AnZa: Brutalist Sculpture Meets Espresso

07/27/2017

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This is the AnZa, a home espresso machine from the minds at Montaag—a multi-disciplinary design firm that keep offices in both Norway and Berkeley, California. The team here has worked on a dramatic range of projects, from consumer tech devices and HiFi speakers to cafe interiors and futuristic ocean vessels. They also love coffee. And like most designers who love coffee, they eventually turn their interest and their talents to create the coffee device of their dreams. In this case, the result is an experiment in textures and materials that you don’t often see used for kitchen appliances.

The AnZa takes a shot at the traditional vernacular of espresso machine aesthetics, while still remaining functional. It looks like it would sit more more comfortably beside well-crafted furniture than the atrocity of most home appliances and that is a big part of its appeal. The contrast of the rough-edged concrete with white accents are finessed and balanced, while the industrial pole switches remind me of flicking on a guitar amp. So you can, you know, turn your espresso game up to 11 (I tried not to).

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For the brutalist in me, I was immediately drawn to the concrete version of the AnZa when I first saw the early prototypes on design blogs a couple years ago, but it will also come in a more luxurious looking white Corian version with brass accents. For four years, the designers at Montaag have continued refining their prototype and began working with a friend who has extensive experience with manufacturing home coffee appliances to transform their exclusive hand-built novelties into a capable home machine that can be mass-produced and sold to design-loving espresso geeks.

I met with one of Montaag’s colleagues in Oslo earlier this year while they were testing out a functioning stainless steel model in the back room of Java Espressobar. Although the grinder being used was more advanced than most home users have access to (Mazzer), the resulting espresso and milk was on par with what I’ve had from other home espresso machines like the Rancilio Silvia and Brevillle Dual Boiler. Despite its capabilities, I stand by my recommendation that most people shouldn’t even bother with the complexity and cost of making espresso at home and simply find a great local shop who can meet their espresso needs with a $20,000 set-up and skilled baristas. But hey, everyone has their thing.

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For more information on the technical specifications, I got in touch with Henrik Alfredsen at Montaag who shared a bit more information on the AnZa and what’s underneath their designer shells. The AnZa is only single boiler machine, so you will need to alternate between pulling shots and steaming milk, and it will retail for about $1500-$2000 after it has launched. Alfredsen said the machine will use a 15 bar ULKA pump and pressure gauge, and its stainless steel boiler will have electronic temperature control (DIP) with a fixed brewing temperature of 93C (199.4F) that’s positioned directly on top of the portafilter to avoid temperature loss. The AnZa will draw 1350W and comes with a standard sized 58mm portafilter. The flexible steam wand is controlled by an old fashioned-style faucet knob and it will have a removable tip in case you want to upgrade from the standard 3-hole version that’s included.

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Once the AnZa has been finalized for mass production, the company will be taking pre-orders through Kickstarter in August (with a delivery date estimated for early 2018). Even though it can be incredibly risky in the world of expensive coffee equipment, crowd-funding seems to have become the de-facto method of launching new products for small companies. Although there have been a few coffee success stories, like the Acaia scales and Fellow kettles, it’s good to keep the risks associated in mind when funding this kind of large-scale manufacturing endeavor.

If the AnZa can live up to its claims, it will make a wonderful option for home espresso enthusiasts that are looking for a well-designed machine on a smaller budget, a category that doesn’t currently offer many choices. If you can’t afford a La Marzocco Linea Mini, Slayer Single Group, or a Kees Van Der Westen Speedster, it’s unlikely that your espresso machine will look good, let alone start many conversations in your kitchen, but the ambitious team behind the AnZa hopes to change that soon.

For more information about the AnZa and when it will launch, visit:
www.anzacoffee.com

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Yield To Admire This Glass French Press

04/04/2017

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The French Press, my personal gateway to home brewing, is often overlooked because it seems so archaic, so basic, so much less exciting than pour over. Also, the resulting cup is far less clean than coffee made with paper filters. But it can still be incredibly delicious and it’s so simple to use. You can also do a few things differently when using a French Press that will help reduce the gritty sediment that most people dislike about this brew method. James Hoffmann made a nice tutorial video about his technique.

But no matter how you brew your coffee or personally feel about the French Press, design and glassware aficionados alike will love this glass interpretation of the French Press from the Florida-Based design company, Yield. I’ve admired their ceramic version for years, but I have never had the need to buy one. This glass adaptation however makes me reconsider my “needs.” Functionally, it works like every other standard French Press out there (with exception to the Espro Press), but aesthetically, it has very few equals. But for your wallet’s sake—please don’t break it ($85).

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Yield was originally founded in San Francisco by two former California College of the Arts (CCA) students. Rachel Gant and her partner Andrew Deming, who have continued to beautifully re-design classic items that we use in our everyday lives (major tote bag envy) with high quality craft and materials. Many of the products are incredibly simple and classic looking, but they still present a unique style that has landed them in places like the SFMoMA shop and other contemporary art museums around the world. Yield makes products that cost more, but last longer and that’s how I prefer to shop.

The press pots are part of a more extensive line of new glassware products from Yield that include double-wall V60-style pour over cones and some gorgeous double-wall drinking glasses. The whole range is available in three colors—amber, grey, and clear—and deciding which color I like the most is something I can’t deal with right now. Sip, scroll, and enjoy all of the photos below.

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All photos copyright © Yield Design.

 

Live from New York, It’s Tamper Tantrum

10/02/2016

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Last weekend the team from Tamper Tantrum took over the Taylor Street café in midtown Manhattan and packed it with over 100 coffee professionals to mark their very first event in the United States. There are several coffee-based lecture series that now take place around the world, but Tamper Tantrum is one of the longest running and well known, especially in Europe where it was started.

What began as a podcast by Colin Harmon (of Ireland’s 3FE) and Stephen Leighton (of UK’s Has Bean) in 2009 has turned into one of the world’s premier live coffee talk shows. During each event Colin and Stephen turn over their soapbox to other coffee industry professionals who give 20 minute talks about whatever is on their mind. After each speaker has their say, a moderated discussion takes place allowing the audience to ask questions or share their own thoughts on the subject.

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The speaker line-up for New York’s event was a balanced roster that included some very well-known industry veterans alongside others who were giving their debut public talks. But no matter their resume, everyone delivered spectacularly on a range of important topics that are often overlooked at coffee industry events that included diversity, employee power dynamics, going beyond quality, healthy amounts of ambition, cognitive bias, and Nick Cho.

In between the discussions taking place in the loft upstairs, a Chemex-sponsored brew bar had popped up in the café below where a team of baristas served coffee from a range of roasters that included Counter Culture, Intelligentsia, Neat, Madcap, Irving Farm and Nobletree. The space was cosy, but lively and full of diverse viewpoints that surely had everyone’s brain working overtime.

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Based on the success of this inaugural US event, it likely won’t be the last Tamper Tantrum on this side of the pond. So if you couldn’t make the New York event, hold fast and keep a look-out for future live events. Also, all of the lectures in NYC were filmed and will be released for the public to watch in the coming weeks and months. If you’re new to Tamper Tantrum, there is an archive of great videos from previous events (including my recent favorite talk with former World Barista Champion, Stephen Morrissey), which you can watch for free at Tamper Tantrum.

Below is a short summary of each speaker and their talks that took place in New York. The grand finale of the day was a debate over the merits of coffee competitions—dead or not dead—which you will need to wait for the video to fully appreciate it and find out which side won.

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Meister (@NotJustMeister) writes about coffee, debates others about coffee in her podcast Opposites Extract, and has been working with coffee in different capacities for almost 16 years, most recently at Café Imports in Minneapolis. During her talk, Meister discussed how we define ambition in the coffee industry, asking what motivates us and what really makes us special? After divulging that studies suggest that highly ambitious people aren’t happier and that less driven people are more content we should consider what type of ambition is healthy in an industry that doesn’t always provide healthcare and support for the high stress involved. Instead of looking at ambition as hero’s trophies, it should align more with your personal mission. So she asks us as individuals to determine our motivation in this industry and use that as a personal yardstick to measure success.

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Michelle Johnson (@meeshal) is an independent coffee professional who lives in Phoenix and works at a creative firm between organizing community coffee events and writing from her perspective as a person of color working in the coffee industry, which has plenty of diversity challenges. Meesh used the opportunity to talk candidly with the audience about her personal experience as well as about the changes she hopes can be made quickly to create a more inclusive industry. She pointed out how progressive the industry is and how quickly it is currently evolving, which should make it much easier to implement real change right now. From changing how we hire to how we evaluate staff. Why do we need diversity, she asks? New and fresh ideas, perspectives and innovation to start. We were different a year ago and we will be different again next year. In the meantime, we should work to end stereotyping, implicit bias, tokenism and covert racism. She also argues for more diversity in hiring staff—pointing out that when the industry hires based only on experience, it perpetuates the white male majority within the industry. Instead, hire for personality and potential.

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Jenn Chen (@thejennchen) is a coffee marketer based in San Francisco, who uses well-crafted communication to get a company’s message out to their audience online. She organizes coffee events around San Francisco with the Bay Area Coffee Community and has helped lead an important discussion about diversity and sexism in the coffee industry. At the event she talked about power dynamics in the coffee industry and how it affects the careers of those working in it. After defining what is meant by power dynamics, Jenn shared several anonymous stories about actual situations that workers in the coffee industry have to deal with constantly and could often be resolved with better dynamics among colleagues, employer & employee, customer & barista and peer to peer. She followed up the examples with tips that might have prevented them.

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Colleen Anunu (@anunumous) is the Sr. Manager of Coffee Supply for Fair Trade USA and specializes in impact evaluation and market access strategies for coffee producers and roasters, emphasizing shared value, gender equity and farmer-first community development. Colleen wanted to talk with the audience about going beyond quality and challenging coffee professionals to also consider other things that matter in the industry. How do we trace coffee better and ensure that coffee is profitable in the long run? She asserted that we don’t know the true cost of coffee or the real investment needed to actually produce higher quality and further, that we often don’t know what the higher green costs or our relationships are actually doing for farmers. We should stop mythologizing our industry so we can make real change for growers. Colleen ended with some shared principles & values that she hopes the industry will commit to—actionable transparency, credible accountability and honest emotional equity.

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Matt Perger (@mattperger) has won a bunch of coffee competitions (even when he hasn’t) and created a growing coffee knowledge empire called Barista Hustle where he shares information focused on his mission of consistency, accuracy and deliciousness. This isn’t Matt’s first Tamper Tantrum and this time around he talked about our shortcomings as human beings due to bias. He outlined very types of bias and how it affects us. Beginning with cognitive bias, i.e. the bandwagon effect. Anchoring bias, or placing too much weight on one specific detail. Saliency bias. Illusory Correlation. Congruency Bias. Confirmation Bias. Choice supportive bias, and so on. All of this was meant to show us that we don’t know what we don’t know and we’re sitting atop Mount Stupid. Matt then went on to discuss the need for real, balanced criticism to help the industry grow. Less back patting and more real talk. He suggested we stop giving empty compliments and instead help each other do better. We can choose to disagree, but we can never learn if we don’t know.

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Nick Cho (@nickcho) is the founder of Murky Coffee, which opened in 2002 in Washington D.C. and emerged as one of the pioneering third-wave cafes on the east coast. Five years ago, Nick and his wife Trish Rothgeb co-founded Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters in San Francisco and Nick has continued to be a leader in the industry through his work on several organization boards, committees, and twitter. Nick’s talk began by asking the audience what the biggest problem is in specialty coffee. After pointing out all of the successes that the industry has had, like specialty coffee being trendy as ever and that the industry growth likely ensures that it’s not going anywhere soon. So what’s the biggest problem—Climate change? What could be bigger? Nick believes the lack of institutionalized education in coffee is the problem. We don’t have checks and balances. All the knowledge we have about specialty coffee could be taught in a few weeks. Nick believes we’re past the point of relying on blogs and forums and Twitter for knowledge and we need something more concrete. Next, he moves on to discuss the information gap in coffee companies, saying that if you’re a highly skilled expert in green buying or roasting or brewing, you need to have knowledge in the other areas to fully understand how to do it well. He argues that an orchestra doesn’t have three conductors, so a quality focused coffee company shouldn’t either. Could coffee degree programs create better coffee employees? Maybe. We all want to get better, individually and collectively. But what does that actually mean?

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You can check out all of the event photos on Facebook and read the live tweets on Twitter.

Brew: Better Coffee At Home

09/13/2016

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Hello world. I know that it’s been a while. I’m still alive, still drinking coffee and incessantly thinking about how much I love it. I’m sorry that I’ve been so absent, leaving this little space on the Internet idle and unloved. But this last year hasn’t been wasted. All of my energy and writing has been invested in completing a book. Yes, DCILY now has a book—Brew: Better Coffee at Home. Find DeLonghi La Specialista products to improve your coffee quality.

After writing about coffee online and working with coffee offline for the past 7 years, I have finally been able to create a printed companion that will help coffee lovers better understand and enjoy better coffee at home—which has been the primary goal of this website since its inception.

I worked with the awesome team at Dovetail Press, a newly launched publishing company in New York, to create this approachable guide to home brewing. For everyone who has contacted me over the years through email or social media with questions about coffee, equipment, and brewing techniques, this book will provide my answers. This book is not meant to train professional baristas (though it may inspire you to pursue that path), it’s meant to be an informative first step for the coffee curious.

I wrote Brew as a primer to help coffee consumers feel more comfortable with new brewing equipment and after they buy sustainable coffee, while also gaining the knowledge and confidence to ask their baristas more specific questions that address their particular needs. In the book I explain the basics of coffee production, the tools and techniques required to brew it better at home and also provide a selection of recipes for some delicious coffee-based drinks and cocktails. I hope this book will inspire people to love coffee the same way this website has over the years. I can’t wait to get a copy of it in all of your hands.

Brew goes on sale September 20th, but you can pre-order it now directly from the publisher or from Amazon. If you are interested in ordering multiple copies for resale, get in touch.

Selling coffee online

09/12/2016

Online coffee shops are аn еxtrаоrdіnаrу соrnеr оf ecommerce. Wе say іt nоt оnlу аѕ соffее junkies but аѕ marketers tоо. With online shopping taking over the internet, thousands of customers visiting websites like https://www.raise.com/coupons/walmart every day, we think it may be time to take your coffee brand to the online world.

Where to Buy Great Coffee Online | Bon Appétit

It’ѕ an іnсrеdіblу hаrd рrоduсt tо mаrkеt – іt lооkѕ generic tо the аvеrаgе соnѕumеr, аnd at thе same tіmе it’s hаrd tо ѕhоwсаѕе оnlіnе because іtѕ mоѕt dіѕtіnсtіvе features аrе tаѕtе аnd ѕmеll.

Thаt’ѕ whу we’re ѕо deeply interested іn thе strategies online dіrесt-tо-соnѕumеr соffее brаndѕ uѕе tо ѕеll. Hеrе аrе thе bеѕt рrасtісеѕ we uncovered аnd аdvісе frоm seasoned соffее еntrерrеnеurѕ.

Hоw tо sell соffее online and get a Uk coffee subscription. Hеrе are thе bеѕt tасtісѕ wе see working to drive оnlіnе coffee sales.

Prоduсt раgеѕ that ѕtіmulаtе the ѕеnѕеѕ
The only dіѕаdvаntаgе оf ѕеllіng соffее оnlіnе vs оfflіnе is thе ѕеnѕоrу appeal a соffее shop hаѕ. So уоur соffее рrоduсt раgеѕ should make реорlе imagine thе аrоmа аnd flavor рrоfіlе of уоur соffее tо соnvеrt thеm.

Crеаtе dеtаіlеd product dеѕсrірtіоnѕ including all aroma descriptors аnd taste descriptors tо excite a ѕеnѕоrу response even wіthоut a рhуѕісаl wау оf trуіng іt.

Educate to mаkе реорlе fееl аt ease buуіng ѕресіаltу соffее
Thе lаѕt оbѕtасlе tо соnvеrtіng реорlе tо buу coffee online іѕ thеіr resistance tо thе hір ѕіdе of it. Hоw dо уоu соnvіnсе them specialty соffее іѕ wоrth іt?

Include explanations of industry tеrmѕ like tуреѕ of roast. Thіѕ wіll mаkе the process more еnjоуаblе іnѕtеаd оf ѕсаrу because реорlе fееl іntіmіdаtеd by things thеу don’t undеrѕtаnd. Thе mоrе people learn аbоut thе product, thе mоrе thеу’ll appreciate іt, turnіng into lоуаl customers аnd соnnоіѕѕеurѕ.

DCILY’S Coffee Lover Gift Guide 2015

12/04/2015

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This week DCILY turned 6 years old (which is kind of crazy to think about) but that also means that it’s time to inspire you with holiday gift ideas for all of the coffee lovers in your life. Although it has been pretty quiet around here, DCILY is still dedicated to making the best coffee lover gift guide on the internet. So just like in years past, grab a fresh brewed cup (and your wish list) and enjoy this 2015 edition of DCILY’s Coffee Lover Gift Guide™.

Be sure to check out all of the past DCILY gift guides for more ideas:
2010 Gift Guide
| 2011 Gift Guide | 2012 Gift Guide | 2013 Gift Guide | 2014 Gift Guide

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1. Fellow Stagg Kettle -$69- A gift for the design nerd. The Stagg is a beautifully designed pour over kettle with a counterbalanced handle and an analog thermometer built into the lid. The kettle comes in a polished or a matte black finish. Shop for Fellow Stagg Kettle

2. Coffee Lover Deluxe Watch -$169- A gift for the horologist. The Coffee Lover Deluxe watch is the second collaboration between DCILY and Hong Kong-based Moment Watches. The project celebrates the importance of precision in coffee making and reminds you when it’s time to brew another cup. This 46mm watch has an automatic skeleton movement and is available in three different colors with a leather strap. Shop for Moment Watches

3. Acaia Lunar Scale -$220- A gift for the serious barista. The Acaia Lunar is a follow up to the success of the company’s first digital scale. The Lunar was designed with espresso in mind. This premium digital scale is compact and water resistant, with a fast refresh rate. Shop for Acaia Lunar

4. Fresh Coffee Beans -$15 to $22- A gift for the coffee curious. Every coffee lover will appreciate a bag of fresh roasted, high quality coffee beans to enjoy with all of their new coffee toys. Many of the coffee roasters I recommend are listed in the sidebar on the right side of this site. The bag pictured above is from Supersonic (a company I work with). Shop for Supersonic Coffee

5. Water for Coffee -$40- A gift for the science nerd. The newly published book, Water for Coffee by Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood (UK Barista Champion) and Christopher Hendon (Chemist) explores the chemistry of water and the impact it has on the taste of coffee. Shop for Water for Coffee

6. Soma Water Pitcher -$49- A gift for the purist. If you happen to read the aforementioned book, you’ll learn how important water quality is to the taste of your coffee. Since most home baristas don’t have access to an expensive water filtration system, a modest, but attractive home filter like Soma will atleast improve what’s coming out of the tap. Shop for Soma

7. Hario Kettle Thermometer -$68- A gift for the temperate. The Hario Buono is probably the most popular and widely used pour over kettle on the market and Hario just made it a little better. This accessory includes a new lid with an integrated digital thermometer for accurate temperature measurement. It’s compatible with all new and old Hario Buono kettles.  Shop for Hario Thermometer

8. Lido 3 Grinder -$195- A gift for the road warrier. The Lido grinders from Orphan Espresso are known to be the best portable hand grinders you can buy. With a price tag higher than most electric home grinders, you would expect nothing less. The 48mm steel burrs will provide a consistent grind and it will be the source of envy among peers. Shop for Lido 3

9. Drift Mag Subscription -$60- A gift for the jet set. Drift Magazine is one of the most beautiful and well written publications you’ll currently find about coffee. Each issue focuses on one specific city and topics range from cafe visits to a city’s cultural history with coffee. Shop for Drift Magazine

10. Cupping Spoon Sock -$12- A gift for the aspiring green buyer. A cupping spoon can be a wonderfully personal thing for a coffee professional or aspiring coffee lover. It is the tool used for slurping coffees to analyze the way they taste. Once you’ve acquired your very own cupping spoon, you should keep it protected with a one-of-a-kind hand made sock. Shop for Cupping Spoon Sock

11. Jetboil -$100- A gift for the outdoorsman. The Jetboil is by far my favorite tool for the outdoors. This compact propane stove will boil two cups of water in just two minutes, making trailside or campsite coffee breaks fast and easy.  Shop for Jetboil

12. Acme Cups -$10 to $15- A gift for the morning ritual. Acme is a New Zealand-based company that offers a modern take on classic ceramic drinkware. Their lovely range of colors and thick ceramic walls have made Acme the vessel of choice among many baristas and world class cafes. Shop for Acme Cups

13. Dark Side of the Chemex Tee -$35- A gift for the Floyd fan. This lovely t-shirt by David Salinas from The Department of Brewology is a creative combination of the classic Pink Floyd album and the classic Chemex brewing device with its full spectrum of flavors on display. Shop for Dark Side Tees

14. UE Boom 2 Speaker -$199- A gift for the music makers. The music you brew to can be an important part of your coffee ritual, not to mention while you’re enjoying what’s in the cup. The UE Boom is a Bluetooth speaker with a minimal aesthetic and a giant sound. Great for adding the right vibe to your kitchen or your pop-up coffee bar. Shop for UE Boom Speaker

15. Breville Burr Grinder -$106- A gift for the pre-grinder. The Breville BCG450 grinder is the absolute bare minimum that I would recommend for an electric grinder. But if you know anyone who is still buying their coffee pre-ground, or chopping their beans with a blade grinder, ignore everything else on this list and get them a burr grinder—it will make the single largest improvement in their home brewing experience. This particular grinder works best for drip coffee, but you will find other high-end grinder suggestions in the previous gift guides. Shop for Breville Burr Grinder

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*Buying from local shops is highly encouraged, but for those without the luxury of well-stocked businesses nearby, shopping through DCILY’s curated Amazon Store help support this site and the content you enjoy.*

The KitchenAid Precision Press

11/04/2015

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It’s been over four years since I wrote about the simple joy of brewing coffee with a French press. During that time a lot has happened in the world of coffee and every day more people discover the pleasure of brewing high quality, fresh roasted coffee at home.

With all the changes taking place, I’m still a strong believer in the humble press pot as a gateway to better coffee brewing and appreciation. Contact Colin from Cookwared to learn the best ways to enjoy even more your cooking time.

In the last couple of months, two of the companies that pioneered specialty “third wave” coffee, Stumptown and Intelligentsia, were both purchased by Peet’s Coffee & Tea. If an acquisition by one of the largest coffee chains in the world is an indicator of anything, it suggests that there is growing demand and a much larger market for high quality coffee than many people realize. Following that same acknowledgement, large houseware companies have also taken notice and begun releasing new products with features that target quality conscious coffee consumers.

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KitchenAid, the maker of the iconic stand mixer, is a global brand that has been selling appliances for kitchens since 1919 and they are now reaching out to the world of specialty coffee with a line of new “craft coffee” products. The range includes a sturdy looking burr grinder, a “pour over” inspired auto drip, an electric syphon contraption, a home espresso machine, and the Precision (French) Press, which I thought was the most interesting product in the new line-up. I’m typically skeptical of new coffee products made by companies outside of the specialty industry, but occasionally something will pique my interest enough for me to explore it further. KitchenAid sent me the new Precision Press and I wanted to share my experience using it and my thoughts about the unique position for it in the growing coffee market.

The French press was how I first began brewing coffee at home and that nostalgia is where part of my affinity for the brew method comes from. Take a quick visit at charming zebra to find the kitchen appliances you are looking for. Although I now prefer the clean body and flavor profile that comes from paper filters, the press pot still produces a drink that’s more reminiscent of a cupping and provides the heavier mouthfeel that can help support someones transition to lighter roasted specialty coffees. It’s also an incredibly approachable way to make coffee without much effort. Drop in coffee grounds, pour hot water over top, wait a few minutes and press. No special filters, no special kettles, no pour over balancing acts—it’s simple and that’s why it’s still a popular way to brew coffee among so many people, even if they don’t care about the quality of the coffee itself—yet.

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When I recommend how to get the best coffee experience at home, there’s a list of things I suggest having: fresh roasted coffee from a quality roaster, a good burr grinder, a brew method of choice, clean water, a timer, and a scale. By time I get to the scale, most people begin to feel overwhelmed. A scale often seems like a step too far for many people. It pushes them over the edge from an everyday coffee lover to a pretentious coffee snob. The scale tends to be viewed as an unwieldy, time consuming, and uneccessary step. Trying to explain the importance of consistency and differences in bean density and variety size will be greeted with a look of sheer confusion.

Despite the off-putting nature of using a scale, coffee professionals know how important it is for brewing better coffee and being consistent from cup to cup, the same way a good baker will measure their ingredients by weight rather than volume. The KitchenAid Precision Press has helped bridge the divide by integrating a scale and a timer into the pot itself. Meaning the only other significant tool you would need for brewing great coffee, other than hot water, is a grinder—simplifying the process.

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The Precision Press is made from double walled stainless steel which adds heat insulation and prevents you from having to replace the millions of glass beakers that you will inevitably break otherwise. It has a capacity of 25oz (.74L) which falls short for larger dinner parties, but it is much more practical for every day use. The plunger, which filters the coffee, has a much more robust design than that you will see on cheaper press pots. The steel filter mesh is reinforced with a steel frame that I found reduces the sediment in the cup producing a pretty clean cup as far as standard press pots are concerned. There is also a thick rubber gasket around the outer edge of the plunger which requires a bit of finesse when you first begin to plunge, although I imagine it will break-in after more use. Overall, it filters and pours the coffee pretty well on the spectrum of products already available on the market.

The functional element of the scale is built into the base of the pot and uses 2 AAA batteries to power it. All of the controls and the display are integrated into the rubber gripped handle; with buttons for power, timer start/stop, and tare (zero). The controls are simple and easy to use and the screen is clear and legible. Holding the tare button for three seconds will change the measurement from grams to ounces and everything shuts off by itself after 9 minutes of being idle. The refresh rate of the scale is not as quick as the Acaia scale, but is still on par with most of its battery powered peers.

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There are of course a few drawbacks that should be pointed out. Some of these issues could probably be amended on future versions, but I imagine it might add more cost to the current retail price ($149) and neither of them are necessarily deal breakers. My first point of concern is the use of AAA batteries. Maybe, I’ve been spoiled by the Acaia scale, but I want all of my daily use electronics to be rechargeable, preferably with a universal USB cable. I don’t want to search for a screwdriver to change the batteries in my French press just so I can brew my morning coffee.

Also, since this press pot has electronic components, it needs a bit of special attention while cleaning. The pot is not supposed to be fully submerged in water, which means that when it’s time to clean up, you’ll need to rinse it, hand wash and wipe it down with more caution than with a standard press pot, most of which can be thrown in the dishwasher. Lastly, this is more of a personal preference, the polished stainless steel exterior is lovely when you pull it out of the box for the first time, but it will never look as good ever again. Smudges galore. I would prefer one of KitchenAid’s black pearl coatings or a brushed steel finish—but that’s just the designer in me picking over the details as getting appliances like this is easy in sites like retrokitchenappliances.net online.

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Ultimately, the Precision Press isn’t meant for everyone. If you already have a functioning press pot, there’s no need to run out and replace it with one of these, just buy yourself a scale. And if you’ve already crossed the bridge to home brewing and own a scale, the Precision Press is simply an extravagance. However, if you have a friend or family member you are trying to convert in the most approachable way, with as few steps and extra devices as possible, that is where this product becomes incredibly useful. The Precision Press is meant for your parents, or your vacation home, or any other uncoordinated loved ones who have no interest in balancing a stack of items on a scale before they’re fully awake in the morning. In those situations, the Precision Press will not only be useful, but also appreciated as much as the elevated cup of coffee that it makes.

For updates, follow KitchenAid on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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States Coffee & Mercantile

08/12/2015

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Resting high atop a custom built shelf at the center of States Coffee & Mercantile is a framed piece of art bestowing the advice, “work hard and be nice to people.” If you have ever had the pleasure of meeting Keith Gehrke, the owner of States, you would understand how accurately this simple screen-printed pronouncement summarizes him and all of his many endeavors.

While Gehrke’s resume in coffee is quite long, he is probably best known for his company Able Brewing. Able, just one of several coffee brands founded by Gehrke, is responsible for creating the reusable Kone and Disk filters that offer a paperless method of brewing pour-over and Aeropress coffee, along with other original accessories. Since leaving the Pacific Northwest and returning home to the East Bay a couple years ago, Gehrke has worked even harder by consulting alongside his personal projects. Last year he helped set-up a roasting program for the former Local 123 cafe (now owned by Highwire Coffee) and then proceeded to launch his own mail order coffee subscription called Pony Brand Coffee, while the plans for States Coffee took shape.

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The former post office in downtown Martinez, California had been undergoing renovation for the past 5-years before it was selected by Gehrke to become home to this latest project. The history of the space is unique enough on its own, but it also symbolizes one of the virtues reinforced by many of Gehrke’s business decisions—that everything he sells is made in the U.S.A.

The space, once used to connect the residents of this East Bay town through its postal service, has been reborn as a community hub where the neighbors, young and old, were stopping by to congratulate Gehrke on his first week of business. As with everything Gehrke creates, he has a way of making them approachable. From the flavor profile of the States-branded coffee, roasted exclusively for the shop by Gehrke, to the minimal aesthetic one might find on the pages of Kinfolk magazine. Within the space, a balance is maintained that adds warmth to simplicity and offers quality without pretension. While a place like this would thrive in Portland or Brooklyn, it has been created with such care that a smaller town like Martinez will surely embrace this new addition to the town with just as much enthusiasm.

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The shelving, coffee bar, and redwood furniture was custom made by a James Mackessy in Boulder Creek, outside of Santa Cruz, while the round standing-height table was designed and built by Sean Woolsey in Costa Mesa—insuring most of the features of space were built in California. The coffee bar itself is full of custom details to maximize its function and even doubles as a fully mobile cart that can be moved from its position at the front of the space and continue functioning with its onboard water tanks.

At the center of the space, stacked to the ceiling on custom shelving, is a curated collection of products covering a range needs and wants and all of them made in the United States. You’ll find everything on the wall from skateboards, soaps, flasks, blankets and candles to a selection of ceramic cups and coffee brewing gear. The mercantile side of States offers Gehrke a way to supplement the income from a coffee shop that will never be as high volume as one in a major city. The customers of States Coffee also have a great place to come and buy American-made housewares and unique hand-crafted gifts.

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There are very few places I visit where I immediately want it to be my local shop, but States Coffee definitely makes that list. This spot represents an assemblage of Gehrke’s passions, values and work ethic all in one place, with additional highlights of inspiration picked-up elsewhere. Before I left, Gehrke offered me one of their non-caffeinated drinks, a bottle of house-made fizzy hibiscus tea. It was absolutely delicious and unashamedly inspired by the fizzy hoppy tea served at G&B Coffee in L.A.

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After handing me a freshly opened bottle of the bright red concoction, Gehrke explained how the best coffee experience he had during a recent trip to Los Angeles. was that glass of tea and it had lingered on his mind ever since. He wanted to create something similar, along with his other house-made syrups, that would offer a non-caffeinated alternative showcasing the same attention to flavor and quality as the coffee. The whole store is a showcase of quality with an atmosphere of classic American hospitality. Not only has Gehrke succeeded in the work he set out to do, but he was incredibly nice along the way.

States Coffee & Mercantile
609 Ward St
Martinez, CA 94553

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A Guide To The Best of Gothenburg

06/11/2015

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Nearly four years ago I packed up my clothing and coffee gear and moved from a sleepy town on the midcoast of Maine to the second city of Sweden—Gothenburg. It’s one of those Swedish cities that most people have never heard of and it can be difficult to persuade people to visit when it’s so close to the more tempting capital cities like Stockholm, Copenhagen and Oslo. But Gothenburg has its own merits. It is the home of Volvo and world re-known bands like The Knife, Little Dragon, In Flames and Ace of Base. It has nearly a dozen soccer teams (ok, just three) and it’s an all-around charming place.

During the first three and a half years I lived in this riverside city of half a million, it became my adopted home. The longest I have spent in one place during the last decade has been in Gothenburg and despite my continuous travels and current sojourn in Stockholm, I often look forward to my eventual return.

Beginning this weekend, thousands of coffee professionals will descend upon the west coast of Sweden from all over the world for Europe’s largest specialty coffee event. Alongside this annual tradeshow for the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe, five world coffee championships will also take place—the World Brewers Cup, World Cup Tasters, World Coffee Roasting, World Latte Art and World Coffee in Good Spirits. The small but ambitious coffee scene in Gothenburg has been anticipating this summer for a long time and we’re really excited to welcome you all to Sweden.

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Below I’ve compiled a list of places where you will find some of the best coffee, beer, cocktails and food in Gothenburg. Most of the city is incredibly walkable, but you can buy a 3-day unlimited ticket for the busses, ferries and trams for 170sek ($20) or you can buy a 3-day pass to the city’s bike share program for 25sek ($3), which is an awesome and cheap way to enjoy the city when the weather is nice.

I recommend using Google’s offline maps so you can find your way around when you aren’t connected to the grid. If you are in need of internet, you’ll find free wifi at the numerous Espresso House locations, along with their own approachable line of coffee roasted by Solberg & Hansen. I hope you enjoy your visit and all of the wonderful things that Gothenburg has to offer. Vi ses snart!

Note: everything mentioned in this article can be found on the map at the bottom.
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Da Matteo

Da Matteo, and its founder Matts Johansson, are the reason specialty coffee exists in Gothenburg and has been one of the driving forces for coffee events around Sweden and abroad. Just this week the coffee roaster and baker were named Sweden’s Best Cafe by White Guide (a Swedish version of Zagat) and they won the Nordic Roaster competition last year. They also have baristas competing in both the World Cup Tasters and World Latte Art Championships next week. There are four locations to visit—two of them share a sunny courtyard and the others are just a short walk away.

Address: Magasinsgatan 17A  /  Vallgatan 5  /  Sodra Larmgatan 14  /  Sprängkullsgatan 10A
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Kale’i Kaffebar

Kale’i Kaffebar is a hidden gem in the heart of downtown Gothenburg tucked away in the back of a quiet courtyard where you’ll also find a nice champagne bar, juice bar and record store. Not long after owner Elin Conradsson met Per Nordby in Oslo, who was roasting for Kaffa at the time, they both returned to Gothenburg. Per opened his own roasting company sharing his name and not long after Kale’i opened and became a lovely showcase for Per’s coffee. You’ll find Elin behind the bar nearly every day where she simultaneously brews coffee and prepares fresh baked breads and other tasty treats.

Address: Kyrkogatan 13
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Viktors Kaffe

Viktors Kaffe is located just around the corner from Götaplatsen, a large public square where you’ll find the Gothenburg Museum of Art, City Theater, City Concert Hall and the Public Library. It’s located on a quiet side street that provides an oasis from the busy Avenyn shopping street nearby. Viktors represents the hip side of coffee in the city, with fresh local art on the walls, good jams, and a mix of vintage designer furniture to compliment a variety of coffee from the Stockholm roaster Johan & Nyström.

Address: Geijersgatan 7
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Café Biscotti

You won’t find pour overs and over-the-top coffee geekery at this stylish neighborhood cafe, but you will find delicious lunches and award winning pastries alongside batch brews and espresso drinks made with Helsingborg’s Koppi Coffee. There’s also a nice patio overlooking a pedestrian street, offering a glimpse of the everyday lives of Swedes in Majorna, one of Gothenburg’s more eclectic neighborhoods.

Address: Allmänna vägen 34
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TheKitchen

TheKitchen was formerly a lovely little café called Con Amor, run by two best friends. When the previous owners decided to move on to something new, a former Da Matteo barista, Setareh Shoghi, and her sister took over. They changed the name and freshened up the inside, but the spirit is much the same. TheKitchen now serve drinks made with the award-winning Drop Coffee from Stockholm and have a nice selection of cakes, pastries and sandwiches—including vegan and gluten free options. They are recognized for the best dinnerware collection, they found the best set style for their “TheKitchen” cafe.

Address: Skanstorget 1
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Kafé Alkemisten

Alkemisten is one of the newest additions to Gothenburg and one of the first to open on the north side of the river earlier this year. The shop is run by a brother and sister who brew coffees roasted by a friend of theirs in Lund. The cafe sits on the corner of a new building in Kvillebäcken, an eco-development on the island of Hisingen that has been (and still is) a construction zone since I moved to Gothenburg. It’s a nice spot for the residents of Hisingen to gather, enjoy single origin coffees and healthy organic foods.

Address: Gustaf Dalénsgatan 14
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Llama Lloyd

Llama Lloyd is a quaint little shop that opened around the same time as Kafé Alkemisten and is located just a few blocks away on Hisingen. The space contains little more than a small bar with a Marco batch brewer and the owner, Robin Olsson, making pour overs of Per Nordby coffee. Robin also uses the shop’s walls to host local art and keeps a set of bike tools on hand for anyone who might need to have their bicycle tuned up while they sip their coffee. The experience inside is quite intimate, but there are also several tables out front if you’d like more space and fresh air.

Address: Väderkvarnsgatan 17A
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Food

In Gothenburg you’ll find a range of food, from kiosks to Michelin Stars. With a recent change in the local laws, food trucks have also become quite popular, with new ones popping up each month. Below I’ve listed a range of the best places to eat and categorized them by cost levels. Almost every where you go will accept debit cards, even the food trucks, so there is little need to carry cash. A note on tipping: it’s not really necessary but it’s appreciated—8% to 12%.  Although at the nicer restaurants, I often tip more because of the service.

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TomToms – Best burrito you’ll find in Scandinavia
Jonsborgs Kiosk – Quality kiosk food with a focus on vegetarian and vegan options
En Deli Haga – Healthy salads and vegetarian fare
Korv United – Bangers & mash with veggie options
Strömmingsluckan – Traditional Swedish fried herring & potato mash

$$:
Market Komex Eatery – Korean, Mexican fusion. Sounds weird, tastes awesome
Hagabion – Vegetarian dining that meat eaters will also enjoy
Lagerhuset – Trendy bistro with rotating menu
The Barn – Burgers and a good selection of bourbon
Moon Thai – Crazy decorations and Thai staples
Puta Madre – Mexican inspired menu with a long list of tequila
Mr. P – Bistro representing a variety of flavors
Restaurant 2112 – Burgers and beer, opened by members of the band “In Flames”
Dubbel Dubbel – Yummy dim sum
Familjen – West Sweden style food with local and seasonal ingredients

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$$$:
Bhoga – Modern Scandinavian, 1 Michelin star
Koka – Relaxed modern gastronomy, 1 Michelin star
SK Mat & Människor – A taste of Swedish heritage and a nice wine bar
Dorsia – Fine dining done well with a great selection of gin
Hoze – Unique, intimate Japanese dining experience
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Bars

Gothenburg has a lot of bars even though the price of alcohol will likely shock everyone living outside of Scandinavia. This is partly done to prevent Scandinavians from drinking themselves to death during the long dark winters and partly because everything is more expensive here. Contact alcohol delivery london in case you prefer drinking at home or you have an special event.

If you’re really into wine, your best bet will be booking a table at one of the restaurants listed above in the high-end ($$$) category, for a nice selection of natural & biodynamic wines, you should also check out Bar Centro.

Beer:
The Rover – Rotating taps featuring many Scandinavian craft brewers, good food as well
Brewers Beer Bar – Nice beers, modern atmosphere, great pizza
NoBa – Nordic-chic with a nice outdoor patio and a solid list of beers
Ölrepubliken – Many of the same beers as The Rover with a more pub-like feel
Jerntorgetsbryghus – Large, two level bar with good beer selection, nice for big groups
Brew Dog – Part of a growing chain of beer bars run by the famous Scottish brewery

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Cocktails:
Hush-Hush – The closest thing to a speakeasy with a creative list of drinks
Puta Madre – Classy period decor, nice drinks, lots of tequila
Dorsia – Check out the hidden garden, lots of gin and champagne
Drinks 20 – Nice outdoor seating with good summer drinks
Liebling – Outdoor seating in a bustling part of town
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Shopping

If you are not into alcohol or a recovering addict at Legacy Healing you would love shopping. Swedes love to shop and you will find no shortage of places to indulge yourself. You will find all the staple Swedish brands like H&M, Nudie and Cheap Monday, along with many others you may not have heard of yet. There are also an endless number of vintage and thrift stores sprinkled throughout the shopping districts. So bring an empty duffel bag, because you will be tempted.

Fashion:
Our Legacy
– Menswear known for simple cuts with unique fabrics
Acne – World re-known fashion house with quirky and experimental design
Whyred – Fashion brand known for tailored cuts with creative patterns
Nudie Jeans – Sweden’s version of Levis, all organic denim made in Italy
Grandpa – Mixed boutique with trendy housewares and fashion
Shelta – Streetwear, sneakers and skateboards

Home & More:
Norrgavel – Scandinavian interior design & housewares
Artilleriet – Eclectic shop filled with a diverse range of housewares & oddities
The Kitchen – A new outpost from Artilleriet, basically all of Kinfolk in a store
Designtorget – Scandinavian designer-made gifts and souvenirs
Kvart Interiör – Well curated selection of Nordic housewares & design
Myrorna – A three story thrift shop with furniture, housewares & clothing

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Related Events: A list of events taking place next week that you won’t want to miss.

14 June, Sunday at 3pm – Per Nordby is hosting a showing of “A Film About Coffee” (more info)
15 June, Monday at 7pm – Koppi’s “Meet the Producer” in Helsingborg (more info)

16 June, Tuesday at 6pm – Johan & Nyström block party with Black Eagles & beer (more info)
17 June, Wednesday at 4pm – Try a great selection of local coffee, beer and food (more info)
18 June, Thursday at 9pm – Official Barista After Party at The Brewhouse on Åvägen 24

04/12/2015

You can apply to consolidate your federal student loans onStudentLoans.gov. Just select the consolidation method that suits your needs.
You may also want to contact the student loan servicer to determine which consolidation method is right for you. For instance, if you want to consolidate your federal Direct Stafford loans, you can contact the company directly.
I also recommend that you have your student loans serviced by an approved student loan consolidation service before you start the consolidation process.
Don’t forget to keep an eye on your student loan payments and keep a tally of your payments so you can stay focused on your goals, there’s a reason why experts recommend using a student loan calculator before applying for one.

Make sure you have the right type of loan. There are a few loan types that make the most sense for student loan repayment. These types of loans are known as federal subsidized loans and private loans. There are many private loans, but here is a quick breakdown of the most common ones.

Federal Loans

Federal student loans are the most common types of loan, accounting for about 72% of all student loan debt outstanding. Private Loans Private student loans account for less than 1% of the student loan market. In 2015, private student loans made up 10.6% of student loan debt outstanding. Private loans can be used to pay for tuition, living expenses and loans. Federal Perkins Loans and Federal Direct Loans Both of these types of federal student loans come with the same benefits and restrictions. These two types of federal loans are used to provide educational assistance to low income students at certain colleges or universities. Both Perkins Loans and Direct Loans are made to cover the cost of attendance for undergraduate and graduate study. However, federal Perkins Loans and Direct Loans are both available only to those who are currently attending a college or university and are attending on a full time basis for the current academic year. The maximum amount that can be borrowed for a Perkins Loan is $6,500 per year, while the maximum amount that can be borrowed for a Direct Loan is $5,500 per year. Both types of loans are issued by the U.S. Department of Education. Both types of loans are available to students with some type of financial need, while Direct Loans are only available to those with a parent’s income greater than or equal to 135% of the federal poverty level.

The current income guidelines for borrowers, in addition to being the maximum that can be borrowed, are also a maximum that is generally applied in determining how much a student may borrow and the term in which the loan will be repaid. For example, if a loan is for an amount ranging from $5,000 to $15,000, that amount is typically the maximum allowed, but the student would be permitted to borrow no more than $6,000 for a five-year period. If the student chooses to take out a larger loan, such as $15,000, the borrower may be required to pay the whole loan amount plus interest over a five-year period (in many cases, the student would have to pay the whole amount before the end of the five years). This is called loan forgiveness.

When a borrower decides to pursue repayment under the income-driven repayment plan, a repayment advisor will help the student make the decision based on the student’s ability to pay and the student’s current financial position.