Coffee Time Challenge
Your cup of tea?
In a departure from its titular tradition, Coffee Time Challenge this month looks at the noble art of teamaking.
In the UK's 'coffee revolution' of the last decade or so, one significant group has been left out in the cold. While coffee drinkers have seen their options increase hugely, with an ever-widening array of coffee shops offering a bewildering variety of coffees, tea drinkers in such establishments are all too often presented with a teabag in pot of hot (but not boiling) water.
This situation seems particularly strange given that, for all the inroads coffee has made in the UK of late, this remains resolutely a nation of tea drinkers. The statistics make this clear, with 165 million cups of tea being consumed daily – making a total of 60.2 billion per year. This compares with a mere 70 million cups of coffee consumed daily.
Also, of the tea that is consumed, it is a source of great distress to many tea purists that 96% of it is made in bags. Tea made from leaves, they argue, is infinitely superior to its bagged counterpart – albeit less convenient.
It would seem logical, therefore, to introduce a means whereby tea drinkers can be offered the same gourmet experience as is available to coffee drinkers these days – offering loose leaf teas of varying types prepared properly and to some degree to their taste.
The challenge this month, then, is to devise a machine that can replicate the coffee drinker's premium consumer experience for tea drinkers. It should be fully programmable, allowing the consumer to specify not only the leaf, but also the intensity of the tea flavour and even factors such as the relative bitterness. In other words: to identify the independent variables that impact flavour, and how to separately manipulate them to deliver each consumer's ideal cup.
Ideally, this solution should also be faster than traditional tea brewing – a process that is traditionally supposed to take four minutes – in order to improve customer throughput in a retail context.
The solution currently only exists in prototype form, but is being publicised by its inventors as the answer to many a tea drinker's prayers. However, that is not to say you could not do better.
Solution to March 2012 Coffee Time Challenge [CTC Pic]
The solution to the challenge of how to create a gourmet tea experience in a busy retail environment comes from Cambridge Consultants, whose TeaTotal prototype brings a dynamic experience to the customer who loves tea. It allows for personalisation according to taste, and brews the 'perfect cup' in half the time of the standard tea process, maximising revenue for the retailer.
TeaTotal is a fully programmable tea brewing device, allowing the consumer to specify not only the leaf, but also the intensity of the tea flavour and the relative bitterness. Cambridge Consultants' design team was able to identify the independent variables that impact flavour, and how to separately manipulate them to deliver each consumer's ideal cup. Moreover, while a standard tea process brews tea in roughly four minutes, TeaTotal only takes around two minutes, creating faster throughput in a retail setting.
The prototype has been designed to use loose leaf tea and the theatrical brewing pot fills with water, swirling the leaves around and steeping until the tea is poured into a cup and the spent leaves are ejected, all highly visible to the expectant consumer.
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