As part of cooking week, we decided to test out some of the most specialized (and, in some cases, ridiculous) kitchen gadgets we could find. We wanted to know if these awesome home appliances actually do what they claim and if they’re worth it. These are our findings.
What if you could get a perfect glass of cold brew coffee in just minutes, without having to soak the grounds overnight? This is the basic pitch behind Osma Pro, a quirky $695 gadget from designer Joey Roth. You might remember him as the guy behind those beautiful ceramic speakers more than ten years ago – this time he set his sights on something even more ambitious: to create an entirely new form of coffee preparation.
The Osma Pro relies on acoustic cavitation, or a continuous pressure wave that agitates the grounds, to extract soft, smooth 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 an espresso, like a delicate lump 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’m quite familiar with an espresso machine and have tried almost every other method of making coffee over the years. During the summer, I usually rely on homemade iced lattes or cold brew (via OXO’s clever kit). If I am really lazy, I’ll buy a bottle of concentrated cold brew from the store (Gradys, in particular, is just adorable).
These 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 significantly stronger than a typical cold glass of coffee, at least based on the amount of coffee grounds Osma suggests. After adding some ice, water, and a pinch of soymilk, 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, good morning coldness coffee.
As much as I love the Osma, however, its hefty price tag and multi-step process make it best suited for cafes and the real obsessive. Pulling a shot involves grinding fresh beans and securing them in the portafilter, as you’d expect. But you also need to put a glass of water under the intake straw, in addition to something under the filter to catch the coffee. (Roth says future designs may have reservoirs built in, like my beloved Breville espresso machine.) You then need to pre-infuse the soil by pressing the pump button several times, wait about 30 seconds, and only then can you begin to draw a full shot. I can usually 5 ounces in under a minute, but you can also go for more or less depending on your taste.
Osma’s anodized aluminum housing makes it stand out in kitchens typically filled with gleaming stainless steel appliances. The 18-pound machine itself feels substantial, but I’d like to see Roth round its sharp corners. I’ve stabbed myself several times while making coffee and I’m afraid to leave it on the counter where my wife or child might inadvertently fall into it. It’s skinny enough to fit in a drawer, but its weight also makes it difficult to maneuver easily. It is best suited to a low traffic area.
Given how quickly nitro cold brew has taken off, I wouldn’t be surprised if Osma finds a foothold in boutique cafes. Roth says it’s already a permanent fixture at Chromatic in San Jose and is in discussion with other cafes. After all, it’s hard to anticipate demand for traditional cold brew, so many stores would likely appreciate a faster way to brew a cold cup of coffee.