The rise, fall and potential resurrection of a coffee brewing legend

A recent Reddit post alarmed speciality coffee connoisseurs. The title alone was enough to send shivers down many a spine: “Is Bonavita going out of business?” It detailed how a once-popular coffee hardware company had become perpetually out of stock, refusing to respond to customer inquiries and informing some customers that parts were no longer available.

“Wow, that certainly leaves a void in the market,” one user observed.

For coffee enthusiasts, both professional and amateur, a brewer is not always just a brewer; Bonavita embodied an industry-wide shift that made brewing quality coffee at home more accessible and affordable.

Bonavita was an early entrant into the pro-sumer mainstream market. For good reason: it was one of the first devices available in the United States that produced an actually good automatic drip machine at a reasonable price – and it received numerous accolades to prove it. As a result, Bonavita aided in the acceleration of a significant shift in popular coffee culture.

Was the information in this Reddit post correct? Is Bonavita announcing its demise? The answer, like the flavour profile of an Ethiopian single origin, is complex. According to one version, Bonavita never went out of business but was harmed by its former US distributor. Now, these stakeholders assert, Bonavita is poised to rise from the ashes like a phoenix and relaunch in a way never seen before: new products, as well as old favourites, are on the horizon.

However, there may be more to it than that. For example, court documents paint a more nuanced picture, highlighting tensions between the brand’s Chinese manufacturer and US distributor — as well as increasing tensions with a competing brand called Brewista. Certain parties have asserted claims of contract breach and bad faith business dealings, while others have declared bankruptcy. Meanwhile, demand for higher-end coffee makers has increased as more established appliance brands enter the market. As a result, the situation has devolved into a clogged and muddy mess on all fronts.

Bonavita ushers in a new era of coffee
For the Bonavita brand, simplicity, precision, and affordability have always been critical selling points. It launched in late 2011 and its two most popular products perform critical coffee-making functions that, while seemingly straightforward, are difficult for hardware to perform consistently and reliably.

Within a few years, Bonavita’s gooseneck kettle became industry-standard equipment in speciality coffee shops. Meanwhile, the Bonavita automatic drip brewer — which retailed for around $150 — accomplished a simple task that had previously been accomplished only by much more expensive machines.

“We were all taught that most brewers don’t get water hot enough or spit it out at the right rate,” said Katie Carguilo, western coffee manager at Counter Culture Coffee.

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