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.
Curface is a composite material made from spent coffee grounds and recycled plastic. The nonprofit industrial design firm, Re-Worked, have been combining their creation with reclaimed wood to build some truly unique and sustainable furniture. Curface first debuted at the 2010 Ecobuild Conference in London, but have recently replaced their website with a vague message about halting all production.
The firm’s most recent project was the Google Coffee Lab, which I wrote about a few weeks ago. That project included large custom tables made from Curface and exterior panels for a Sanremo espresso machine, designed by Alessandro Milanese.
The material’s finish resembles a matte carbon, is waterproof and needs no sanding or finishing. Hopefully the production was only stopped to figure out how to keep up with demand. It’s an innovative material that would fit nicely in a café setting.
Intelligentsia has experimented with collaborations in the past, from partnerships with indie band Wilco to custom skate decks—but this latest project with Quintin really throws their hat into the ring as a full on lifestyle brand.
Our good friend and BMX pro Kevin Porter put us in touch with the great guys at Quintin, and a just few months later we’re launching this collaboration cap. Designed by Intelligentsia but build by Quintin just a few blocks away from our LA Roasting Works, this limited edition hat is one of our proudest collaborations to date. -Intelligenstia
I know I talk about Intelligenstia a lot—but they continue doing really awesome stuff. I’d take this over a moc croc Jimmy Choo coffee sleeve any day. $32 bucks and made in LA.
This collaboration is a celebration of the idea that the customer deserves to buy into more than just the product that a brand offers, whether that be a freshly brewed cup of coffee or a hat, fresh off the production line. We are happy to present to you a fine collaboration for the end of 2011. Look for Quintin Co. select coffee soon on our online store. -Quintin
Intelligentsia X Quintin Hat
[UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who celebrated with us and bought some great DCILY merch. This promotion has come to an end, but the store is still stocked!.]
Two weeks ago I quietly rolled out the new DCILY merch store—and now with less than 2-weeks until Christmas and the store fully stocked, I thought I’d officially announce the grand opening with a bit of a sale.
In honor of DCILY’s 2-year anniversary, I’m offering 20% off on all apparel. Just use the code DCILY20 at the checkout. There’s just one catch: I’m not telling how long the sale will last—2 hours, 2 days, 2 weeks? If you’ve got gifts to buy, don’t miss out!
DCILY Merch Store
Occasionally I come across things that leave me speechless and I generally choose not to post about them. But this takes the cake, eats it and proceeds to jump the shark. For $165 you too can “add a touch of style to your morning coffee break” with a moc croc leather coffee sleeve from Jimmy Choo. Yeezy taught you well…
There’s been a lot of buzz in both the design and coffee worlds this past week about an innovative take on the disposable cup called, Compleat. The concept was developed by Architect Peter Herman and refined by graphic designer Daren Bascome, both based in Boston. The problem behind it is a persistent one that many people have attempted to solve—reduce the waste from disposable cups.
Last year Starbucks sponsored the BetaCup contest on Jovoto, a forum for product design competitions, to develop a more sustainable to-go cup. The winner wasn’t a cup at all, but a game that served as an incentive to bring your own reusable cup. I found the winning solution quite admirable, but have yet to hear about it implemented in Starbucks stores.
The Compleat Cup is the latest attempt to solve one of the more annoying environmental problems in the coffee industry. While it’s a nice concept, I don’t think its ready for prime time and I wouldn’t expect to see them popping up in coffee shops around the world just yet.
While the main pitch is that you reduce the use of a plastic lid, which is of course a scourge in itself—many lids alone can be recycled. The cups are the problem, because the paper is fused to a thin plastic lining that most US recycling systems can’t handle.
Even if the lining used a bio plastic, those only degrade if they are properly disposed of, i.e. composted. Most places in the US don’t have compost programs in place. So while these cups will reduce part of the problem, it still leaves a pressing one that can really only be solved by bringing your own mug.
The design may be iconic, but what about the people—myself included—who prefer to drink without a lid? If you open the folds, I don’t see any practical way to drink from this like a normal cup.
When the cup is folded up to create a drinking spout, it forms a direct funnel into your mouth. While this may be a great idea for cold drinks on hot days, it makes me pause when considering hot coffee. There’s no longer a barrier to allow for the “is this going to scald my mouth” sip while drinking blindly.
Admittedly these observations have been made without having yet tried a Compleat cup, however, I feel that I’ve drank coffee from enough beverage receptacles to make an educated critique of it. Once I’ve had the opportunity to try one, I’ll be sure to follow up with the results.
The Compleat Cup
[UPDATE IV: A new post on the ZP Machines Kickstarter page outlines an adjustment to the manufacturing schedule do to the overwhelming response this project has received. Also news later tonight about a dedicated 240v model of the Nocturn!]
[UPDATE III: Jason Dominy met with ZP Machines yesterday and Skyped with Igor to look at and talk about the machines thermoblock. Read Jason's thoughts here.]
[UPDATE II: In under 48 hours, the project has reached it's initial goal. Congrats to the team for attempting to answer the unmet demand for an affordable, high-quality espresso machine. Also, Jason Dominy, the current chair of the Barista Guild of America, will be meeting up with ZP Machines in Atlanta to talk about and test drive the prototype. More info as it arrives.]
[UPDATE I: Conversation with the creators on Reddit, answering questions]
This latest coffee-themed Kickstarter project is one with much more potential than a handful of metal beans—as long as it works as described. Two coffee lovers, one who studied physics and the other a roboticist, have been working to build a quality espresso machine that’s more affordable and accesible to the home barista.
Most coffee professionals won’t recommend many options for home espresso for less than the Rancilio Silvia, which costs about $700. So the effort by ZP Machines to create a machine of better quality and consistency—with a custom engineered thermal block and group head, as well as integrated PID temperature and pressure control—for just $300 could really shake up the market.
No other machine at this price point offers high-end quality, PID-controlled customizable temperature and pressure, pre-infusion, or shot-time —we do.
The team also spent time with their prototype at Octane and Land of a Thousand Hills in Atlanta, comparing shots and getting barista feedback. According to their pitch, their shots were comparable in quality to those pulled on the commercial espresso machines every time. A very bold claim, but fantastic if its true.
The proposed design reminds me of a Dieter Rams stereo, with an all metal body and clean geometric lines. It looks industrial and sturdy, yet modern and approachable—characteristics that I would appreciate in my kitchen.
With an estimated delivery date of March 2012 and a pre-order price of just $200, this sounds too good to be true. Let’s hope it’s not!
ZP Machines on Kickstarter
I often showcase design on this site, but it usually comes in the way of consumer facing products. Things that can be showcased on store shelves and sold to the masses. But that only touches the surface of how design can and should be used. Design, more than making things look good, is about solving problems. Sometimes those problems are communication or marketing problems, but more importantly, systematic and social issues of all kind can be addressed through the design process.
Cue Gabriela Ravassa, an industrial-design student at Parsons, who developed a new product that focuses on those much further down the coffee chain—coffee pickers.
Determined to improve pickers’ working conditions, Parsons product-design student (and native Colombian), Gabriela Ravassa set her sights on redesigning the picking container. The existing buckets–which resemble oversized sand pails that you strap around the waist–put undue strain on workers’ backs and have sharp edges that dig into the thighs, leaving bruises. They’re also difficult to grasp. That increases the chances of dropping coffee beans and can decrease producers’ bottom line.
Ravassa named the bucket “Coco,” which is Colombian slang for “picking container.” It’s not radically different than many of the buckets already in use, but the improvements in ergonomics and comfort are what make Coco unique.
An indent at the bottom of the bucket mimics the angle of our legs when we walk, eliminating bruising. The waist strap is modeled after kidney belts–those girdle-like elastic bands that laborers wear around their lower backs to gird against strains during heavy lifting. (Ravassa even included a custom clasping system in hopes of encouraging farm owners to purchase straps and belts together.) And a “continuous handle” inspired by three-handle laundry baskets allows workers to grab the containers securely, cutting back on accidental drops.
A giant hat-tip to Ms. Ravassa for focusing on those who are too often overlooked. Now which generous coffee company will subsidize the first shipment of Cocos to Colombia?
Read the full article on FastCo Design.
For all those Star Wars fans out there, designer Eric Beatty has designed the ultimate gift—if only it were more than a concept. This was developed for a school project asking students to design a new product for Urban Outfitters. While I hope the clothing boutique refrains from selling coffee, I’m sure there’s a very big market for something like this. Intelligentsia x George Lucas Collab anyone? The set includes Darth Coffee blend, Storm Trooper filters, and Chewbacca brown sugar. Truly wonderful…
May the force brew with you…
No, I am your barista…
He’s holding a thermal carafe!
Ok, I’m done.
Dear Coffee, I Love You is approaching its two year anniversary of discovering and writing about the greatest things in the world of specialty coffee. With all the hours spent finding, learning about and sharing new things, I’ve developed a growing wish list along with suggestions for upgrading and improving your own coffee experience. As a follow-up to last years 2010 DCILY gift guide, I’m happy to share an all new list of holiday gift suggestions for the coffee lovers in your life.
1. AWS 1kg Pocket Scale -$10- A gift for the precision-minded barista. I’ve previously written about the “power of the scale” and how important it is to maintain consistency in coffee brewing. This scale provides an affordable first step. It’s compact, great for travel and measures .1g up to 1000g. Shop for AWS-1KG
2. DCILY Gear -$13 to $40- A gift for those who consider t-shirts high fashion. In the last year DCILY has slowly begun to grow from being just a blog to much more. Its a creative outlet for me to design cool products that I’d want for myself, and hope others will be just as excited about. This fall I launched a line of shirts and am currently producing custom KeepCups for those on the go. Shop for DCILY Gear
3. Baratza Virtuoso -$200- A gift for grinding coffee on a whole new level. A coffee grinder is one of the most important—and overlooked—investments to improve your coffee at home. A quality burr grinder will insure consistency in grind size which allows proper extraction. The Virtuoso is a top notch grinder for most brew methods and what I personally used in the States. For just filter coffee, the lower-cost Maestro is great and if you know someone who’s been extra good this year—the Vario-W will ensure they stay good. Shop for Baratza Virtuoso
4. Handsome Gift Box -$75- A gift for Handsome fanboys. Handsome Coffee may be this years hottest new thing. The boys at Handsome are the Kone of 2011, only less “S&M” and more “please marry me.” They’ve put together a beautiful and limited gift set, including a 6oz porcelain mug from Italy, laser-etched wood box and a bag of their finest product—handsomely roasted coffee. Shop Handsome Coffee
5. Coffee Story: Ethiopia -$65- A gift for coffee lovers who love coffee books. This beautifully photographed book captures the story of coffee in its homeland of Ethiopia. It tells the tale of a country whose culture is based on not just on the cultivation of coffee but also the tradition of drinking it themselves. Order a copy
6. OXO Press Pot -$35- A gift for the traditionalist. The press post (or French press) is one of the easiest ways to start brewing coffee at home. Disliked by some for the “silty” mouthfeel it produces, many people love them for that very same reason. I’ve written about my appreciation for the French press before, and think it’s a great step to improve home brewing. While Bodum is the classic choice, these new OXO press pots are designed well and include a silicone scoop that rests beneath the grounds to make cleaning much easier. Shop for OXO Press Pots
7. Grinder Cleaning Brush -$3- A gift for anyone who doesn’t have one. With the grinder being such an important—and pricey—investment, it needs to be kept clean to preform at its best and for as long as it can. If you aren’t using dark oily beans or flavored coffee beans, brushing off the burrs once a week will keep things surprisingly tidy and your coffee tasty. Shop for a cleaning brush
8. Hario Buono Kettle -$50- A gift for the aspiring coffee aficionado. If you know someone who brews pour over coffee while trying their best to control the water flow from a large-mouthed electric kettle, they’re probably waiting for someone to buy them this. While its not necessary for brewing, it makes life much easier and more enjoyable. Shop for a Buono Kettle
9. Kalita Single Use Drippers -$10- A gift for the jetsetter or camper. For those who have to pack light, even an AeroPress can be too much sometimes. For those occasions, there are the Kalita Katan single-use drippers. These little guys unfold and sit atop your cup, with a built in filter for pour over coffee anywhere you need it. Kalita also makes its own unique pour over system and a gorgeous kettle. Shop for Kalita Drippers
10. Technivorm Moccamaster -$300- A gift for gatherings and lazy sundays. The Moccamaster is pretty much the only electric drip coffee maker that coffee professionals recommend. The reason it costs more than most coffee makers you’ll find at the store, is that this one actually works. This brewer can maintain the water temperature necessary for proper extraction and does so very quickly. These beautifully designed machines are also handmade in The Netherlands which adds quality & cost. Shop for Technivorm
11. The Clive Stand -$195- A gift for the craft-minded V60 fan. The Clive Stand is how I first discovered Clive Coffee (now a sponsor of this site) and have been continually impressed by their design conscious decisions. These stands are beautifully hand made from salvaged Oregon Walnut and I’m still longing for the day I have one sitting on my counter. Shop for the Clive Stand
12. GoCoffeeGo Gift Cards -$50- A gift for coffee lovers with everything. The only gift to appear on last year’s list as well because of its broad functional appeal. Even if you have all the latest equipment, you still need great coffee beans. GoCoffeeGo has curated some of the best coffee roasters in the US to create a selection where you can’t go wrong. With their Netflix-like tool “Auto-Ship,” you can customize your own never-ending coffee subscription. Shop for GoCoffeeGo Giftcards
*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 supports this site and the content you enjoy.*