Khristian Bombeck loves good coffee and a well-made scooter. When he put those loves together, he changed his life.
Back in Bozeman, Mont., Bombeck owned INTL Coffee Shop, selling lattes out of the front of the shop and scooters out of the garage in back. Tinkering with old espresso machine parts in the scooter garage, he got an idea: a coffee machine that would brew some of the most popular types of coffee, not instead of, but in addition to the old standby espresso machine on the coffee counter.
That idea became the Steampunk; a state-of-the-art coffee machine manufactured entirely in Salt Lake City, not exactly the center of the coffee brewing universe.
“We could have done it in any city but I love Salt Lake,” says Bombeck, who moved here with his family two years ago. “I knew there was access to excellent manufacturing. It’s an industrial hub of the west in terms of transportation and building things. The state too, in terms of effective tax rate, is pretty competitive. Overall the business climate here is much more friendly than what I am used to.”
The latest model, the Steampunk 4, emulates four brewing methods coffee drinkers crave: the old-fashioned drip, the steep-and-squeeze French press, the slow-coffee pour over and the siphon.
The idea was just a dream and a prototype until a man from Texas, a friend of a friend, wandered into the downtown Bozeman scooter shop one day.
Bombeck couldn’t get him scooter he wanted, but he did happen to show the curious Texan his new “Jules Verne looking” coffee machine invention. Nine months later the same man invested in his new company, Alpha Dominche, and the machine now named the Steampunk.
Last year, it won Best New Product Award from the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA).
About 98 percent of the Steampunk coffee machine is sourced from Utah fabricators. Just the German glass crucibles and the computer motherboard are foreign-sourced.
“We’ve been approached by manufacturing solutions in China and they say they can make parts for X amount less,” Bombeck says. “We are going to keep it stateside because I think inevitably the quality will be better. The profits may not as large but in 60 years this could still be a company still making everything out of America.”
The staff of Alpha Dominche – the name means “first of its kind” – includes three of Bombeck’s brothers. Bombeck made road trips out of his SLC base, mostly to coffee centers on the West Coast, to sell the $15,000 machine. So far, the Steampunk 4 has been delivered to coffee shops in New York, Pennsylvania, California and Utah. Currently the wait is six to eight weeks for the hand-assembled models to be built. Other potential customers from Europe, Japan, even China, have their eyes on it.
“I love the Steampunk.” Says Duffy Gallivan, owner of Nobrow Coffee Werks in Salt Lake City, the only shop in Utah using the Steampunk. Gallivan says he likes the fact that it’s made in Salt Lake instead of coffee epicenters like Portland or Seattle.
“It exemplifies Utah’s counter culture,” he says.