A Cuppa Day with Mike White

12.16

Since the beginning of October, Mike White (one of my favorite coffee persons) has been chronicling his daily coffee experiences on a feed simply titled “My Daily Coffee.” The photos are all simple overhead views of an empty cup, which creates a nice visual collection of vessels contrasted with a great variety of table textures.

Each photo is captioned with a brief description of the experience. The observations drift between flavor notes, environmental observations and customer service. Many of his thoughts are concise enough to be tweeted. Enjoy.

acuppaday.tumblr.com

 

posted by on 12.16.2011, under Design, Misc.

The Coffee Lab at Google London HQ

12.15

The Google Headquarters in London has officially been added to my list of “must visit” coffee destinations in the UK. The newly opened Engineering floor, dubbed “L4″ is fully loaded in ways you could only dream about for your own office.

My favorite part, of course, is the dedicated Coffee Lab. With 7 hoppers, 2 espresso machines and a myriad of manual brew methods to choose from (note the Presso & syphon centerpieces), you’ll have more decisions than just which one of the 19 available coffees you want to brew—impressive.

I’d love to know which coffees they have in stock and if there’s a barista on staff to train employees how to dial in a good shot. It would be a waste if such a beautiful set-up wasn’t being used for all of its potential.

Once you’ve brewed yourself a coffee, you can head over to the cinema, indoor park, arcade or soundproof band room for a jam session or karaoke party with co-workers. Only thing missing from this place is laser tag and a ball pit—and yes, they’re hiring.

More photos of the Google office at Pocket Lint

posted by on 12.15.2011, under Design, Misc.

Intelligentsia X Quintin

12.14

Intelligentsia has experimented with collaborations in the past, from partnerships with indie band Wilco to custom skate decks—but this latest project with Quintin really throws their hat into the ring as a full on lifestyle brand.

Our good friend and BMX pro Kevin Porter put us in touch with the great guys at Quintin, and a just few months later we’re launching this collaboration cap. Designed by Intelligentsia but build by Quintin just a few blocks away from our LA Roasting Works, this limited edition hat is one of our proudest collaborations to date. -Intelligenstia

I know I talk about Intelligenstia a lot—but they continue doing really awesome stuff. I’d take this over a moc croc Jimmy Choo coffee sleeve any day. $32 bucks and made in LA.

This collaboration is a celebration of the idea that the customer deserves to buy into more than just the product that a brand offers, whether that be a freshly brewed cup of coffee or a hat, fresh off the production line. We are happy to present to you a fine collaboration for the end of 2011. Look for Quintin Co. select coffee soon on our online store. -Quintin

Intelligentsia X Quintin Hat

posted by on 12.14.2011, under Design, Misc., Products

DunneFrankowski Launches Tonight in London

12.14

If you’re in London tonight and love coffee, there’s really no other place you should be then at Protein, for the triple threat launch of DunneFrankowski the company, DunneFrankowski’s Independent Coffee Book (London edition), and Protein by DunneFrankowski—the coffee bar (18 Hewett Street).

There’s going to be beer, food, and DJ’s tonight and the coffee shop will be open to the public during the day from 8am to 4pm. I’ve already looked into RyanAir flights, but I sadly won’t be making a last minute trip to the UK.

DunneFrankowski is a partnership between Victor Frankowski and Rob Dunne (a participant at Coffee Common in Edinburgh) who aim to intersect various genres of culture through the medium of the café. Go meet the fellows, check out the new café and get a preview of London’s latest coffee book.

DunneFrankowski

posted by on 12.14.2011, under Design, Misc.

DCILY Merch Store—Grand Opening Sale

12.12

[UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who celebrated with us and bought some great DCILY merch. This promotion has come to an end, but the store is still stocked!.]

Two weeks ago I quietly rolled out the new DCILY merch store—and now with less than 2-weeks until Christmas and the store fully stocked, I thought I’d officially announce the grand opening with a bit of a sale.

In honor of DCILY’s 2-year anniversary, I’m offering 20% off on all apparel. Just use the code DCILY20 at the checkout. There’s just one catch: I’m not telling how long the sale will last—2 hours, 2 days, 2 weeks? If you’ve got gifts to buy, don’t miss out!

DCILY Merch Store

posted by on 12.12.2011, under Design, Products

Jimmy Choo Coffee Sleeves

12.12

Occasionally I come across things that leave me speechless and I generally choose not to post about them. But this takes the cake, eats it and proceeds to jump the shark. For $165 you too can “add a touch of style to your morning coffee break” with a moc croc leather coffee sleeve from Jimmy Choo. Yeezy taught you well…

 

 

posted by on 12.12.2011, under Design, Misc., Products

Why the Compleat Cup is Incomplete

12.12

There’s been a lot of buzz in both the design and coffee worlds this past week about an innovative take on the disposable cup called, Compleat. The concept was developed by Architect Peter Herman and refined by graphic designer Daren Bascome, both based in Boston. The problem behind it is a persistent one that many people have attempted to solve—reduce the waste from disposable cups.

Last year Starbucks sponsored the BetaCup contest on Jovoto, a forum for product design competitions, to develop a more sustainable to-go cup. The winner wasn’t a cup at all, but a game that served as an incentive to bring your own reusable cup. I found the winning solution quite admirable, but have yet to hear about it implemented in Starbucks stores.

The Compleat Cup is the latest attempt to solve one of the more annoying environmental problems in the coffee industry. While it’s a nice concept, I don’t think its ready for prime time and I wouldn’t expect to see them popping up in coffee shops around the world just yet.

Sustainability
While the main pitch is that you reduce the use of a plastic lid, which is of course a scourge in itself—many lids alone can be recycled. The cups are the problem, because the paper is fused to a thin plastic lining that most US recycling systems can’t handle.

Even if the lining used a bio plastic, those only degrade if they are properly disposed of, i.e. composted. Most places in the US don’t have compost programs in place. So while these cups will reduce part of the problem, it still leaves a pressing one that can really only be solved by bringing your own mug.

Design
The design may be iconic, but what about the people—myself included—who prefer to drink without a lid? If you open the folds, I don’t see any practical way to drink from this like a normal cup.

When the cup is folded up to create a drinking spout, it forms a direct funnel into your mouth. While this may be a great idea for cold drinks on hot days, it makes me pause when considering hot coffee. There’s no longer a barrier to allow for the “is this going to scald my mouth” sip while drinking blindly.


Admittedly these observations have been made without having yet tried a Compleat cup, however, I feel that I’ve drank coffee from enough beverage receptacles to make an educated critique of it. Once I’ve had the opportunity to try one, I’ll be sure to follow up with the results.

The Compleat Cup

posted by on 12.12.2011, under Design, Misc., Products

ZP Machines Kickstarting Better Home Espresso

12.11


[UPDATE IV: A new post on the ZP Machines Kickstarter page outlines an adjustment to the manufacturing schedule do to the overwhelming response this project has received. Also news later tonight about a dedicated 240v model of the Nocturn!]

[UPDATE III: Jason Dominy met with ZP Machines yesterday and Skyped with Igor to look at and talk about the machines thermoblock. Read Jason's thoughts here.]

[UPDATE II: In under 48 hours, the project has reached it's initial goal. Congrats to the team for attempting to answer the unmet demand for an affordable, high-quality espresso machine. Also, Jason Dominy, the current chair of the Barista Guild of America, will be meeting up with ZP Machines in Atlanta to talk about and test drive the prototype. More info as it arrives.]

[UPDATE I: Conversation with the creators on Reddit, answering questions]

This latest coffee-themed Kickstarter project is one with much more potential than a handful of metal beans—as long as it works as described. Two coffee lovers, one who studied physics and the other a roboticist, have been working to build a quality espresso machine that’s more affordable and accesible to the home barista.

Most coffee professionals won’t recommend many options for home espresso for less than the Rancilio Silvia, which costs about $700. So the effort by ZP Machines to create a machine of better quality and consistency—with a custom engineered thermal block and group head, as well as integrated PID temperature and pressure control—for just $300 could really shake up the market.

No other machine at this price point offers high-end quality, PID-controlled customizable temperature and pressure, pre-infusion, or shot-time —we do.

The team also spent time with their prototype at Octane and Land of a Thousand Hills in Atlanta, comparing shots and getting barista feedback. According to their pitch, their shots were comparable in quality to those pulled on the commercial espresso machines every time. A very bold claim, but fantastic if its true.

The proposed design reminds me of a Dieter Rams stereo, with an all metal body and clean geometric lines. It looks industrial and sturdy, yet modern and approachable—characteristics that I would appreciate in my kitchen.

With an estimated delivery date of March 2012 and a pre-order price of just $200, this sounds too good to be true. Let’s hope it’s not!

ZP Machines on Kickstarter

posted by on 12.11.2011, under Design, Misc., Products

If 5 Year Olds Can Make Espresso…

12.09

This may just be the cutest coffee video ever made. Watch as Ellanie and Ethan pull up a chair to demonstrate that anyone can learn to make espresso. I think Ellanie should be participating in the next Portland area TNT event, and Callum Thompson may need to reliquish the title of “Young Barista.” Enjoy.

[via Clive Coffee]

posted by on 12.09.2011, under Misc., Videos

Coco: Designed for Origin

12.08

I often showcase design on this site, but it usually comes in the way of consumer facing products. Things that can be showcased on store shelves and sold to the masses. But that only touches the surface of how design can and should be used. Design, more than making things look good, is about solving problems. Sometimes those problems are communication or marketing problems, but more importantly, systematic and social issues of all kind can be addressed through the design process.

Cue Gabriela Ravassa, an industrial-design student at Parsons, who developed a new product that focuses on those much further down the coffee chain—coffee pickers.

Determined to improve pickers’ working conditions, Parsons product-design student (and native Colombian), Gabriela Ravassa set her sights on redesigning the picking container. The existing buckets–which resemble oversized sand pails that you strap around the waist–put undue strain on workers’ backs and have sharp edges that dig into the thighs, leaving bruises. They’re also difficult to grasp. That increases the chances of dropping coffee beans and can decrease producers’ bottom line.

Ravassa named the bucket “Coco,” which is Colombian slang for “picking container.” It’s not radically different than many of the buckets already in use, but the improvements in ergonomics and comfort are what make Coco unique.

An indent at the bottom of the bucket mimics the angle of our legs when we walk, eliminating bruising. The waist strap is modeled after kidney belts–those girdle-like elastic bands that laborers wear around their lower backs to gird against strains during heavy lifting. (Ravassa even included a custom clasping system in hopes of encouraging farm owners to purchase straps and belts together.) And a “continuous handle” inspired by three-handle laundry baskets allows workers to grab the containers securely, cutting back on accidental drops.

A giant hat-tip to Ms. Ravassa for focusing on those who are too often overlooked. Now which generous coffee company will subsidize the first shipment of Cocos to Colombia?

Read the full article on FastCo Design.

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posted by on 12.08.2011, under Design, Misc., Products