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.
Like Jacu on Facebook and view more photos of their lovely branding here.
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.
Read more about the collaboration on Unionville.
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.”
See more at Jon Contino and order a copy from La Marzocco
[tipped by Vespertine Press]
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.
The Lovewright Co.
To double-down on yesterday’s post about Starbuck’s deep pockets and their ability to build remarkable cafés—I present to you Starbucks: The Bank. Europe’s new flagship store will open this weekend in Amsterdam on the heavily trafficked Rembrandtplein. This giant new location will feature a bakery and “coffee laboratory” and was built inside the renovated vault of a historic bank.
The Bank has replaced the now-standard super-automatics with throwback La Marzocco Lineas and there will be a “Slow Coffee Theater” which will focus on brewing Starbucks small-batch reserve coffees with undisclosed “slow” methods. This will also be Starbuck’s first European location with a Clover system, though it’s not the first time they’ve been used by other shops in Europe. The “laboratory” will be used to try new concepts before sharing ideas that work with other Starbucks stores throughout Europe.
The design was directed by Ductch-born Liz Muller who worked with over 35 local artists and craftsman to add many of the details throughout the space. From vintage Deflt tiles, to bicycle inner tube art, and reclaimed Dutch-oak for all the trimmings, the space is warm and personal with an authentic localism that is hard for chain stores to pull off.
There are multiple levels throughout the space that double as stages for various events with the intent of having The Bank double as a cultural hub in the center of Amtersdam while also maintaining emphasis on the baristas.
The entire shop was designed to respect the architecture of the historic bank, but also to treat coffee as a theater. In fact, the store is constructed like a reversed theater; you can see the baristas the moment you enter the door, and as you move through the niches and platforms you never lose sight of them.
While I will never advocate drinking their coffee, I am continually impressed by the design, marketing and sustainability efforts that Starbucks continues to make. It’s a shame that all of it is done in vain when compared to their undrinkable coffee and heavy entrance into the instant coffee and K-cup markets.
With every move the company seems to make in the right direction, I give them another try. I’ve tasted their “Reserve Coffees” brewed on a Clover and I’ve sipped their “Blonde” roast brewed in a Chemex—but every time it’s the same sad story, burnt and undrinkable. At the very least these new concept stores will be a great place to sit and drink a cup of tea or hot chocolate while checking my email for free.
When your coffee company’s market value is $27 Billion, you can afford to hire world renown architects to design your cafés. In 2008, Starbucks worked with Japanese-born Kengo Kuma & Associates to build a new location near Dazaifu Tenman-gū, a major Shinto shrine first built in 905. Kuma’s goal to reinterpret traditional Japanese architecture for the 21st century is apparent throughout his work, which takes a macro look at woven sticks of wood to create a dynamic fluidity within the space.
The building is made of 2,000 stick-like parts in the sizes of 1.3m – 4m length and 6cm section. Total length of the sticks reached as far as 4.4km. We had experimented the weaving of sticks for the project of Chidori and GC Prostho Museum Research Center, and this time we tried the diagonal weaving in order to bring in a sense of direction and fluidity. Three sticks are joined at one point in Chidori and GC, while in Starbucks four steps come to one point because of the diagonal—a more complicated joint. –ArchDaily
This really is an incredible looking shop—now if only it served better coffee.
Photos by Masao Nishikawa
A website launched on Friday announcing a new company that plans to export Scandinavian coffee culture to a city near you. Simply named “Scandinavian Coffee House” the company is opening its flagship store and head office in Ålesund, Norway—the town where I attended a coffee and chocolate pairing last fall. There are already plans to open stores in New York and Tokyo this year, while also searching for franchise partners in the Middle East, China and India.
The SCH brand has built itself upon the great pillars of Scandinavian life, which include design, nature, heritage and coffee. With the coffee aspect focusing on the very small percentage of very well regarded coffee that you can find here. They have partnered with Robert Thoresen—the owner of Kaffa roastery in Oslo and the very first World Barista Champion—to select and roast coffee under the SCH label.
The SCH website, which is quite beautiful, talks about seasonal coffee, the importance of their roast style and their commitment to brewing each drink individually. In many ways, this seems like the first attempt to launch a coffee chain built on progressive coffee ideals (as opposed to a progressive shop becoming a chain).
If they can stay true to their core principles and maintain quality control, this seems like a great way to reach a broader market of the coffee drinking public. My biggest concern would be how they maintain quality control and freshness of the roasted coffee that’s being shipped to places far from Norway—like Tokyo and India. Will there be a roasting facility and trained roaster included with each new franchise?
The website is currently just a teaser, with no real photos of their cafés (since they’ve yet to open), but it has definitely grabbed my attention. The website itself is one of the nicer ones you’ll come across in the coffee world, the samples of their custom furniture look fantastic, and the photos of nature remind me why I moved to Sweden.
However, after spending time reading through all the content, I’m left wondering why SCH isn’t focusing on spreading the joy of Scandinavian coffee within Scandinavia. While we are spoiled here with roasters like Kaffa, Tim Wendelboe, Koppi, da Matteo, Coffee Collective, among others—majority of the coffee served in a traditional Nordic coffee house is not what I would like to have representing my heritage.
It’s wonderful that they want to share the incredible aspects of Scandinavia with the rest of the world, but sometimes I think people should have to come here to experience it. After all, that’s what adventure is all about.
Scandinavian Coffee House
There’s a new coffee guide out—and for those who enjoy the smell of fresh ink and the feeling of paper between your fingers, you’ll be happy to know that it’s not a smart phone app. This here is a genuine book with pages that turn!
I mentioned the release party of The Independent Coffee Book (London Edition) back in December and recently got ahold of one from Vespertine Press to review. From the photos I’d previously seen I thought the book was larger, but thankfully the photos were misleading. It’s nearly pocketable, measuring just 4.75″x6″ with a pleasant satin feel.
The book’s café listings are organized into 5 sections of London: The City, West End, East, North and South. There are 36 coffee shops featured with several more listed at the end of each chapter. I’ve been to about 10 of those mentioned in the book and had more than half of them on my own list of recommended locations. It’s nice to learn of a few new spots in London and it makes me anxious to return and try some of them out.
Each featured location includes a nicely written summary of them along with the accessibility of WiFi, outdoor seating and bathrooms. There are also icons that signify whether the location is a roastery, coffee cart, or KeepCup reseller.
Underneath the general information, there are stats that indicate what machines, brew methods and coffee beans are used at each location. While I appreciate this information and the effort that went into acquiring it, there are certain benefits of a digital app that would better serve this level of detail. Cafés can change their beans and equipment fairly easily, which could make the book out of date prematurely. It may have been better to leave this type of information out or include with some kind of online integration.
What I love most about this book, and what I think adds the most value, is the “coffee compendium.” This transforms the guide from a list of coffee shops for coffee nerds, to an awesome gift for the coffee curious. It not only gives the reader a nice introduction to coffee, but shows them where they can taste and learn more about great coffee.
The compendium includes a brief history of London coffee shops, maps of coffee production and consumption, articles on roasting, sourcing ethics, brew method summaries and a small glossary of coffee drinks and terms.
The design is nicely considered and well produced, with my biggest critiques being those of a typography nerd—don’t double-space after periods! The gaping rivers in some paragraphs that are created by unmanaged justified type also served as a distraction for me (although most people will never notice these sort of things). The system throughout the book is consistent and the photographs are fantastic.
The back cover folds out to reveal maps of each section, highlighting the featured locations and the nearest Underground stations. This is infinitely helpful if you’re visiting and don’t want to pay data roaming fees to use the map on your phone and have pledged to navigate your entire trip through analog means.
I generally prefer to have things like this in a digital format, to reduce the amount of things I own and the ensuing clutter it creates. But when designed well, it becomes a useful, beautiful object that won’t run out of batteries and can easily be loaned or given to friends once you’re done using it. I’m already planning a trip to London in March and look forward to putting this book through the trials of urban exploration.
For £10, it’s priced similar to other travel guides, but with a more specific focus. However, if you’ve read my thoughts on coffee touring—this book is all you need.
Order yours from Vespertine Press
Ben Blake wants to learn everything he can about coffee—and he plans on doodling all the details along the way. The Ohioan started the blog, Draw Coffee, to capture his inspired coffee moments in a state that could benefit from new coffee energy.
The drawings, usually done on coffee filters, range from minimal depictions of daily brew methods to intricate homages of the coffee being brewed. Coffee Common and DCILY have both been doodle subjects, along with Intellisgentsia, Handsome, Verve, Coava and Kuma—who are even using some of Ben’s art on their new mugs.
DCILY was founded on the principle that coffee inspires creativity and Draw Coffee is one more example of that idea coming to fruition. So grab a fresh cup and start browsing through the archives, below are a few of my favorites.
This year’s barista competitions are now in full swing and baristas around the world have begun competing for a shot at the world title in Vienna this summer. It’s a big deal in the specialty coffee industry, but I doubt you’ll see many billboards from Ticketmaster advertising the event. However, if the World Barista Championship ever finds itself heading to San Francisco, they should call up designer Valerie Schwartz and ask what it would cost to change the date on these posters and start posting them around town.
The beautiful line drawings of San Francisco’s hillside landscapes combined with great typography have created a truly incredible set of collateral for the event—even in its hypothetical state. The series of posters, tickets and event program are successfully tied together with a system of watercolor (coffee) textures and a monochromatic palette.
The design uses several coffee clichés in new and elegant ways to make it populist as well as innovative. If real, it could have the potential of reaching a broader audience and encourage regular coffee consumers to learn more about how the profession is being pushed to new heights and improving their coffee experiences.
More at Valerie Schwartz