Storyville – Chapter 1: Hardware

12/17/2010

Storyville is a small coffee company in Seattle, Washington doing big things. Their mission is simple, “the best beans, artfully roasted, and rushed to your door while they’re still fresh.” They only offer one coffee, a regular blend called Prologue and its decaf counterpart, aptly named Epilogue. The goal at Storyville is not to offer the newest or largest selection of blends and origins, but instead provide the fresh and consistent cup of everyday coffee that their costumers enjoy. They also make an effort to educate new customers about the crimes of “Big Coffee” and their bitter, over-roasted beans.

Storyville knows that in order to best enjoy fresh coffee, you need to have a few essentials—a good grinder and a press pot. That’s where their newest, soon to be released, offering comes into play. Introducing Storyville Hardware—or as I call it, “the mind-blowing home coffee transformation kit.” It provides you with the elements needed to grant you freedom from bad coffee.

When I first discovered Storyville a few years ago, the high quality of their design made a lasting first impression. It’s obvious that design shapes every aspect of the company, even though none of the owners are formally trained in the arts. From their identity, packaging, and website—to their roasting studio, which looks more like a Maserati showroom than a roastery. There is an attention to detail you don’t often find in the coffee industry and the design and experience of opening the Hardware package is no exception. If Apple started a coffee company, it would look like Storyville.

When brewing at home, the most important thing you need after fresh roasted coffee, is a solid burr grinder. The consistency of the grind will make all the difference in the extraction, while excess powder from a poor grind can add unwanted sediment and bitterness. So Storyville built a custom grinder to provide this vital piece of equipment.

I spoke with Chad Turnbull, Co-President of Storyville and he told me that they collaborated with a German designer, think BMW and Porsche, to help develop their grinder. The construction is solid, and the body design is more streamlined than similar grinders on the market, while reflecting the essence of the Storyville brand. The internal components are on par with those of a Baratza Virtuoso. It includes a timed on switch, but no pulse button. The polished finish and laser-etched logos are a beautiful touch that almost make you want to cherish it more than use it.

After you grind the beans, you need a proper way to brew. There really isn’t an easier way than with a press pot. It’s one of the most basic and transparent brewing methods, that’s difficult to mess up. No paper filters to impair the taste, and nowhere for bad beans to hide. The oils that aren’t filtered out by the mesh, provide full flavor in the cup while a bit of sediment adds a pleasant texture to the body.

While you can pick up a basic press for about $20, Storyville wanted something that would look nice on the counter next to their grinder. So they partnered with Bodum to offer a custom, 12-cup Columbia press pot. The stainless steel matches the accents on the grinder, and it makes enough coffee to serve everyone at your dinner party.

The design and consideration doesn’t stop at the packaging and the products, but continues through the literature as well. The instruction guides are nicely illustrated with pleasant typography to guide you through using, cleaning and maintaining each piece of hardware. When an instruction guide is so beautiful that you actually want to read it all the way through, it says something for the power of design.

On Monday, I’ll talk more about some unique things Storyville is doing as a company, as well as review the coffee itself. Until then, check out their website to watch a video tour of their amazing roasting studio and a fun parody about ex-employees of “Big Coffee.”

Visit Storyville Coffee

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6 Comments

  • Reply Chantal Ireland 12/17/2010 at 4:09 pm

    This is a great post. I found Storyville a couple years ago, and also fell in love with their visual brand. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Reply Woody 12/17/2010 at 4:21 pm

    This is pretty darn cool, almost the same set up i use every morning to make coffee in my house, i think the only thing they could have done to make it even cooler would be to add an electric water boiler, it really makes making coffee such a breeze when added to the other 2 items. Great job Storyville, and great review!

  • Reply bwj 12/17/2010 at 5:04 pm

    Thank you both, glad you enjoyed it.

    I agree, an electric kettle really improves the home brewing experience and would make the package complete. I know they offer a couple suggested kettles on their website. But it would be cool to see what could be done in terms of design and customization of a kettle too.

  • Reply Ed 12/18/2010 at 12:39 am

    Great review – love this hardware, but love the coffee even more!

  • Reply drew 01/04/2011 at 11:20 am

    i think that grinder -is- a baratza virtuoso with some chrome attached.

  • Reply DCILY HQ Moving to Sweden « Dear Coffee, I Love You. | Caffeinated Inspiration. 07/04/2011 at 3:58 pm

    […] Storyville Hardware Kit ($200, obo) Custom Baratza Virtuoso equivalent grinder and 51oz Bodum Columbia Stainless Press pot. Reviewed here. […]

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