Sonic Coffee

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We all know coffee’s graduation process: granulated, milky lattes, cappuccino, frappuccino, macchiato, cupping, babyccino, long black and finally the expresso. Arriving at this sharp bitter conclusion denotes the connoisseurial plateau. Much like attaining a martial arts black belt, ordering a strong expresso represents hard graft and mastery, years of zen-like coffee consumption. 

But alas, the journey hasn’t ended. Another step has been added to the path: Sensory coffee. Sonic coffee to be precise. It’s becoming a thing, the final step of enlightenment at the cafeteria. 

Ordering a cup of sound might seem a step too far, like the pretentious realms of modern art being breached again by the foodie world. But, just as the early denouncers of Heston’s multi-sensory dining experience eventually inhaled his dry ice, snorted sherbet sand and listened attentively to seashell-shaped iPods, sonic coffee promises to soon be a staple.

So what is sonic coffee and what does it taste like? 

Audio recordings of the physical brewing process are played into a sound insulated coffee cup. The customer then finds a quiet place, presses their ear to the lid and gently opens. The sound is virtually inaudible, but its vibration is the exact frequency that stimulates the same brain chemistry as caffeine, thus triggering a similar buzz. 

New sonic coffee machines have an audio piston, which dispenses the sound into the cup, where it stays, active for up to 10 mins, before becoming flat, like a detuned violin.

Melburnian early adopters have kept sonic coffee on the low-down, very much the preserve of Brunswick’s hipsteratti. Specialised machines have been cropping up, but kept under the counter, exclusively for the uber cool inner circle. But, as with everything underground, eagle-eyed vultures encircle, smelling an opportunity, quick to hijack the idea, germinate it into the mainstream and monetise with the grace of a duck in Doc Martins.

St Kilda has a few backstreet vendors, preempting the boom in sonic coffee. Chris Daley from Seeded Addiction Cafe has been stocking sonic beans for a while. He seemed shifty when we met, like we were about to enact a perilous open-air drug deal. It transpired that he’d been overdoing the audio. Five weeks of hard abuse, averaging 10 sonic blasts a day had overheated the circuitry, his mind a hot mess. The jibber jabber was half caffeinated and half the produce of some innate clinical neurosis.

As with everything in life, you need to find your sweet spot. Sonic Coffee is music to the ears, unless you overstep your level, then it’s all white-noise and feedback, like Death-Metal in a cup.

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