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
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
Four years ago today, Dear Coffee, I Love You went live. Back then, it was little more than a way to share the inspiring cross section of coffee and design that could be enjoyed over a morning cup. Since then, its purpose has remained much the same, but it has grown in a few significant ways. Years ago, DCILY launched several products of its own, like shirts and mugs and original art prints and recently got to design its own watch. DCILY has also been asked to help other coffee companies and organizations improve and develop their own brands—helping connect the mission of a humble website to real world projects.
This site is still a place that shares interesting projects related to coffee, but it’s also become an outlet for inspiring those who drink coffee, to enjoy much better coffee. Whether it’s through the discovery of new coffee shops, coffee roasters or ways to improve your home coffee brewing, DCILY has become a resource to introduce regular coffee lovers to the world of specialty coffee and provide a better understanding of coffee in general and all the people involved in bringing it to you.
Overall, I think the quality of the content on DCILY has improved in the last year, despite there being a decrease in quantity. This hasn’t been for a lack of things to share, but for a lack of time needed to give proper consideration to the myriad of things I discover or that fill my inbox daily. Having well considered content has always been a top priority for this site and that can sometimes lead to gaps between posts due to time constraints. This is not a full tiem job for me. When I’m not writing for DCILY, I’m completing a Masters degree, running a design studio, traveling to various coffee events and helping start a new company—so thank you for your patience. Thank you for coming back to read new articles even when it’s been weeks between them—your continued support is what keeps this site going.
Cheers to another year. Love coffee, live well, give back and inspire others.
A few year-end stats for DCILY
53 New Posts
Visits from 189 Countries
45% female / 55% male
61% between 18 – 34 years old
63,750 Facebook Fans
10,050 Twitter Followers
1450 Instagram Followers
1500+ Referring Websites
Top 10 Posts
Love Keurig? Nope.
The Bialetti Moka Express
Coffee Touring: The Best Coffee in Amsterdam
The Espro Press: The Rebirth of the French Press
The Hario V60 Coffee Machine
The Hario Drip Scale
Coffee at Noma: The World’s Best Restaurant
Brew Method: The Chemex
Hario Sommelier Gives New Shape to the Syphon
First Look: Saint Frank Coffee in San Francsico
Top 10 Countries
posted by bwj
on 12.02.2013, under Misc.
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]
Tehran has always been high on my list of places to visit. As the most populous city in Iran it’s the cultural heart of the country, combining Persian roots with modern architecture and the influence of a globalized youth who attend Tehran University. This beautiful cosmopolitan city is situated below the Alborz mountains and Mount Damavand, the highest peak in Iran. With its many complex layers of social, religious and political issues Iran is a complex destination to visit—but that does little to quell the spirit of a curious traveler.
One of the many influences the youth have had on Tehran is a rise in new coffee shops opening around the city in recent years. These coffee shops are often the only places where Iranians can socialize or use free wifi in a country without bars. However, their popularity has been countered by government raids, regulations and even shutdowns from the “morality police.” Last summer, 87 coffee shops were raided and closed in a single weekend for “not following Islamic values.”
The attempt to shutter coffee shops has been a reoccurring theme in Iranian history, with similar closures taking place following the Iranian Revolution in 1979 to combat “western influence.” Another recent string of closures happened in 2007, but the coffee shops return despite the continuous efforts against them.
One casualty of the recent crackdown was Café Prague, a popular coffee shop that opened in 2009, which had been a second home for students, activists and intellectuals in Tehran until January of this year. When the owners of the café refused to install surveillance cameras required by the morality police for “civic monitoring,” they were forced to close permanently.
An Iranian photographer, Amirhossein Darafsheh, took these beautiful photographs of the last day at Café Prague, which captures a glimpse of the vibrant café culture being repressed in Iran.
I loved this cafe not only because they had the best coffee and cakes in Tehran and not only for their free wifi. I loved the place because of their humanitarian views and their cultural atmosphere – which is a very rare substance in my country; Iran.
And they are shutting down the place. Why? because based on a new ruling, every cafe should have CCTVs installed in place, recored everything and give free access to the police and security forces to the recorded data. I loved cafe prague but I’m happy that they didn’t accepted this 1984ish order from a totalitarian government and closed the place.
Goodbye Cafe Prague and hope to see you someday in a free society. -Amirhossein Darafsheh
It’s hard to argue that coffee shops symbolize “western immorality” when coffee has been a part of Persian and Middle Eastern culture since long before the development of the western world. The closings are more likely symbolic victims of the political struggles between governments. But coffee shops are known to have influenced revolutions throughout history, and trying to prevent that from happening is a high priority among leaders of a theocracy.
It can be easy to forget how often freedom is taken for granted, like the simple act of enjoying a cup of coffee (or affording one) with friends in a café. Coffee is a privilege, not a right—yet it’s something most of us couldn’t imagine going a day without it. Coffee is an infinitely complex beverage, not just in the cup, but also in the social and humanitarian issues that surround it. One day I hope to enjoy coffee in Tehran, when its people are free to enjoy it as well.
View all of Amirhossein’s incredible and heartbreaking photos.
posted by bwj
on 11.25.2013, under Misc.
The subject of the gender gap in specialty coffee is something that occasionally get’s brought up, debated heavy handedly for a brief period of time before it’s dismissed for “more important” discussions like extraction yields, filter rinsing and whether or not you should drink espresso from whatever vessel you like.
Over at Bitch Magazine, Lisa Knisely penned a thought provoking article for the current food issue that delves into specialty coffee’s gender gap that’s obvious to anyone who has ever watched a barista competition. However, the gender gap is not the only issue Lisa brings to light, highlighting more classic examples of pure sexism in coffee, such as the feminization of flavored milk-heavy drinks, and the mere existence of designations like “women in coffee.” I highly suggest reading the whole thing, but here is a brief excerpt to pique your interest.
Specialty-coffee folk pay attention to coffee at all levels: bean varietals and soils, correct roasting, flavor profiles and aromas, acidity, espresso dosage, and flawless service and presentation. In other words, they’re coffee snobs.This niche market, unheard of before 1974, now makes up almost 50 percent of the “value share” of the approximately $30 billion U.S. coffee industry each year. The largest professional trade organization in coffee, the Specialty Coffee Association of America, has been influential in developing baristas into professionals within the service industry. While the coffee retail industry used to be more like so-called pink-collar fields such as nursing and teaching, efforts to make espresso slinging more professional have led to a masculinization of the workforce. That is, the more a job is thought of as “skilled,” the more social prestige is associated with it, the higher the wage, and the harder it is for women to get, keep, and advance in the field. Whether in terms of wages, visibility, career advancement, or coffee competitions, female baristas lag behind their male counterparts in this burgeoning professional service field. –Lisa Knisely, “Steamed Up”
I won’t pretend to have an answer, nor do I expect someone to offer one, but this should be a larger issue for anyone who works in the industry and it’s one that rarely gets discussed. I found it surprising, but refreshing to see the topic discussed in a non-industry publication like Bitch Magazine.
If specialty-coffee baristas are sincere in their calls for equality, there needs to be a shift in the conversation to talking explicitly about sexism in the spaces surrounding coffee so that the masculine is no longer the default. –Lisa Knisely, “Steamed Up”
From my experience living in Scandinavia, I would argue that many of the points made by Lisa don’t necessarily apply there (competitions being an exception), but every time I travel back to the US or the UK, many of the examples laid out in the article become much more apparent.
In the future, how can specialty coffee counter balance these factors to make the industry more accommodating for all genders? What could be gained from the many voices belonging to individuals that aren’t being heard because they haven’t won a barista competition or started their own company? How can the industry support and inspire all genders who want to build careers in specialty coffee?
[photo credit: Christoffer Erneholm]
posted by bwj
on 11.21.2013, under Misc.
Yesterday, Thrillist (a daily newsletter of curated recommendations) published a list of the “best coffee roasters in America.” I was one of the “jurors” asked to recommend my top ten coffee roasters in the US and provide a brief description as to what makes them special. Beyond that, I didn’t know who the other jurors were, or how the results would be calculated until the list was published.
The other jurors included:
Bill Walsh (Pure Coffee Blog)
Jordan Michelman (Sprudge.com)
Kelly Stewart (Roast Magazine)
Chris Cusack (Down House)
Sean Henry (Houndstooth)
Sarah Allen (Barista Magazine)
Joshua McNeilly (Black Black Coffee)
Greg Martin (Urban Bean)
Here’s how the final list was complied: all of the roasters who were named by jurors received points based on how they were ranked by the respective juror who mentioned them. For example, if I listed Heart Coffee Roasters as #1, they would receive 10 points towards their total score. If I ranked them #10, they would receive 1 point. If I didn’t name them at all, they received no points—a simple (and fair) format to balance the blind recommendations of nine jurors.
This list is not scientific. It’s not written in stone. It’s only valid until the next internet list of 10 greatest things is published. And it’s all in good fun to reflect the recommendations from a small group of people who drink a lot of coffee—both as professionals in the industry and as consumers. You don’t have to agree. But just maybe there are some roasters on here you haven’t heard of, or tasted, and maybe you’ll find something new that you like. If you’re personal favorite roaster didn’t make the list, don’t hate the internet over it. Drink what you enjoy.
For the sake of transparency, I wanted to share my personal list of top 10 US coffee roasters below (which is not an easy task). However, seven of my selections made the final list—so I wasn’t alone in thinking those companies deserved a mention. Agree, disagree, either way, please enjoy.
1. Heart Coffee Roasters, Portland
Heart stands out as having clearly embraced the Nordic influence of their owner Wille and the taste of the coffee reflects it. There’s always something juicy, lively and interesting to enjoy in coffee from Heart.
2. Ritual Coffee, San Francisco
Ritual has always felt like an underdog of the San Francisco coffee scene to me. They often fall to the wayside of Blue Bottle’s marketing prowess and the unexplained hype of Phil’s, but they offer some of the best coffee you’ll find in the Bay area and the country as a whole.
3. Intelligentsia Coffee, Chicago
Intelligentsia is where I first discovered the joy of black coffee in the mid-2000′s. They may be “big” compared with newer, smaller roasters in the US, but they still discover some of the most unique coffees around and haven’t lost their touch.
4. Verve Coffee, Santa Cruz
Verve stands out for representing where they come from better than most other coffee companies. Their brand and their attitude reflects the lifestyle of Santa Cruz in almost every way. Verve’s green-tip gesha from 2012 remains one of the best coffees I’ve ever tasted.
5. MadCap Coffee, Grand Rapids
MadCap may not come from a large metropolitan area, but they push forward with unique varietal series and Sunday tasting experiences. They’ve also got a stellar brand, one of my favorites, by the renown designers Chuck Anderson and Seth Herman
6. Gimme! Coffee, Ithaca
For a time, Gimme! was one of the only “local” roasters in New York City serving quality coffee before an influx of outsiders like Stumptown and Intelligentsia forced others to jump into the game. Gimme! still remains one of my favorite roasters and cafés in New York.
7. Handsome Coffee, Los Angeles
Handsome formed from a team of big names in the world of specialty coffee with lots of experience and knowledge to transfer into something new. They added fresh variety and energy to the LA coffee scene after forming in 2011 and haven’t slowed down since.
8. Four Barrel Coffee, San Francisco
Four Barrel has really progressed over the years, helping to further expand San Franciscan’s access to good coffee and sourcing really delicious beans in the process. Their coffee shop puts their roasting on display and stands out among the many options in San Francsico.
9. Ceremony Coffee, Annapolis
Ceremony underwent a successful name and brand overhaul in 2011 that better reflects their values and the ceremony involved in crafting a delicious cup of coffee. Since then, they’ve been showing up in even more places around Washington D.C. and throughout the country with some really tasty coffees.
10. Counter Culture Coffee, Durham
I consider Counter Culture a part of the “big three” in terms of US specialty coffee roasters (including Intelligentsia and Stumptown). However, with CCC’s unique training-based wholesale model that lacks high profile coffee shops, they rarely get the awareness they deserve among average consumers.
My shortlist for runners-up included:
PT’s Coffee, Topeka
Equator Coffee, San Rafael
George Howell Coffee, Acton (Boston)
Olympia Coffee, Olympia
Cuvée Coffee, Austin
See the final collective list published on Thrillist.