Nau X Snow Peak: Fancy Camp Coffee

06.20

The fashionable, eco-conscious lifestyle company Nau, is no stranger to collaborations. Their latest project is a deluxe titanium coffee set designed with Snow Peak that’s sure to improve any campsite or picnic. The set includes a French press, double-walled mug, milk frother, a bag of Stumptown coffee, and a clever cutting board that encases a Japanese-made knife. It’s the brunch kit in a bag that you never knew you needed.

I’ve been a huge fan of Nau since their early days as a company—before they were almost a casualty of the economic crash in 2008. In fact, all of my outerwear comes from their collection. So if the integrity and quality of their collaborations are as solid as their own products, this is most likely an equally good investment.

With summer upon us, you will hopefully get to spend some quality time outdoors. Here in Sweden, there are 5 weeks of mandatory holiday were most of the country runs off to a cabin, boat or archipelago—but coffee is still a daily necessity.

My preferred coffee companion while traveling may be an AeroPress, but in some cases a French press may be more practical—and it’s still an appreciated brew method. My only complaint is that it comes with a milk frother instead of a hand grinder—a much more practical and necessary tool for great coffee.

Nau x Snow Peak Café Luxe Kit ($125)

posted by on 06.20.2012, under Design, Products

Recap: World of Coffee 2012 in Vienna

06.19

For three days last week, while the world’s best baristas were competing, some of the world’s best coffee equipment and sourcing companies had also gathered to showcase what they have to offer. The World of Coffee event, organized by the SCAE, took place in the shimmering Messe Wien convention center in downtown Vienna.

These events can quickly lead to sensory overload, from all the free coffee, conversations and shiny things to touch. So these are only highlights that captured my attention.

La Marzocco got my vote for the best designed booth. From the use of Jon Contino’s black and white illustrations to the wood paneled GS3 centerpiece. I was surrounded by visual awesome while waiting for Michael Phillips and other high caliber baristas to pull shots of rotating espresso on the candy colored Strada.

If you wanted to get a feel for the equipment yourself, you could pull your own shots at the Strada station or wait in line for a glimpse of the hybrid Linea—the Strinea?

If you weren’t in the mood for espresso, Marco built an epic brew bar staffed by an international roster of baristas brewing a rotating selection of the world’s finest coffee. The cross shaped Marco bar was outfitted with Über boilers, Über hoses, and Vario-W grinders, as well as ample space for brewing demos and experimentation with guests.

There was a second brew bar at Marco’s main booth nearby, where you could hang out with Koppi’s Anne & Charles who were working alongside Charles Babinski to brew even more delicious filter coffee and serve it with a smile.

If espresso or filter coffee weren’t what you were looking for, Nordic Approach (Tim Wendelboe & Morten Wennersgaard’s coffee sourcing company) were hosting very popular cuppings every few hours throughout the week.

Both the Ethiopian and Kenyan cuppings were too full to get a spoon, but I showed up for a Honduras and Guatemala cupping that had several delights on the table.

Several pour over companies had a presence at the event as well. For the first time, I encountered more Kalita waves than Hario V60s being used at various booths. Kalita also had a stand of their own, showcasing their lovely selection of brewing kettles and glassware that continue to grow as a popular alternative to Hario.

Hario was also present with the new products they showed off in Portland, including their new timer/scale, smaller and electric Buono kettles, syphon concept and double walled glassware. Even with all the new competition, I think Hario make some of the best looking glass products you can buy—all brewing preferences aside.

Swedish-based Espresso Gear was also showing off a variety of Tiamo gear which is one of the newer brands to appear in the growing pour over scene. Tiamo is priced at the lower end of the cost spectrum, but offers several unique designs—as well as some questionably blatant knock-offs of their competitors products.

After an overload of pour over cones and pouring kettles, I wandered back to the espresso side of the showroom to get a better look at the French-made Unic espresso machines and learn about their new Viper pressure profiling system on the Stella di Caffé.

The machine offers a unique design, more akin to an 80′s arcade than the sexy lines of a La Marzocco or the grown-up aesthetic of a Nouva Simonelli. A touchpad interface and glowing light bar, combined with manual hot-rod levers add to its MechWarrior vibe.

The pressure profiling system is computer programmable (with a manual option), making the profiles consistent and repeatable. It also has a unique hydraulic assist in the grouphead, making it surprisingly easy to lock in the portafilter.

I’d be interested to hear feedback from any baristas with more experience who have worked with the Viper System. While I’m not a huge fan of the machines overall look, I was definitely impressed by some of its details and features.

I was also pleased to meet Julie Smith-Clementi, one of the owners of notNuetral—who makes specialty coffee’s iconic ceramic cups that were developed in partnership with Intelligentsia. Their booth had a spread of various cup sizes and graphic samples, including these from NYC’s Doughnut Plant (a personal favorite).

Julie also gave me an exclusive peek at a prototype of their next product in development—a thinner, more refined version of their popular Lino espresso and cappuccino cups. I look forward to sharing the final product once they’re complete.

With soo much to see at these events, it’s impossible to capture it all while also trying to watch as much of the barista competitions as possible. Overall, this was another great show that’s a bit more intimate and manageable than others I’ve been to in the past. But with so many great people gathered in one place, it’s impossible to not enjoy yourself.

posted by on 06.19.2012, under Misc., Products

Able’s New Kone & Brewing System

05.25

 
I’ve been a big fan of the Kone filter for Chemex and the Disk filter for AeroPress since I first started using them almost two years ago. From reducing waste, to highlighting certain elements of a coffee that may not make it through paper filters, the Kone and Disk are both used frequently in my brewing rotation. So I’m thrilled to share the latest progression of filters and brewing devices from DCILY sponsor, Able Brewing.

After Able Brewing amicably parted ways with Coava Coffee earlier this year to focus solely on brewing equipment, Keith Gehrke has officially reintroduced the new company. Today, Keith launched an elegant new website (designed by Jolby) while also unveiling the latest (and possibly last) version of the Kone with its beautiful new porcelain companion—a coffee brewing system designed specifically for the filter.

KONE Brewing System:

We really wanted a way to showcase the KONE’s unique coffee. So we teamed up with a local ceramic studio here in Portland with the goal of producing a manual brewer that is as versatile as possible, a joy to use and a centerpiece in your home. The brewer beautifully houses the KONE and after the coffee is done dripping, the filter support can be removed and replaced by an elegant lid. Up to 32 ounces of Coffee can be served directly from the kettle. While designing the brewer, we also realized that with the KONE resting inside the kettle you could steep a full pot of tea.

Initial orders for the new products are being taken though Kickstarter to help offset the tooling and production costs of the first run (made in the USA). In less than 2 hours, the Kickstarter campaign surpassed the initial $5000 goal, so there’s no doubt this will happen. But if you have any interest, you can take advantage of the significant savings opportunity by pre-ordering yours in the next month.

Congrats to Keith on what will likely be another beloved coffee brewing device.

Able Brewing & Kickstarter Pre-Order

 

posted by on 05.25.2012, under Design, Products

The Steampunk: A Curious Coffee Contrapulation

04.05

The upcoming SCAA Event will bring about many things—great parties, good friends, a new US Barista Champion and a first hands-on look at some of the industries newest products. Topping my list of must-see/touch/try is the Alpha Dominche Steampunk.

What looks like the futuristic love child of a Linea 2 and Bunn Trifecta, is a customizable, PID controlled brewing system that functions like a modern day syphon. With four separate chambers, you’re able to create different profiles and brew four coffees at once.

With just a few quick taps on the touch screen, the barista customizes the STEAMPUNK brewing process to optimize the flavor of each beverage. The anticipation then begins. The customer is treated to a dazzling theatrical presentation as the STEAMPUNK’s gleaming glass crucibles fill with swirling steam. The barista then places the ground coffee on the piston and plunges it into the crucible. The grinds whirl and dance as they’re agitated and aerated by the millions of tiny bubbles. At the barista’s command, the liquid coffee is pulled by vacuum through a specially designed ultrafine photo-milled metal filter, and the dark brown elixir streams gracefully into the awaiting cup.

The Steampunk allows a barista t0 adjust the temperature, time, volume and agitation of each brew before manually plunging the coffee grounds into the chamber. The company claims that The Steampunk will offer enhanced flavor extraction that surpasses currently existing brew methods—if so, I look forward to tasting the results.

If you’ll be at SCAA, find The Steampunk at Booth 10085 or visit Alpha Dominche.

posted by on 04.05.2012, under Design, Products

Coming Soon: Wilfa Svart Manuell

04.02

Last year at the Nordic Barista Cup, a prototype of the Wilfa Svart Manuell was first unveiled and put in the hands of attendees. I posted what little I knew back then, but have since had the opportunity to try one out myself.

The all-in-one kettle and pour over device, which was developed with the help of Tim Wendelboe, has moved beyond the prototype stage and will be officially released in three weeks—on the 25th of April. The US market may see them in 2013, but until then there shouldn’t be trouble finding people to use them here in coffee loving Scandinavia.

While I don’t consider myself the primary market for this, there are some things I really love about it, particularly the cohesiveness of all the parts. Everything fits nicely on the base which can be picked up and moved easily around the kitchen. It includes everything you need to get started brewing pour over coffee, except a grinder—making it great for those who are brew-curious, or just want a hassle free coffee set-up for their parent’s home or their Nordic cabin in the woods.

The cone uses standard Melitta filters and has complete flow control through the ring at the bottom. Which allows you to completely close it off for full immersion or fine tune the extraction time—adding a new variable other than grind size. The filter also sits in a removable cup that rests in the cone, making it easy to dispose of the used grounds.

The cone is held stationary above the caraffe, which is great for stability, but lacks the ability to place a scale underneath it. In an attempt to keep things easy and approachable, it makes it less desirable to someone like myself who feels blind when brewing coffee without a scale—but that may be a personal problem.

The kettle has a 1.2-liter capacity and heats up quick. It has variable temperature settings, making it great for brewing teas and the “keep warm” function will allow you to maintain the water temperature while rinsing filters. It doesn’t have the pour control of a thin-spout, but it’s better than most standard kettles I’ve used.

The most exciting thing about this product is the effort given to manual brewing at home by a large home appliance company like Wilfa. Instead of just creating their own version of a V60, they’ve thought about the whole coffee making process and what may deter someone from brewing manually. In a home appliance market flooded with k-cup machines, it’s nice to see manual brewing given this kind of attention.

The production models don’t look like they’ve changed much from the prototype I used, other than the color (which is now a more elegant looking black) and some of the graphic details. I look forward to comparing the production model when I have the chance.

You can watch Tim Wendelboe demo the Svart Manuell in the video below!

Wilfa

posted by on 04.02.2012, under Design, Products, Videos

The Coffee Roaster Pant by Blue Highway

03.22

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.

posted by on 03.22.2012, under Design, Products, Recommended Roasters, Videos

London’s Independent Coffee Book

02.17

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

 

posted by on 02.17.2012, under Coffee Touring, Design, Misc., Products

Intelligentsia is Back in the Saddle

01.13

A month ago, Intelligentsia dipped its toe in the world of bikes with their BMX inspired Quintin snapback (now sold out) and have recently teamed up with Kyle from Trackosaurus Rex to create this rad three-panel cycling cap. Designed by Sean Talkington and Eric Vasquez of Team Dream, the Golden Saddle lid represents two great brands at once. Ride over to the nearest Intelli shop to get one before they’re gone.

Love that star placement.

 

posted by on 01.13.2012, under Design, Misc., Products

Damn thy Disposable

01.12

Coffee is a wonderful thing. But it takes a vast amount of resources to bring us our daily cup(s). The least we can do is try to minimize that impact. In an ideal world, everyone has the time to sit down with a ceramic mug and enjoy their coffee until it’s gone. However, in real life people have things to do and places to go—so they take their coffee with them. All of those cups add up (500 Billion per year) and they do a great job of ruining the drinking experience as well.

For the last year, I’ve been trying to find the best travel cup for my coffee. Ceramic tastes the best, but it’s too heavy, too fragile and those rubbery lids are worse to drink from than plastic ones. Stainless steel would seem to be the most “sustainable” but you still end up drinking through a plastic lid and they’re a costly investment. So after weighing the benefits of several different option, including the overall design, cost, functionality, taste, etc.—the KeepCup is my favorite option available for mobile coffee drinkers.

So I partnered with the Mug Users Guild to bring DCILY fans a reusable cup that works great, looks great and lets the world know how you feel about all those paper cups.

The 8oz (black) is my favorite and holds the perfect amount for an AeroPress on the go. The 12oz (white) will let you carry a bit more but still has markings for both 8oz and 12oz volumes on the inside of the cup. These also fit under the grouphead of most espresso machines, which means the barista won’t need to waste a cup, just to transfer the drink.  The lids are splash proof—not spill proof. So you can walk or drive around without spilling, but don’t take it rock climbing or throw it in a bag with coffee inside. [also great for poolside cocktails when there's no glass allowed]

While a KeepCup isn’t the same as drinking from a ceramic or glass mug, the taste differences are more of a perception than a reality and the rounded design of the lids make drinking from them far more enjoyable than a standard disposable one. KeepCups are BPA free, recyclable at the end of their life and have been tested for up to 1000 uses (more technical details).

The DCILY KeepCups are limited, so get them while you can! Make 2012 the year you stop throwing away coffee cups and damn thy disposable.

Order one from the DCILY merch store.

 

posted by on 01.12.2012, under Design, Misc., Products

Briggo the Robotic Barista Replacement

01.09

In the past we’ve seen robot ninjas making pourover coffee, but could a robot replace real baristas on a commercial scale? That’s the goal of a new startup called Briggo based in Austin, TX. The four co-founders, one being Patrick Pierce a barista from Caffé Medici who placed 2nd at the SCRBC in 2008, opened their first prototype this November inside the Flawn Academic Center on UT’s campus.

The robots behind a wall of flat panel monitors grind coffee to order, use a real tamper and stable 200° water temperature to make precise 2oz shots of espresso. The steam wand even emulates the angles that Patrick would use himself for lattes and cappuccinos. The grinders can also adjust automatically between shots as different variables change, staying dialed-in throughout the day. Sounds like the real deal.

Coffee can be ordered two ways, with a touch screen at the kiosk or with an app on your phone. It can also save your order for later visits. While you wait, one of the many monitors will display where your drink is in the queue and let you know once its finished. In many ways, it’s like a giant vending machine of the future, while also stripping every social aspect the coffee house is meant to engender—but is that bad?

I haven’t tasted the coffee, but since most airport, hospital, and university coffee comes from sketchy vending machines left over from the 80′s or an unenthusiastic employee pushing a button on a super-automatic espresso machine, why not make those situations better? If I can get decent coffee at an airport, I really don’t care who or what makes it.

The current version of the Briggo is reportedly using coffee from local Austin roaster Third Coast Coffee. And though it can’t pour latte art yet, an update is being engineered to enable that talent in a later version. If anyone in Austin wants to visit Briggo, I’d love to know how it tastes. Maybe one day it will host its own Thursday Night Throwdown.

Briggo

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posted by on 01.09.2012, under Misc., Products