An Illustrated World of Coffee

10.01

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Mr. Porter, an online retailer of high-end menswear, published a lovely interactive map of global coffee trends this summer in the journal section of their website. You can glide around the map and read tidbits about each location’s coffee culture and brief summaries of various brew methods and coffee drinks.

The illustrations were done by some of my favorite designers at Hey Studio in Barcelona, Spain. Their simple geometric style illustrates twenty-nine different drinks from around the world, from the AeroPress to the Ten Belles.

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The map is also accompanied by some thoughts from Mansel Fletcher, the site’s Features Editor, and Marco Arrigo from Illy, regarding today’s evolving coffee scene:

One of the striking things about the modern coffee scene is the extent to which the Italian tradition has been written out of the picture. The flat white has become so popular that it’s possible to imagine that the espresso was invented in Melbourne, rather than in Turin. However, Mr Marco Arrigo, Illy’s head of quality in the UK, believes that there’s one element of Italian coffee culture that Anglo Saxons can’t reproduce. “In the UK and the US you can have the coffee, but you still don’t have the culture. You should enjoy a coffee with somebody else, sitting down, drinking from a real cup. To drink coffee on your own, from a paper cup, while sending an email on your BlackBerry is missing the point; it’s like eating a meal in front of the television. It’s sterile.” – Mr. Porter 

View all the illustrations and explore the map at Mr. Porter Journal.

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posted by on 10.01.2013, under Coffee 101, Design, Misc.

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

Brew Method: The Bialetti Moka Express

09.02

There are many ways to brew coffee at home—as many bad methods as good methods. Aside from auto-drip, instant and K-cup machines, I personally think the worst cup of coffee one can make at home comes from a Bialetti. There are a few techniques to improve the coffee from a moka pot—like pouring pre-heated water into the lower chamber—but I still think the outcome is on par with burnt metallic sludge.

Coffee taste aside, the object itself is a beautiful and iconic part of design history, with a place in several major museums around the world. Which is why it looks great on posters, sitting on a kitchen shelf, or even oddly contorted into a ceramic mug.

Yesterday, The New York Times ran an article about the invention of the Moka Express that says 9 in 10 Italian homes own one—which is an incredible saturation of the home brewing market. But just like Italian espresso, ignoring progression in the name of tradition can limit the quality that good coffee can produce.

The moka pot is often referred to as a stove-top espresso maker, but it doesn’t actually make espresso. While, it does use pressure to push water through the coffee grounds, it’s a substantially less amount than what’s required for a proper shot (1-2 bars of pressure instead of the required 9 bars). In many ways it’s just a well designed percolator.

However, if you love using a moka pot as much as looking at one, atleast give the tips in this video a try to see if you can improve the taste. If you’re buying fresh roasted coffee, you shouldn’t sacrifice flavor for the sake of romanticizing an inferior brew method.

posted by on 09.02.2011, under Brew Methods, Design, Misc., Products, Videos

Brew Methods

01.20

Brew Methods is a beautiful new site launched by the blog cleanhotdry. It’s essentially an evolving collection of coffee brewing resources. It links to various tutorials and videos for the average person to learn all they need to improve their home brewing as well as increase their appreciation for the art of coffee. If you’ve got a brewing method they haven’t covered, or a tutorial of your own, submit it and share in the great enlightenment.

The premise is simple:  To provide anyone and everyone with access to the best coffee brewing guides in the entire universe.

Home brewing is an interesting subject in the industry.  People have all this great coffee, they have the proper equipment, but how do they learn to brew it?  If you have never worked in coffee, where can you properly learn from?  I’m often asked by friends and customers all sorts of home brewing questions and this is a way to answer them…read more

Visit Brew Methods and start learning!

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posted by on 01.20.2010, under Design, Misc.