Following the devastation and poor management of relief to the hurricane Katrina victims in New Orleans, Mississippian Michael McDaniel was determined to develop a solution that would prevent inefficiency and waste in future disasters and avoid making things worse for the victims. The goal of his company Reaction over the past 8 years has been to improve the quality and cost of post-disaster shelters for victims. With the inspiration of a styrofoam coffee cup, McDaniel came up with the idea for the lightweight, stackable, and cost effective Exo Housing System.
According to the company’s website, the shelters are light enough to be moved by hand and strong enough to stop bullets. While the average cost of a FEMA trailer, the current post-disaster shelters, is around $20,000 each and designed for a single use, the Exo will be sold for about $5000 and can be reused. Apart from the cost and construction, they can also be stacked, just like coffee cups, fitting 28 housing units on one semi trailer that can only transport one FEMA shelter.
The shelters are also more than just a roof over the inhabitants heads, they are wired with modern technology to allow victims charge phones and stay connected with updates through an integrated app called Populous. The company just finished raising $50,000 to send shelters to Syria and they are beginning the process of manufacturing on a large scale to make these available to all the areas in the world that desperately need them.
Fast Company just published this nice video interview with McDaniel about the Exo shelter’s creation and its potential for doing good in unfortunate circumstances. Disposable coffee cups are often one of the downsides to coffee’s popularity, but in this instance, a disposable coffee cup’s inspiring impact has the potential to do a lot of good for a lot of people around the world.
Read more: Reaction Housing
Traveler’s Coffee is an international chain of specialty coffee shops from Russia with an impressive 76 locations in 5 countries (Russia, China, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan). They are headquartered in Novosibirsk, the third largest city in Russia, in southwestern Siberia. The company is currently working with designer Anna Burles to renovate their flagship store inside of a three story geodesic dome—and it looks nothing short of amazing.
Set across three floors, the unique venue we are designing will feature a 3rd Wave Genius Bar, Espresso ToGo, retail shop and Sky Lounge which nestles underneath the building’s glass-domed roof. The restaurant has 200+ covers and is the flagship venue of Travelers Coffee. -Anna Burles
Anna and another designer John Barnett are based in London and have been collaborating on a lovely portfolio of projects in the coffee world, designing holistic brand and architectural experiences in the UK, Russia and China. They recently authored a great article in the Specialty Coffee Chronicle called, “Creating the Coffee Shop Brand Experience: a Designer’s View” that I highly suggest reading.
Designing a coffee shop isn’t just about getting the right look. Or serving the best coffee. It’s about creating an experience which not only shouts about the amazingness of your coffee, and how that makes people feel good, but also an experience which gives a double-shot boost to your brand…
It’s a crowded marketplace for sure, with an ever-growing breed of artisan coffee brands opening up shop in our towns and cities. So what makes us (or you) choose one brand’s coffee shop over another? And how can we as designers use our professional and personal insight to help you as a client stand out in a way which makes consumers stay loyal to you? –SCAA Chronicle
As a designer who does a lot of work in the coffee industry, it’s always great to hear the perspectives of others who face the same challenges and are doing great work to elevate specialty coffee experiences around the world. This new Traveler’s Coffee location, when it opens, will be high on the list of places to visit.
Saint Frank, the newest specialty coffee bar in San Francisco is set to finally open this weekend in Russian Hill. The new space is really incredible and I’ve got the photos to prove it. I stopped by this afternoon for a delicious cup of Honduras and to talk with Kevin Bohlin about the new venture.
Back in July, I wrote about the opening of Saint Frank’s pop-up at the Public Bike showroom in South Park. That location is still there and has since become a longer term project that’s kept customers satisfied while the new flagship space was being completed on northern end of Polk Street.
The new space is awash in natural light from the four large skylights overhead and the wall of windows up front. A long, low bar adorned with white hexagon tiles and a matching white counter top reflect the light and illuminate the light wood planks that cut across the floor diagonally and continue half way up the towering walls. The tension between the wood grain and white space create an atmosphere that’s dynamic enough to give warmth, but airy enough to be a gallery space.
It’s an absolutely stunning space.
One of the greatest features is what the space lacks—the presence of physical barriers between the customer and the barista. Kevin worked with John Ermacoff to install the first prototype of a new under bar espresso machine similar to the MOD Bar used in the new Counter Culture Training Center. The machine is still unnamed and uses the guts of a Synesso Sabre. It features the same volumetric and PID benefits, while being extremely low profile.
There are two groups and two cool touch steam wands that are controlled by foot pedals on the floor for hands free milk magic. The groups themselves have a profile that’s more aesthetically similar to an Über boiler and less like the flowing lines of the MOD Bar. But most importantly, guests are no longer walled off from baristas. The espresso bar now provides the same theater as the pour over bar.
There will soon be two espresso machines (a second low pro is being built) which will add the option of ordering single origin espressos ground on the EK43.
There are a variety of seating options, from small two person tables to larger high tables in the back of the shop. There’s a bar at the window for watching the heavy foot traffic go by outside and a future loft space that can be used for meetings or larger groups. There will also be a training lab hidden away upstairs, wifi for the internet starved and pastries for the hungry.
The coffee itself comes from a partnership between Kevin and his former employer Ritual Coffee, where he sources the coffees from farms he has built relationships with, while Ritual helps do the actual roasting. This partnership leads to coffee roasted at the same level of quality you would expect from Ritual, but with unique coffees sourced by Kevin himself.
The brand was developed by the talented Brooklyn-based designer Dana Tanamachi and the beautiful architecture was done by Amanda Loper (whose husband is currently making A Film About Coffee).
The grand opening takes place this Saturday, October 19th at 7am. So stop by and congratulate Kevin, drink some delicious coffee and admire the beautiful space.
Saint Frank Coffee
2340 Polk Street
San Francisco, California
Three weeks ago, I shared the announcement of Coffee Collective’s new roastery and coffee bar opening this summer in Copenhagen. Since then, I’ve been down to Denmark to meet with Klaus and tour their beautiful new flagship in Frederiksberg.
The new roaster is warming up, the Über’s been installed and a lovely row of stools are lined up at the brew bar waiting for customers to wear them in. As soon as the final permits are received, this incredible new space will be open—for what I imagine will be the most unique coffee experience in the city. Stay tuned.
The Coffee Collective
To double-down on yesterday’s post about Starbuck’s deep pockets and their ability to build remarkable cafés—I present to you Starbucks: The Bank. Europe’s new flagship store will open this weekend in Amsterdam on the heavily trafficked Rembrandtplein. This giant new location will feature a bakery and “coffee laboratory” and was built inside the renovated vault of a historic bank.
The Bank has replaced the now-standard super-automatics with throwback La Marzocco Lineas and there will be a “Slow Coffee Theater” which will focus on brewing Starbucks small-batch reserve coffees with undisclosed “slow” methods. This will also be Starbuck’s first European location with a Clover system, though it’s not the first time they’ve been used by other shops in Europe. The “laboratory” will be used to try new concepts before sharing ideas that work with other Starbucks stores throughout Europe.
The design was directed by Ductch-born Liz Muller who worked with over 35 local artists and craftsman to add many of the details throughout the space. From vintage Deflt tiles, to bicycle inner tube art, and reclaimed Dutch-oak for all the trimmings, the space is warm and personal with an authentic localism that is hard for chain stores to pull off.
There are multiple levels throughout the space that double as stages for various events with the intent of having The Bank double as a cultural hub in the center of Amtersdam while also maintaining emphasis on the baristas.
The entire shop was designed to respect the architecture of the historic bank, but also to treat coffee as a theater. In fact, the store is constructed like a reversed theater; you can see the baristas the moment you enter the door, and as you move through the niches and platforms you never lose sight of them.
While I will never advocate drinking their coffee, I am continually impressed by the design, marketing and sustainability efforts that Starbucks continues to make. It’s a shame that all of it is done in vain when compared to their undrinkable coffee and heavy entrance into the instant coffee and K-cup markets.
With every move the company seems to make in the right direction, I give them another try. I’ve tasted their “Reserve Coffees” brewed on a Clover and I’ve sipped their “Blonde” roast brewed in a Chemex—but every time it’s the same sad story, burnt and undrinkable. At the very least these new concept stores will be a great place to sit and drink a cup of tea or hot chocolate while checking my email for free.
When your coffee company’s market value is $27 Billion, you can afford to hire world renown architects to design your cafés. In 2008, Starbucks worked with Japanese-born Kengo Kuma & Associates to build a new location near Dazaifu Tenman-gū, a major Shinto shrine first built in 905. Kuma’s goal to reinterpret traditional Japanese architecture for the 21st century is apparent throughout his work, which takes a macro look at woven sticks of wood to create a dynamic fluidity within the space.
The building is made of 2,000 stick-like parts in the sizes of 1.3m – 4m length and 6cm section. Total length of the sticks reached as far as 4.4km. We had experimented the weaving of sticks for the project of Chidori and GC Prostho Museum Research Center, and this time we tried the diagonal weaving in order to bring in a sense of direction and fluidity. Three sticks are joined at one point in Chidori and GC, while in Starbucks four steps come to one point because of the diagonal—a more complicated joint. –ArchDaily
This really is an incredible looking shop—now if only it served better coffee.
Photos by Masao Nishikawa
On December 13, just south of Starbuck’s hometown of Seattle, a new drive-thru location opened up in Tukwila, Washington. Unlike the other 17,000 locations though, this one is built from reused shipping containers. Green architecture isn’t new for Starbucks, last year they began opening LEED certified cafés around the world, but this is the first one utilizing cargotecture—the reuse of cargo shipping containers for architecture.
Starbuck’s isn’t the first coffee company to use shipping containers (Illy previously used a transforming shipping container as a café at the Venice Biannale and Ritual Proxy opened this summer in San Francisco) nor is their architect the first to design with them—though they speak as if they were:
We were able to open our minds to the use of very common elements destined for the landfill as structure for a high-quality, drive-thru coffee house design – essentially creating an industrial beacon for sustainable thinking. –Tony Gale III
I’m a big fan of shipping container architecture and applaud reuse in any form—however, I find it ironic that the modest green giant’s “beacon for sustainable thinking” is a drive-thru coffee shop in the suburbs. Maybe the sheer spectacle will introduce a unique perspective to a new audience, but I don’t see how a line of idling cars waiting for their trenta ice coffee is a beacon for anything other than the worst of American consumerism and suburban sprawl.
For being as large as Starbucks is, they aren’t entirely bad. I may not like their coffee, but I also won’t deny the trail they blazed for specialty coffee or the sustainability efforts they do make. Sadly, the reality of being a publicly-traded company too often encourages them to make decisions that counter all of their positive efforts (like joining the K-Cup trend) for the sake of maximizing profits.
In the long run, if this prototype became the new format for all future drive-thru locations, it could reduce the use of virgin material in construction and inspire other large companies to follow suit. But please Starbucks, show a bit of humility—shipping container architecture is not a Starbucks invention, nor is roasting “light.”
More photos and an interview with Starbucks on Inhabitat
The Google Headquarters in London has officially been added to my list of “must visit” coffee destinations in the UK. The newly opened Engineering floor, dubbed “L4″ is fully loaded in ways you could only dream about for your own office.
My favorite part, of course, is the dedicated Coffee Lab. With 7 hoppers, 2 espresso machines and a myriad of manual brew methods to choose from (note the Presso & syphon centerpieces), you’ll have more decisions than just which one of the 19 available coffees you want to brew—impressive.
I’d love to know which coffees they have in stock and if there’s a barista on staff to train employees how to dial in a good shot. It would be a waste if such a beautiful set-up wasn’t being used for all of its potential.
Once you’ve brewed yourself a coffee, you can head over to the cinema, indoor park, arcade or soundproof band room for a jam session or karaoke party with co-workers. Only thing missing from this place is laser tag and a ball pit—and yes, they’re hiring.
More photos of the Google office at Pocket Lint
One thing I love about traveling is the opportunity to experience the tremendous variety of cafés & coffee bars around the world. It’s amazing how many different environments we’ve designed around one drink—modern, kitschy, rustic, industrial, and cozy (just to name a few). During a year spent living in the deep south, I was able to enjoy the warm Southern architecture that seems to transforms every space into someone’s living room.
Photographer Kathryn Barnard has done a fantastic job capturing this feeling at a coffee shop in Charleston, South Carolina called Hope and Union. I’ve never been to Charleston and though I wouldn’t have expected it to have any coffee shops worth writing home about, the cameo of Intelligentsia mugs in the photos may be enough evidence to prove me wrong. Next stop, Southbound & down!
See the rest of the beautiful photos on Design*Sponge
posted by bwj
on 03.24.2011, under Misc.
This summer I spent two weeks in Minneapolis and fell in love with it. They have the bike culture of Portland, coupled with a Norwegian resistance to cold, wrapped up in the beauty of 10,000 lakes. I never thought I’d want to live in the Midwest (again), but Mpls really made an impression on me. However, the coffee culture left me wanting something more—good news is Peace Coffee, one of the most prominent roasters in town, is working hard to fill this coffee void I experienced on my visit.
After roasting Fair Trade organic beans since 1996, Peace Coffee opened their first coffee shop last November in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis. The new shop carries all the principles I would expect from a company who delivers their coffee around town with bikes and biodiesel trucks.
Reclaimed wood was used to build benches along the exposed brick walls, while an old fire door hangs transformed above the bar as a unique menu board, and Craigslist finds help furnish the rest of the space. The companies quirky personality is reflected in the brightly colored mosaic (made with recycled glass) and with the support of a local artist, who’s little clay monsters are hidden in crevices throughout the walls.
The shop offers espresso, pour-over (one of only a few I know in the city), as well as pre-brewed for those in a hurry. But if you’re smart, you’ll stick around for the homemade pepparkakor (swedish gingerbread cookie) served with each drink. I was already planning another trip to Mpls but this gives me one more reason to go back.
Peace Coffee Shop & Peace Coffee