When you hear pirates, typically you think of a time in history, Silicon Valley, southeast parts of the Pacific, or quite possibly Disney World rides and bumbling oafs chasing after Peter Pan or Davy Jones.
Well shiver your timbers or whatever, me hearties, because we are about to take you into watery world of coffee equipment pirates, and chances are we won't meet Johnny Depp.
No, coffee pirates are less campy anti-heroes or terrifying villains and more annoying roadblocks that consumers have to navigate.
Does it really matter?
You might be wondering why it really matters if you have counterfeit coffee equipment. Besides the non-counterfeit manufacturer's bottom line and feelings, is anything or anyone really getting hurt by you purchasing pirated goods?
Well, you could be. Many times knock-offs - regardless of item or industry - use cheaper materials and manufacturing processes. And since you ingest the coffee you brew in the equipment you use, you want to make sure you aren't accidentally using anything harmful to your heath.
Take the beloved AeroPress for example. Its manufacturer, Aerobie, only uses BPA-Free, FDA-approved materials, and has a rigorous quality control process. Likewise, when we manufacture the S Filter, we use surgical grade stainless steel and incredibly fine, easy-to-clean mesh.
Counterfeits might not have the material purity or build quality of the genuine article. (I mean, you're handling incredibly hot water here so a little foresight and caution is probably a good thing.)
Not only that, but the counterfeit isn't likely getting the customer service benefits that the genuine article receives. That's right. Part of your purchase price includes the customer service provided by the manufacturer. Because when we put our name on a product, we know that's our reputation that we're putting on the line.
Now granted, not every product - pirated or genuine - will have the same level or type of customer service. But typically you will find much better customer service for any issue when you buy the genuine article. When you buy the S Filter or Aeropress from us, your price includes our lifetime guarantee and our highly rated customer service practices. (Not to brag or anything.)
How do you spot a counterfeit aeropress?
So how can you tell if you're buying the genuine article or a knock-off?
While most cases aren't as obvious as our "pirated" AeroPress example here, you can sometimes tell just by looking at the product in question. Usually a product will have some sort of trademarked phrase or image to identify itself as the genuine article. Aerobie does this with the AeroPress. Take a moment and pick out the genuine AeroPress out of the line up below. Go ahead. We'll wait right here.
Did you catch it?
Another thing to check is the packaging and/or product listing and website. Is it actually copyrighted or trademarked by the genuine manufacturer? Does it match their company branding? Does it have all their correct info - an address you can reach them at (web and/or Google Maps-able)? Heck, does it have their correct name? A company needs to stand behind their product, and their packaging is one more way for them to take ownership.
Sometimes it's hard to see the tinier identifying details in pictures. What should you do then? Definitely ask the manufacturer (Aerobie) or authorized retailer if you have any questions or doubts about your AeroPress. They are typically more than willing to answer them. (We certainly are if you purchase from us.)
As you can see, companies take it very seriously when someone else pretends to be them, for your sake as well as ours. The last thing any company wants is for someone to think they've gotten a steal (no pun, honest!) for the real thing to find out they received a cheap imitation and we can't help them like we would our own customers.
Am I Doomed?
If you've bought a pirated coffee item or are considering it (naughty naughty!), is the world going to end? Eh, probably not. But seriously, just don't. Why would you want to deal with the shoddy materials and/or customer service practices we described above? Really, don't you deserve better than that?