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
Apart from the downsides of coffee shop crackdowns in Iran, there is still a determination among young Iranians to enjoy coffee socially and have incredible places in which to do so. Opened in 2010, M Coffee is an example of one of these incredible places I’d love to visit in Tehran.
This amazing shop, designed by architect Hooman Balazadeh, is less than 600 sq ft (52m) but makes incredible use of the limited space. The design goal was to offer a new perspective to patrons from every one of its 42 seats, introducing new ideas to inspire them. With such a small space, the number of materials and colors were limited to just two, while maximizing the experience with its unique form.
The shape of the ceiling formed by a series of planks not only creates an iconic shape while defusing the lighting, but it’s also meant to dampen the acoustics from the many conversations taking place in such a close environment. The coffee shop is located on the second floor of the Velenjak Shopping Center, so the lighting remains constant throughout the day.
The front and back walls are connected through the space with dark woods and leather furniture that absorb the curving light from the panels above. This was done to create a since of unity between the contrasting elements and unite everyone sitting in the space together.
While the stories of coffee shop closures in Iran may be hard to fully understand, especially for those who aren’t from there, we can probably all agree that this is one coffee shop we’d love to sit in all day drinking coffee, no matter what kind of political issues are taking place beyond its walls.
[photos by Parham Taghi-Of]
This week, the latest DCILY collaboration launched in the form of a coffee lover’s wristwatch. The timepiece, designed with the Hong Kong-based Moment Watches, is part of a year long project that features 52 limited edition watches—this one, inspired by my own coffee story and the craft of making exceptional coffee.
Four key elements to brewing a delicious cup of coffee are great coffee beans, clean water, a solid burr grinder and the right amount of time. The impact of time affects every aspect of the coffee chain: from growing, harvesting, processing, roasting, resting, and brewing. Precision and attention to detail (along with the right ingredients) is what transforms an average cup of coffee into a fantastic one.
The details of the watch face reflect the burrs of a grinder as they mill down the seconds until your next coffee break. The DCILY logo allows you to proudly wear your love of coffee on your sleeve and the mantra serves a daily reminder to live well. When life gets hard, grab another cup of coffee and give things another go.
Aligning with the DCILY mission to “love coffee, live well, give back and inspire others,” Moment Watches donates 30% of their proceeds to charity and works directly with artists and designers to inspire others with their watches. It’s been great working with Moment Watches and it’s exciting to have such a fun product available to DCILY readers.
Pre-Order yours now from Moment Watches [$40]
Saint Frank, the newest specialty coffee bar in San Francisco is set to finally open this weekend in Russian Hill. The new space is really incredible and I’ve got the photos to prove it. I stopped by this afternoon for a delicious cup of Honduras and to talk with Kevin Bohlin about the new venture.
Back in July, I wrote about the opening of Saint Frank’s pop-up at the Public Bike showroom in South Park. That location is still there and has since become a longer term project that’s kept customers satisfied while the new flagship space was being completed on northern end of Polk Street.
The new space is awash in natural light from the four large skylights overhead and the wall of windows up front. A long, low bar adorned with white hexagon tiles and a matching white counter top reflect the light and illuminate the light wood planks that cut across the floor diagonally and continue half way up the towering walls. The tension between the wood grain and white space create an atmosphere that’s dynamic enough to give warmth, but airy enough to be a gallery space.
It’s an absolutely stunning space.
One of the greatest features is what the space lacks—the presence of physical barriers between the customer and the barista. Kevin worked with John Ermacoff to install the first prototype of a new under bar espresso machine similar to the MOD Bar used in the new Counter Culture Training Center. The machine is still unnamed and uses the guts of a Synesso Sabre. It features the same volumetric and PID benefits, while being extremely low profile.
There are two groups and two cool touch steam wands that are controlled by foot pedals on the floor for hands free milk magic. The groups themselves have a profile that’s more aesthetically similar to an Über boiler and less like the flowing lines of the MOD Bar. But most importantly, guests are no longer walled off from baristas. The espresso bar now provides the same theater as the pour over bar.
There will soon be two espresso machines (a second low pro is being built) which will add the option of ordering single origin espressos ground on the EK43.
There are a variety of seating options, from small two person tables to larger high tables in the back of the shop. There’s a bar at the window for watching the heavy foot traffic go by outside and a future loft space that can be used for meetings or larger groups. There will also be a training lab hidden away upstairs, wifi for the internet starved and pastries for the hungry.
The coffee itself comes from a partnership between Kevin and his former employer Ritual Coffee, where he sources the coffees from farms he has built relationships with, while Ritual helps do the actual roasting. This partnership leads to coffee roasted at the same level of quality you would expect from Ritual, but with unique coffees sourced by Kevin himself.
The brand was developed by the talented Brooklyn-based designer Dana Tanamachi and the beautiful architecture was done by Amanda Loper (whose husband is currently making A Film About Coffee).
The grand opening takes place this Saturday, October 19th at 7am. So stop by and congratulate Kevin, drink some delicious coffee and admire the beautiful space.
Saint Frank Coffee
2340 Polk Street
San Francisco, California
Bruer, a new start up in California, launched a new cold brew coffee maker on Kickstarter last month called the Cold Bruer. This isn’t the first cold brew coffee maker to launch on the crowdfunding site, but it’s the first one that’s practical enough for home use. Unlike the meter high towers that most people design for cold brew coffee, the Cold Bruer’s simplicity is what makes it so fantastic. Less is more—and the minimal design of the Cold Bruer makes that clear (as the glass it’s made with).
Bruer was founded by Andy Clark and Gabe Herz who met at a product incubator in the Santa Cruz mountains. After discovering their joy of cold brew coffee and being unhappy with all the options available for making it—they decided to create their own. The two co-founders wanted to design something transparent to show the process, and they’ve created an elegant and compact way of accomplishing that.
The Cold Bruer was conveniently designed to work with standard paper AeroPress filters, but comes with a reusable mesh filter of its own if you aren’t concerned with clarity. With a capacity of 700ml of water and about 56 grams of coffee, it produces three cups of coffee concentrate (6 cups diluted) to be enjoyed however you like it—with ice, water or milk. The drip valve is fully adjustable allowing brew times to be as short as two hours or as long as eighteen, depending on your level of patience.
The photographs published here are of a Cold Bruer prototype, so I spoke with Andy at Bruer to find out if any changes will be made to the final product:
The prototype is pretty much the same as what we will be delivering. There are a couple changes that have happened already, like the shape of the glass to make the interaction between the pieces more stable. There is also a silicone “shoulder” now that provides a cushion between the two glass pieces. We will be making some improvements to the valve to make it easier to use, based on feedback we received from people who tested our prototypes…
Andy said they’ve also begun designing a lid that will fit both the reservoir on top as well as the pitcher for storage that will also be included with the Cold Bruer.
When I first shared the Bruer on Twitter a few weeks ago, I never really followed up on it since I’m personally not a fan of cold brewed coffee—but I know many people are. I do however think it’s one of the best looking cold brewers on the market and the design alone is worth sharing. Now that the Cold Bruer has surpassed its goal on Kickstarter by over 450%, there’s only a week left to order one at a discounted price.
By backing the project on Kickstarter you can pre-order a Cold Bruer for only $50—later retailing for $70. And although the original delivery date was estimated for January 2014, there’s a possibility they might ship a bit sooner. Andy said with the success of the campaign so far, some parts have already been ordered in hopes of delivering early. That’s good news for cold brew fans everywhere.
Cold Bruer on Kickstarter
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
View all the illustrations and explore the map at Mr. Porter Journal.
Novel is just that—a novel travel kettle that folds up for easy packing. The kettle design, by Slovakian designer Stanislav Sabo is currently patented, but I’m not sure how functional it is at this point. Very little information is available about the technical aspects of how it would work, if it would actually work at all. But what if it did? It would make the ultimate travel coffee kit complete. I want one.
When I travel, I always carry my AeroPress, hand grinder, pocket scale, KeepCup and fresh coffee. The missing link is always the hot water. Sometimes you can find it in large boilers set aside for tea, or you can hunt down a nearby café and awkwardly explain that you only need hot water to brew your own coffee. Some hotels have kettles, but they are often pretty scary on the inside—to the point that you wouldn’t want to drink anything that came out of it. But even those hotel room kettles are beginning to be replaced by K-Cup machines.
The Novel is made from a 100% silicone liner that’s wrapped in heatproof plastic panels, which all fold flat. The pieces, including the lid are held together by magnets which also activate fuses in the electric base. From the illustrations of the prototype, I’m not entirely sure how energy is transferred to boil the water, but this can’t be an impossible task—we landed on the moon damn it!
I’ve had conversations with manufactures about this type of product, but they’re convinced the market isn’t big enough—I think they’re misjudging the potential. If something like this could be powered in the car or by solar adapter, then backpackers, campers and road trippers of all stripes would be totally into something like this—no more bulky butane kettles taking up valuable space in your pack.
Any product engineers out there want to help Stanislav make this functional and Kickstart it? Or let’s start from scratch and make something awesome. Give me freedom or give me death! Is that really too much to ask?
On October 1, Counter Culture Coffee’s new world class, state-of-the art training facility will officially open in New York City. The fully renovated space offers 3,600 sq feet of epic coffee training wonderland that will include one of the first Modbar systems in the country as well as equipment from all the top equipment manufacturers—La Marzocco, Ditting, Mazzer, Nuova Simonelli, Marco and Mahlkonig. If the Modbar wasn’t enough there will also be several Über boilers and an EK-43.
Counter Culture Coffee is headquartered in Durham, NC but sells coffee through wholesale accounts in most major cities and beyond. The company doesn’t have cafés of their own and instead focuses their energy on thoroughly training their wholesale customers. The training program has proved quite successful for their own employees as well, helping both Katie Carguilo, the 2012 US Barista Champion and Erin McCarthy, the 2013 World Brewers Cup Champion win their respective competitions.
The training center will be used for an array of classes from the company’s Counter Intelligence program and boasts an incredibly multi-faceted design to host a broad range of events. There will be free public cuppings every Friday at 10am (which also take place at their other training centers around the country), home brewing workshops and even food pairing events with guest chefs.
For the industry side, there’s an espresso training room that fits up to 20 people, a full service tech lab in the basement, and a competition training room. If you happen to be a Counter Culture wholesale customer you’ll even have your own key. As Counter Culture’s own Jesse Kahn puts it, “our training lab IS our wholesale customers training lab. They have access whenever they need it. It’s all about helping people have sustainable in-house training.”
The design utilizes ample amounts of reclaimed and salvaged wood filling the space, and its 16ft high ceilings, with some warmth. The architect, Jane Kim, has worked with other well known coffee spots in NYC, including the second location of Everyman Espresso and Third Rail, but the work for Counter Culture seems to better reflect some of her beautiful lofty residential work.
[above the CCC dream team in their new training center: Park Brannen, Katie Carguilo, Jesse Kahn, Erin Meister, and Erin McCarthy] Photos: Alan Tansey
For those of you in NYC this weekend, the training center will have an open house on Friday and Saturday to celebrate with cuppings, brewing workshops and giveways. I can’t make it, so stop by the new space, taste some great coffee, Instagram the hell out of it and give Jesse Kahn a giant hug for me.
The New York Counter Culture Training Center
376 Broome Street
New York, NY 10013
John and Radek, two coffee lovers in the Czech Republic, have recently directed their passion towards creating unique, hand crafted products to compliment your coffee making. WeBrew sent me one of their hefty—yet delicate—slow pouring decanters, which is a pleasure to use and makes much more of an impression on guests than the Hario vessels we’ve become so accustomed too.
A beautiful tasting coffee can be enjoyed many ways. You don’t need fancy glass to get a fantastic cup, but it sure does look nice on your table. The vessel you choose to drink (or serve) coffee from can affect your perception and experience more than you may realize. From the balance and comfort of the vessel, to the thickness of the lip and the heat your hands are able to feel— it all enhances or limits the experience.
WeBrew set out to compliment the joy of great tasting coffee with well made products. They’ve already created a small line of their own that includes hand blown glassware, custom wooden tampers and denim aprons.
Check them out at WeBrew!
Ministry of Supply is a fashion start-up founded by MIT engineers, designers and material scientists intent on revolutionizing business clothing. Founded in 2010, they’ve already tackled work shirts, trousers and undershirts, but now they’ve turned their attention to the wardrobe workhorse we all know as the sock.
Being MIT engineers, MOS has used all sorts of thermal mapping, pressure mapping and mapping mapping to design Atlas, a sock they claim fits and flexes like a second skin. The best part, they’ve infused carbonized (think really dark roast) coffee into their recycled polyester thread that is supposed to work like a filter for bad odors, effectively preventing your feet from smelling after a long day at the office, or working bar pulling shots.
Odor control is difficult in socks. As such, we turned to nature to find an effective way to create a fresher sock, leading us to coffee. Atlas uses carbonized coffee which has been reclaimed from coffee roasters and shops, and is processed through a pharmaceutical process to remove the coffee oils (so it won’t smell like coffee!) and is then infused into our recycled polyester yarns. –MOS
The innovative new socks are being pre-sold through Kickstarter and the initial goal has already been surpassed four times over. So if you love a fresh pair of socks as much as a good cup of coffee, you may be interested in checking them out.
Atlas Socks on Kickstarter