Tonx Coffee is a roaster based in LA who distributes their coffee through subscriptions delivered to your door. Their approach is a no fuss, no judgement, just enjoy great coffee kind of attitude. With little face-to-face interaction, they create nice illustrations and videos to help people get the best from their coffee.
One tip for getting the best from your coffee is purchasing a good burr grinder. It’s the most important tool for brewing better coffee, but good ones aren’t cheap. In the latest video from Tonx, they tackle the blade grinder—loathed by most coffee aficionados—it’s often the first grinder people buy because of their low cost.
I wouldn’t recommend one, however if you find yourself stuck with one, it’s a better option than stale, pre-ground coffee. With these tips from Tonx you might be able to make the best with what you have, while saving up for something better.
Mr. Porter, an online retailer of high-end menswear, published a lovely interactive map of global coffee trends this summer in the journal section of their website. You can glide around the map and read tidbits about each location’s coffee culture and brief summaries of various brew methods and coffee drinks.
The illustrations were done by some of my favorite designers at Hey Studio in Barcelona, Spain. Their simple geometric style illustrates twenty-nine different drinks from around the world, from the AeroPress to the Ten Belles.
The map is also accompanied by some thoughts from Mansel Fletcher, the site’s Features Editor, and Marco Arrigo from Illy, regarding today’s evolving coffee scene:
One of the striking things about the modern coffee scene is the extent to which the Italian tradition has been written out of the picture. The flat white has become so popular that it’s possible to imagine that the espresso was invented in Melbourne, rather than in Turin. However, Mr Marco Arrigo, Illy’s head of quality in the UK, believes that there’s one element of Italian coffee culture that Anglo Saxons can’t reproduce. “In the UK and the US you can have the coffee, but you still don’t have the culture. You should enjoy a coffee with somebody else, sitting down, drinking from a real cup. To drink coffee on your own, from a paper cup, while sending an email on your BlackBerry is missing the point; it’s like eating a meal in front of the television. It’s sterile.” – Mr. Porter
In this amazing episode of Sesame Street, Grover works at a café called The Coffee Plant and takes a customer through the process of where coffee (and coffee condiments) come from. Muppet hilarity ensues. There’s a lot of work that goes into serving the freshest cup of coffee IN THE WORLD! So next time you’re enjoying a fresh cup, stop and think about all the work that’s gone into it.
Tim Wendelboe, the Oslo-based coffee roaster and former World Barista Champion, was recently the guest for Oslo’s very first CreativeMornings event. CreativeMornings is a monthly lecture series that was founded in New York by the well known designer/blogger Tina Roth Eisenberg aka Swiss-Miss.
CreativeMornings includes a small breakfast, networking and a 20 minute TED-style talk that encompasses inspiring people from a broad range of professions. While it began in New York City, the event now takes place in over 50 city chapters around the world. Oslo just happens to be one of the newest chapters, and it’s really awesome that their first talk was about where great coffee comes from.
Tim spends nearly 20 minutes talking about the journey coffee takes from its origin country to his shop in Oslo before ending briefly with tips for better brewing. He continues to emphasize the point that quality coffee depends on many steps before it even gets into the hands of the person brewing it.
There’s a lot to learn in this video so grab a fresh cup of coffee and enjoy.
So you got that new espresso machine you wanted for Chrismukkah, but have no idea how to use it? Are you pouring out your shots and wishing you just asked for a Nespresso machine? If so, Clive Coffee is here to help you get a grip on your portafilter and understand the basics of pulling better shots.
Portland, Oregon-based Clive Coffee (a proud DCILY sponsor) has published this beautiful printed primer to making espresso at home, called “The Craft of Espresso. The book is artfully written by Hanna Neuschwander (author of Left Coast Roast) lovingly illustrated by Ben Blake (creator of Draw Coffee and current Sprudge intern) and elegantly designed by Jenn Lawrence.
Coffee is either nothing—a brackish fuel, a necessary accomplice—or it is something: an education in taste, a way to be playful, a daily sacrement…this book is a primer for those who want to tap into the somethingness of coffee through its most exalted method: the art of making espresso.
The book’s letter pressed cover and hand-stitched binding gives it that tactile quality you just don’t get from a blog post and it’s ripe for the reading while sitting in your kitchen or lounging in your den. With no pretension and lots of great information, the book covers a brief history of the drink and explains the core principles of grinding, pulling shots, steaming milk and clean-up.
The Craft of Espresso illustrates and defines the different types of grinders and espresso machines available, while gently making suggestions towards certain preferences without making definitive claims or assertions.
There’s step-by-step instructions and a few troubleshooting tips as well to help solve the common problems you’re bound to run into. If you plan to take the time and craft your espresso by hand, it’s nice to have a companion book that you can read with them.
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.
Since the early days of brew method videos, there’s been an impressive evolution in the quality of the videos being produced. From the academic, to the clever to the action packed—tutorial videos have become a way for coffee companies to educate consumers, market themselves and have a bit of fun in the process.
The latest addition to the brewtorial archive comes from Cartel Coffee Lab in Arizona. Using the same “Stranger Than Fiction” notations as their earlier video, their latest—also produced by Ah Dios—gives the mid-century modern Chemex a southwestern flair.
NPR ran a nice piece yesterday featuring Peter Giuliano (who recently departed from Counter Culture) and Allie Caran, who opened Artifact Coffee in Baltimore this summer, that highlights specialty coffee’s focus on coffee quality and its diverse flavors.
Increasingly, specialty roasters are working directly with coffee growers around the world to produce coffees as varied in taste as wines. And how are roasters teaching their clientele to appreciate the subtle characteristics of brews? By bringing an age-old tasting ritual once limited to coffee insiders to the coffee-sipping masses.
The writer, Allison Aubrey, visited a cupping at Artifact to learn about tasting the flavor nuances in coffee and some of the characteristics that help them develop.
This fascinating video from “The Coffee Brewing Institute,” circa 1961, takes a look at the simple joy of brewing coffee. Over the years, research and experimentation has made much of this information out of date (like their insistence on using fully boiling water), however there are some gems of wisdom that are still just as relevant today.
How, then, do we make the perfect cup of coffee to our taste? Success lies in a single word: Care. Three simple ingredients go into the brewing process: water, coffee, time. Care will produce a perfect result every time.
Brew yourself a fresh cup, take a break and enjoy this trip down coffee lane.
Smithsonian Magazine recently published a great article about the history of the espresso machine that’s definitely worth reading. While it doesn’t cover every minute detail, it mentions the key points that led to the creation of a commercial espresso industry and highlights the most important elements of quality espresso.
There is an art to the espresso as well. The talent of the barista is as important as the quality of the beans and the efficiency of the machine. Indeed, it is said that a good espresso depends on the four M’s: Macchina, the espresso machine; Macinazione, the proper grinding of a beans –a uniform grind between fine and powdery– which is ideally done moments brewing the drink; Miscela, the coffee blend and the roast, and Mano is the skilled hand of the barista, because even with the finest beans and the most advanced equipment, the shot depends on the touch and style of the barista. When combined properly, these four Ms yield a drink that is at once bold and elegant, with a light, sweet foam crema floating over the coffee. A complex drink with a complex history. -Jimmy Stamp