Test Drive: The Olson Brewer from Simply Good Coffee
The new brewing device was designed with one goal in mind: to make good coffee simple.
BY JOSH TAVES
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE
Photos by Josh Taves
Laura Sommers should need no introduction. If you’ve been working in the coffee industry for any amount of time, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ve had your hands on one of Laura’s products. You see, since the early 1990s, Laura has been the brains behind brands like Espresso Supply, Cremaware, Rattleware, EkoBrew, and Bonavita. So why have so few folks heard of her? To her great credit, Laura is excessively kind and humble, and prefers to point to members of her team before herself. So, when she decides to come out from behind the curtain and step into the spotlight, you can be sure that it’s worth paying attention to.
With her new venture, Simply Good Coffee, Laura is getting back to her roots and looking to turn the coffee-brewing industry on its head once again. Simply Good Coffee launched earlier this year in 2022 at the Specialty Coffee Expo in Boston (with a very cool recyclable trade show booth, by the way) with a singular product, the Olson Coffee Brewer. The brewer is targeted at home coffee brewers with the purpose of making good coffee, well, simple.
Making Home Brewing Approachable
Laura and her team are no strangers to the home coffee brewer market. The latest and greatest technologies, certifications, and aesthetics are all within their wheelhouse, but they were still not satisfied. They came to the conclusion that all these new advances in coffee brewers were not making it easier for new people to brew better coffee; rather, they were simply helping folks who were already making good coffee make their coffee better. To put it differently, all the bells and whistles on a coffee brewer are only helpful if the person using it understands how to interact with those features in a meaningful way. Oftentimes, increased functionality serves to alienate the uninitiated. Enter the Olson Coffee Brewer, designed to feel familiar, approachable, and simple while making high-quality coffee.
The Olson brewer primarily aims to tackle three of the major issues with your “typical” low-quality drip brewer. First, the engineers developed a larger heating element that gets the water hot enough to reach the coffee grounds at the appropriate brewing temperature of between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. This is crucial to coffee brewing, as it allows many delicious volatile compounds and aromatics to be properly dissolved out of the grounds and into your cup.
Second, the Olson Coffee Brewer is built to accommodate proper coffee ratios. Anyone who has pulled out their gram scale at the Airbnb and tried to brew a full pot of coffee on a cheap brewer will understand the overflowing mess of grounds that ensues when you use a proper grounds-to-water ratio between 15:1 and 18:1. Simply Good fixed this issue by using a brew basket that is more than large enough to hold a proper dose of grounds and still uses standard Melitta filters.
Finally, the Olson brewer is designed to deliver that hot water quickly so as to keep brewing times reasonable. Simply Good claims that the Olson brewer can produce a full eight-cup pot in as little as six minutes. Brewing times like this are crucial to avoid over-extraction and bitter flavors in your cup. To top all of these innovations off, the Olson Coffee Brewer also includes a selectable “bloom” function for helping those fresher coffees de-gas before the brewing cycle. The real beauty of this machine, however, is the simplicity (remember I started by saying that?).
The best part: The brewer has all these features plus the capability to significantly elevate your home coffee game with (drumroll please) one button. OK, to be fair, if you want to use the bloom cycle, there are two buttons; but that’s it. No touch screen, no temperature settings, no flashing lights, and no alarms. Just simply good coffee (pun intended). The second best part? The Olson Coffee Brewer will only cost you $149.99.
In my experience, Laura Sommers has good ideas. Considering that she has decided to make the face of this company hers, you can be sure she thinks it’s a pretty good idea. Should you throw away your fancy brewer and get an Olson Coffee Brewer? Maybe not, but you should remember this article the next time a friend tells you they are curious about making better coffee at home. Simply Good Coffee is focused on growing the number of folks who get excited about their cup of coffee every morning, and you should be too.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Taves is the head of business development for Stovetop Roasters in Michigan and the
creator of CuppingBrewer.com. He is also a 2017 USBC finalist, so he knows his way around
lots of different coffee gadgets. He’s been working in the coffee industry since 2006 and enjoys
taking advantage of all the great adventures the outdoors have to offer.
Source: Barista Magazine