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
Sylvan Esso is a synth-pop duo based in Durham, North Carolina that’s made up of Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn. Meath was a vocalist in the female folk trio Mountain Man and Sanborn was playing bass with the band Megafaun when Sylvan Esso accidentally formed. Together, the two’s sound creates warm layers of bouncing beats, magnetizing vocals and catchy hooks that are just as energizing as they are relaxing (like a good cup of coffee).
Until recently, Sylvan Esso only had two songs available from their debut EP, “Hey Mami/ Play It Right,” making a live performance the best way to hear more of their music. Having seen them twice in the last six months, I’ve been eagerly awaiting their first LP, “Coffee” which will be released in May. The title track—Coffee—was released a few months ago on Sound Cloud and today they released a video to correspond with the EP’s release.
The sounds of Sylvan Esso provide a great soundtrack for all your coffee brewing and coffee sipping needs or turn up the volume and find some bass that’ll get your whole body moving to the beat. Check out the new video for “Coffee” below and their upcoming tour dates in Europe and the US.
Order the “Coffee” EP today and look out for the full length in May.
The University of California, Davis is considering the potential of a degree in coffee sometime in the near future. The university recently opened the UC Davis Coffee Center as part of their Food for Health Institute, whose stated goals are to “increase value at every step of the coffee pipeline, to ensure safety and quality of the global coffee trade, and educate the next generation of coffee scientists.”
The Coffee Center just wrapped up its first coffee research conference and they are currently looking for partners in the coffee industry to help expand the program and its research. NPR spoke with the director of the Food for Health Institute who made the case for why coffee is an obvious area of study:
There aren’t a lot of things that so many people consume several times a day, every day,” says J. Bruce German, who directs of the Foods for Health Institute at Davis. But given how much coffee people all over the world chug, there’s a surprising lack of academic research on the topic, German says.
There’s a lot we still don’t fully understand about coffee, German says. What’s the best way to treat the beans while they’re still green? What’s the most environmentally friendly way to roast them? And why are we so obsessed with how it smells?
And since the university is already well known for its winemaking and beer brewing programs, German says coffee seems like a natural next step. –NPR
As someone currently working on a Master’s Thesis about coffee, I can confirm how little academic research there is on the topic and I would greatly appreciate the knowledge a program like this could produce. If you’re considering an academic degree in the future and you’re enthralled by the idea of studying the chemistry of coffee, its impact on human health, or how to improve coffee at any point of the coffee chain, keep an eye on UC Davis.
Read the full story on NPR.
posted by bwj
on 03.14.2014, under Misc.
Comedy websites College Humor and Funny or Die are no strangers to playing off barista stereotypes in an effort to get laughs. The former even has a feature length movie called “Coffee Town” staring Glenn Howerton of “Always Sunny in Philadelphia” fame. In College Humor’s latest short, they replace a bachelor party stripper with a coy barista plying for tips—do not tell Lauren!
Funny? Ridiculous? Objectifying? Sexist? Terrible? I’m just happy it doesn’t mention “hipsters” or Kopi Luwak. Share your thoughts on Twitter.
posted by bwj
on 03.14.2014, under Misc.
Yesterday at Austin’s grand technology orgy known as South by Southwest (SXSW), TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie announced the next step for his pioneering “one for one” shoe company—specialty coffee. The plan includes more than just a pop-up cafe in a shoe store, the new category of the TOMS brand will include wholesale roasting, a chain of retail outlets and a subscription club. The coffee, just like the company’s shoes and eyewear, will continue following the company’s model of giving to someone in need for every product sold, in this case water. Fortune has the scoop.
Generally, a celebrity’s foray into coffee isn’t really worth noting. However, Mycoskie specifically mentions specialty coffee pioneers like Intelligentsia, Stumptown and Blue Bottle as their competition and has tapped Angel Orozco, founder of LA’s Cafecito Organico as their new master roaster:
TOMS says it’s not targeting Starbucks so much as “third wave” artisanal roasters like Blue Bottle, Intelligentsia and Stumptown, cult coffee brands that keep cropping up in places like San Francisco and Portland. But TOMS Roasting Co. will have one major distribution channel most of those niche brands don’t: outside of its own cafes and website, the beans will only be available in Whole Foods. -Fortune
It pays to know people, and TOMS brand awareness combined with their existing distribution channels may give them a running start. With over 2 million social media followers and a loyal fan base, those who support the TOMS model of one for one giving may find the coffee attractive, even more so if the product tastes good.
In an interview with Fortune, Mycoskie talks about wanting their new cafés to feel more like someone’s home that can become community centers where people can bring their dogs, have a coffee (and buy shoes and glasses). Although they see the “third wave” coffee shops as their target market, they admit they will fall somewhere between Starbucks and Stumptown, offering a less intimidating atmosphere.
The TOMS Roasting Co sweet spot is high quality beans (single-origin, free-trade) at a lower price ($12.99 per 12-oz. bag compared with $16 to $18 for cult coffee brands). Rachel Halliburton, the TOMS marketer who led “project burlap,” says the hope is to play somewhere between Starbucks and Stumptown. “I’m intimidated to walk into Intelligentsia,” she says. “We want you to feel okay about walking in and saying, ‘I just want a cup of coffee, and yes, I’m going to put sugar in it.’” –Fortune
I find it curious that TOMS will sell its “high quality” coffee at up to 25% less than other specialty companies. Does this mean they will pay the farmers less only to offset those lower prices by giving water? On a certain level I truly admire TOMS and how they’ve changed the conversation of corporate responsibility, however my primary critique of business models like theirs is that they rely on the “westerner as savior” mentality instead of paying someone the true value of their product, allowing communities to build their own infrastructure. Instead of empowering a community, TOMS comes across more like a foreign hero giving things to those deemed in need.
I believe this new venture from TOMS has all the potential to be quite successful. With over a year of planning, it seems like the company has done its research and remains humble about entering a market they have no experience in. If they can provide a quality product that creates a stepping stone between the likes of Starbucks and other specialty coffee companies, I see this as a benefit to the entire industry, further validating the widespread appeal of better coffee. If however, simply adopts the marketing language and design cues of specialty coffee to market a mediocre product, it won’t be much of a surprise. Keep it real Mycoskie.
Read more at Fortune and TOMS Roasting Co.
Colin Harmon, the charismatic 4-time Irish Barista Champion, has worked hard to establish his world renown coffee bar, 3FE, in Dublin. The former investment banker decided to leave his suit and tie after being unable to find a consistently good cup of coffee. The story is similar for many who have started their own coffee companies—if you want something done right, do it yourself. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the story as told by Colin in the film above.
Six months after getting his first job as a barista, Colin won his first Irish Barista Championship, thus giving him the confidence to keep learning and pushing his ability to make better coffee. Fast forward 4 years and his coffee bar, which began as a pop-up in the lobby of a night club, is now packed 7 days a week serving coffee from their newly opened roastery.
The whole story is told in all its honesty by Colin and some of his team in this well-made video they released over the weekend. From the lessons of Colin’s first job to the absurdity of being applauded for making cappuccinos, the 3FE story shares great insight into how a well regarded coffee company came into existence. It takes enthusiasm, hard work, and a great team of people to make something special.
Read more at 3FE: Our Story
After returning to Sweden following four months in the US, it’s very clear that specialty coffee is still on the rise. That is great news in its own right, but with all the crafted coffee and nuanced flavors being consumed, you may need a nightcap or two to help come down from your caffeine high. So I find it no coincidence that the US is also seeing growth in distilleries. Fantastic new bourbons, ryes, and gins are being refined in every region and often with their own twist.
One of these new distillers in San Francisco, Workhorse Rye, understands the overlap of the two beverages and is working with local roaster Four Barrel Coffee to infuse coffee into their product line, beginning with coffee rye bitters. The first batch of bitters takes advantage of the sweetness found in Four Barrel’s Colombia Andino to compliment the fruit flavors found in the whiskey. However, the coffee used will change according to Four Barrel’s offerings. It sounds like it will make a hell of twist on a signature Old Fashion.
We got a little wild and ended up with a bitters that uses rye whiskey and brandy to extract flavors from coffee, grapefruit peel, chiltepin, quassia bark, and clove. We added some Carignan wine from Sutton Cellars for sweetness, body, and color. -Workhorse Rye
Workhorse Rye was founded by Rob Easter & David Gordon in 2011 in the Mission. A few years later, following Rob’s education with Maker Mark’s David Pickerell and working at King’s County Distillery in New York and the team still doesn’t have a distillery of their own, instead calling themselves “gypsy distillers.” Rob and David are taking an approach similar to famous beer brewers like Mikkeller in Denmark or even start-up coffee roasters who lease space at an existing facility, which help keeps overhead their overhead low.
Workhorse Rye currently makes their brew at Thirsty Bear Brewery in downtown SF, and distills in an old Navy jailhouse on Treasure Island. This spring you’ll be able to find their bounty in places like Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc restaurant in Napa (who serves Equator Coffee), Rye in the Tenderloin and The Lion’s Share down in San Diego.
Along with using all organic grains (70% rye, 20% barley, 10% wheat) to distill their products, and collaborating with Four Barrel Coffee (where Rob once worked in coffee) on bitters, they also source the French Oak red wine barrels used for aging their Darkhorse Rye from local winery Sutton Cellars (Carl Sutton and Rob Easter above). So when it comes to regional representation, the guys at Workhorse Rye are keeping as much of their product as they can in the neighborhood.
I’ve yet to taste any of the Workhorse Rye or their bitters, but hopefully some generous San Francisco baristas can smuggle some up to Seattle for the USBC.
Keep an eye out for Darkhorse Rye in the San Francisco area and their Kickstarter campaign where you can pre-order your own suite of coffee bitters.
posted by bwj
on 01.25.2014, under Misc.
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.
Mute the video above and play this simultaneously:
Do you need a reason to stop whatever you’re doing for a few minutes of procrastination? Here’s a hypnotizing viral video break from your daily routine. This great slow motion video of a shot of espresso was filmed by a barista working at Spyhouse Coffee in Minneapolis—the limited details are as follows. Enjoy.
A shot of Spyhouse Orion espresso being extracted from a La Marzocco FB80 @120 frames per second. Enjoy. Drink coffee. Mute the sound and put on your own music.
The track recommended above is:
The Adventures of Alvin & Lance by Explosions in the Sky & David Wingo