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.
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
Enjoy this short, but sweet video interview with Anne Lunell from Koppi Coffee in Helsingborg, Sweden. Anne talks with Kalle Freese, the current Finnish Barista Champion and owner of Freese Coffee Co. about her and partner Charles Nystrand’s approach to sourcing, selecting and roasting the coffee they serve.
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
Tonx Coffee is a roaster based in LA who distributes their coffee through subscriptions delivered to your door. Their approach is a no fuss, no judgement, just enjoy great coffee kind of attitude. With little face-to-face interaction, they create nice illustrations and videos to help people get the best from their coffee.
One tip for getting the best from your coffee is purchasing a good burr grinder. It’s the most important tool for brewing better coffee, but good ones aren’t cheap. In the latest video from Tonx, they tackle the blade grinder—loathed by most coffee aficionados—it’s often the first grinder people buy because of their low cost.
I wouldn’t recommend one, however if you find yourself stuck with one, it’s a better option than stale, pre-ground coffee. With these tips from Tonx you might be able to make the best with what you have, while saving up for something better.
Kenya is a beautiful place. Many of my favorite coffees come from this East African country and having the opportunity to visit a few years ago, still remains one of the greatest trips I’ve ever taken. Verve Coffee in Santa Cruz, California has captured many of the things I loved about that trip in a new video, while also showing the process your coffee goes through before getting into your cup.
Thanks to technology, curiosity and roasters who visit coffee farms, there have been an increasing number of coffee origin videos in recent years. The production quality continues to rise, bringing many people closer to coffee farms than they will ever get themselves. This particular film stands out for its warmth and for its broad perspective showing the viewer coffee farms as well as the lively street culture and dramatic country side of Kenya.
Verve worked with What Took You So Long to produce the film, an organization who is quite experienced with film making in Africa. WTYSL was founded by Sebastion Lindstrom to make guerrilla films in the most remote parts of the world and to share positive stories from those regions. The organization came together during a trip across 16 countries in Africa while researching best practices within nonprofits. Since that maiden trip they’ve built up an impressive portfolio of work on the continent.
So grab a fresh cup and enjoy this lovely journey through Kenya.
In this amazing episode of Sesame Street, Grover works at a café called The Coffee Plant and takes a customer through the process of where coffee (and coffee condiments) come from. Muppet hilarity ensues. There’s a lot of work that goes into serving the freshest cup of coffee IN THE WORLD! So next time you’re enjoying a fresh cup, stop and think about all the work that’s gone into it.
[ht Nick Cho via Everyman Espresso]
Micaela de Freitas, a student in design and development in South Africa, recently spent 6 weeks traveling around Scandinavia and Turkey. As a coffee lover, she took the opportunity to stop by some of the region’s best coffee bars. With support from The Coffee Mag in South Africa, she captured the whole adventure in a fun video that bounces from cup to cup with the beat of Sufjan Stevens.
Grab a fresh cup and enjoy.
A new video miniseries was just launched by The Pancake Epidemic, the Los Angeles-based division of a marketing something or another, that chronicles an epic coffee road trip across the western United States. The eight part series begins in San Francisco (one of my favorite coffee cities) where the host Brandon Davenport drinks everything from Denny’s to Blue Bottle to Ritual Coffee.
A lot of ground (and coffee) is covered in just 8 minutes. Davenport consumed 19 cups of coffee in the first video alone, ending with a fresh brewed cup of McCafé. There are brief pop-ins and take-aways as well as sit down interviews, including one with Eileen Hassi from Ritual Coffee Roasters. It will be interesting to see what other spots are visited in the coming episodes as Caffeination works its way north to Portland.
It also feels a bit like a guerrilla campaign for Stumptown bottled coffee.