This fantastic mini-documentary from Olympia Coffee and Vortex Productions captures beautiful imagery from three countries of origin, including Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala while discussing topics that range from coffee sourcing, transparency, and the importance of building relationships with producers.
The 8-minute long film should compliment your next coffee break perfectly.
If you haven’t been following the in-depth coverage of the US Barista Champion circuit over on Sprudge—you should be. But if you’re new to this whole thing, take a look at Hybrid Media’s coverage of the Big Central regional (focusing on MadCap baristas).
This is the best video I’ve seen of a barista competition so far. It does a great job capturing the highlights with a nice energetic flair—and is there anything better than a high definition smile from Ryan Knapp (back-to-back North Central Champion)?
There’s a new Nordic coffee roaster to keep your eye on in Ålesund, Norway named Jacu Coffee Roasters. I first met Anne Birte and Gunnar last fall when I attended a coffee and chocolate pairing at their shop, then called Brenneriet.
At the time, Anne Birte told me of their future plans to begin roasting and gave me a sneak peek at their new rebrand, which I loved from first sight. We kept in touch after I left Ålesund and she even used two photos of mine in the re-design of their shop—mounting them like pillars on the sides of their front door.
Jacu’s name refers to the Brazilian Jacu bird, who like the Civet cat in Indonesia, is known to seek out and eat the finest coffee cherries. While Jacu (thankfully) doesn’t sell bird poo coffee, its goal is to be just as discerning when looking for the best coffees to roast and serve to their customers.
The branding, done by Tom Emil Olsen, begins with a beautiful custom wordmark that with a slight modification transforms the letter “J” into a simple icon of a Jacu bird.
The system is very thorough, designed with modular elements and economic methods of branding various pieces of collateral. There are stamps, wax seals, and embosses that all add beautiful hand-touched flare to envelopes, coffee bags and business cards.
The matte black, resealable bags are labeled with printed kraft paper that share taste and aroma notes along with basic origin information. The bags look and feel elegant, while also capturing the warm colors and textures many people associate with coffee and natural foods—a feat that can be difficult to execute well.
The café (and now roastery) has been updated along with the brand, including warm walls of wood, shelves full of coffee and a shiny new roaster. Next time you find yourself in Ålesund, be sure to visit Jacu’s revitalized home for some of the best coffee in town.
So far, the coffees I’ve tried from Jacu have been quite enjoyable (especially the Honduras, Montana Verde). Although none of them were very unique or exciting, for a new roastery, they’re off to a great start. In a country known for its high quality specialty coffee and high coffee consumption, Jacu will have no trouble finding themselves in good company. I look forward to seeing what coffees are sourced and how their offerings develop in the future—maybe something from Nordic Approach.
Earlier this week I wrote about the “Roaster Collection” bags, inspired by coffee roasters, but the “coffee roaster pant” is a true collaboration with one. Blue Highway, founded by two Swedish brothers who are both denim craftsmen and historians, teamed up with Stockholm-based specialty roasters Johan & Nyström to develop the perfect work pant for long days and hard wear at the roastery.
Beginning the project, Blue Highway visited the roastery to size up the employees who would be wearing them and learn about the work done around the roastery to better design for their intended environment. The project was born out of a mutual love of craft and quality in each respective field. Blue Highway drinks coffee while making jeans and J&N wear jeans while roasting coffee—it was divine providence that they work together.
Johan & Nyström has a number of 15 employees working at the roastery, and the idea of allowing them to work in custom made denim pant inspired by the old times came up when we got in contact with them because we had the idea of carrying good coffee at Unionville, for those interested in having a talk and sitting down for a cup. So we thought it would be a great idea to build a bridge between the quality thinking between their enthusiasm behind coffee, and our for the love of good denim. So me and my brother of Blue Highway sat down with the mission to create a pair of work pants suitable to wear during the everyday work preformed by a coffee roaster. –Blue Highway
The resulting product is a classic 1940′s inspired work pant that’s meant to hold up to long days manning a Probat, lifting burlap, and packing and unpacking coffee.
About the design features; the main object was to create a pair of work jeans that’s suitable to wear for long days and hard wear. So we decided to use a thick 14oz redline right hand twill with a deep indigo color. A fabric that’s durable and which will wear out nicely with time, and also its of the same type used in work clothes in USA around the middle of the last century.
The fit is a high rise with a wider leg, a true 40s style, much like early dungarees. We constructed the pants using one type of copper coloured thread and at some places we decided to use triple needle seams for more durability. Although this is not made using a triple needle chainstitch machine, we did it using our one needle lockstitch. It sure took some time but we felt very pleased with the result. The back pocket design is made inspired by an old French workwear design from the 40s, wear the side of the backpocket is fastened in the sideseem. This allows the wearer to have easy access to the backpocket, even if you are carrying tools seated down. One of the detail was to turn the yoke seam downwards instead of upwards which is the more common, this will allow your hand to slip down more easy in the backpockets, without a edge that could be annoying. –Blue Highway
Although Swedes didn’t invent jeans (they did invent the zipper), their passion for quality denim is unrivaled. Sweden is home to many leading jean companies, including Acne, Nudie, Cheap Monday and Denim Demon—so it’s fitting that Sweden’s leading coffee companies are making friends with some of them. For about 3000SEK ($440) you can have your own custom pair of Blue Highway’s made at their shop Unionville in Stockholm—or stop in and enjoy a coffee while getting an old pair patched up.
Over the years, La Marzocco has published several books covering various aspects of the coffee industry, coffee process and the heritage of their beautiful espresso machines. For their most recent release, Year Book 2011, La Marzocco teamed up with renown designer and illustrator Jon Contino, known for highlighting authentic heritage (and creating the feeling of it) with wonderful hand drawn illustrations and typography.
Contino, a New York native who co-founded the lifestyle brand CXXVI, which captures the spirit of rugged east coast Americana has lent his creative hand to the tradition of fine espresso. The book’s gorgeous photos by Sven Hoffman are complimented with the hand-crafted stylings of La Marzocco’s focus on “true artisans” and the “finest quality.”
The Lovewright Co. is a southern California-based lifestyle brand that’s teamed up with Jyumoku, another California based designer, who specializes in bags made from repurposed material to develop “The Roasters Collection.” The matching duffel and tote bag are made from salvaged military tents and contrasting burlap giving a refined quality to the idea of repurposed coffee sack bags.
I don’t know if the burlap used actually comes from repurposed coffee bags, but the aesthetic seems to have inspired the name. If you’re a roaster or green coffee buyer who travels to origin, this may be the perfect luggage to load up on your way to the farm.
A new café opened last week in Shibuya, Japan that offers a service you aren’t likely to find in many other coffee shops—laser cutting. The concept of Fab Café (meaning both fabulous and fabrication) is one of the more unique combinations of “coffee and” that I’ve seen, but makes total sense when you consider the creative clientele, like designers and architects, who want access to a laser cutter are highly likely to drink coffee.
You can reserve the VLS660 for $60 per 30 minutes, upload your vector files and start slicing your designs in wood, acrylic, and felt like a Jedi wielding a light saber. While waiting you can try their signature “Marshmallow Latte” and enjoy the bright and open space designed by Naruse-Inokuma.
The café is owned by a digital media production studio called LoftWork, who wanted to create a hub for designers who they could collaborate with in the future. By offering ample power outlets, free wifi and a laser cutter, the café slash co-working space is sure to be a popular place no matter what the coffee tastes like.
Maaemo is a restaurant in Oslo, Norway that’s been open little more than a year, and today is celebrating its addition to the Michelin guide with not one, but two stars. The restaurant celebrates local, organic and seasonal ingredients through a collaboration between chef Esben Holmboe Bang and sommelier Pontus Dahlstrøm.
Though I haven’t eaten here myself, several friends have to much praise. The reason I’m writing about their success in food is that they take their coffee just as seriously, which is far too rare among world class restaurants. From early on, they’ve been working with Tim Wendelboe to develop a coffee program that supports their Nordic menu while maintaining the quality of fine specialty coffee.
Early this year they approached me to see if they could improve their coffee service even more in their restaurant. Since the focus of Maaemo is Nordic food they were dreaming of serving traditional steeped coffee in their restaurant, just like they make coffee when hiking in the forest, etc, but did not know how to implement this technique in the restaurant.
After a brief meeting and some demonstration they came up with what I think is the most exciting coffee service I have experienced in a very long time. It is not very often you come across such a well thought out coffee concept and it is even more enjoyable that it is in a restaurant. -Tim Wendelboe
As specialty coffee continues to elevate the quality of whats available, it makes sense that the experience moves solely from cafés and coffee bars to the post-meal menu of the world’s best restaurants. All to often, a 9-course menu with every detail considered is followed by undrinkable coffee—it’s a terrible shame. With restaurants like Maaemo and Eleven Madison Park elevating coffee to the same level as their other menu items, we may soon be able to indulge in that after-dinner coffee more often.
Congratulations to Maaemo. I hope to experience you soon.
Why settle for a cup of Joe, when you can have a cup of Johan? That’s the latest pitch from Kraft-owned Gevalia Coffee. Gevalia, founded in 1853 in the northeastern city of Gävle, Sweden, was bought by Kraft Foods in 1971 and is now a grocery aisle mainstay next to brands like Nescafé. I can’t attest to Gevalia’s historical quality, but what’s available now is barely drinkable. That said, it was recently chosen by the Göteborg newspaper as the “best taste for the value” compared with 8 other commodity coffees.
However, large companies like Kraft can produce engaging ads that may or may not have anything to do with the actual quality of their product. A new campaign for Gevalia is harnessing its Swedish heritage to differentiate itself from all other bad grocery store coffee. In doing so, they’re taking the Swedish concept of Fika to a global audience.
While the video above is an entertaining, but vague introduction to Fika (not to mention annoyingly stereotypical), I recently wrote about this wonderful tradition in a bit more detail. So if Johan has piqued your interest in the art of Fika, you can read more about it—along with much better coffee—over on Nordic Coffee Culture.
During my first visit to Sweden, long before deciding to move here, I knew that I could adjust quite well to Nordic culture due to its lovely traditions like fika—the Swedish coffee break.