Last weekend I had the pleasure of joining Food Studio for their latest happening in Oslo—the field dinner. I was invited to help brew coffee for dinner guests one evening and be a guest myself the following night. Although coffee is what brought me to the table, it was served as part of a larger dining experience that the coffee industry strives to be a part of as often as possible—treated with the respect of fine wines and served following artful plates of King’s goose, pumpkin gnocchi and hyper local produce.
Food Studio organizes events that share the story of good, honest food and the people who believe in it. Meals are developed and prepared by well known chefs, or passionate individuals you’ve yet to hear about, using ingredients as fresh, wholesome and responsible as possible—sourced from the field we ate in and a few kilometers beyond.
Dinner was prepared all three nights by Magne Ilsaas, a graphic designer by day who spent three months at culinary school in Paris. The entire meal was cooked in the field just steps away and all five courses were paired with a delightful selection of organic or biodynamic wines by a sommelier from Moestue.
After desert, a coffee from Michiti in West Ethiopia (provided by Tim Wendelboe) was prepared using a traditional Nordic method of brewing called kokekaffe. The process is simple and works great for unique and enjoyable coffee outdoors.
We used a ratio of 65 grams of coffee to 1000g of water, ground fairly coarse. After taking the water off boil, the coffee was poured into the kettle and lightly stirred to fully saturate all of the grounds. After letting steep for 5 minutes, the coffee is ready to serve. Finally, the coffee can be poured carefully from the kettle into cups, but to add a bit of clarity, we filtered the brew through a fine metal strainer and served from a Chemex.
As each course was served throughout the night, a story about the food was shared with the table and the coffee was no exception. It was a pleasure to serve and an equally enjoyable experience to dine alongside new friends and experience real food prepared exceptionally well. Most of all, it was an honor to end the meal with an example of just how spectacular coffee can be, when it’s appreciated as it should be.
Three months ago, I shared an article from Eater which broke the news of Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski’s plans for the future—a shop of their own in LA that prepares delicious coffee and uses minimal disposables. Kyle, the 2008 US Barista Champion, and Charles, this year’s 2nd place USBC finalist, both left Intelligentsia Coffee this summer and have finally opened doors to their own coffee bar this week.
This new space is somewhat temporary while they look for a permanent home, but it gives them a way to try out ideas with customers while further shaping their concept for the perfect shop. G&B have partnered with Jessica Koslow who runs SQIRL, a confiture kitchen that specializes in deliciously named organic jams made from local produce. The unique partnership is sure to offer some of the best coffee, tea and toast in LA.
The starting line-up of roasters would excite any coffee lover, offering a variety from 49th Parallel, Heart, Intelligentsia and Ritual. For those wanting something cold in the SoCal sun, G&B have also bottled cold brewed coffee and teas to complete their menu.
Over the last few months I’ve had the pleasure of working with Kyle and Charles to develop their brand and it’s exciting to finally see parts of it alive in the world. I look forward to its evolution as all the details are refined and it expands in the future.
Kyle and Charles both have a great vision and talent for service and exceptional coffee experiences, so if you have the opportunity to stop by for a coffee and some toast—I highly suggest it. Follow G&B on twitter for daily offerings and updates.
Mason jars are beautiful vessels for drinking everything from lemonade to ice tea. While some people have tried promoting them for hot coffee, it never seemed very practical on account of the heat. But now, thanks to a couple crafty guys in Vermont, the mason jar is not only a viable take-away option, but it just got a bit sexier.
The Holdster is a leather coffee clutch designed by Marsh Gooding that has been made by hand and sold locally in Vermont, until now. The company’s dream of expanding nationally has been realized by Kickstarter backers who easily helped them surpass their goal. The company currently sells 4 models, with and without handles, ranging from $20 – $30 (much less than an early 19th century zarf).
The Holdster offers a unique, reusable solution in a new form that is well designed and beautifully crafted. Now any standard wide-mouth mason jar can become your new favorite coffee mug. Congrats to Marsh and Bobby for successfully funding their goal, and giving us one more way to avoid paper. Damn thy disposable.
The zarf, which I first learned about while reading A-Z Coffee, is basically a historic version of the coffee clutch—also known as the cardboard sleeves placed on to-go cups.
However, in the 1800′s, coffee drinking Turks had a bit more style than post consumer cardboard. While taking part in ceremonious coffee rituals, the simple shallow cups that held the coffee, were nestled in ornamental stands like this one, coming up for sale at Christie’s for $150,000 to $200,000—get your bids in now!
Zarfs were generally made in metals, including brass and silver, but examples in wood, ivory and tortoiseshell are also known. At the beginning of the 19th century, Geneva was the world’s capital for luxury goods, and the jewelers and gold-box makers there created the most precious examples of the zarf in gold, enamel, and jewels for the Ottoman court. This object is one of only two zarfs known that are almost entirely formed of gems—this one of rubies, offset by large diamonds & military trophies topped by the Turkish crescent.
Short, sweet and inspiring. This quick and quirky film was created in response to the theme “fika” for Motion Monday—a website that showcases short animation projects from student’s at Hyper Island, a digital design school in Karlskrona, Sweden.
From the peddlers of the internet’s best coffee video comes another gem. This time, Coffee Circle has turned the production value up to 11, while dialing down the content to pure gear lust. No tutorial or deeper meaning beyond the simple message, “good coffee, good gear.” A sales pitch at its core, but pure art on the surface. It’s subtly themed for autumn and the year’s greatest holiday—Halloween. Brew a fresh cup and Enjoy.
What began as a project to collaborate with great roasters and baristas to share delicious coffee at TED, unexpectedly transformed into a message and energy that transcended its initial purpose—it was a reaction to confusion. In the year and a half spent developing, organizing and running Coffee Common events in LA, NYC, Edinburgh and London—I learned an incredible amount. But most important were the people involved in making the experiences so fantastic and the knowledge they all shared so generously.
Working with Brent, Kyle, Peter, Sean, Stephen and Tim, meant being surrounded by an unmatched passion for coffee and their desire to share it with people. That energy is what drove our events forward and its what makes it so hard to see it come to an end. Coffee will continue to be at the heart of our work and our hearts will remain dedicated to sharing exceptional coffee. There will no doubt be other great things in the future and I look forward to sharing them with you when that time comes.
Thank you to everyone involved for making it what it was.
What’s priced like a Clover ($11,111), designed like an industrial-chic home espresso machine, and works like a manual Trifecta? The Blossom One—I think.
This quirky looking prototype has been making the rounds at cafés, offices, and trade shows for several months to demonstrate its current version—Dev2. While actual photos are limited on their website, the technical drawings illustrate several brewing concepts mashed together to create, in their words, “better brewing through technology.”
Coffee is brewed by first pouring filtered water into the reservoir and loading ground beans into the standard espresso portafilter (but not tamping). Next a brew profile is selected from a list of presets or programmed in using manual mode. Then the machine comes to life, a portioned volume of water is pumped into the boiler and heated to the required temperature. The system then pauses to allow the user to get ready to brew. On the user’s command hot water is dispensed into the brew chamber with attached portafilter. At this point electric heaters in the brew chamber take over. The chamber adds heat to the brewing coffee to maintain a constant temperature. The brewing coffee is stirred manually. After the specified brew duration, the machine beeps to alert the user that it is time to dispense the coffee. The outlet valve is opened by the user and the plunger is pulled to force the coffee out into a cup. The spent grounds are left in the portafilter for easy cleanup.
Blossom One uses standard E61 baskets or a paper filter adapter nestled inside a La Marzocco group head to hold the coffee. With its ability to use paper, I would assume it’s possible to brew coffee that’s cleaner than the Clover or Trifecta—a common critique of both brewers. However, the entire system seems a bit complex for the benefits it offers.
The One proposes a systemized way of brewing that utilizes QR codes for consistent, programmed recipes and temperature stability to name a few. Although, by maintaining manual agitation and plunging there still seems to be ample room for inconsistency in brewing, in which case I wonder how this is better than a $20 AeroPress.
While I’m always fascinated by innovation for coffee bars and improvements in coffee quality and consistency, I also question the energy exerted in making the process of brewing coffee so complex. With an all-star development team that includes notable designer Joey Roth, along with a former NASA engineer and a product designer with experience at Tesla Motors & Apple, they’re more than capable of building something great. I just hope they’re receiving constructive feedback from the coffee industry to make it practical as well. I’d love to hear from anyone who’s given this a try.
Less than three months after Able launched their successful Kickstarter campaign to fund a production run of its latest Kone coffee filter, their beautifully designed white boxes have begun appearing in mailboxes and Instagram feeds around the world.
The new Kone and soon to be released ceramic brewer raised $150,000 more than the initial $5000 requested for tooling and production costs. Now with over 1200 backers supporting Keith Gehrke, the founder of Able Brewing, it’s become clear that his company’s new life after Coava, will create a bright new path on its own.
The Kone is a reusable, stainless steel coffee filter originally designed to fit the Chemex coffee maker, but can really be used with any vessel that supports its size and shape. The filter uses hundreds of thousands of micro-sized holes, created using a process of photo-etched steel, to form a precise filter pattern for uniform extraction.
I prefer not to compare the Kone with Chemex paper filters, because there is little comparison in the resulting coffee. The Kone is a unique brew method that incorporates pour over techniques to produce a heavier, oil-rich brew that’s still cleaner than a French press, which many people enjoy more than paper.
I’ve used the Kone since the first version was released more than 2 years ago. It’s been great following the progression of the filter and the company as it’s been refined over the years. The third and newest version is no exception.
The most obvious changes in the new design is the black plastic ring around the edge along with a new blunted tip. My reaction to the black ring was negative at first for altering the elegant, streamlined aesthetic of previous versions (it also slightly affects how well it sits in a Chemex).
However, once I handled the new Kone, the extra rigidity added to the shape and structure by the plastic ring becomes obvious and appreciated. For the coffee shops who use the Kone all day long, the new lip will greatly improve emptying spent grounds and seemingly extend the filters overall life.
The new blunted tip not only makes the Kone safer to handle, but it eliminates the small gap found on the tip of older versions, which was a clear path for fine grounds that increase sediment in the cup. This new “cap” plays a part in catching fines and helping produce a cleaner cup overall than the previous Kones.
With even smaller holes and a new pattern that becomes more concentrated near the tip, the new Kone offers more uniform passthrough as well. More of the water makes its way to the bottom, instead of leaking dramatically through the sides of the filter.
When the first Kone came out, I thought it looked incredible and worked great. It was new and there was nothing to compare it with. Once version 2 came out, the first one suddenly looked and felt like a prototype and the quality of the brew greatly improved.
The latest version, while losing some of its elegance, looks like a retail-ready product that could be sold on the shelves of Williams-Sonoma. From the packaging to the product itself, there’s a much greater feeling of value.
Below I’ve run an experiment to illustrate the progression of the Kone and how much the sediment has been reduced with each new version.
I brewed coffee with each version of the Kone using the same parameters and technique: 40 grams of coffee to 600 grams of water, 30 second bloom followed by a slow and steady center pour, using a medium grind (5-O on a Baratza Vario-W).
After each coffee was done brewing, I poured the result through a rinsed, white V60 filter to capture the sediment. Results pictured below begin with version 1.
From my highly unscientific experiment, you can clearly see how much the sediment is reduced with each new version, but there is always some sediment. With a refined technique, it’s likely possible to minimize the sediment even more, but I don’t find the current amount distracting and have been surprised by the clarity achieved.
Overall, the new Kone is a great improvement over its predecessor. From its reinforced new structure to the increased clarity in the cup—if you were a fan of previous versions then you’ll love the latest. If you’re just now discovering the Kone or have been waiting to purchase one, this is definitely the best version so far and you’ll be happy you waited.
The chart masters over at Pop Chart Lab have just released an impressively comprehensive flow chart that diagrams the various elements required for all manner of coffee drinks. Including various types of grinders, brew methods, mixers, and the resulting beverages they create. The listed brew methods even include such new and notable options such as the Steampunk and Able Kone.
Overall, it’s one of the most accurate—and impressive—coffee illustations I’ve seen on the web. While obviously well researched, I noticed two glaring mistakes: the categorization of the AeroPress as an espresso maker and (most odd), connecting the “cupping” brew method to iced coffee. It may be too late for corrections, but either way, Pop Chart Lab will be printing 500 of them large scale, for wall hanging glory.