Kapu, The Finnish Coffee Clip

01.31

Finland is known more for the quality of their design than their coffee, but they drink a lot of it—so well-designed coffee accessories shouldn’t come as a surprise. While browsing the Design Forum in Helsinki last week, I came across a nice solution to the problem of coffee bags without closure tabs—the Kapu.

The Kapu is both a bag clip and coffee scoop, made from Finnish Birch plywood, that will help keep your bag sealed and your coffee fresh. Designed in 2003 by Teemu Karhunen, the early prototypes where entered into a design competition and a small batch where given as gifts to a few friends who became big fans of them. One of those friends was the manager of the Design Forum Shop, who encouraged Teemu to produce more of them.

A few years later Teemu joined his girlfriend Hilja Nikkanen, who founded the socially responsible design company Hile, to relaunch the Kapu as part of their product line.

The production process of the Kapu is kept within a 100km radius of Helsinki and the simple, high-quality design is typical of the Scandinavian style. Even the packaging, with one color printing on raw cardboard, maintains an elegant feel that matches the craftsmanship of the product itself.

At $25 the price is steep, but it’s a beautiful object that should last a lifetime or more.

Hile Design

Photos by Paula Lehto

posted by on 01.31.2011, under Design, Products

Best Coffee in Göteborg (Gothenburg), Sweden

01.24

The people of Scandinavia drink more coffee than anywhere else in the world (they hold the top 6 spots)—and with the long cold winters, it’s easy to understand why. The local custom of “fika”—a coffee break that often includes friends and something sweet—also contributes to their high rates of coffee consumption.

The problem is, even with cafés being such a large part of the culture, it can be hard to actually find good coffee. People argue that going to a café is about so much more—the ambiance, the conversatons, the baked goods. Sure those things are great, but why not complete the experience with fresh coffee brewed properly?

Da Matteo is a Göteborg based coffee roastery and bakery that supplies its own cafés and several others across Sweden. Each one of their locations in Göteborg offer something a bit different. The first café I visited (Södra Larmgatan 14) is nestled in the corridors of a quaint shopping district where you can get brewed coffee from a pair of Clover machines or espresso pulled on a La Marzocco. My introduction consisted of a honey sweet Panama and a juicy Kenyan Chwele that granted my wish for good coffee in the city.

Just a few blocks away, you can sit down with heartier fare at their larger café, although I don’t think they brew coffee by the cup there. However, if you exit through the back door and cross a small parking lot, you’ll find yourself in an old warehouse that’s been converted into a sprawling showroom.

This spacious venue houses a bakery, roastery, and a shiny collection of home brewing equipment. You can pick up a fresh baked roll and order a pour-over of their latest roasts—sorry, no espresso here—while you relax at a table or tour the roastery. I had a fantastic cup of Ethiopian Nekisse here that could have almost passed for black currant juice.

Next time you’re visiting Göteborg, or if you live there now and haven’t discovered this local treasure, stop by da Matteo for your next fika.

Thanks to Tim Wendelboe for the tip.

posted by on 01.24.2011, under Coffee Touring, Recommended Roasters

One Less Paper Cup, One Great Cause

01.19

First Drop Canada is a non-profit helping raise money for other non-profit organizations who are working to improve the lives of coffee farmers and their families—something DCILY fully supports. Last month, First Drop raised almost $10,000 with an awesome event called One Less Paper Cup.

The event’s concept is simple and could easily be replicated in other cities to help raise even more money for the coffee farming communities. Reusable “paper cups” are given out to a number of local artists and designers who have free range to create what they want with them. The original (and mostly functional) pieces of art are then auctioned off at a party with music, drinks, and good people.

The artists get recognition, the attendees have a good time, the organizations get more money to continue doing good things at origin, and everyone who drinks coffee from a paper cup can be burdened with guilt.

One Less Paper Cup specifically benefits Grounds for Health, a group who is helping increase awareness and prevention of cervical cancer in coffee-growing communities. However, First Drop also works with Cup for Education and Coffee Kids (who DCILY donates 5% of product sales too).

If your interested in holding you’re own OLPC fundraiser, contact Adam Pesce at First Drop who will gladly give you advice on how to make it successful.

Check out the rest of the cups from the event and be sure to fan First Drop on Facebook.

posted by on 01.19.2011, under Design, Misc.

A Poetic & Existential Mug

01.18

This ceramic mug, designed by Japanese artist Yukihiro Kaneuchi, is a poetic look at the stories given to products as they are used over time. A tiny landscape has been created on the inside lip that mimics the stains left by coffee. The purpose of the mug and the effects of its use blend into a story representing the memories and feelings of the product. Anyone have a coffee haiku they’d like to share?

click image above for larger view

posted by on 01.18.2011, under Design, Products

How Needy Is Your Coffee?

01.14

The coffee loving tech-crew at WeLikeSmall wanted to chart the neediness of their coffee machine, so they’ve hooked their fancy Jura coffee maker up to some sensors to chart its drink to service ratio. It’s an interesting experiment to chart the effort needed to consume their daily coffee. How much effort goes into your daily coffee making routine?

Without knowing the final results, I will in full faith suggest dumping the Jura on eBay, buying an AeroPress, a nice grinder and kettle—then using what’s left to go on vacation.

Follow the stats at The Neediest Robot

posted by on 01.14.2011, under Design, Misc.

Peace Coffee’s Resourceful New Shop

01.13

This summer I spent two weeks in Minneapolis and fell in love with it. They have the bike culture of Portland, coupled with a Norwegian resistance to cold, wrapped up in the beauty of 10,000 lakes. I never thought I’d want to live in the Midwest (again), but Mpls really made an impression on me. However, the coffee culture left me wanting something more—good news is Peace Coffee, one of the most prominent roasters in town, is working hard to fill this coffee void I experienced on my visit.

After roasting Fair Trade organic beans since 1996, Peace Coffee opened their first coffee shop last November in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis. The new shop carries all the principles I would expect from a company who delivers their coffee around town with bikes and biodiesel trucks.

Reclaimed wood was used to build benches along the exposed brick walls, while an old fire door hangs transformed above the bar as a unique menu board, and Craigslist finds help furnish the rest of the space. The companies quirky personality is reflected in the brightly colored mosaic (made with recycled glass) and with the support of a local artist, who’s little clay monsters are hidden in crevices throughout the walls.

The shop offers espresso, pour-over (one of only a few I know in the city), as well as pre-brewed for those in a hurry. But if you’re smart, you’ll stick around for the homemade pepparkakor (swedish gingerbread cookie) served with each drink. I was already planning another trip to Mpls but this gives me one more reason to go back.

Peace Coffee Shop & Peace Coffee

posted by on 01.13.2011, under Design, Recommended Roasters

Pour-Over Meets Woodshop

01.12

The more cafés begin using pour-over as a method to brew coffee, the more creative they get with the stands that hold the drippers. From the concrete bar at Water Ave in Portland, to the custom Chemex drippers used by Kickstand in Brooklyn—I am continually impressed by the ingenuity of baristas and store owners who provide a unique set for their coffee theatrics.

While I love a homemade cup of pour-over coffee, resting a V60 on top of a mug just isn’t the same experience as visiting a café with a dedicated pour-over bar. The guys at Clive Coffee must have agreed when they set out to create an elegant stand that would look just as good in a home as an Eames chair. Thanks to them, pour-over in the kitchen just got a bit more sophisticated.

The Clive Stand was designed—and beautifully hand crafted—by Delaney Carthagh Kelly, who has been working with wood since he was 13 years old. The stand, made from salvaged Oregon black walnut, takes about 10 hours to build from start to finish and costs $165—a fair price for quality design and woodwork. It will work with a Hario V60 or Clive’s own ceramic dripper made by Pigeon Toe Ceramics.

Check out more process photos on Delaney’s website.

posted by on 01.12.2011, under Design, Misc., Products

Review – PT’s Panama Elida Estate

01.11

PT’s Coffee – Panama Elida Estate Natural
1lb Whole Bean – $17.84
Topeka, Kansas
www.ptscoffee.com

I had a lot of fantastic coffee last year—from some of the best roasters in the world—and this coffee ranks high among them.

Since returning from a trip to Scandinavia last fall, where I first tasted the coveted Hacienda la Esmeralda as well as a cup of the winning coffee from this year’s Nordic Roasting Champion—I had been continually underwhelmed by much of the coffee I’ve had since. The coffee hasn’t been bad by any means, however it dulled in comparison. I was beginning to think I had raised the bar so high, it would be hard to recapture that feeling of awe from an incredible cup of coffee.

However, this selection put things back into perspective. From the moment I opened the bag of PT’s Panama Elida Estate, I felt like a kid in a candy shoppe.

Aroma: The aroma was so sweet and potent, it quickly overtook my studio. Lemon wafers, syrup smothered waffles, and sugar cane filled the air, while the essence of macadamia and hazelnut took my mind someplace exotic. While my first pot was brewing, I took a moment to bask in the the sweet haze when the combined fragrances struck me as one—Crunch Berries. This coffee smelled like a box of my favorite childhood cereal, it was splendid.

Taste: While enjoying my first sip, I looked out at the morning sun reflecting on the melting snow, and smiled. This coffee tastes as brilliant as it smells. A deliciously sweet and juicy mouthfeel is highlighted with a pleasant lemon zest, while hints of pineapple, chocolate and hazelnut fade into a smooth, woody finish.

Sip after sip, this coffee is fantastic. I definitely look forward to my next shipment from Kansas. Hat’s off to the guys at PT’s.

**The above review was also recently chosen as a Member Pick of the Week at GoCoffeeGo. While PT’s is now sold out of their Elida Estate for the year you can check out more of their offerings and order them at GoCoffeeGo.

posted by on 01.11.2011, under Coffee Reviews, Recommended Roasters

DCILY & The SCAA Event

01.10

The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) is the leading trade organization for the specialty coffee industry. Through education, training, resources and business services they strive to improve the industry as a whole. Each year thousands gather for their annual expo, which showcases the newest products, awards the best in the industry, leads training workshops, and holds the United States Barista Championship.

With over 8000 attendees last year and nearly 750 booths, there was a lot to see! This year, The Event will be held in Houston at the end of April and I expect it to be even bigger—because everything is in Texas.

Your’s truly is now registered and I’m excited to announce that I’ll be there bringing you all the latest coffee love straight from the source. If you’re in the industry and plan on being in attendance, get in touch so we can grab a drink.

Check out the video from last year:

Learn more about The Event and follow the SCAA on Facebook

posted by on 01.10.2011, under Misc.

San Francisco’s Best Coffee App

01.06

San Francisco’s Best Coffee, a new app for West Coast coffee lovers, gives Bay area residents and visitors a great resource for finding good coffee in the city. Blue Crow Media made their introduction into the coffee world with their first app, London’s Best Coffee, and are now bringing their digital expertise to the US.

San Francisco is my favorite city in the States, and the SF coffee scene continues to grow and improve every time I return. I previously made a Google Map of recommended stops, but I topped out at about 20 locations. The SF Best app has over 60 locations, including roasteries as well as cafés all marked on an integrated Google map. The icons are nicely designed and touching one will bring up a thumbnail photo along with the location’s name.

Each stop can be rated, giving it an opportunity to be listed among the Top 25, as well as offering users a bit of community feedback. I’m not sure if there are any safeguards to prevent dishonest voting—I’m always skeptical about how these things are tallied—but the current list isn’t far from my own personal favorites.

Once you select a cafe, there’s a nice profile of them, including address, phone number, website, and hours of operation. It also includes technical information such as beans, grinder and espresso machine used. I would also like to see whether a place offers pour over, frcnch press, etc.—as well as when they were established, and wifi capability. I also think shops in Oakland should have been included. I understand that its technically a different city, but it’s like creating a New York City app and leaving out Brooklyn.

The profile continues with a photo of the location, a brief description, and the option to get directions via the iPhone map (which seems to be having problems right now).

For $0.99 cents, it’s less than you would spend buying a friend a cup of coffee or tipping your barista for referring you to a long list of nice cafés. While I haven’t visited all them, if you stick to the Top 25, I doubt you’ll ever be disappointed.

San Francisco’s Best Coffee
New York’s Best Coffee
London’s Best Coffee

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posted by on 01.06.2011, under Design, Misc., Products