Commonwealth Coffee is a new coffee roaster based in Denver, Colorado, founded by Jason Farrar and Ryan Fisher. The pair got things started last fall and I had the pleasure of meeting Ryan in Seattle at the SCAA Event in April. He sent me home with a stamped brown bag of their Ethiopian coffee that was one of my favorites on the post-SCAA cupping table and assured me that they had new bags coming out that would be fantastic. After seeing a couple process shots on his phone, I knew they were going to stand out—and that, they do.
The branding and the bags for Commonwealth are the work of notable designer and typographer Kevin Cantrell, whose intricate work looks like its from the bygone era of Freemasons and royal charters. The design is meant to reflect the core of Commonwealth Coffee, which represents unity between the quality of product and service. On the back of each bag is a quote from Thomas Hobbes’ “Leviathan which argues for the value of the social contract:
This is more than mere agreement or harmony; it is a real unity of them all. They are uniﬁed in that they constitute one single person, created through a covenant of every man with every other man… -Hobbes, Leviathan
The detailed line work wraps the entire bag in gold patterns, filling nearly every inch of empty space between the custom, typographic logo. Laced between the patterns and the flourishes you will find details of the coffee. Each country of origin also has be assigned it’s own custom typographic treatment that is just as well crafted as the logo itself. The details are tremendous. If Baz Lurhmann made a modern period film about coffee, this would be his bag of choice.
Enjoy the photos here and then head over to Kevin Cantrell’s site to view much more of the design development. Order a bag of your own from Commonwealth Coffee.
London’s Workshop Coffee Co. first opened its doors in 2011 as the European cousin to Australia’s St.Ali—sharing the same name. But in April 2012 the company rebranded (full disclosure: I worked with them on their rebrand) and they’ve since become a household name in London’s specialty coffee scene. The first two Workshop locations were always high on my list of recommended places to visit in London and their wholesale accounts have grown considerably since my last time here.
Last week, Workshop’s third retail location opened at Holborn in the bottom of the new Amazon headquarter building and it’s quite an amazing coffee bar. When you arrive, large front doors open to a bright and spacious area with ample room to place an order or form a queue once Amazon is fully staffed with their employees.
When you enter to the left, there’s a large mirrored logo that casts a glow on several high standing tables and a wall mounted bench reminiscent of the trams in Sweden. This half of the space is designed to accommodate shorter stays and quick shots of espresso, while the back half of the shop offers a more lounging environment where several groups of people were having casual business meetings.
The bar is literally split in two, providing the ability to close off the back of the space with a sliding gate for private events, while keeping the front half open to the public. The back bar also provides the resources to speed up service during rush periods.
The front and back bars are both outfitted with La Marzocco Linea PBs, Mazzer grinders and Uber Boilers. If you’re interested in filter coffee, you can choose from a selection of single origins brewed on an AeroPress or a quick cup of batch brew from a dialed-in Fetco. To accommodate employees operating the well-equipped bar, the space behind it is almost equal to the space in front of it, giving baristas a luxurious amount of room to work with, which everyone seemed very happy about.
The new Workshop feels entirely different than the previous two locations, which are unique from each other in their own right, creating three very distinct experiences depending on where you go. This shop feels like it was designed for speed and efficiency, likely anticipating the rush from Amazon employees and the heavy foot traffic on the street outside. But it also has a very fresh and modern feel in stark contrast to the rustic, wood heavy aesthetic of the Clerkenwell café.
With the growing number of choices to drink delicious coffee in London, the new Workshop offers a refreshing take on the experience that provides a more energizing environment. It feels Scandinavian, without feeling too homey and cozy without putting you to sleep. There are elements that remind me of my favorite coffee bars around the world, like Koppi in Sweden and Saint Frank in San Francisco, all while making its own unique mark on the London coffee scene.
Workshop Holborn Coffeebar
60A Holborn Viaduct
Mon–Fri 7am – 7pm (closed weekends)
With spring on the horizon, the dreams of leisurely bike rides under blossoming trees and lounging in grass covered parks is almost within reach. If you’d like to add a fresh cup of coffee to the equation, your options for safely transporting it can be limited. Just in time for better weather, the Swedish cycling accessory company Bookman, known for their portable and powerful bike lights, has just launched a new cup holder for your bike to make your coffee’s journey easier.
The simple and utilitarian design attaches like a clamp and can be quickly and easily removed. The company claims that it will remain firmly in place, even over bumps—just be sure you’ve got the coffee’s lid on tight. The two rings are different sizes allowing you to flip the holder to accommodate a small or medium sized cup of coffee. I’m not sure if they can fit a KeepCup, but that would make them even nicer. Once they’re available, I’ll be sure to test them out.
Pre-order now at Bookman
Following the devastation and poor management of relief to the hurricane Katrina victims in New Orleans, Mississippian Michael McDaniel was determined to develop a solution that would prevent inefficiency and waste in future disasters and avoid making things worse for the victims. The goal of his company Reaction over the past 8 years has been to improve the quality and cost of post-disaster shelters for victims. With the inspiration of a styrofoam coffee cup, McDaniel came up with the idea for the lightweight, stackable, and cost effective Exo Housing System.
According to the company’s website, the shelters are light enough to be moved by hand and strong enough to stop bullets. While the average cost of a FEMA trailer, the current post-disaster shelters, is around $20,000 each and designed for a single use, the Exo will be sold for about $5000 and can be reused. Apart from the cost and construction, they can also be stacked, just like coffee cups, fitting 28 housing units on one semi trailer that can only transport one FEMA shelter.
The shelters are also more than just a roof over the inhabitants heads, they are wired with modern technology to allow victims charge phones and stay connected with updates through an integrated app called Populous. The company just finished raising $50,000 to send shelters to Syria and they are beginning the process of manufacturing on a large scale to make these available to all the areas in the world that desperately need them.
Fast Company just published this nice video interview with McDaniel about the Exo shelter’s creation and its potential for doing good in unfortunate circumstances. Disposable coffee cups are often one of the downsides to coffee’s popularity, but in this instance, a disposable coffee cup’s inspiring impact has the potential to do a lot of good for a lot of people around the world.
Read more: Reaction Housing
This Friday, you have a unique opportunity from Intelligentsia to order a selection of three rare coffees they’re offering from Colombia. The project, called Café Inmaculada (immaculate coffee), is a collaboration between coffee producers Camilo Merizalde and his childhood friends Andres and Julian Holguin. Camilo himself has been experimenting with coffee cultivars for over a decade at Finca Santuario, his farm outside Popayán, which Intelligentsia has exclusively offered since 2006.
This newest project, Café Inmaculada, began in 2011 on a plot of land owned by the Holguins with the goal to “produce the most extraordinary coffees possible, regardless of risks or costs.” Five exotic, but low-yielding cultivars were planted on an 8 hectre parcel of land with ideal growing conditions in Pichinde, west of Cali, Colombia and are now ready for you to enjoy. Intelligentsia has selected three of the five cultivars to offer in a very limited and very beautiful package called the Café Inmaculada Collection ($50) to be roasted this Friday only—February 7th.
The limited edition box set includes a 50 gram bag of three cultivars: Sudan Rume, Laurina and Maragesha—a wild crossbreed of Maragogype and the famed Geisha variety of coffee. Each of the cultivars has its own unique stories and characteristics as told by Intelligentsia below:
Sudan Rume: A legendary coffee variety that originated on the Boma Plateau, located in southeastern Sudan near to the Ethiopian border. This area belongs to a region considered to be the birthplace of the Arabica species. Sudan Rume has long been used by plant breeders as a source of ‘quality’ genes, but is rarely planted because it doesn’t produce large yields.
Laurina: This cultivar, a.k.a. Bourbon Pointu, comes from Réunion Island just off the coast of Madagascar. It is the direct descendent of the trees responsible for seeding most of Latin America, and was all but forgotten for most of the 20th century. Laurina is thought to be an early mutation from the Typica variety and is now considered the ‘original’ Bourbon. It has the distinction of being extremely low in caffeine.
Maragesha: This is a spontaneous wild cross of Maragogype and Geisha that occurred in the Santuario farm outside of Popayán, where trees of the two varieties were growing next to one another. It does not exist anywhere else, and this lot is the first to have ever been harvested.
The packaging itself is just as immaculate as the coffee claims to be, with its delicate geometric details printed by Chicago’s Rohner Letterpress and a metal box for stylishly storing future coffees or your overflowing collection of filters and accessories. Intelligentsia’s designer Andy Wickstrom said of the package design:
The geometric patterning was a nod to Camilo and the Holguins regarding the specificity of their plots—the sub-dividing of a special farm and its fruits. The design was meant to reflect that hyper-specific parcelling of land. The concept of the farm is pretty futuristic, so I felt a minimalist pattern structure fit pretty well.
Having this piece printed by Chicago’s letterpress icon, Rohner Letterpress, added a really nice touch, too. I don’t think it would have worked as well printed any other way, to be honest. The tactile quality it gives print is still cherished by a lot of people. It gives these types of projects the presence that not many other printing processes can. –Andy Wickstrom
There’s a lot of beautiful things going on inside and outside of this box gong all the way back the experimentation on the farm itself. So be sure to get your order in by Friday to have one of these unique coffee sets shipped, or pick one up at one of Intelligentsia’s cafés. There will also be tastings of these coffees held every Friday for the next three weeks at the Intelligentsia store on Broadway in Chicago and in Venice, California.
More about Café Inmaculada at Intelligentsia
Michael Sheriden, of CRS Coffeelands, just shared the story of a really awesome project spearheaded by Portland Roasting to help improve the quality of the coffee cherries being picked. The idea is a simple slap bracelet the color of a perfectly ripe cherry. Since picking coffee cherries at peak ripeness is an important part of producing better coffee (and coffee cherries on the same tree ripen at different rates), this is an ingenious device for helping farmers improve quality.
During the SCAA Strategic Leadership Summit in Seattle back in September, I noticed that Mark Stell of Portland Roasting was wearing a red plastic slap bracelet … The best 60-cent investment I have seen in coffee quality. Mark bought them and distributed them to the workers who harvest the coffee on his estate in Tanzania as a quality-control measure. The bracelet’s “Red 22″ color was carefully selected to match the red of optimally ripe cherry, so each time they reached for cherry the bracelet provided an instant quality check. I have heard of lots of worker training initiatives and color-coded quality-control cards for use in the field, but they seemed expensive and clumsy in comparison with this elegant solution. – Coffeelands.
Even more awesome than the bracelet itself is that Mark Stell, from Portland Roasting, donated 10,000 bracelets for Michael to distribute among coffee farmers in Colombia who are participating in his Borderlands Coffee Project.
Traveler’s Coffee is an international chain of specialty coffee shops from Russia with an impressive 76 locations in 5 countries (Russia, China, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan). They are headquartered in Novosibirsk, the third largest city in Russia, in southwestern Siberia. The company is currently working with designer Anna Burles to renovate their flagship store inside of a three story geodesic dome—and it looks nothing short of amazing.
Set across three floors, the unique venue we are designing will feature a 3rd Wave Genius Bar, Espresso ToGo, retail shop and Sky Lounge which nestles underneath the building’s glass-domed roof. The restaurant has 200+ covers and is the flagship venue of Travelers Coffee. -Anna Burles
Anna and another designer John Barnett are based in London and have been collaborating on a lovely portfolio of projects in the coffee world, designing holistic brand and architectural experiences in the UK, Russia and China. They recently authored a great article in the Specialty Coffee Chronicle called, “Creating the Coffee Shop Brand Experience: a Designer’s View” that I highly suggest reading.
Designing a coffee shop isn’t just about getting the right look. Or serving the best coffee. It’s about creating an experience which not only shouts about the amazingness of your coffee, and how that makes people feel good, but also an experience which gives a double-shot boost to your brand…
It’s a crowded marketplace for sure, with an ever-growing breed of artisan coffee brands opening up shop in our towns and cities. So what makes us (or you) choose one brand’s coffee shop over another? And how can we as designers use our professional and personal insight to help you as a client stand out in a way which makes consumers stay loyal to you? –SCAA Chronicle
As a designer who does a lot of work in the coffee industry, it’s always great to hear the perspectives of others who face the same challenges and are doing great work to elevate specialty coffee experiences around the world. This new Traveler’s Coffee location, when it opens, will be high on the list of places to visit.
LA’s Handsome Coffee Roasters are known for many handsome things—their coffee bar, their packaging and their owners to name a few. Now you can add this lust-worthy travel coffee kit to the list—a collaboration with LA outfitter 3Sixteen.
The gorgeous leather satchels are handcrafted by Teppei Teranishi in Vashon, Washington. There are three colors of supple Chromexcel leather to choose from—oxblood, natural and Havana brown—which will wear beautifully as Chromexel leather is known to do. Solid brass fittings add classy details to match the debossed seal on the top flap. What more could you want to protect your coffee in transit?
For $325, it’s not cheap, but the coffee gear alone makes up more than a third of the cost. It’s definitely wish list worthy and for the traveler, it would pair well with any of the bags from Tanner Goods (who also use Chromexel leather).
The kit comes neatly packed with an Aeropress, a 12oz bag of fresh roasted Handsome coffee, a Porlex mini grinder, an AWS scale and extra paper filters. The only thing missing for delicious coffee is hot water, your favorite mug and some place to go. Where will you take it?
Handsome Roasters X 3Sixteen Travel Coffee Kit
Now that the joyous weekend for tazing strangers and fighting over cheap towels has passed, it’s time for a more relaxed approach to finding the perfect gift for the coffee lovers in your life. This year’s wish list features some of the hottest products in the world of coffee and a few unique suggestions that you won’t find at your local coffee shop. Introducing the 2013 edition of DCILY’s Coffee Lover Gift Guide™.
1. Baratza Forte Grinder AP -$900- A gift for the one who has it all. Baratza grinders have always been a must have for anyone serious about brewing coffee at home. Their Virtuoso made the second edition of the DCILY gift guide and it still remains a great all around grinder. But for the person with everything, the Forte puts commercial grade performance into a home sized body. Touch screen, grind by weight and flat ceramic burrs. Shop for Baratza Forte AP
2. Kalita Wave Style Set -$70- A gift for your favorite couple. The Kalita Wave is one of several types of pour over brewing methods. This uses a wavy flat bottom filter that consistently brews great coffee. The “Style Set” includes a glass carafe and insulating collar. It brews enough coffee for a quiet Sunday morning around the house with the one you love. Shop for Kalita Wave Style Set
3. Hasami Ceramic Mugs -$25- A gift for the tactilely stimulated. Hasami ceramic has been made in Japan for over 400 years. These simple but elegant looking mugs will prove themselves once you pick them up. The texture, the weight and the balance will ensure you won’t want to put it down until you need a refill. The optional oak lids offer a lovely way to keep your coffee warmer for just a bit longer. Shop for Hasami mugs
4. Hario Clear Coffee Grinder -$60- A gift for the morning person. A hand grinder is a wonderful thing, but for some people the morning is way to early to have to do so much work—especially before drinking their coffee. But for the morning person who wants to save money or energy, the newest hand mill from Hario is a lovely choice. The base uses suction to hold it in place on your counter and the handle nestles inside for easier storage. Shop Hario Clear Coffee Grinder
5. MadCap NoPattern Tee -$25- A gift for the laid back. This shirt from MadCap Coffee is a next-level version of their classic tee, after designer Chuck Anderson went wild on top of it. The shirt is a charcoal grey, tri-blend t-shirt, 50% cotton, 25% poly, 25% rayon. It’s soft as butter and super fresh. Shop for MadCap NoPattern Tee
6. ThermaPen -$96- A gift for the coffee geek. There are a lot of variables in coffee brewing and one of them is water temperature. This detail is often overlooked by casual coffee drinkers but for the precision minded coffee geek, the ThermaPen is the ultimate pocket sized digital thermometer. With a 3-second read time, ±0.7°f/±0.4°c accuracy and a splash proof design, the ThermaPen is perfect for probing your AeroPress. Shop for ThermaPen
7. Rapha Chris King Tamper -$125- A gift for the bike riding barista champ. Rapha is the ultimate cycling apparel company known for romanticizing the journey and not the technical aspects of bikes. Chris King is a legend in the world of precision bike components. Together, they offer this unique tamper that will put a smile on the face of any cyclist pulling shots. Shop for Rapha Tamper
8. DCILY Watch -$40- A gift for the one who’s always late. DCILY recently partnered with Moment Watches in Hong Kong to design a watch inspired by the precision needed to brew a great cup of coffee. Details resemble grinder burrs and showcase the DCILY motto—love coffee, live well—the perfect way for a coffee lover to wear their heart on their sleeve. (Ships late December) Shop DCILY Watch
9. Intelligentsia X GSC Cycle Cap -$20- A gift for the weekend warrior. Intelligentsia has teamed up with the Golden Saddle Cyclery in Los Angeles for the second time to bring a new version of their Pace brand cycling cap. The brightly colored profile will let the hybrids know when you pass them by and the brim lets everyone know what coffee you prefer to drink. Shop for Intelli X GSC Cycle Cap
10. SodaStream Source -$99- A gift for the barista competitor. Nothing compliments a great shot of espresso like a refreshing palate cleanser and the SodaStream makes that possible at home or in front of the judges. Fresh sparkling water, coffee tonics and more can be had with the press of a giant button. All beautifully encased by renown designer Yves Behar. Shop SodaStream Source
11. Soma Water -$49 to $159- A gift for anyone who drinks water. Brewed coffee is somewhere around 98% water, which means whatever your water tastes like will affect the taste of your coffee. Some people live in places where the tap is just fine, but others need to rely on filters. Until Soma launched this year, the available options were pretty terrible. Soma’s glass carafe will match your Chemex and it uses a biodegradable filter that’s delivered to your door every 60 days. It would probably pair nicely with a SodaStream Source. Shop for Soma
12. Hario V60 Metal -$50- A gift for the nomad. The Hario V60 is a classic pour over cone from Japan that brews delicious coffee. It now comes in three shades of stainless steel for a travel worthy pour over companion. The handle is designed for clipping onto a carabiner and the detachable silicon base allows it to rest directly on your favorite camp mug. Time to hit the trails. Shop for Hario V60 Metal
13. Joco Cup -$23 to $25- A gift for the conscious commuter. Drinking out of a paper cup is a terrible thing, throwing them away every day is even worse. Meanwhile, most options for travel mugs and reusable cups fall short. Joco, a new company from Australia, offers a new way to prevent wasting paper with their beautifully designed, reusable glass cups. 8oz & 12oz. Shop for Joco Cups
After all of that, you might need some fresh coffee too. You can start by checking out any of the recommended coffee roasters on the right side bar, or sign up for a multi-roaster subscription service like Craft Coffee or Misto Box to discover new roasters each month. If you can’t find a local roaster in your town, ask DCILY on Twitter for help finding something nearby. Happy Holidays!
*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 and sponsors help support this site and the content you enjoy.*
For more gift inspiration, browse past DCILY gift guides:
2010 Gift Guide | 2011 Gift Guide | 2012 Gift Guide
By now, you’ve most likely heard about the Acaia digital scale that’s raising funds on Kickstarter. The scale is beautifully designed resembling the minimal simplicity of an AppleTV device and it offers several delightful features. It has 0.1 gram accuracy, it’s powered by a lithium-ion battery that charges with a micro USB cable and uses an advanced, updatable micro-chip that’s usually reserved for commercial grade scales. It’s smart, powerful and splash proof—but originally it had one major flaw, it had no timer.
I wanted to praise it, I wanted to back it, I wanted it on my counter now, but If I had to pull out my non-splash proof smart phone to keep time after being spoiled by the Hario Drip Scale, I wanted nothing to do with it. For a Kickstarter price of $59 (and retail of $89 for the white model) the Acaia isn’t cheap. With a price point that high, it made no sense to lose a feature that seemed to “revolutionize” brewing scales just a year ago. So it was discussed on Twitter and in the Kickstarter comments and Aaron Takao Fujiki, the Acaia designer, listened.
Here is an exclusive first look at the timer function on the Acaia scale.
I spoke with Aaron who told DCILY this was only one solution for a timer, and that he is also testing a dual display that shows both the weight and time simultaneously (which you can see below).
Aaron also pointed out the additional “magic” provided by the mobile app that syncs with the scale via Bluetooth. Apart from displaying and recording the weight data, it also allows for advanced settings control. For example, with the app a user could toggle between the dual timer display or the manual timer function and even update the firmware of the scale if necessary.
Currently all the possibility of this scale exists in a few prototypes and just like most Kickstarter products, there’s no guarantee it will work as advertised (or even be delivered). So if you have money to spare, like to support innovative designers, or are simply crazy over the latest coffee gadgets, this might be worth supporting now before the price jumps to its higher retail price. If you’ve been waiting for a better scale to come out, this offers a lot of attractive features and looks quite fast (responsive) based on the videos.
However, if you’re looking for something right now, or for a holiday gift—the Hario scales have come down in price, function well and look just as nice on your counter. If you don’t mind using a separate timer, there are loads of other capable scales that serve the important task of weighing your coffee and water without all the extras featured on the Acaia.
Learn more about the Acaia scale on Kickstarter