Review – Colombia* Starbucks VIA

12.28

Colombia Starbucks VIA
Single Serving Micro Ground – $Free
Seattle, WA
www.starbucks.com

Bean: Micro ground to a powder as fine as Colombia’s other well known pick-me-up.

Aroma: After deciding to mix with hot water instead of snorting, I hovered, wafted and inhaled a somewhat surprising aroma. It was subtle and earthy, comforting like Grandpa’s sweater, but much more pleasant than the Folger’s he consumed. There was a hint of brightness that occasionally poked through the soft undertones of Mexican chocolate, like oranges married with a ripe hamper full of dirty clothes. I was convinced enough to give this blasphemous convenience a fair chance.

Taste: Sipping from a mug surviving the days when Starbucks actually used them, I was immediately impressed by the smooth, low acidic taste presented by this magical concoction. The shock of burnt grinds never came and the lack of flavor that most Kuerig cups embody was trumped by, well, flavor. The delicate tinge of chili powder seasoned every mouthful of this liquid trail mix, highlighting the rich presence of walnuts. If only it provided the same protein and essential fatty acids, I’d have myself a meal.

However, after my enjoyable stroll through the peanut gallery subsided, a pungent aftertaste took hold. Flashbacks of an older brother stuffing dirty socks in my mouth leapt to the forefront of  my conscious. I was forced to drink more just to mask the unsettling memory.

Overall, I am thunderstuck (cool word huh?) by the texture and taste of this instant coffee, one whose marketing budget may rival Avatar’s. I would prefer a cup of this over a fresh one of Pike Place any day, but that’s not saying much.

*I tried the Italian Roast as well, barely making it through half the cup. It tasted, as I imagine a musket full of gunpowder would; sharp, abrasive, and capable of fueling rockets during a Chinese New Year.

posted by on 12.28.2009, under Coffee Reviews, Recommended Roasters

Coffee & Cigarettes

12.24

Will Godwin (the illustrator) is also a talented photographer.

posted by on 12.24.2009, under Misc.

True love feels no pain

12.23

WARREN, Mich. (AP) — A 52-year-old man complained only about the cold weather before walking into a diner with a five-inch knife sticking out of his chest … Restaurant employee George Mirdita told The Detroit News the man calmly ordered coffee.

Thanks for the tip Mike!

posted by on 12.23.2009, under Misc.

The Beta Cup

12.21

In North America we consume 58 billion paper cups every year. This represents 60% of the worlds total cup wastage. Shockingly these cups are not being recycled and most end up in landfill. The problem is that as consumers we love convenience, and paper cups have become a symbol of how out of control our throw away culture has become. Adding to the problem is the fact that adoption of current, reusable alternatives is less than 2%, due in part to the fact that these alternatives are not as convenient as the paper cup. This means we have a serious problem on our hands.

That’s where the betacup comes in. Our goal is to eliminate paper cup consumption and create a more convenient alternative through a global collaborative design contest. The aim will be to invite designers and design teams all around the world to come together around this shared problem.

I believe design can solve a lot of problems, but sometimes the problem isn’t poor design, it’s people. While I strongly agree with the motivation behind this project, I don’t believe poorly designed travel mugs are the reason people don’t use them. “I am not a Paper Cup” (pictured below), for example, looks just like the cups we leave a cafe with, but most people won’t be bothered carrying an empty one with them to the store. It’s not because the cup is bulky or hard to clean, it’s because people are lazy and convenience is greater than reducing their impact on the environment. However, the Beta Cup Prize hopes to change this.

not-paper-cup-1

There is already an unlimited supply of manufactured ceramic and plastic mugs floating around thrift stores and Wal-Marts. To think about designing and producing even more stuff is not only irresponsible, but it’s not the solution. You have to change peoples behaviors—and this time—I don’t think a fancy new cup is the answer. Most Starbucks have stopped using ceramic mugs, so if I’m not getting my coffee to go, I’m stuck with a paper cup unless I’ve brought my own. While this makes the problem worse, it’s also inspired my solution.

Here’s my idea for Beta Cup. Get cafe’s to stop providing cups altogether. If you want your coffee, you provide the vessel. It doesn’t matter what shape, color, size, or material. You may loose some customers in the beginning, but at some point it will click, habits will form, people will change and if they really love their coffee they will bring their own cup. Give me $20k and I will use it to develop an awareness campaign and a countdown clock, to give customers forewarning. On zero day, all cups vanish from stores, peoples mindsets are reset, and new behaviors begin to take shape.

Find out more at www.thebetacup.com or help fund the prize on Kickstarter.

posted by on 12.21.2009, under Design, Misc.

Guilty Pleasure

12.21

Dear artificially flavored coffee, I know I shouldn’t drink you, but you taste good. Sincerely, a steadfast fan.

Sad, but sometimes love is unexplainable.

posted by on 12.21.2009, under Misc.

Review – Primavera: Peru Norte

12.17

primavera

Primavera: Peru Norte
12oz Whole Bean – $10.99
Birmingham, AL
www.primaveracoffee.com

Bean: A spirited, medium size bean with a creamy milk-chocolate hue. These could easily be substituted for semi-sweet chips in all of your holiday cookies. What could be better than a caffeinated peanut butter blossom?

Aroma: Once I brewed these medium roasted niblets, I was wrapped in a scent as soothing as a snuggie, and deliciously warm as a Cinnabon. A vanilla undertone smoothed things out like a bowl of grandmother’s cake batter waiting for me to taste the moment she wasn’t looking. I couldn’t wait to indulge.

Taste: My first sip was met with a light but vibrant cinnamon zest followed by lively hints of vanilla. The next taste enveloped my tongue like a cupcake, sprinkles and all, stuffed in my mouth. A well balanced flavor helps illuminate the quality of the beans and inspires daydreams of tomorrow’s cup.

There’s a low acidic creak in this medium bodied brew, but its no more severe than a sound eeked from beneath the floorboards of your childhood home—endearing and somewhat sentimental. A cup of this could tuck me in after dinner as easily as it lured me from bed this morning.

You can pick up a cup (or bag) of Primavera at my favorite cafe in Birmingham, Urban Standard.

posted by on 12.17.2009, under Coffee Reviews, Recommended Roasters

Far Coast

12.17

farcoast1

I’ve never been to a Far Coast, because I’ve never been to Canada where this chain is based. It’s owned by Coca-Cola and touts the company’s fair trade “ethics” on it’s website. The effort seems like a noble attempt to take on other global coffee chains, but it’s kind of like Clorox selling Green Works cleaning solutions, it’s a small drop in an ocean of other irresponsible business practices.

But I digress. I love their cups. The blue lids really set everything off, taking a drastic departure from the earth tones used by most coffee companies.

Has anyone been to one of these? I’d love to hear first hand experiences.

posted by on 12.17.2009, under Design

A bean with a mission

12.16

missioncoffee

The People’s City Mission provides beds, meals and hot coffee to the homeless of Lincoln, Nebraska. In May 2008, the non-profit launched a for-profit coffee company to create a steady revenue stream to help fund operations. Mission Bean Coffee Company promises “great coffee for the greater good” and all proceeds help feed the homeless. The logo, identity, Web site, package design and this series of print ads were all created by Lincoln, Nebraska-based Bailey Lauerman.

Who says coffee can’t love back? This is a great program from an organization in Lincoln, NE. I’ve put these beans on my list to try. www.missionbeancoffee.com

posted by on 12.16.2009, under Design, Misc., Recommended Roasters

Forever Yours,

12.14

Dear Coffee,

You know how much I love you. Your color, your taste, your mind-enhancing chemicals. It seems as though my day is not complete without you. How did I ever exist before you? Even just smelling your distinguished aromas from another room is enough to make me want you. Badly. Thank you for being so delicious. Although at the beginning of our  relationship I admit you had to share room with both cream and sugar, I knew you’d understand. See how much I’ve come to love you that I now appreciate your naked nuances? Oh, coffee. Please don’t tell your sister, Decaf, but I find her to be so inferior in every way, that I cannot stand to watch others consume her. I love you, coffee, and only you. Until tomorrow morning, my love.

Forever Yours,
Patricia

As for Decaf, I couldn’t agree more. Taken from Skirt! Raleigh.

posted by on 12.14.2009, under Misc.

Coffee Illustrated

12.11

1285147549_c673964229

This diagram was created by Lokesh Dhakar, who was “new to the world of fancy coffee drinks” and wanted to wrap his head around all the nuances between drinks. I would suggest a few changes, including more foam in the cappuccino and placing the chocolate on the bottom of the mocha, but overall it’s really helps illustrate things for beginners. This would make a great menu board in a cafe!

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posted by on 12.11.2009, under Misc.