BeanScene talks to xBloom Co-founder Richard Xu about how the automated pour-over machine provides an all-in-one equipment experience with virtually no manual steps required.
Richard Xu had been working as a product designer at multinational technology company Apple for seven years when he decided to expand his capabilities and take ownership of a business in 2021.
“I wanted to broaden my horizons and create a product that I could call my own. I was lucky enough to find a great partner and co-founder Rui Zhou, who also worked at Apple, to bring the xBloom to life,” says xBloom Co-founder Richard.
The xBloom is an innovative pour-over machine composed of a 48-millimetre conical burr grinder that can also be used in standalone mode so users can brew with other tools such as AeroPress or French press, and a hot waterspout. It also comes with cloud-connected self-adjustment sensors, motors, software, solid-state pouring technology with three pouring modes, and a seamless flow of water guided by electrostatic vector force technology. These features won the xBloom the 2023 Consumer Technology Association Best of Innovation Award and the 2023 iF Design Award.
“We wanted to create a product in a field that was outside of our realm of knowledge of computers and technology, but that we were still passionate about, and that was specialty coffee,” says Richard.
“Specialty coffee has a long value chain, starting with the producer and ending with the customer, and we’re placing a lot of trust in that end consumer to appreciate the end result. Through a combination of design and technology, the xBloom aims to preserve the last mile of the value chain and ensures that people taste the coffee exactly as the roaster intended.”
Users can operate the xBloom in three steps: scan the xPod single-use coffee capsule or recipe card on the sensor pad to activate bean recognition. The machine automatically brings up the roaster’s pre-set bean-specific brewing recipe. After pouring beans into the grinder, place the empty xPod on the dock and start the brewing process with a gentle tap on the force-touch dock. Let the machine take care of the rest.
“The coffee is ground by the machine before the brewer produces a single stream of water that bends in any direction thanks to electrodes that are built into the brewer that can control the direction of water. This gives you full control over how the coffee bed is saturated and agitated,” says Richard.
“The xBloom contains the world’s first coffee grinder with automatic step motor adjustment for specified grind sizes and auto-calibration, reducing static and achieving near-zero retention for consistently high-quality coffee.
“The docking station that holds the xPod initiates brewing with haptic feedback, vibrates the pod for even extraction, and includes an embedded scale with anti- overflow detection for precise coffee-to- water ratio.”
Richard says the secret is in the coffee pod, allowing roasters to take the wheel and bring their intended vision of the coffee to life. The xPod contains 15 grams of whole coffee beans to ensure it is as fresh as possible when brewed. Inside each pod is a paper filter that lines its walls, and the pod itself is made of compostable recycled sugarcane fibre, acting as the coffee dripper.
“Roasters are in the driving seat with every extraction parameter in their control. The near-field communication tag at the bottom contains the unique brewing method specifically tailored to whole beans inside,” Richard says.
“The xBloom adjusts the temperature, ratio, grind and pouring pattern, ensuring that every cup tastes exactly how they are envisioned by our world-class roaster and curator partners.”
Users can also scan their xBloom recipe card and use their own beans with a reusable dripper, and in 2024, will be able to tap their phone to transfer recipes from the xBloom smart application to the machine.
“The xBloom provides the convenience of enjoying high-quality and properly extracted coffee at the touch of a button. It also establishes a connection between a really great roaster and a consumer,” Richard says.
“Our goal is to remove the barrier to specialty coffee and bring better quality beans to households everywhere. By partnering with leading coffee roasters, we will give our customers the best cup of coffee they’ve ever had.”
xBloom has also partnered with Australian equipment distributor Coffee Tools Distributing to bring the automated pour-over machine Down Under.
“Coffee Tools Distributing was the first reputable Australian distributor to reach out to us in July 2023. We had great chemistry with the team straight away, so I knew I wanted to work with them,” Richard says. “The xBloom isn’t just a machine, it’s a curated platform for local and large roasters and our partners. We only want to work with devoted allies, and Coffee Tools Distributing fits that category for us.”
Coffee Tools Distributing Director Curtis Arnold had seen Program Manager and Social Influencer Brian Quan, who was involved in the development of the xBloom, promote the product on YouTube and was immediately fascinated.
“When I saw the xBloom on [global crowdfunding platform] Kickstarter, I backed the product. Once we received it and started using it in our office, I was really happy with the workflow, coffee, and machine overall. I initially reached out to them to have more coffee pods shipped to our office, and the partnership took off from there,” Curtis says.
Curtis continues that the repeatability and consistency of the xBloom are just some of the reasons he was impressed by the automated pour-over machine.
“You know you’re going to get the same pour-over quality time and time again. And having the ability to change recipes, which you would normally have to do manually, is really powerful,” he says.
“But what I find most intriguing about the xBloom is its ability to connect the roaster and their vision for the bean with the customer. It means you’re drinking the coffee exactly as the roaster planned when they created the roast profile and brew recipe.”
Richard says Curtis is his ideal business partner due to his attitude and expertise and looks forward to working with the distributor.
“[Curtis] was dedicated to the product and fully understood our purpose in the market. He aligned with our vision to create not only a product but a coffee marketplace, which we valued a lot. I knew the moment after our first phone call that I had chosen the right partner,” he says.
Richard says he is eager to enter the Australian market due to its appreciation for specialty coffee.
“Australia is very well-educated in terms of coffee and has an enormous amount of quality roasters, so it’s definitely the right audience and target market for us,” he says. “That said, xBloom is perfect for anyone who loves a good quality coffee.”
According to Richard, customers should keep their eyes peeled for an updated model of the xBloom in the future.
“Following Apple’s tradition of releasing a new iPhone every year, we’re working on a lot of new ideas and products. Let’s just say, I’m keeping my engineering team busy,” he says.
This article appears in the December 2023 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.