The craft

10.07

Brilliantly entertaining short, featuring Tim Varney and Tim Wendelboe (whose shop I visited while in Oslo). The film looks at Tim Varney’s journey to become World Barista Champion. Beautifully filmed & edited by Brendan Inkognito.

posted by on 10.07.2010, under Recommended Roasters

Brew a better world with Project 7

10.06

Project 7 changed the way people perceive bottled water and the impact is can on lives around the world. Now they are hoping to do the same with coffee. The company realized mass consumption isn’t going away, so they’ve embraced it, and turned it into an engine for good. They are a for-profit company who use their profits to fund charities around the world. Project 7 continues to use great design and marketing to further their mission, while also giving the consumer the power to choose which cause they support. They focus on seven areas of need:

  • Quench – provides a year of clean water for a person in need
  • Heal – provides medicine for a person suffering from malaria
  • Hope – provides a day of counseling for a child of war
  • House – provides food, education & healthcare for a day for an orphan
  • Feed – provides 7 meals for the hungry in the United States
  • Teach – provides schooling for a week for a child in Africa
  • Save – plants 10 fruit bearing trees

Each product is named after a respective cause, so you choose which one you support with your product selection. The coffee is only offered through a subscription program, but you can start with just 3 months. You can allow for a new coffee (and cause) to be sent each month or you can select a specific blend yourself. The coffee is all organic and Fair Trade certified, and they mention buying direct when possible.

The video, illustrated by Darren Dunham, fits well in the Project 7 vernacular, but also distinguishes itself as something new. From the beginning, Project 7 knew that design would be a valuable component of success and invested early. It’s paid off. There are many coffee companies who donate to many causes, but Project 7 has an established brand and a successful model in place that’s driven by a well communicated story. Their new video is engaging, informative, and well executed. I’m excited about their new venture and look forward to trying the coffee.

They are currently offering the first month free. Enter “CATALYST” when checking out.

More on P7 Coffee and Project 7

posted by on 10.06.2010, under Design, Misc., Products, Recommended Roasters, Videos

Turn of the century Parisian inspired posters

10.05

Louis-Martin Tremblay is a Montreal-based designer who was inspired by the advertisements plastered all over Paris at the turn of the century. He created this great series of posters illustrating a range of cultures and coffee brewing methods. I especially love the babushka poster above. They are supposed to be available for sale on his website (www.lmtl75.com), but it seems to be down right now.

Check out more of Louis-Martin’s work on Behance.

posted by on 10.05.2010, under Design

Mugshot Monday

10.04

Meet Lisa Frame. She loves coffee and people. So she created a place to consolidate the two passions and meet other hard working people who love coffee. Mugshot Monday’s concept is simple, it introduces readers to a new, creative and entrepreneurial coffee lover each week. What began as a simple idea has become a liaison for job searches, networking, and apparently dating. I took the opportunity to flip the spotlight on Lisa and ask her a few questions about her love of coffee.

On Mugshot Monday, you post photos of lots of people with their favorite mug, now you’re in the spotlight. Tell us about your favorite mug? My FBI mug, for sure! I feel like a total badass drinking out of it.

What are you up to when you aren’t meeting other coffee drinkers online? Offline, I’m pounding the pavement in Chicago, my home turf. You can generally find me in the Wicker Park eating Mexican at Big Star, shopping til I drop at Penelope’s or reading a how-to/DIY book in the park. Online, I’m tweeting, blogging, editing videos and managing the Abe’s Market seller community.

You’re based in Chicago (mostly) which is where my love for coffee began, so I know there are some great cafes. Do you have a favorite place to get your coffee? And what’s your drink of choice? Chicago has so many great coffee spots, where to start? The Swedish coffee at Ann Sather is one of the most comforting drinks I’ve ever tasted. Dollop Coffee Co has the best soy cappuccino & vibe in the city. And, for the best diner cup of coffee I recommend sitting at the counter, on a rainy afternoon at The Hollywood Grill. (the people watching is fantastic too!)

What’s the best opportunity or experience you’ve had where coffee played a leading role? Coffee has introduced me to so many amazing people. I’ve met writers, producers, musicians, stylists, marketing geniuses. I’ve met them all and each conversation was simply started with the same passion in mind, coffee.

Thanks Lisa for sharing some of your Chi-town coffee secrets with us, and creating a place to laud all of the talented and hard-working coffee lovers out there.

Check out Mugshot Monday and Abe’s Market

posted by on 10.04.2010, under Interviews, Misc.

Best Coffee in Oslo, Norway

10.02

Two weeks ago Tim Wendelboe won the Nordic Roaster Competition for the third year in a row. A few days earlier, I stood in his shop drinking two of the very best cups of coffee I’ve ever had.

I began with a double shot of Tim’s signature espresso. It was smooth, sweet and pleasantly bright. More wine, less citrus and the sweetness lingered quite a bit. I followed the shot with a cup of Mugaga Kenya, recommended by Chris who was working the bar. Mugaga is a large cooperative in Nyeri, Kenya that I’d never heard of until now, and Chris described the roast as being much lighter than anything American roasters sell. I’m not sure if he was referring to mainstream coffee like Starbucks, or including the micro roasters as well, but it was interesting to know.

The simplest way to describe Mugaga is a buttered bowl of juicy berries. So smooth and sweet, I’d never had a cup of coffee remotely close to it. My girlfriend, who admittedly hates coffee, was adamant in consuming more than her share. Rightfully so. It’s a fantastic coffee—the coffee that won the Nordic Roaster Competition.

Before we left, I had one more item I needed to try. The famed Hacienda La Esmeralda—which claimed the record breaking price of $170/lb at this years Best of Panama auction—was calling my name. Chris brewed it up with a Chemex as a few guests in town for the upcoming Nordic Barista Cup wandered in.

The space was cozy, tucked away on a corner of a residential block, not far from a bustling park surrounded by restaurants and cafes. The roaster sat front and center of the shop, while a door tucked away behind it led to a sterile, but high-tech looking lab where classes and cuppings take place. As the Hacienda was served, I took my time to absorb the aroma. It was very tea-like, most likely because of the floral array of jasmine and honey floating from the cup. I took my first sip of what had once been called “god in a cup” and thought, “man, that Mugaga was really good.”

Not to down play a deliciously sweet and lively cup of coffee, it was very good—one of the best—and better than the following two cups of Hacienda I had at Stockfleth’s and in Copenhagen. But I guess I expected more for the price it demands and the hype it’s claimed. It could be that I was so overwhelmed by the Mugaga, which was a tough act to follow, that I didn’t give it the attention I should have. Either way, it was still fantastic.

Tim’s was definitely the highlight of my time in Oslo. However, I had a pleasant cup that morning at Fuglen (The Bird), but found the evironment a little too much like a stranger’s living room that I wasn’t really supposed to be in. Their espresso machine was also down, which left me with what they already had brewed.

On my last morning, I stopped by Stockfleth’s which has a few locations around Oslo. I had my second cup of Hacienda La Esmeralda here, brewed with an AeroPress, which seems to be the preferred single-cup brewing method in Scandinavia. Though it was good, it must have been roasted darker than Tim’s and lost some of the liveliness and transparency in the body that I experienced previously. I should have taken the opportunity to try one of their offerings from Solberg & Hansen.

Oslo was great and had exceptional coffee in far more places than other cities I visited. I would have loved to stay a couple more days if it weren’t so expensive! Next time.

posted by on 10.02.2010, under Coffee Touring, Recommended Roasters

Robocup

10.01

Because it’s Robocop…and it’s a cup! Love this.

Robocup on Threadless

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posted by on 10.01.2010, under Design, Products