, baristas can set the temperature of each extraction phase – bloom, turbulence, and development – and characteristics of the water pulse, like quantity, flow ratio, duration, and interval.

“More is extracted from the coffee at higher temperatures. In some cases, you might want to set your bloom at 96°C, then drop the temperature throughout the pulses and development,” Joe says.

“Let’s say your brewing recipe is 15 grams of coffee and 250 millilitres of water. For the bloom phase, you can tell the machine ‘I want a slower rate of 30 millilitres for the first 30 seconds’. Then, ‘I’d like a pause of 30 seconds and two pulses of different water flowrate of the remaining water’. But you can create up to nine pulses at lower volumes of water, so it’s really up to your imagination.”

The Tone 03 uses an electronic continuous slow heating system to ensure water is at the right temperature as it leaves the machine, making a traditional boiler unnecessary. Joe says this is a game changer for those that are limited on space and conscious of their carbon footprint.

“Being boilerless, you can simply place the Tone 03 on the bench, connect it to a water supply and electricity, and it will only take two seconds to heat up the water to 94°C,” Joe says.

“Traditional brewing devices have boilers with a heating element that kicks in from time to time to keep their water within the temperature range. The Tone 03 uses a completely different mechanism so there’s huge savings on energy over time.”

The Tone 03 produces batches from 250 millilitres up to two litres in size, making it optimal for single cups or more high-end coffees. Barista Group’s partnership with Tone includes the latter’s full range of brewing products for venues that want the same degree of control over their batch brew or filter at higher volumes. 

The Tone 01 is a multifunctional brewing solution that also allows baristas to brew iced and hot coffee or tea in batches up to four litres.

“The Tone 03 is the ultimate machine for customers that come in and take a seat at the bar for an experience, or want to enjoy a brew with their friends,” Joe says. “But a lot of coffee in Australia is sold as takeaway. If you know you’ll have a line of 20 people waiting for filter coffee every morning, you might want to go with a batch brewer like the Tone 01.”

The Tone 02 is like a decked-out version of the 01. The main brewing chamber delivers bulk brew coffee and tea, while a side arm extended with two waterspouts jutting out the right of the machine makes it possible to brew Chemex-style coffees.

Rounding out the Tone line is the Nitro, a plug and play unit that uses an integrated cooler and nitrogen pulled from the air, instead of a canister, to produce nitro cold brew.

“The Nitro is a game changer. Space is crucial in cafés and having a nitro unit you can plug and play is awesome,” Joe says.

“It’s a very simple device that you can fit on any counter. You can even regulate the temperature and amount of nitrogen brought into the coffee from the back as well.”

But what excites Barista Group most about the new partnership with Tone is its focus on boilerless brewing technology that started with the Tone 03. Joe first discovered Tone at Host Milano in Italy in 2019. It wasn’t until he had a conversation with Tone CEO Holger Welz in 2020 that he realised the company’s potential.

“I had a great conversation with Holger that was meant to only be half an hour but ended up going for three. He talked about his philosophy, how everyone wants to reduce their carbon footprint, and how the boiler contributes a lot to that in the café,” Joe says.

“That’s how [Holger] came up with the idea to challenge the status quo: to go boilerless, reduce their footprint, and advance sustainability. 

Although Australia is still an espresso and milk coffee heavy market, Joe sees potential for filter to grow exponentially, especially with brewers like those from Tone making it much easier for a busy café to deliver a filter option.

“I can’t see any coffee shops surviving or being sustainable in the future without having the right coffee, the right equipment, and an offering that is unique to them – like a diverse menu of single origins,” Joe says.

“Australia isn’t a big market for filter coffee, so we’re going to create that demand, like Sony did in 1979 with the Walkman. There wasn’t a market for [portable music players] until they created one.”

In 2021, Barista Group is aiming to host brewing workshops, courses, and competitions called Man Vs Tone Touch 03 to raise awareness of filter coffee.

Within only a few weeks of revealing the Tone brewers, Joe says there’s been a strong interest and demand from the barista community.

“All of the enquiries we’ve had so far are from serious ‘coffee geeks’. They have worked as baristas in cafés, so they know how hard it is to brew manually and consistently in a busy environment,” Joe says.

“They look at Tone and see a sophisticated machine that brews coffee exactly how they want it to and is as simple as hitting a button. It’s a champion brew every time.” 

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This article appears in the February 2021 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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