The pour-over, whereby your barista spiral-drizzles steaming water into a punctiliously weighed dose of ground coffee, makes an iconographically superior brew. It is also fussy, time-consuming, and ill suited to a line of waiting, undercaffeinated New York café customers. In most places, the way to resolve this dilemma is to buy a Bunn coffeepot and deal with it.
In Brooklyn, the solution is to build a robot that can brew five pour-overs at a time. Its CEO, Stephan von Muehlen, spent some years at a company that built parts for NASA’s Mars rover, and says that the company’s goal is not to put young bearded men out of work but simply to quintuple their efforts — “repeatedly, quietly, smoothly” — and keep the pour-overs pouring at espresso speed.
Five cones of coffee sit in its base; above them, a little nozzle zips back and forth, twirling out measured amounts of water in a computer-controlled spiral, resulting in coffee that is clinically, empirically, gastronomically Just Right.
The Poursteady made its retail debut in July at the Café Grumpy location in Chelsea. This was supposed to be a test drive, intended to work out bugs in the system, but Café Grumpy’s baristas were impressed enough that the shop bought the machine a month later.
A few dozen more have since been built or are in production, and you will not be one bit surprised to learn that they are made not in China but in a machine shop in Gowanus. Nor will you be surprised to find that the Poursteady is controllable by its barista, to an uncanny extent: Water temperature is adjustable within a degree, water volume to within a gram, timing to the second, the drizzle pattern by its size. And, least surprising of all, those controls are managed via app.
Yes, this is all so new-Brooklyn it hurts. It’s also mesmerizing fun to watch in action — almost enough to distract you from your cranky, undercaffeinated state.
Because of the way Social Media Week is set up this year, it can be tough to justify the expense of a campus pass if you are a recent post-grad with a laughable bank account balance. From one millennial to another, here are a few reasons why it’s worth it to shell out to come to SMW this year. It’s actually quite the steal for access to these amazing sessions and more.
Beyond LinkedIn: Using Niche Social Media Platforms in the Job Hunt
If you already have a job and aren’t living on your parent’s couch, you might not be a millennial. Jokes aside, landing your first “real job” is not an easy task, event if you did all the things you were told to- like go to a good school and get good grades. It takes a multi-lateral effort to get your foot in the door and this is a good place to start.
7×7 Mentor Session: Industry Leaders Share Career Advice on Getting Ahead
And when we do finally get that job, how can we make sure that we are staying on the right track? Through mentorship. All good millennials have a copy of Lean In and know we need a mentor who can help us talk through the difficult situations in that life throws us as well as how we want to move in our careers.
The New Frontier of (Un)Branded Content: A Screening and Discussion of Farmed and Dangerous, Hosted by Chipotle
With the unbelievable increase in connection through social media, how is it that we are still so disconnected with the sources of our food? I barely even buy groceries, and when I do I don’t have a good idea of where they are coming from and what the worker conditions were like. Though this web series is a humorous take on the idea of disconnection from our food, it is good that Chipotle is asking us think more critically about where our food is actually coming from.
It’s Thanksgiving week, which means many of us are busy preparing food, getting ready to host friends and family, or traveling to celebrate. All the shopping and preparations can be tiring, though well worth it. So, we want to reward you.
We’ve partnered with Plated to make cooking easier. Founded by Harvard Business School alums Nick Taranto and Josh Hix after they realized the need for budget and time friendly food options, the Plated version of a dinner box was born. Compiling recipes from noted chefs such as Michael Mina, Plated delivers all the ingredients necessary to make a home-cooked meal, including spices, produce, and proteins, with easy to follow recipes.
“We believe that most people want better, more nutritious, less greasy food, and they’re willing to put in 20-30 minutes of work in order to get it — if given the choice,” Nick says.
But Plated hasn’t stopped with delivery. They have also created a new social aspect, “Social Recipe Pages.” Social Recipe Pages are like Pinterest for home cooks, a place where you can share photos and cooking tips.
“With thousands of customers cooking the same meals on same night any given week, this will be a place for them to connect and engage with each other,” Nick said. “They can talk about what they’re doing, share their personal takes on the recipes, talk to the chef who designed the meal, and ask questions.”
Sound interesting? All of our Insider Pass-holders can enjoy a free week of service from Plated.
That’s four meals designed by chefs and delivered to you to wow your family, friends, or self. Plus, there’s still time to also receive 20% off the standard Insider Pass rate.
Developing an Online Voice and Personality. While each purveyor differed in their preferences for a social media platform, the general consensus was the need to 1) develop the right tone that best reflected the personality of their brand as well as 2) the right interaction to engage their online audience. Social media has greatly hastened and cultivated our current need for transparency. Now, customers want to know the full 360 who is behind the product, what is the owner’s personality and background, what happens on a daily or weekly basis, etc. Fany Gerson, whose paletas (Mexican ice pops) are highly popular in Manhattan, noted that she tweets in both Spanish and English as a nod to her cultural roots and diverse clientele. Allison Robicelli recounted she began with the oft-started professional tone. But when she finally let her true personality/voice take over, posting comedic and entertaining accounts of her life via stream-of-consciousness thinking, her online audience increased dramatically not only locally, but internationally as well.
More Content Than Advertising. A beginner’s faux-pas that each panelist stressed should be avoided was the assumption that every post and tweet focus on advertising the product. You want to be a conversationalist, not a commercial. A majority of online actions should be focused on interacting with your customers (answering questions, commenting on their posts/tweets) and providing content (industry-related topics or news, photos, events, personal opinions).
Crowdsourcing Ideas and Feedback. Social media is instantaneous and real-time, so business owners can immediately receive feedback on their customer needs, preferences, and requests. It’s the improved, straight-from-the-source, focus group model. Simon Tung relayed an experience when he received customer comments regarding an issue with one of his baked goods. He quickly examined the product, confirmed the validity of his customer critiques, and immediately removed the product from the shelves. Allison Robicelli continually asks her customers for cupcake flavors as well as recommendations for past cupcake flavors that should be reintroduced.
Crowdfunding for Business Growth. Not only does social media provide audience engagement and communication, but it can also be used as a vehicle for raising capital. Both La Newyorkina and Red Hook Lobster Pound suffered great loss during Hurricane Sandy as their kitchens were located in Red Hook. Fany Gerson, of La Newyorkina, created a Kickstarter campaign to raise capital ($20,000) in order to rebuild her entire kitchen. Gerson’s strong community of fans and peers mobilized as fundraising ambassadors on her behalf via social media networks, resulting in La Newyorkina over-exceeding the initial $20,000 goal within one week.
Handling Customer Complaints. Most of the panelists handle customer complaints through Facebook and Twitter, but mention Yelp and everyone lets out an exasperated sigh. Yelp seems to be the bane of any food-related business owner. While there are valid criticisms, a majority of the negative reviews are from privilege-minded individuals who expected special treatment during their visit or from individuals who leave negative reviews to receive future special treatment. Business owners must learn to ascertain and identify which reviews are legitimate in order to conduct follow-up. Susan Povich of Red Hook Lobster Pound reviews Yelp for dissatisfied customers and sends them a specially coded gift certificate. When someone shows up with said coded certificate at any of the locations, employees ensure that specific customer has an exemplary second experience. Additionally, this allows Povich to track conversion rates for customer service.
Your Peers Are Also Your Community. It’s a small world and in the food entrepreneurship industry, it’s even smaller. Each of the panelists stressed the importance of authenticity and relationship building not only with customers, but also with fellow peers within the field. Working in silos was never an option to them, nor was it a mentality they wanted. The panelists and their peers became secondary family, helping one another during various markets, providing advice on business matters, brain-storming ideas on culinary initiatives, and sharing kitchen space and resources when needed. This community spirit, carried over on to social media platforms, indirectly helped increase customer engagement and followers. Customers would read online interactions between the business owners; begin following the companies they were previously unaware of; involve themselves within said business conversations; visit the recently-followed food establishments to taste the products; and most importantly, the customers would then provide reviews and endorsement of the products/companies through their own personal social networks of friends.
For the burgeoning food entrepreneur, the major takeaways to heed are: find the right platform; create your online voice/persona; interact with your audience AUTHENTICALLY (talk with them, respond to them, ask for feedback); don’t be a commercial and hard-sell your products; always provide content through your social media platforms; and create a community with your peers.
Success takes time, but community support is what carries you to the finish line.
Lisa Hoang is an arts administrator who is now immersed in all things digital media, tech, and healthy eating. She is currently the Assistant Director for NYU-SCPS overseeing academic programs in Digital Media Marketing, Digital Publishing, and Leadership/Human Capital Management. Lisa has a B.S. in Fine Art/Illustration from Towson University as well as an M.P.S. in Arts and Cultural Management from Pratt Institute. She spends a majority of her time testing the limits of her metabolism. You can find more about her at: www.vizify.com/lisa-c-hoang.
Purchase a HQ Pass to Ideas Connected during Social Media Week and receive a one week trial to Plated.com
Recently profiled in the New York Times, Plated is disrupting the way we eat. They deliver all of the ingredients their customers need to cook fantastic top chef-designed recipes — plus beautiful how-to instructions. They are building the platform to create, share and monetize food experiences with social commerce.
As part of a promotion with Social Media Week, they are giving the next 300 people who purchase an HQ Pass to Ideas Connected a one week free trial of Plated — estimated value $60. Get your pass now!
“Unleash your inner chef — everything you need to cook a top chef-designed meal, delivered to your door.”
This is the first of a part of a continuing series of posts spotlighting our 6 #SMW12 Content Hubs. We’ll be posting profiles of all the hubs throughout this week so keep checking back for more!
The Art & Culture Hub is your go to location for all things music and tv and funny and style. We’re excited about the eclectic breadth of these events and look forward to seeing you there!
You can view all of the events from the art and culture hub by clicking HERE but check out a handful of our favs below!
On Monday check out The Mobile-Social Living Room a panel on how emerging media is reviving the live television experience from 9-11am. From there, be sure you don’t miss this, newly added to the schedule, keynote by Media Personality and Founder of Abrams Media, Dan Abrams from 12-2pm. Then spice it up by heading over to a keynote by hip hop legend Jermaine Dupri on Building a Community (3-5pm) before digging into a panel on social sharing and the Art of Doodling from 4:30-5:30pm.
Tuesday morning– get up and at em with a panel on Digital Voyeruism from 9-11am before heading over to a keynote from Entrepreneur Kevin Slatin with a corresponding panel on E-Commerce (12-2pm). Take a quick lunch break and then head over to The New Ghostwriter from 3-5pm OR maybe decide that this panel on Social Syndication from 3:30-5:30 is more your style. No judgement either way.
Okay. On to Wednesday. I know, all that and we’ve still got THREE MORE days of events for you. Kick the day off with a Keynote from Chris Kaskie, President of Pitchfork from 9-11am then make your way over to a panel on Street Style blogs from 12-2pm or maybe you’d prefer a discussion on the Grammys and digital from 1:30-2:30pm. I know, it’s a touch decision. I promise. You will survive it. Once you’ve made that call the rest of the day is easy. Head straight on over to a panel on how to be funny on twitter from 3-4pm then take a quick breather before going to a panel on the state of curation.
Thursday. I know, I can’t believe it either! Start your day with a keynote from Elisa Camhort with a corresponding panel on Companion TV from 9-11am. Then dive into a keynote from Jonah Peretti founder and CEO of BuzzFeed with a corresponding panel on Start Ups from 12-2pm. What a morning.
Grab some lunch and recharge before heading over to a panel on Transmedia and Social Media from 3-5pm. After that there’s a panel called IN THE TWITTER KITCHEN: A MODERN COOKIE BAKE-OFF. It’s happening from 4:30-6:30pm. I’m not going to tell you what it’s about. You can click through to find out for yourself. But I will tell you that maybe you should go.
Friday? Friday! Already. This week will absolutely fly by but if you’ve waited until the last moment to get your fill of #smw12, no worries, we’ve got you.
The event started the way every event should: with milk and cookies. But then the panel got sizzling. Here’s a recap of highlights:
Question: How is social media changing things?
Amanda: Publishing used to be more top down and social media changed that dramatically.
Merrill: Our commenting system keeps conversation going.
Emily: For traditional media, it’s a challenge. Our systems are optimized to send out a magazine to a million+ people and not get much back. “Changing that is a challenge but it’s an extraordinary opportunity.” Our product improves with feedback. We use it to engage with our users, to promote our content, and for inspiration.
Liza: I can’t believe the power of social media. “I was a nobody six months ago.” Social media helped fulfill a dream.
Nick: We forget that email is the core of social media – “it’s the mother ship… Today, we take that for granted.” Replying to their newsletters goes to his inbox. Facebook and Twitter are important – “Twitter is a means of filling in the gaps between stories.”
Nicole: Social media is the sole reason Hot Grease has been so popular. “I try to remember that everyone is not on Twitter” as she’s not a big Facebook person.
Cathy: I thought there was something a little unfulfilled with having so many nameless friends. I don’t want to forget the real-life social aspect of food. “When you come to a table, it should be about meeting people” and sharing the experience with them. It’s great to have two ways of social connections.
Amanda: Last week we used Hot Potato to run a virtual Sunday supper and all cooked it at the exact same time, taking pictures, uploading them – it doesn’t replace cooking in a kitchen with someone but it was a valuable community experience.
Question: There’s some debate over whether this is all good or all bad. Amanda, you got in a dust-up with Christopher Kimball at Cook’s Illustrated.
Amanda: He challenged us to a duel about crowdsourcing recipes. We had about eight conference calls with him. We agreed to all of his rules but he wouldn’t agree to any of ours.
Emily: We need a new revenue model. Social media almost makes it too easy to share content. There’s value in professional test kitchens. But the pros of social media outweigh the cons.
Moderator: Any other cons?
Nicole: There are some people in small towns, say an expert in canning, who aren’t online and get left out of this. This is our life – we live and breathe social media. There’s a group of people who will never be a part of the social media movement.
Cathy: If we’re all plugged into all these blogging and tweeting and creating content, when are we going to come up with the content, and when will we enjoy ourselves in the moment?
Question: Is this enhancing our discussion of food? Is it dumbing it down?
Liza: I think it’s making it more exciting. Social media’s all about developing relationships. You start to learn who you really trust. There are certain people who I’ve seen their content and I know I can trust them. When you’re using social media to get good ideas and feedback, you need to rely on trust.
Emily: It’s becoming so much easier for small producers of quality food products to sell them, thanks to sites like Foodzie. That’s a pro. One of the cons that Liza brought up is that there are a lot of stories that can’t be told in 140 characters. When I’m reading a great piece in the New York Times elsewhere, I always think, “How does David Carr turn off his Twitter feed long enough to write good stories?” The challenge is putting out a quality product while communicating with our fans, but we won’t have a quality product if we don’t communicate with our fans.
Question: What does the future hold for food writing?
Nick: Food writing is becoming more like being a potter – it’s generally more of a hobby, but if it turns into a career, great. “It’s becoming harder and harder to make money writing and selling words about food.” Part of the blame comes from writers in general because we started giving away the milk for free and no one wants to buy the cow.
Amanda: It wasn’t that long ago that the old media model was very exclusive. It’s always been a very limiting field. The limits are in a different landscape now.
Liza: I think there’s a big future for video. Advertisers want video content like that that they can sponsor. Hyperlocal is also a big opportunity.
Cathy: It’s not just about writing. There’s radio, there’s video – there are more things we can do. It doesn’t have to be limited to writing for a magazine anymore.