The End of Cheap Coffee


GOOD Magazine recently published a great article about the end of cheap coffee—due to things like climate change and a growing global demand—and the impending shift to coffee as a luxury. The author, Zak Stone, sets the tone for luxury coffee with a visit to the slow bar at Intelligentsia’s Venice location, before talking with a list of industry experts—including Ben Kaminsky (Ritual), Peter Giuliano (Counter Culture), Geoff Watts (Intelligentsia) and Dub Hay (Starbucks)—to get their perspective on the changes ahead.

If you haven’t read it yet, definitely take the time to check out the full article.

“We think our coffee is ridiculously cheap,” says Ben Kaminsky, director of quality control at Ritual Roasters in San Francisco, where a pound of beans starts at $19.95. His sentiment is echoed by many working in high-end coffee. “It’s interesting to me that the same consumer that will go to 7-11 and buy a bottle of Fiji Water for five dollars will go crazy and complain about a cup of coffee,” says Geoff Watts, Intelligentsia’s vice president and green (unroasted, that is) coffee buyer. “This is a meticulously grown agricultural product from halfway around the world that was hand-harvested, hand-picked, and roasted and brewed. It’s got all these different flavor characteristics. It’s got antioxidants. It’s got all the things you could want in a drink.”

A luxury drink, that is. “Coffee as cheap fuel for the masses is a historical anomaly,” says Peter Giuliano, director of coffee at the North Carolina-based roaster Counter Culture. “There’s no nutritive value. It’s drunk just for the pleasure of it. It’s a total miracle of global agriculture, a feat that spans cultures and countries.” -GOOD

Illustration by Dan Matutina

posted by on 11.30.2011, under Coffee 101, Misc.

Video: Stumptown Source Trip in Colombia


Great video by Stumptown from a recent sourcing trip in Colombia. Enjoy!

Over the last several months, Stumptown has continued filming coffee farmers in their element. The latest in our series of Source Trip Films features Colombian coffee producers and the intense relationship between growers, the coffee and their communities.

Filmed and produced by Trevor Fife.

Below is another video from the “Source Trip” series—filmed in Kenya.

posted by on 11.29.2011, under Misc., Recommended Roasters, Videos

DCILY’s Coffee Lover Gift Guide 2011


Dear Coffee, I Love You is approaching its two year anniversary of discovering and writing about the greatest things in the world of specialty coffee. With all the hours spent finding, learning about and sharing new things, I’ve developed a growing wish list along with suggestions for upgrading and improving your own coffee experience. As a follow-up to last years 2010 DCILY gift guide, I’m happy to share an all new list of holiday gift suggestions for the coffee lovers in your life.

1. AWS 1kg Pocket Scale -$10- A gift for the precision-minded barista. I’ve previously written about the “power of the scale” and how important it is to maintain consistency in coffee brewing. This scale provides an affordable first step. It’s compact, great for travel and measures .1g up to 1000g. Shop for AWS-1KG

2. DCILY Gear -$13 to $40- A gift for those who consider t-shirts high fashion. In the last year DCILY has slowly begun to grow from being just a blog to much more. Its a creative outlet for me to design cool products that I’d want for myself, and hope others will be just as excited about. This fall I launched a line of shirts and am currently producing custom KeepCups for those on the go. Shop for DCILY Gear

3. Baratza Virtuoso -$200- A gift for grinding coffee on a whole new level. A coffee grinder is one of the most important—and overlooked—investments to improve your coffee at home. A quality burr grinder will insure consistency in grind size which allows proper extraction. The Virtuoso is a top notch grinder for most brew methods and what I personally used in the States. For just filter coffee, the lower-cost Maestro is great and if you know someone who’s been extra good this year—the Vario-W will ensure they stay good. Shop for Baratza Virtuoso

4. Handsome Gift Box -$75- A gift for Handsome fanboys. Handsome Coffee may be this years hottest new thing. The boys at Handsome are the Kone of 2011, only less “S&M” and more “please marry me.” They’ve put together a beautiful and limited gift set, including a 6oz porcelain mug from Italy, laser-etched wood box and a bag of their finest product—handsomely roasted coffee. Shop Handsome Coffee

5. Coffee Story: Ethiopia -$65- A gift for coffee lovers who love coffee books. This beautifully photographed book captures the story of coffee in its homeland of Ethiopia. It tells the tale of a country whose culture is based on not just on the cultivation of coffee but also the tradition of drinking it themselves. Order a copy

6. OXO Press Pot -$35- A gift for the traditionalist. The press post (or French press) is one of the easiest ways to start brewing coffee at home. Disliked by some for the “silty” mouthfeel it produces, many people love them for that very same reason. I’ve written about my appreciation for the French press before, and think it’s a great step to improve home brewing. While Bodum is the classic choice, these new OXO press pots are designed well and include a silicone scoop that rests beneath the grounds to make cleaning much easier.  Shop for OXO Press Pots

7. Grinder Cleaning Brush -$3- A gift for anyone who doesn’t have one. With the grinder being such an important—and pricey—investment, it needs to be kept clean to preform at its best and for as long as it can. If you aren’t using dark oily beans or flavored coffee beans, brushing off the burrs once a week will keep things surprisingly tidy and your coffee tasty. Shop for a cleaning brush

8. Hario Buono Kettle -$50- A gift for the aspiring coffee aficionado. If you know someone who brews pour over coffee while trying their best to control the water flow from a large-mouthed electric kettle, they’re probably waiting for someone to buy them this. While its not necessary for brewing, it makes life much easier and more enjoyable. Shop for a Buono Kettle

9. Kalita Single Use Drippers -$10- A gift for the jetsetter or camper. For those who have to pack light, even an AeroPress can be too much sometimes. For those occasions, there are the Kalita Katan single-use drippers. These little guys unfold and sit atop your cup, with a built in filter for pour over coffee anywhere you need it. Kalita also makes its own unique pour over system and a gorgeous kettle. Shop for Kalita Drippers

10. Technivorm Moccamaster -$300- A gift for gatherings and lazy sundays. The Moccamaster is pretty much the only electric drip coffee maker that coffee professionals recommend. The reason it costs more than most coffee makers you’ll find at the store, is that this one actually works. This brewer can maintain the water temperature necessary for proper extraction and does so very quickly. These beautifully designed machines are also handmade in The Netherlands which adds quality & cost. Shop for Technivorm

11. The Clive Stand -$195- A gift for the craft-minded V60 fan. The Clive Stand is how I first discovered Clive Coffee (now a sponsor of this site) and have been continually impressed by their design conscious decisions. These stands are beautifully hand made from salvaged Oregon Walnut and I’m still longing for the day I have one sitting on my counter. Shop for the Clive Stand

12. GoCoffeeGo Gift Cards -$50- A gift for coffee lovers with everything. The only gift to appear on last year’s list as well because of its broad functional appeal. Even if you have all the latest equipment, you still need great coffee beans. GoCoffeeGo has curated some of the best coffee roasters in the US to create a selection where you can’t go wrong. With their Netflix-like tool “Auto-Ship,” you can customize your own never-ending coffee subscription. Shop for GoCoffeeGo Giftcards

*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 supports this site and the content you enjoy.*

posted by on 11.28.2011, under Gift Guides, Misc., Products

Cartel Coffee Lab: A Desert Oasis In A Coffee Desert


I’ve never been to Arizona, but I’ve recently noticed an increase in Twitter followers from the Grand Canyon state that may signify the growing interest in Specialty Coffee there, which I’d previously been ignorant to.  After seeing this video made by Ah Dios for Cartel Coffee Lab—it looks like they’ve played a big part in that growing interest.

Founded in 2007, Cartel Coffee Lab now has 4 locations in Arizona (Tempe, Scottsdale, Phoenix & Tucson) and roast their own coffee in a lovely San Franciscan roaster at the Tempe shop. They are active in organizing educational classes—and based on this video—have a humble, but principled approach to serving great coffee.

This video is great for blending commentary from the founder with high-def coffee porn and incredible facial hair cameos. Bonus points for the “Stranger Than Fiction” style annotations and their future expansion into beer brewing.

Cartel Coffee Lab

Below is a clip of outtakes with Greg Tidrow, the man with incredible facial hair slurping an espresso—made without sound to emphasize the visual greatness. Look at that wink!

posted by on 11.27.2011, under Recommended Roasters, Videos

Black Coffee Friday


Black Friday is traditionally known in the US as the start of the holiday shopping season. The day when you set aside all thanks giving and fight your neighbors for the last Nintendo Wii at 5 in the morning to save $30.

Here at DCILY, I’m taking a cue from my friends at Holstee and refusing to partake in the madness. Instead, I’m disabling all the links to our stores and asking you not to buy anything, from anyone. Sleep in, enjoy another black coffee, allow your Thanksgiving dinner to fully digest and spend a bit more time with the ones you love.

To scratch any consumption itch you may have today, I partnered with Simon Ålander to give away wallpapers of his hand-lettered interpretation of “Enjoy Black Coffee.” Instead of buying something new, you can make the things you already own feel that way.

Download the size you need:

Once you’ve downloaded the appropriate image size onto your device, you should be able to set it as a background image in your preferences.

Enjoy the day and enjoy black coffee.

posted by on 11.25.2011, under Design, Misc., Products

That Final Festive Touch


For everyone celebrating Thanksgiving today, may it be a pleasant one that hopefully ends with better coffee than Maxwell House. Cheers!

From the 1945 Maxwell ad:

This year–especially—Thanksgiving is a red-letter day. A day of rejoicing… of reunions… of “home again” dinners, lovingly prepared, pleasantly lingered over. And as the fragrance of spicy pies and puddings scents the air, the mellow richness of Maxwell House Coffee adds its own very special good cheer to the occasion. There’s a warm welcome in every friendly cup.

It’s a coffee worthy of a gala dinner. Expertly blended—it combines many fine Latin-American coffees for extra flavor! Manizales for mellowness! Bucaramangas for full body! Medellins for richness! Still other choice Latin-American coffees for vigor! It’s Radiant Roasted too—to develop the maximum flavor goodness!

[click to view larger]

posted by on 11.24.2011, under Misc.

Coffee Talk is Heaps of Pun


Let me start by saying that I’m not much of a board game person, but I made an exception to try this new coffee-themed game from the toy makers at Pressman. Since the tradition of consuming coffee often revolves around conversation, it’s fitting that a game modeled after it feels like a mixture of summer camp icebreakers, speed dating, and college drinking games.

Coffee Talk comes packaged in a flashy, holographic coffee bag steeped in puns (or industry marketing satire?) that continues as you extract all the pieces. There are “instant coffee” and “creamer” cards, “sugar packets,” and coffee bean game pieces. The playing boards are shaped like take-away cups and the ultimate goal is to reach “robust” before anyone else. Though I find it more fitting to begin at “robust” and try to reach the lightest roast first.

Included is a stack of topic cards with subjects that range from blogs, Homer Simpson, and Chicago. Each player takes a turn (beginning with the person who drinks the most coffee) pulling a topic card. Once the topic is read aloud, players have 45 seconds to write down as many words that can be associated with the topic.

Any words that overlap with other players cancel themselves out, and every unique association collects 1 point. At the end of each round, players count their points and move their coffee beans higher up their coffee cup.

Twists come about when someone uses a “sugar packet” to sweeten up players who challenge the validity of a word, or when someone “creams” a topic they don’t want to play. If an “instant coffee” card is pulled from the bag, a new topic is drawn and everyone takes turns saying a word aloud until someone repeats one, or can’t think of something new—the loser has to chug the rest of their venti irish vanilla latte. Sláinte!

If you’re into game nights or host parties often, this could be a great addition to your collection. It’s really simple to learn, costs less than a bag of quality coffee, and its “perfectly blended for a good time.”

Coffee Talk

posted by on 11.23.2011, under Misc., Products

Intelligentsia Freshens Up The Interwebs


Intelligentsia, hometown heroes from Chicago and specialty coffee trailblazers in LA, have launched a new website just in time to show off their new winter wares. It’s been in the making for some time now, but it seems to have been well worth the wait.

The new look is clean and confident with a refined freshness that I’ve come to expect from Intelligentsia. With the content  of the site organized into just three main sections—shop, learn and wholesale—the visible navigation (which hides itself upon scrolling) has been reduced, allowing more room for all the vibrant photography.

With a design so graphic in nature, the new site also translates really well on a tablet. Navigating with an iPad feels much like having your own Intelligentsia Flipboard.

Once you make your way into the coffee section, each offering is represented by photos of origin with three large flavor notes imposed over top of them—making the taste of the coffee the most prominent and distinguishing element. This detail is a departure from the standard “organization by origin” most people have come to expect from progressive roasters and puts the focus on how different and unique coffees can taste.

Each coffee has its own page with neatly organized specs on the coffee, origin, and flavor notes. There is also an integrated Google map highlighting the source, which adds a bit of life and interactivity to a normally static illustration.

The biggest new feature launched along with the website is a home subscription service, allowing you to customize reoccurring deliveries or your favorite Intelligentsia coffees.

What better way to prevent running out of coffee, then having Intelligentsia just show up in your mail? After 6-months of loyalty, you’ll be rewarded with limited edition swag that lets others know why you’re so excited to see the postman.

The photos are bright, the typography is tight and the white-space is well respected. I’ve said more than enough. Go check it out and maybe treat yourself to something nice.

Intelligentsia Coffee

posted by on 11.18.2011, under Design, Recommended Roasters

Dr. Peter Schlumbohm, July 10, 1896 – Nov 7, 1962


While doing research for my recent Chemex post, I came across several fascinating articles about the inventor himself, Dr. Peter Schlumbohm. He sounded like an incredibly charismatic fellow who would have been a pleasure to have coffee with.

Last week marked 49 years since Dr. Schlumbohm passed away on November 7, 1962, from a heart attack at 66-years old. He accomplished much in his abbreviated life, during which he held 300 registered patents, more than 20 belonging to the MoMA permanent collection. The Chemex coffee maker, which coffee lovers are most familiar with, was named one of “100 Best-Designed Products in Modern Times” in 1958 by the Illinois Institute of Technology—quite the accolade for a coffee maker.

Well over one million dollars’ worth have been sold in the last five years. The Chemex, currently on sale in 3,000 U.S. stores at $6 for the one-quart size, is a typical bit of Schlumbohmiana…
-Life Magazine, 1949

Apart from spending 8 years studying Chemistry at the University of Berlin, he also had an incredible design sense that permeated his inventions. There is remarkable elegance and simplicity in the way he blended glass with materials like wood and cork, which most certainly played a role in his success. The importance Dr. Schlumbohm placed on design was no accident either:

After 22 years of inventing, Schlumbohm has come to certain conclusions about it. He feels that just seeing the problem to be solved is 20% of the inventive process. Finding a patentable idea that solves it is 40%. Good design (“Eliminate everything that’s wrong, and what’s left will be right”) is 30%, and merchandising is the remaining 10%.  -Life Magazine, 1949

Dr. Schlumbohm even played the role of marketing director for his products:

Dr. Schlumbohm does all his own selling, writes his own advertisements, direction leaflets and brochures and even types out his own patent applications—one draft only, since he refuses to make a mistake.  -Life Magazine, 1949

What little I could find of Dr. Schlumbohm’s specific thoughts regarding coffee always seemed to be from the perspective of a Chemist more than a consumer:

Ground coffee contains only two desirable ingredients: aromatic coffee oils and caffeine. The rest is a vile mixture of some 50 different chemicals, including such ‘skunky stuff’ as mercaptan. -New York Times Obituary, 1962

But apart from his scientific analysis of coffee, he understood what consumers wanted (or needed). In that same New York Times obituary, Dr. Schlumbohm is quoted, while pointing at a Chemex, “With this, even a moron can make good coffee.”

For that we thank you. Cheers to you Dr. Schlumbohm.

posted by on 11.17.2011, under Misc., Products

Tis’ the Season for Intelligentsia


As the the weather turns cold and the decorative lights come out, the color of coffee cups tend to change along with the festivities. This year, there’s a new holiday cup to be seen with while walking around town (for those who must take their coffee to-go) and a new set of ceramic for you to enjoy near the comfort of an open fire (chestnuts roasting?).

Intelligentsia has livened up their paper products and released a set of lovely new mugs for winter, inspired by the likes of Flemish renaissance painter Pieter Bruegel. So, if you happen to live near one of their locations, you might find yourself carrying not just a great looking holiday cup this year, but one with something delicious inside.

Once you’ve found yourself in the vicinity of the these jovial new cups, you’re likely not far from the new Intelligentsia X Askinosie chocolate bars either. Made in collaboration with the Award-winning mid-western chocolatiers, the dark chocolate bars are made with 77% single origin Philippine cocoa and Intelligentsia’s Organic La Perla de Oaxaca coffee from Mexico. If you can avoid eating them yourself, these would probably make mighty fine stocking stuffers. Now, if only there were an Intelli down on Kungsgatan.

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posted by on 11.15.2011, under Design, Misc., Recommended Roasters