Yesterday, Google unveiled its new voice-activated personal assistant, Home, which ships on November 4 for $129 and performs a lot of useful functions, like offering weather updates and commute times. Google partnered with Philips and Samsung, among other companies, so Google Home can integrate with their “smart” devices, too. But as Frederic Lardinois of TechCrunch points out, “Google is relatively late to the game here,” given the presence of Amazon Echo and its well-known digital personal assistant, Alexa, who will, apparently, soon make coffee for you if you ask her nicely enough. According to a release obtained by CNET, Echo joined forces with Behmor, a manufacturer of “smart” coffee makers, so you can request for a fresh pot of coffee whenever you please.
All you have to say, CNET reports, is something like, "Alexa, is my coffee ready?” or, "Alexa, start brewing my favorite coffee.” It’s seems like a nifty bit of advertising on Behmor’s part, since, I guess, the assumption is that your favorite coffee couldn’t be made in any other machine. Presumably, though, Alexa can’t physically grind beans, pour water and make measurements, so it’s unclear exactly how Behmor and Echo are integrated; more will be unveiled at Seattle’s Smart Kitchen Summit this week.
While it all sounds enticing, the technological innovation feels out of line with how the coffee cognoscenti is presently making—and consuming—the drink. By now, it is a self-evident truth that machines like Keurig and Nespresso produce weak and watery cups. Manual devices like the French press, the Chemex and the ceramic pour-over dripper, on the other hand, not only produce better coffee than electric makers, they also add a level of intimacy to the preparation of the cup that gives you a heightened appreciation its nuances, its oils and flavors.
Perhaps someday Echo will program Alexa to actually get coffee. Then, without feeling like a jackass, you can reasonably ask her to brew up a pot of Aida Battle’s recent shipment of El Salvador Finca Kilimanjaro—in a French press, please. But we're not there yet.