As part of Cooking Week, we set out to test some of the most niche (and, in some cases, ridiculous) kitchen gadgets we could find. We wanted to know if these impressive-looking appliances actually do what they claim and if they’re worth the splurge. These are our findings.
What if you could get a perfect glass of cold brew coffee in just a few minutes, without the hassle of steeping grounds overnight? That’s the basic pitch behind the Osma Pro, a quirky $695 gadget from designer Joey Roth. You may remember him as the guy behind those gorgeous ceramic speakers from over a decade ago — this time, he’s set his sights on something even more ambitious: Creating an entirely new form of coffee brewing.
The Osma Pro relies on acoustic cavitation, or a wave of continuous pressure that agitates grounds, to extract a smooth and mellow shot of coffee. It has the nuances you’d find in cold brew (something you lose with heat-based methods), but it also adds layers of complexity you’d expect from espresso, like a delicate bit of crema at the top. The result, based on a few months of testing, is one of the most unique coffee experiences I’ve ever had.
Now I wouldn’t consider myself a true java expert, but I know my way around an espresso machine, and I’ve tried almost every other coffee brewing method over the years. During the summer, I typically rely on homemade iced lattes or cold brew (via OXO’s nifty kit). If I’m really lazy, I’ll buy a bottle of concentrated cold brew from the store (Gradys, in particular, is just lovely).
Those methods have kept me alert and productive since college, but Osma’s coffee adds a bit more depth, with a velvety texture reminiscent of nitro cold brew. It’s also noticeably stronger than a typical glass of cold coffee, at least based on the amount of coffee grounds Osma suggests. After adding ice, water and a dash of soy milk, I’m left with a drink that gives me a nicer buzz than a glass of cold brew, but doesn’t make me as jittery as a triple-shot iced latte. So long iced coffee, hello chill coffee.
As much as I like the Osma, though, its high price and multi-step process makes it best suited for coffee shops and true obsessives. Pulling a shot involves grinding fresh beans and securing them in the portafilter, as you’d expect. But you also have to place a glass of water under the intake straw, in addition to something under the filter to grab the coffee. (Roth says future designs could have built-in reservoirs, like my beloved Breville espresso machine.) You then have to pre-infuse the grounds by hitting the pump button a few times, wait 30 seconds or so, and only then can you start pulling a full shot. I can usually 5 ounces in under a minute, but you could also go for more or less depending on your taste.
Osma’s stark anodized aluminum case makes it stand out in kitchens typically filled with gleaming stainless steel appliances. The 18-pound machine itself feels substantial, but I’d love to see Roth round out its sharp corners. I’ve already stabbed myself a few times while making coffee, and I’m worried about leaving it on the counter where my wife or toddler could inadvertently run into it. It’s skinny enough to stuff into a drawer, but its weight also makes it difficult to maneuver easily. It’s best suited for a corner that doesn’t get much traffic.
Given how quickly nitro cold brew took off, I wouldn’t be surprised if Osma finds a foothold in boutique coffee shops. Roth says it’s already a permanent fixture at Chromatic in San Jose, and he’s in discussions with other cafes. It’s hard to anticipate demand for traditional cold brew, after all, so plenty of shops would likely welcome a faster way to craft a cold cup of joe.
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