Commonwealth Coffee is a new coffee roaster based in Denver, Colorado, founded by Jason Farrar and Ryan Fisher. The pair got things started last fall and I had the pleasure of meeting Ryan in Seattle at the SCAA Event in April. He sent me home with a stamped brown bag of their Ethiopian coffee that was one of my favorites on the post-SCAA cupping table and assured me that they had new bags coming out that would be fantastic. After seeing a couple process shots on his phone, I knew they were going to stand out—and that, they do.
The branding and the bags for Commonwealth are the work of notable designer and typographer Kevin Cantrell, whose intricate work looks like its from the bygone era of Freemasons and royal charters. The design is meant to reflect the core of Commonwealth Coffee, which represents unity between the quality of product and service. On the back of each bag is a quote from Thomas Hobbes’ “Leviathan which argues for the value of the social contract:
This is more than mere agreement or harmony; it is a real unity of them all. They are uniﬁed in that they constitute one single person, created through a covenant of every man with every other man… -Hobbes, Leviathan
The detailed line work wraps the entire bag in gold patterns, filling nearly every inch of empty space between the custom, typographic logo. Laced between the patterns and the flourishes you will find details of the coffee. Each country of origin also has be assigned it’s own custom typographic treatment that is just as well crafted as the logo itself. The details are tremendous. If Baz Lurhmann made a modern period film about coffee, this would be his bag of choice.
With spring on the horizon, the dreams of leisurely bike rides under blossoming trees and lounging in grass covered parks is almost within reach. If you’d like to add a fresh cup of coffee to the equation, your options for safely transporting it can be limited. Just in time for better weather, the Swedish cycling accessory company Bookman, known for their portable and powerful bike lights, has just launched a new cup holder for your bike to make your coffee’s journey easier.
The simple and utilitarian design attaches like a clamp and can be quickly and easily removed. The company claims that it will remain firmly in place, even over bumps—just be sure you’ve got the coffee’s lid on tight. The two rings are different sizes allowing you to flip the holder to accommodate a small or medium sized cup of coffee. I’m not sure if they can fit a KeepCup, but that would make them even nicer. Once they’re available, I’ll be sure to test them out.
This Friday, you have a unique opportunity from Intelligentsia to order a selection of three rare coffees they’re offering from Colombia. The project, called Café Inmaculada (immaculate coffee), is a collaboration between coffee producers Camilo Merizalde and his childhood friends Andres and Julian Holguin. Camilo himself has been experimenting with coffee cultivars for over a decade at Finca Santuario, his farm outside Popayán, which Intelligentsia has exclusively offered since 2006.
This newest project, Café Inmaculada, began in 2011 on a plot of land owned by the Holguins with the goal to “produce the most extraordinary coffees possible, regardless of risks or costs.” Five exotic, but low-yielding cultivars were planted on an 8 hectre parcel of land with ideal growing conditions in Pichinde, west of Cali, Colombia and are now ready for you to enjoy. Intelligentsia has selected three of the five cultivars to offer in a very limited and very beautiful package called the Café Inmaculada Collection ($50) to be roasted this Friday only—February 7th.
The limited edition box set includes a 50 gram bag of three cultivars: Sudan Rume, Laurina and Maragesha—a wild crossbreed of Maragogype and the famed Geisha variety of coffee. Each of the cultivars has its own unique stories and characteristics as told by Intelligentsia below:
Sudan Rume: A legendary coffee variety that originated on the Boma Plateau, located in southeastern Sudan near to the Ethiopian border. This area belongs to a region considered to be the birthplace of the Arabica species. Sudan Rume has long been used by plant breeders as a source of ‘quality’ genes, but is rarely planted because it doesn’t produce large yields.
Laurina: This cultivar, a.k.a. Bourbon Pointu, comes from Réunion Island just off the coast of Madagascar. It is the direct descendent of the trees responsible for seeding most of Latin America, and was all but forgotten for most of the 20th century. Laurina is thought to be an early mutation from the Typica variety and is now considered the ‘original’ Bourbon. It has the distinction of being extremely low in caffeine.
Maragesha: This is a spontaneous wild cross of Maragogype and Geisha that occurred in the Santuario farm outside of Popayán, where trees of the two varieties were growing next to one another. It does not exist anywhere else, and this lot is the first to have ever been harvested.
The packaging itself is just as immaculate as the coffee claims to be, with its delicate geometric details printed by Chicago’s Rohner Letterpress and a metal box for stylishly storing future coffees or your overflowing collection of filters and accessories. Intelligentsia’s designer Andy Wickstrom said of the package design:
The geometric patterning was a nod to Camilo and the Holguins regarding the specificity of their plots—the sub-dividing of a special farm and its fruits. The design was meant to reflect that hyper-specific parcelling of land. The concept of the farm is pretty futuristic, so I felt a minimalist pattern structure fit pretty well.
Having this piece printed by Chicago’s letterpress icon, Rohner Letterpress, added a really nice touch, too. I don’t think it would have worked as well printed any other way, to be honest. The tactile quality it gives print is still cherished by a lot of people. It gives these types of projects the presence that not many other printing processes can. –Andy Wickstrom
There’s a lot of beautiful things going on inside and outside of this box gong all the way back the experimentation on the farm itself. So be sure to get your order in by Friday to have one of these unique coffee sets shipped, or pick one up at one of Intelligentsia’s cafés. There will also be tastings of these coffees held every Friday for the next three weeks at the Intelligentsia store on Broadway in Chicago and in Venice, California.
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.
By now, you’ve most likely heard about the Acaia digital scale that’s raising funds on Kickstarter. The scale is beautifully designed resembling the minimal simplicity of an AppleTV device and it offers several delightful features. It has 0.1 gram accuracy, it’s powered by a lithium-ion battery that charges with a micro USB cable and uses an advanced, updatable micro-chip that’s usually reserved for commercial grade scales. It’s smart, powerful and splash proof—but originally it had one major flaw, it had no timer.
I wanted to praise it, I wanted to back it, I wanted it on my counter now, but If I had to pull out my non-splash proof smart phone to keep time after being spoiled by the Hario Drip Scale, I wanted nothing to do with it. For a Kickstarter price of $59 (and retail of $89 for the white model) the Acaia isn’t cheap. With a price point that high, it made no sense to lose a feature that seemed to “revolutionize” brewing scales just a year ago. So it was discussed on Twitter and in the Kickstarter comments and Aaron Takao Fujiki, the Acaia designer, listened.
Here is an exclusive first look at the timer function on the Acaia scale.
I spoke with Aaron who told DCILY this was only one solution for a timer, and that he is also testing a dual display that shows both the weight and time simultaneously (which you can see below).
Aaron also pointed out the additional “magic” provided by the mobile app that syncs with the scale via Bluetooth. Apart from displaying and recording the weight data, it also allows for advanced settings control. For example, with the app a user could toggle between the dual timer display or the manual timer function and even update the firmware of the scale if necessary.
Currently all the possibility of this scale exists in a few prototypes and just like most Kickstarter products, there’s no guarantee it will work as advertised (or even be delivered). So if you have money to spare, like to support innovative designers, or are simply crazy over the latest coffee gadgets, this might be worth supporting now before the price jumps to its higher retail price. If you’ve been waiting for a better scale to come out, this offers a lot of attractive features and looks quite fast (responsive) based on the videos.
However, if you’re looking for something right now, or for a holiday gift—the Hario scales have come down in price, function well and look just as nice on your counter. If you don’t mind using a separate timer, there are loads of other capable scales that serve the important task of weighing your coffee and water without all the extras featured on the Acaia.
Apart from the downsides of coffee shop crackdowns in Iran, there is still a determination among young Iranians to enjoy coffee socially and have incredible places in which to do so. Opened in 2010, M Coffee is an example of one of these incredible places I’d love to visit in Tehran.
This amazing shop, designed by architect Hooman Balazadeh, is less than 600 sq ft (52m) but makes incredible use of the limited space. The design goal was to offer a new perspective to patrons from every one of its 42 seats, introducing new ideas to inspire them. With such a small space, the number of materials and colors were limited to just two, while maximizing the experience with its unique form.
The shape of the ceiling formed by a series of planks not only creates an iconic shape while defusing the lighting, but it’s also meant to dampen the acoustics from the many conversations taking place in such a close environment. The coffee shop is located on the second floor of the Velenjak Shopping Center, so the lighting remains constant throughout the day.
The front and back walls are connected through the space with dark woods and leather furniture that absorb the curving light from the panels above. This was done to create a since of unity between the contrasting elements and unite everyone sitting in the space together.
While the stories of coffee shop closures in Iran may be hard to fully understand, especially for those who aren’t from there, we can probably all agree that this is one coffee shop we’d love to sit in all day drinking coffee, no matter what kind of political issues are taking place beyond its walls.
Bruer, a new start up in California, launched a new cold brew coffee maker on Kickstarter last month called the Cold Bruer. This isn’t the first cold brew coffee maker to launch on the crowdfunding site, but it’s the first one that’s practical enough for home use. Unlike the meter high towers that most people design for cold brew coffee, the Cold Bruer’s simplicity is what makes it so fantastic. Less is more—and the minimal design of the Cold Bruer makes that clear (as the glass it’s made with).
Bruer was founded by Andy Clark and Gabe Herz who met at a product incubator in the Santa Cruz mountains. After discovering their joy of cold brew coffee and being unhappy with all the options available for making it—they decided to create their own. The two co-founders wanted to design something transparent to show the process, and they’ve created an elegant and compact way of accomplishing that.
The Cold Bruer was conveniently designed to work with standard paper AeroPress filters, but comes with a reusable mesh filter of its own if you aren’t concerned with clarity. With a capacity of 700ml of water and about 56 grams of coffee, it produces three cups of coffee concentrate (6 cups diluted) to be enjoyed however you like it—with ice, water or milk. The drip valve is fully adjustable allowing brew times to be as short as two hours or as long as eighteen, depending on your level of patience.
The photographs published here are of a Cold Bruer prototype, so I spoke with Andy at Bruer to find out if any changes will be made to the final product:
The prototype is pretty much the same as what we will be delivering. There are a couple changes that have happened already, like the shape of the glass to make the interaction between the pieces more stable. There is also a silicone “shoulder” now that provides a cushion between the two glass pieces. We will be making some improvements to the valve to make it easier to use, based on feedback we received from people who tested our prototypes…
Andy said they’ve also begun designing a lid that will fit both the reservoir on top as well as the pitcher for storage that will also be included with the Cold Bruer.
When I first shared the Bruer on Twitter a few weeks ago, I never really followed up on it since I’m personally not a fan of cold brewed coffee—but I know many people are. I do however think it’s one of the best looking cold brewers on the market and the design alone is worth sharing. Now that the Cold Bruer has surpassed its goal on Kickstarter by over 450%, there’s only a week left to order one at a discounted price.
By backing the project on Kickstarter you can pre-order a Cold Bruer for only $50—later retailing for $70. And although the original delivery date was estimated for January 2014, there’s a possibility they might ship a bit sooner. Andy said with the success of the campaign so far, some parts have already been ordered in hopes of delivering early. That’s good news for cold brew fans everywhere.
Novel is just that—a novel travel kettle that folds up for easy packing. The kettle design, by Slovakian designer Stanislav Sabo is currently patented, but I’m not sure how functional it is at this point. Very little information is available about the technical aspects of how it would work, if it would actually work at all. But what if it did? It would make the ultimate travel coffee kit complete. I want one.
When I travel, I always carry my AeroPress, hand grinder, pocket scale, KeepCup and fresh coffee. The missing link is always the hot water. Sometimes you can find it in large boilers set aside for tea, or you can hunt down a nearby café and awkwardly explain that you only need hot water to brew your own coffee. Some hotels have kettles, but they are often pretty scary on the inside—to the point that you wouldn’t want to drink anything that came out of it. But even those hotel room kettles are beginning to be replaced by K-Cup machines.
The Novel is made from a 100% silicone liner that’s wrapped in heatproof plastic panels, which all fold flat. The pieces, including the lid are held together by magnets which also activate fuses in the electric base. From the illustrations of the prototype, I’m not entirely sure how energy is transferred to boil the water, but this can’t be an impossible task—we landed on the moon damn it!
I’ve had conversations with manufactures about this type of product, but they’re convinced the market isn’t big enough—I think they’re misjudging the potential. If something like this could be powered in the car or by solar adapter, then backpackers, campers and road trippers of all stripes would be totally into something like this—no more bulky butane kettles taking up valuable space in your pack.
Any product engineers out there want to help Stanislav make this functional and Kickstart it? Or let’s start from scratch and make something awesome. Give me freedom or give me death! Is that really too much to ask?
Discovered in the depths of Instagram comes this question generating photo of a prototype for what appears to be a programmable, fully automatic water dispersing device for a Hario V60 setup—the V60 Coffee Maker. We want to know more!
Is this something to look forward to in 2013? Does it have a scale? Does it have a timer? Does the base rotate? Will it meet Scott Rao’s approval? Is it fake? Is it the iPhone 6? Will the “v60″ type be kerned on production models? Will it compete in the Brewers Cup? Will Crossland sue? So many questions and so few answers.
I’ve got an email in to Hario for comment, or a cease and desist. Until then, enjoy letting your imagination run wild. If anyone out there has any more details, please share.
Thanks for all the tips. The mystery has been solved with a bit more digging. It retails for about $165USD and also comes in “wine red.” It doesn’t seem to be available outside of Japan right now, but you can (try to) read more about it here.
For the second year in a row, Verve Coffee Roasters in Santa Cruz have wrapped their limited Gesha offerings in lovely cans that reflect just how special these coffees are. While I won’t be reviewing the coffees, which Verve was kind enough to send all the way to Sweden, but I will say that they were two of the finest I’ve tasted in 2012.
Gesha (or Geisha) coffee is a variety of coffee cultivar that is known among coffee connoisseurs as one of the most unique and complex coffees available. Excluding the immoral and over-hyped coffees that are extracted from animal poop, Gesha coffee is the most expensive in the world. In 2010, Gesha from La Hacienda Esmeralda set a new record at auction with a price of $170/lb. for green, unroasted beans.
Last year’s cans were dressed in black, but this year they’ve taken on a lighter tone, adding a new level of elegance to the industry common theme of black-on-craft aesthetic. The labeled cans are letter pressed, foil-stamped and hand numbered, but are beautifully simple and refined, contrasting the complexity of Verve’s standard bags.
The cans remind me of whiskey bottles that often come packed in elegant tubes to better protect the luxurious products inside. When you’re paying $45 to $65 for half a pound of the world’s finest coffee beans, the buyer may expect more than just a different sticker on a standard coffee bag. While others have used glass jars in equally elegant ways, these cans create the same impact without greatly affecting the shipping weight.
Investing in design to better communicate the value of your product is a great way to change the perceptions of those who see coffee as a cheap commodity with no difference in quality, no matter where it comes from. If specialty coffee truly is special, it should begin to look and feel that way more often than it does now.