Q&A with xBloom co-founder Richard Xu

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What sparked the idea for xBloom?

With a passion for great coffee, myself and my co-founder Rui Zhou would regularly frequent specialty cafes to enjoy the expertly extracted flavors and aromas of barista-quality coffee. But despite buying beans from our favorite roasters and watching online tutorials, the harsh reality hit when we tried to recreate pour-over excellence at home: it’s harder than it looks.

Though there are many coffee machines in the market, we were never able to find one that truly preserved quality from crop to cup or extracted the flavors and aromas of the pour-over process. While the beloved pour-over set holds a special place in our hearts (and kitchens), we were determined to come up with a solution – the idea for xBloom was born.

What is xBloom’s mission?

We want to make specialty coffee more accessible to everyone! Making an exceptional cup of coffee at home has its hurdles, and when it comes to specialty coffee it can feel almost impossible to know where to start.  This is where xBloom steps in. Our mission is to remove the barrier to specialty coffee and bring better quality beans to households everywhere.  By partnering with leading coffee roasters, we will give our customers the best cup of coffee they’ve ever had.

Who is the ideal xBloom customer?

Most coffee products in the specialty market are designed for professionals.  Thanks to our backgrounds as Apple product engineers, we knew that it was essential for our machine to  not only deliver good tasting coffee, but it had to be extremely convenient to use and make specialty coffee more accessible to everyone. As such, we designed the machine with two things in mind:

  • Anyone should be able to use xBloom to brew quality coffee with a great degree of control, precision, and consistency.
  • Control should not come at the sacrifice of convenience. It should be intuitive enough for anyone, whether it is a beginner or an expert.

Really bridging the world of convenience and specialty coffee.

How does xBloom fit into the landscape of specialty coffee?

One of the main reasons specialty coffee tastes amazing at a cafe is that the barista perfects the extraction parameters, including grind size, water temperature, coffee-to-water ratio, pouring methods and time, etc., specifically for each bean. This master-level skill doesn’t come easy; it requires hours of dedication, practice, and trial and error to achieve consistency and precision.

This is where xBloom steps in. Our mission is to remove the barrier to specialty coffee and bring better quality beans to households everywhere. Each bean is unique and requires a different way to grind and brew it to deliver the full flavor for every cup. With the intelligent RFID chips on each pod and the bean recognition technology, xBloom identifies the coffee bean type and weight, then adjusts the grind settings, water temperature, brew ratio, time and pouring pattern automatically.

For 12 months, the engineers worked around the clock, creating endless prototypes and mockups to provide you with the most innovative and intuitive coffee experience. Together with the best third-wave coffee roasters across the country, we are revolutionizing the capsule coffee experience.

How many coffee roasters do you have on board now?  Will there be more in the future?

xBloom is putting together a coffee curation program – offering coffee lovers a unique gateway into the world of coffee and undiscovered tastes. Besides our launch partners Onyx and Verve, there are currently a total of 14 rosters on board and it’s just the start.

We have a strong team consisting of Scott Rao, Lance Hedrick, and Brian Quan – adding up to over 35 years of combined coffee experience – who are constantly seeking unique coffees from around the globe to add to our marketplace. Prepare to be surprised by amazing coffees from your new favorite local roaster or from an independent coffee house across the world. Nothing was left to chance when crafting coffee options for you.

I would like to use the analogy – curating the coffee experience as if we are building out a gallery. xBloom aims to be the best coffee gallery where we partner with professional coffee connoisseurs as curators to deliver the ultimate coffee experience/journey for our customers.

Will xBloom have custom or exclusive coffees moving forward?

The xBloom marketplace always puts its focus on diversity and inclusivity. We would like to feature as many interesting coffees as possible.  Some of these coffee offerings are rare and seasonal with limited quantities. By working closely with its roasters, we can develop recipes such that the xBloom machine can extract these coffees to their optimal state. So to answer this question, yes, we definitely see a competitive edge of xBloom in the customized and curated coffee space.

What has been the biggest surprise in this process?

The reception we’ve received on the Kickstarter platform has been phenomenal!  We’ve raised over half a million dollars to date and the comments and feedback from our backers have been amazing.  Also, when we first embarked on this project and reached out to key coffee enthusiasts such as Lance, Scott and Brian we were so thrilled they were so supportive of our vision and worked with us to work on our prototypes to hone in our machine. Working with so many specialty roasters has been a complete added bonus!  Everyone has been so supportive and we can not wait to get xBloom into the hands of all our backers and beyond.

View the Kickstarter at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/xbloom/xbloom-all-in-one-coffee-machine

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