Notorious iconoclast, coffee consultant, and two-time southeast regional barista champion Michael Kingston is rejecting known coffee doctrine once again as he pursues what he’s termed the omni-brew theory, which states that you can brew great coffee without adjusting any of your brewing variables, ever. I was lucky enough to sit down with Kingston and have a conversation about why he thinks the mastery of omni-brew is not only possible, but crucial to the future of coffee.
RJ: Thank you so much for taking the time to be here today! I was so excited to hear about your work with omni-brew and I was wondering if you could start off by just explaining the basic theory behind it.
MK: Well, no matter which variable constants the coffee industry has focused on over the years, there have always been several moving parts involved in making a cup of coffee. I’m positing that there don’t need to be. We can keep everything as variable constants and make the problem that much easier to solve.
RJ: Wow, that is a radical theory. What does the dial-in process on that look like?
MK: Essentially, you get your brewing setup to a good general spot and that is the whole dial-in process. You just take coffee and brew it. Then it comes out great.
RJ: But what if it doesn’t?
MK: I find that when it doesn’t come out great it’s usually a roast or green coffee issue rather than a brewing issue.
RJ: Very intriguing. This is pretty big change of position for you since your last regional win, correct?
MK: Oh, absolutely, it’s almost a complete 180. The industry has changed so much since then. Back then, I was manipulating every variable possible. To me, that now looks like the Stone Age of coffee. We don’t need to manipulate those variables at all.
RJ: Now, can you talk to me a little bit about why you feel like this is a necessary next step?
MK: The future of coffee is under threat in so many ways. Labor costs and the minimum wage have never been this high, and cafes are being crushed under the same rent burden as their workers. We need to be looking clearly at all viable solutions to reducing our costs. All of the coffee wasted in the dial-in process has an impact—it uses water, it uses arable land, it uses labor. The omni-brew allows us to never waste coffee.
RJ: That sounds positively utopian.
MK: I’ve always been a dreamer and I’m making this one a reality.
RJ: Thank you so much for your time Michael. It was great to hear your thoughts on this.