This is an update of a feature originally posted Oct. 4, 2013.
iCoffee by Remington home coffee maker inventor and Santa Clarita businessman Bruce Burrows, a self-described coffee fanatic, was at dinner seven years ago when the light bulb in his head switched on like a klieg light.
“I was enjoying my favorite meal of grilled chicken and steamed vegetables, and trying to come up with a way to make coffee that’s non-bitter and non-acidic,” said Burrows, also owner of Remington Water in the Valencia Industrial Center and holder of more than 120 patents.“I looked at those vegetables and realized how all the goodness of steam gets to the inside of the vegetables to release all their goodness and flavor,” Burrows said.
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Then, the million-dollar question: “What if we took steam and steamed the grounds first, opened up the grounds to get inside to release only the great flavors, and left the acid to go ahead and gas off in the brewer?
“That’s what started it — all the goodness of steam, (applied to) steaming coffee grounds,” he said. “It’s never been done. Now, iCoffee by Remington is patented worldwide, and you can only get it with SteamBrew™. We call it the iCoffee SteamBrew™ technology.”
iCoffee Designed, Engineered and Developed in Santa Clarita
In that seven-year stretch between concept and marketplace, Burrows and Remington designed, engineered and developed no fewer than 1,257 iCoffee coffee maker prototypes in Remington’s Santa Clarita Valley headquarters.
Periodically, prototypes went through the gauntlet of countless coffee fanatic focus groups, each of which added valuable input that improved the next iteration.
“That’s 1,257 separate and distinct failures, if you will,” Burrows said. “It had to be absolutely perfect, so when the consumer uses it, it’s easy to use. It took that many tries to get it right.”
And exactly when was Burrows’ a-ha moment seven years down the road, when he realized he’d finally achieved his goal of the perfect home process and machine for the perfect coffee pot?
Pictured: Bruce Burrows sets up an iCoffee machine for a grateful coffee-loving KHTS staff.
“When we put it out to consumers, coffee lovers, and we didn’t tell them how to use it, and didn’t prompt them,” Burrows said. “We said, ‘Here, would you please try this?’
“And every single one of them came back saying, ‘This is the smoothest cup of coffee,’” he said. “’This is the hottest cup of coffee.’ A lot of coffee brewers make coffee that’s not hot enough. Or ‘It’s the boldest cup of coffee.’ And most importantly, it didn’t upset their tummies. A lot of people are very, very sensitive to the acids in coffee.”
iCoffee Goes to Market, Scores Immediate Hit, Rave Reviews
Finally, after Burrows had invested $15 million in research and development, the iCoffee by Remington coffee maker and its game-changing SteamBrew™ technology debuted on the retail housewares market in early 2013.
iCoffee was an immediate hit and earned rave reviews when introduced at the spring Housewares Fair in Chicago (Newsweek writer Megan McCardle marveled at “the impossibly smooth cup of coffee” she sampled there, for example).
RELATED: Get iCoffee Now for $169 Plus Shipping at SCViCoffee.com
n the months after the fair, Burrows’ machine took off in its initial retail sales through the Bloomingdale’s and Frontgate catalog websites, as well as Bed, Bath & Beyond stores. In November, Home Shopping Network also featured iCoffee, and the coffee maker continues to roll out in select stores in 2014.
During the 2013 holiday season, as a special perk for Santa Clarita Valley coffee nuts, KHTS offered iCoffee via the new scvicoffee.com website at the special introductory discount price of $169 plus shipping — a significant savings over the retail price elsewhere.
How the iCoffee by Remington SteamBrew™ Technology and Coffee Maker Work
Along with the SteamBrew™ process, Burrows and Remington had to develop an innovative but user-friendly coffee maker to brew it.
“It’s one thing to come up with the technology and make a cup of coffee, a pot of coffee if you will, that is not bitter and is not acidic, and smooth,” Burrows said. “Anyone who has had French press knows how smooth that coffee is. Well, this takes it one step beyond French press. It actually steams it and makes it richer in flavor and boldness.
“But then you have to incorporate that technology into an everyday drip machine with a coffee pot that everybody can use, that’s easy to use,” he said.
The iCoffee by Remington is indeed as easy to use as any other drip coffee maker.
After you fill the coffee pot with water and pour it into the reservoir up top, then add coffee to the clear, BPA-free brew basket and close the steam-cover lid, the brewer takes over.
There’s 24-hour programming, a two-hour keep-warm option and an automatic shutoff. The glass coffee pot has a 12-cup capacity, and its pour spout is dripless. Electronic notes from a Mozart symphony alert the user when the SteamBrew™ process starts and finishes.
And thanks to the focus groups and Burrows’ relentless pursuit of perfection, iCoffee has features built in that make it just about — how does one say this delicately — goof-proof. That’s a good thing if you’re half-asleep or half-awake while setting up your morning coffee pot.
“We’ve built in sensors,” Burrows said. “This brewer knows if there’s water in it or not. You can’t set the timer for4:30 in the morning unless there’s water, so it prompts you: ‘Add H2O.’ If you forget the SteamBrew™ lid in the dishwasher — you don’t want to turn your kitchen into a sauna — it will tell you, ‘Put lid on.’ So, this is really the smartest coffee brewer because it senses and it knows.”
We have smartphones that can do just about anything in media; iCoffee does just about everything we’d want a coffee maker to do.
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Watch SteamBrew™ in Action Through iCoffee’s BrewView™ Window
Probably iCoffee’s most fascinating feature is the BrewView™ window on the front of the machine’s water reservoir.
“We wanted coffee lovers, for the first time in history, to be able to watch their coffee being brewed,” Burrows said.
With a little help from a small built-in LED light, you can watch the SteamBrew™ process in action as it creates a rich crema, separating the bitter elements from the flavorful ones.
The machine’s steam jets pre-steam the grounds, and then start to stir them. “You need to stir the grounds so each separate coffee ground is surrounded by hot water,” he said. “As the steam opens up the grounds, it stirs and stirs. You can watch that stirring action. For the first time in history, you watch your coffee as it’s brewed. For a coffee lover, it is delightful.”
iCoffee by Remington Pays for Itself Quickly
iCoffee’s gold-tone stainless steel filter is reusable and eliminates the need for paper filters — good for any coffee’s taste, your family’s budget and our environment. All the iCoffee machine’s parts are dishwasher-safe as well.
Further savings come from getting more cups from the same amount of coffee, and enjoying the natural coffee taste without having to add milk or sweeteners to kill the bitterness.
“The feedback we’re getting from iCoffee users is you use a lot less coffee — about 15 percent — because of the steaming and the stirring,” Burrows said. “So, you get to cut down on your coffee to achieve the same boldness, and because it’s not acidic anymore and it’s not bitter, you can also cut back on the cream and sugar. That’s saving a lot of money. You’re saving on coffee, cream and sugar, and just as important, it saves a lot of calories. So, you can cut back.”
Adding up the extra savings, he said, “The coffee brewer pays for itself.”
iCoffee Takes Remington’s Western Legacy Into the Future
“We started manufacturing water purification systems for home and office many years ago as an alternative to bottled water,” Burrows said. “Think of the endless trips to the grocery store, bringing home those thousands of bottles a year… We came up with a water purifier that eliminated the need and made the water in the home just as pure without BPA.
“But then we realized that there’s a huge market in coffee,” he said. “Coffee lovers love their coffee, they enjoy it every day, it’s good for them. And in our research we found out Remington is a name that’s been associated with coffee since John Remington invented the first cowboy coffee pot in 1846. And that actually powered the Civil War — coffee on the campfire.”
As the years went on, Remington started making other kinds of coffee pots including percolators and drip coffee brewers, as well as other small appliances including electric shavers well into the 20th century.
“Then (entrepreneur) Victor Kiam purchased the company — he was the gentleman on TV commercials (in 1979) with the bathrobe and Remington shaver saying, ‘Hi, I’m Victor Kiam, and I liked Remington Shavers so much, I bought the company.’”
Competitor Mr. Coffee and baseball hero-spokesman Joe DiMaggio introduced a new drip coffee maker with a glass coffee pot and disposable paper filter to hold the grounds, and Kiam opted not to compete. He eventually discontinued the Remington coffee line.
“That gave us the opportunity to secure the Remington name,” Burrows said. “(We) filed a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, (and they) gave us the name. That’s when I immediately started on my quest to produce a coffee that wasn’t bitter and non-acidic.”
And it all started with Burrows’ plate of steamed vegetables back then, and his undaunted desire to solve a problem he knew millions of coffee lovers worldwide would appreciate.
Fortunately, as chief of Remington Water, he had the wherewithal, resources and time to get it right.
Back in the mid-19th century, Remington’s campfire coffee pot was considered revolutionary. He was a coffee lover and problem-solver in his time, just as Burrows is today.
One can guess John Remington would be pleased to know his innovative spirit lives on in the 21st century, through a kindred soul like Bruce Burrows, who wears black dress cowboy boots. It’s unlikely, however, that Remington would have imagined Burrows’ new-fangled iCoffee by Remington machine in his wildest dreams.
Source: Santa Clarita News