If you’re anything like me and countless others, it’s quite possible you’ve been using a HumidiMeter for the past couple years without ever knowing the story behind its creation. Once you find out, you may never look at your cigars the same way again…you may never smoke them the same way again either!
Based out of Chicago’s south side, CigarMedics is a family business that is owned and operated in the time that remains between the three proprietor’s day jobs. Giovanni and Tommaso Camilleri are brothers and Luigi Lucente is their cousin. Talking to Tom on the phone was less like an interview and more like catching up with someone from the old neighborhood. It takes no time at all to recognize that these aren’t empty suits from some faceless conglomerate looking to vanish after making a quick buck off cheap materials and flashy ads. Instead, these are three cigar lovers who teamed up to find a way to make their own smoking experiences more consistent.
That’s the part of the story we’ll jump in at, the moment when Gio, Lou and Tom realized one day that all three of them had been having more and more issues with their cigars. It didn’t seem to matter if they bought the cigars from the shop down the road or if they’d been mailed. After resting and monitoring various cigars for between a week and a month at a time, they noted that many of the cigars weren’t offering the experiences that the blenders had intended.
Tom lovingly shares that Lou quite simply sees the world differently than you or I, he’s got an engineer’s mind that can’t be turned off or quieted down. With their preliminary data in hand and Lou at the drafting board, the trio set out to begin research and development of a product that to this day has yet to hit the market. It is still being perfected, constantly being refined and streamlined as bleeding edge technology continues to catch up with the original concept. I’ve agreed not to share what this OG product is or what it does, but I bring it up to you because without it we may never have lived in a world where the HumidiMeter ever existed.
To know if their secretive proof of concept was successful, the CigarMedics team needed an additional tool. To be able to show if the tech worked or not, the guys needed a way to verify any cigar’s current humidity. Occasionally, one will come across a bulky humidity testing machine at a cigar factory, but those are traditionally upwards of $5,000 and require complicated calibration and maintenance once you actually find one that is available and functions properly. Not one to sit and wait around for a solution to find him, Lou built a prototype humidity testing device of his own that could be carried anywhere with ease. The idea behind the small size being that when it was time to demonstrate their secret project at cigar shops, they wouldn’t be able to haul a big, fickle, expensive machine with them from shop to shop.
That’s right… what we know today as the HumidiMeter actually started as something that Lou built to verify the accuracy of another of his inventions. How crazy is that? The guys tested thousands of cigars and found that some could take months to fully acclimate, as opposed to the few days that most shops recommend. Selling the humidity testing technology wasn’t even a distant consideration yet at this point in their story, but that would change over time as they got more and more positive feedback from fellow smokers. Who wouldn’t want every cigar to smoke the best it possibly could, every time? People were loving this prototype.
When the guys started taking the early HumidiMeter out to shops, they assumed it would be a no brainer. The way they saw it, what shop wouldn’t want to show their customers how well the shop’s cigars are being maintained? Most of the time, the shops and their patrons agreed. The wonderful, honest shops now love selling the devices and even go so far as offering free use of in-house HumidiMeters to prove how perfectly their cigars are kept.
The one group that the family didn’t account for? Super shady shop owners. The team continues to see an ugly scenario play out more often then they’d like, wherein dishonest shop owners don’t want their customers to know how poorly the cigars are being maintained and as a result they refuse to allow demos or sales of the devices in their shops. Instead of focusing on converting this group, CigarMedics’ solution is a refreshing and ingenious one – ignore the disreputable folks and just focus on the people who want the best smoking experience possible. Following that plan, the team has already seen HumidiMeter-friendly shops pulling repeat business away from the shops that would rather con their customers.
As revolutionary as the device is, much of life is based on perception and in this day and age people are VERY willing to share their perceptions with you whether you ask or not. The most common feedback about the plastic original was that it didn’t “feel” substantial or give off a vibe of importance like a nice lighter or cutter does. This device was originally designed as a way to prove another device was effective – so the initial goals never included making it look like a Bond gadget. The new HumidiMeter PRO is an upgraded version of the original that addresses all of the pain points people have shared over the years…and, it totally looks like a Bond gadget now.
The first change one will notice is an anodized metal casing instead of the plastic casing of the original. Not only is the new case metal, but it is also smaller so it can fit right along with your other cigar essentials. The probes are now stored internally and can be slid out when you’re ready to get a reading. The probes are now positioned closer together to make it easier to read smaller ring gauge cigars such as lanceros. Instead of a traditional battery, users now have a rechargeable battery that can be charged with via USB. The most vital update is in the technology within the meter. The HumidiMeter PRO uses a more responsive chipset that will read and display the moisture content in less than a second. The new PRO model has an MSRP of $49.99 and is scheduled to ship to retailers beginning in August and will also be available on the Cigar Medics site at the same time.
Another creation born from their desire for the best smoking experiences possible, the guys have announced their new cutter – The Baller. The Baller will only be available on their site rather than in shops and functions like a cross between a punch cutter and a v-cutter, leaving a deep rounded cut similar to what a melon baller does to fruit. This type of cut allows you to have the deep cut you would get out of a v-cutter while leaving more of the cap intact to optimize the draw and minimize any construction issues. It is very much worth noting that The Baller is made entirely in the United States of America out of components made in a small family-owned shop in Pennsylvania and assembled in Illinois. The new cutter is made from anodized aluminum and nickel-plated steel with the ball of the cutter being made of hardened stainless steel. The price is set at $125 with all cutters being sold exclusively at cigarmedics.com this Summer.
Tom and I got to talking about golf and I shared how my first job was as a caddie at Ivanhoe Country Club in Mundelein, IL. As it turns out, he grew up caddying too. More impressive than that, he was an Evans Scholar. For those of you who did not have the pleasure of caddying, The Evans Scholars Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Glenview, Illinois that provides full tuition and housing college scholarships to golf caddies across the country. For caddies, being an Evans Scholar is like getting a West Point or Naval Academy appointment. It is off of this tangent that we wound up talking about the another product CigarMedics will be offering soon – the NubTee.
The NubTee is an exciting new cigar rest perfect for the golf course. The NubTee has a design similar to a golf tee with two adjustable metal prongs coming from the head. The adjustable prongs allow you to place any size cigar in the holder without damaging the cigar. The prongs work as a grip as well so that your cigar won’t roll off or blow away with the breeze. The golf tee ‘spike’ allows you to firmly place the holder in the ground or in your cart so you can focus on your swing. For non-golfers, you can also remove the ‘spike’ and use it as a nubbing tool. MSRP is set at $19.99 and they are shooting for a summer release.
So far, the guys have only made products that they saw a need for in their own lives. In a time when so much of what is out there exists solely to be bought and sold, it’s really nice seeing a company that is providing actual solutions. For more information on all things CigarMedics, sign up for the mailing list at cigarmedics.com.