Happy New Year everyone! While looking forward to great things in the coming year, here’s a look back at 2012—a great year for drinking coffee. It was my first full year living in Sweden so there was a big shift in the coffees I was able to have on a regular basis at home. Thanks to a few trips back to the US and those generous and willing enough to ship overseas I was still able to get a fair share of coffee from US roasters as well, many of which the bags were given away to other coffee lovers on this side of the world.
A few things I noticed in 2012 that I’m looking forward to becoming even more prominent in 2013 are the continued variety of fantastic coffees from El Salvador and coffees from new areas in Ethiopia, which taste great, but nothing like Yirgacheffe. I can also confirm that every coffee I tasted from Sumatra was still absolutely terrible.
All of the coffee bags above can be browsed in large scale on Flickr (or Pinterest)
Darth Vader, a moka pot and Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport are combined with the dark side of coffee brewing and stop motion animation in the latest video from Coffee Circle.
Using the Force to bring a bit of light (and quality) to one of the evilest of brew methods, the moka pot, this video will make Star Wars fans and coffee lovers alike grab their AeroPress Lightsabers to protect the Empire from terrible coffee.
What do transexuals, exotic bird lovers, lake monster hunters, historic reenactors and a railway brass band have in common? They get lonely—and in this case they’re Swedish.
Löfbergs, following a recent rebrand, have launched a new ad campaign to celebrate the numerous and unique associations in Sweden that bring people together—and as a result drink a lot of coffee. The campaign features: The Association for Transsexuals (Free Personality Expression) in Malmö, The Great Lake Monster Association in Östersund, The Gothenburg Tropical Bird Association, The Swedish Railways Band Association and the Historical Society of King Gustaf’s Toast.
Along with video and print advertisements, Löfbergs launched a National Register of Associations where you can find other like-minded enthusiasts or create your own organization and fight loneliness in the company of others—over coffee. Memberships in associations have been declining in recent years and Löfbergs would like to reverse that, because associations contribute to less loneliness.
The new ads were created by, Volontaire, the same firm who developed the brilliant idea for @Sweden, the world’s first democratized national voice on Twitter—sparking the worldwide phenomenon of rotation curation.
Löfbergs, formerly known as Löfbergs Lila, is the largest family-owned coffee roaster in Sweden and are well-known throughout the country by their trademarked purple color (lila). Founded in 1906, it’s the coffee of choice at the Swedish Royal families gatherings and they’re also one of the world’s largest buyers of ecological and Fair Trade coffee.
I know Löfbergs as the purple bags in the grocery store filled with dark-roasted coffee. But they would like you to think less about their coffee and more about why we drink it—to be with others. No matter what’s in your cup, that’s a great gesture of humanity.
Three months ago, I shared an article from Eater which broke the news of Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski’s plans for the future—a shop of their own in LA that prepares delicious coffee and uses minimal disposables. Kyle, the 2008 US Barista Champion, and Charles, this year’s 2nd place USBC finalist, both left Intelligentsia Coffee this summer and have finally opened doors to their own coffee bar this week.
This new space is somewhat temporary while they look for a permanent home, but it gives them a way to try out ideas with customers while further shaping their concept for the perfect shop. G&B have partnered with Jessica Koslow who runs SQIRL, a confiture kitchen that specializes in deliciously named organic jams made from local produce. The unique partnership is sure to offer some of the best coffee, tea and toast in LA.
The starting line-up of roasters would excite any coffee lover, offering a variety from 49th Parallel, Heart, Intelligentsia and Ritual. For those wanting something cold in the SoCal sun, G&B have also bottled cold brewed coffee and teas to complete their menu.
Over the last few months I’ve had the pleasure of working with Kyle and Charles to develop their brand and it’s exciting to finally see parts of it alive in the world. I look forward to its evolution as all the details are refined and it expands in the future.
Kyle and Charles both have a great vision and talent for service and exceptional coffee experiences, so if you have the opportunity to stop by for a coffee and some toast—I highly suggest it. Follow G&B on twitter for daily offerings and updates.
Short, sweet and inspiring. This quick and quirky film was created in response to the theme “fika” for Motion Monday—a website that showcases short animation projects from student’s at Hyper Island, a digital design school in Karlskrona, Sweden.
Mark Youd is an artist based in Caerphilly, near Cardiff, South Wales. Before Mark gets to work on his paintings, he starts the day with coffee, which inspired this creative series of photography called “Caffeine Planets.” I asked Mark to describe the process:
It’s a simple, fun project based on the patterns that develop in the crema on my morning coffee…I use Nespresso from a Krups Pixie machine topped up with hot water, by varying the angle of the mug when the coffee is being pumped and/or the speed the hot water is poured, I can influence the pattern that is created in the crema. I take a photo (with nothing more special than an iPhone) very soon after pouring. I then crop the images in photoshop and apply very basic contrast and colour filters (and a healthy dose of imagination) to them while I drink the coffee. -Mark Youd
Tigere Chiriga, a North Carolina-based entrepreneur, had a problem that many of us struggle with—failing to always use a coaster. So instead of continuing to ruin furniture and upset his wife, he began thinking of ways to design a mug that didn’t need one. Not long after defining the problem did he encounter unlikely inspiration from a banana.
Chiriga’s idea led to the creation of prototypes for personal use, but the project never developed any further. After many requests for where to buy them and his recent discovery of Kickstarter, he’s now raised enough money to have many more of these beautifully brilliant mugs manufactured at a factory in the US.
With three weeks left in the campaign, you can still support the project, though its already surpassed its initial goal by almost $10,000. The mugs cost a hefty $40 a piece, but if it saves your favorite table from dreaded halos, it will pay for itself rather quickly.
I recently worked with the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) to design their latest report illustrating sales trends among coffeehouses. This tool is developed by SCAA to give helpful insight into industry trends among specialty coffee retailers.
If you’re a coffeehouse retailer, the SCAA Coffeehouse Sales Trends Report a useful benchmarking tool available to assess the state of the retail environment and industry. Developed in conjunction with the Cleveland Research Company and a participating group of specialty coffee retailers, this report observes sales and cost trends including an examination of the competitive landscape, a 12 month outlook and category and segment trends. The report also provides an insider’s view of consumer preferences broken down by category as well as big picture trends compared to other foodservice segments. There is truly no better means of understanding your business within the larger industry than through the SCAA Coffeehouse Sales Trends Report. -SCAA
The SCAA is currently looking for more coffee retailers to participate in future reports. If you’re interested, visit the SCAA for more information.
ST.ALi, one of the newer additions to the London coffee scene, is going through a bit of a change. They announced yesterday that they are parting ways with their sibling in Australia to blaze their own trail in London. I’m excited to have worked with Tim to help create the new face of Workshop Coffee Co., who will continue adding great value to specialty coffee in London at both their Clerkenwell and Marylebone locations.
Yesterday, the following announcement was shared on the ST.ALi website:
Friends, there are some changes a-foot.
In April 2011, we opened our Clerkenwell cafe under the same banner as some friends in Australia. Following shortly after, we opened our Marylebone coffeebar under the same arrangement.
The response from local customers and visitors alike has been wonderful, overwhelming and humbling, due in no small part to our fantastic team, and the guests we take care of everyday.
However, due largely to the constraints of an arrangement stretched across 10,000 miles, the time has come to blaze the trail on our own. On April 16th, the London operations of ‘ST. ALi’ and ‘Sensory Lab’ will undergo a name change, becoming Workshop Coffee Co.
So, aside from the name, what changes? Well, nothing else changes. The same friendly staff and the same dedicated owners continuing to develop, refine and improve what we do. The same great food, and the same delicious coffee.
We look forward to seeing you soon,
I’ve visited both locations in the past year and wrote about one of them last August. Both shops are a must visit when coffee touring though London, and Clerkenwell is great for a meal as well. All my best to the team at Workshop as they begin writing their new story.
Maaemo is a restaurant in Oslo, Norway that’s been open little more than a year, and today is celebrating its addition to the Michelin guide with not one, but two stars. The restaurant celebrates local, organic and seasonal ingredients through a collaboration between chef Esben Holmboe Bang and sommelier Pontus Dahlstrøm.
Though I haven’t eaten here myself, several friends have to much praise. The reason I’m writing about their success in food is that they take their coffee just as seriously, which is far too rare among world class restaurants. From early on, they’ve been working with Tim Wendelboe to develop a coffee program that supports their Nordic menu while maintaining the quality of fine specialty coffee.
Early this year they approached me to see if they could improve their coffee service even more in their restaurant. Since the focus of Maaemo is Nordic food they were dreaming of serving traditional steeped coffee in their restaurant, just like they make coffee when hiking in the forest, etc, but did not know how to implement this technique in the restaurant.
After a brief meeting and some demonstration they came up with what I think is the most exciting coffee service I have experienced in a very long time. It is not very often you come across such a well thought out coffee concept and it is even more enjoyable that it is in a restaurant. -Tim Wendelboe
As specialty coffee continues to elevate the quality of whats available, it makes sense that the experience moves solely from cafés and coffee bars to the post-meal menu of the world’s best restaurants. All to often, a 9-course menu with every detail considered is followed by undrinkable coffee—it’s a terrible shame. With restaurants like Maaemo and Eleven Madison Park elevating coffee to the same level as their other menu items, we may soon be able to indulge in that after-dinner coffee more often.
Congratulations to Maaemo. I hope to experience you soon.