World of Coffee Milan is behind us. Everyone is back home. And have finally been able to catch up on email. We reached out to the Best New Product winners to understand more about the journey they went on to develop their award-winning products.
Polish coffee roaster, Hard Beans won the Commercial Cold Brew Preparation & Serving Equipment category for their Baby Hard Tank nitro cold brew dispenser. They also won in 2021.
We reached out to the team for more.
Tell us more about Hard Beans
Hard Beans is another chapter of our coffee journey which started back in 2009 with the opening of one of the first specialty cafe in Poland – Kofeina Art Cafe. Kofeina’s popularity in the Polish specialty coffee scene kept growing, and in 2016 it was awarded Cafe of the Year by SCA Poland.
The next step was starting our own coffee production. Hard Beans Coffee Roasters opened in Opole in 2017, with a focus on quality, innovation and research. We [had] sales from day one, because everyone in the coffee community knew us from Kofeina and from our engagement in coffee events like Pro-Infuzja Barista League or SCA Championships.
Tell us about the current state of the specialty coffee industry in Poland.
The current state of the specialty coffee industry in Poland is very promising. It was on a good, growing path before the pandemic hit, but slowly it’s getting back on the tracks. We see more and more cafes and roasteries, there are many coffee events around and as the only or one of the few countries in the World Poland managed to organize all coffee championships in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
We have a really strong community supporting each other on social media groups sharing the news about coffees, brewing devices, accessories. Helping each other and spreading hi quality coffee among others.
We also see an interest in main media like newspapers or TV interested in articles and interviews about good quality coffee.
Specialty coffee is starting to be available almost everywhere, in cafes (obviously), restaurants, hotels, gas stations, even in the supermarkets where you can find beans from small, local roasteries. I really see a bright future, looking through the prism of the old days.
What inspired you to create the HardTank?
There were few things which made us think about inventing a new cold brew technology.
First of all the time of the maceration – 12 / 18 / 24 hours is way too long. Especially in a country like Poland where you can have hot and sunny days, and suddenly colder and rainy ones. Knowing that the shelf life of a cold brew coffee is very short, and we lose one day just for brewing it, doesn’t made sense.
Secondly is the brewing hygiene using the traditional way. It’s made in a plastic container, many times without the lid, made also by a few baristas (long brewing time = two/three shifts), opened many times to try the cup quality or TDS readout.
Thirdly it’s the matter of taste. Oxidized, muted, fermented. It didn’t made us as happy as the hot brews from the same coffee in comparison. That’s why we started to work with a team of coffee professionals and team of scientists from University of Technology in Opole and the Institute of Heavy Organic Synthesis to create a device which is:
- is clean in terms of hygiene,
- easy to use, and
After many trials, many failures and many prototypes we ended up with the patented Hardtank technology presented for the first time to the world during the WOC Berlin in 2019. In 2021 we’ve decided to present the Baby Hardtank which is a countertop solution of the regular one. This year we’ve added the Hardtank Dispenser to the family which can be used both with the Baby Hardtank or alone for serving Nitro Cold Brew and plain Cold Brew. Both Baby Hardtank and Hardtank Dispenser won the SCA Best New Product Award in 2021 and 2022.
The main difference is in the technology. Our fast extraction process not only makes the cold brew within 1 hour. It’s also scientifically proven that it’s extracting more caffeine, trigonelline and lipids compared to a regular 24h brew and hot brew. The results of the study may be found in Scientific Reports.
Tell us about the process of developing the product? How many versions of the product was there before launch?
Too many 🙂
We always start the process of developing a new product with a brainstorm with the Hard Beans team. We are searching for issues, troubles, doubts on the coffee market and then we try to find some solutions. The next step is a sketch of a new device which later on is built by our skilled engineers and tested together with the University.
In terms of Hardtank we can easily say about 50 prototypes just to create the technology. Having the technology the creation of the device itself is maybe not easy but smooth 🙂 The good news is that new products in the Hardtank family are created faster with a bigger success rate.
What does it mean to you that you won Product of the Year?
It’s a very important award for us. Especially that Hard Beans is still a fresh project on the market and we’ve managed to win two Product of the Year awards in a row. I do believe such an award is a good motivation for our future crazy products we plan to present. So again thank you judges for choosing the Hardtank technology!
What’s next for Hard Beans and Hard Tank?
That’s a really good question because our heads are filled with crazy ideas. During this year we want to focus on the NITRO canning factory, where we are producing nitro cold brew cans using the biggest 800-liter Hardtank (an even bigger one will be built at the end of the year). But we do have two secret projects which we want to present probably at the WOC Athens 2023. If our idea will work it will be a new innovation in the coffee world.
Besides that our focus is now on the recycle and upcycle process of the coffee waste generated during the cold brew extraction. First examples were presented last week in Milano: coffee scrub and coffee oil made out of already extracted ground coffee.
Photographs by Michał Schwierc & Grzegorz Groniec.