Patrick Norguet, an esteemed French designer who has worked on interiors for McDonald’s across Europe, has designed a reusable coffee cup for its locations in France. Five million of the ceramic cups with colorful heat-resistant wraps are being given away this summer with the purchase of a meal and coffee.
There’s nothing I find inherently special about these cups, but I do find the company’s emphasis on design for such an “everyday object” interesting. It places a respective value on the experience that is often overlooked by companies who don’t specialize in coffee.
While you couldn’t convince me to drink McDonald’s coffee, I’ve noticed in Europe, the company takes an entirely different approach to design. I’ve been lured into several just to explore their interiors. There tends to be a more café-like atmosphere where people socialize and work that creates direct competition for coffee chains like Starbucks.
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.
The Floating Mug on Kickstarter
I’ve mentioned before how terrible I think the moka pot is for brewing coffee, but it still remains one of the most iconic symbols of home coffee brewing. It’s a lovely object, albeit one that I’d never recommend anyone use to actually make coffee.
This beautiful blueprint illustration of the Bialetti Moka Express captures its steely geometric form in a truly fantastic way. I continue seeing it show up around the web, but I can’t verify the original artist. If someone knows the illustrator, please share!
[via Frollein M.]
There’s a new coffee book that’s been frolicking through the meadows of the internet and floating down the streams of social media called “A–Z Coffee.” This pocket guide for self-appointed coffee nerds is a collaboration between Norwegian illustrator Lars K. Huse and designer Harald Johnsen Vøyle.
Presented as an A-Z; an art-book, and conversational guide about coffee, specialty coffee and coffee culture, filling a gap in the market overflowing with purely informative, and at times frankly boring books. It has been formed over the past six months, pulling and combining resources as both an illustrator and a coffee professional. The book is aesthetically quite simple, classic contemporary, with subtlety in line and production.
This book is far from a complete overview of specialty coffee and explicitly states that it isn’t trying to be. The content of the book is a bit random in its effort to acknowledge each letter of the alphabet, but it’s a clever and entertaining read nonetheless.
I learned, I laughed, and I longed to see Pulp Fiction again. While reading through the book, I eagerly awaited to see how the letters “X” & “Z” would be fulfilled (Spoiler Alert!) and I must say, well done. Xyleborus Coffeivorus! PS: “Hoffmann” has two “n’s.”
Find out where to pick one up yourself at Kaffikaze.no
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.
For three days last week, while the world’s best baristas were competing, some of the world’s best coffee equipment and sourcing companies had also gathered to showcase what they have to offer. The World of Coffee event, organized by the SCAE, took place in the shimmering Messe Wien convention center in downtown Vienna.
These events can quickly lead to sensory overload, from all the free coffee, conversations and shiny things to touch. So these are only highlights that captured my attention.
La Marzocco got my vote for the best designed booth. From the use of Jon Contino’s black and white illustrations to the wood paneled GS3 centerpiece. I was surrounded by visual awesome while waiting for Michael Phillips and other high caliber baristas to pull shots of rotating espresso on the candy colored Strada.
If you wanted to get a feel for the equipment yourself, you could pull your own shots at the Strada station or wait in line for a glimpse of the hybrid Linea—the Strinea?
If you weren’t in the mood for espresso, Marco built an epic brew bar staffed by an international roster of baristas brewing a rotating selection of the world’s finest coffee. The cross shaped Marco bar was outfitted with Über boilers, Über hoses, and Vario-W grinders, as well as ample space for brewing demos and experimentation with guests.
There was a second brew bar at Marco’s main booth nearby, where you could hang out with Koppi’s Anne & Charles who were working alongside Charles Babinski to brew even more delicious filter coffee and serve it with a smile.
If espresso or filter coffee weren’t what you were looking for, Nordic Approach (Tim Wendelboe & Morten Wennersgaard’s coffee sourcing company) were hosting very popular cuppings every few hours throughout the week.
Both the Ethiopian and Kenyan cuppings were too full to get a spoon, but I showed up for a Honduras and Guatemala cupping that had several delights on the table.
Several pour over companies had a presence at the event as well. For the first time, I encountered more Kalita waves than Hario V60s being used at various booths. Kalita also had a stand of their own, showcasing their lovely selection of brewing kettles and glassware that continue to grow as a popular alternative to Hario.
Hario was also present with the new products they showed off in Portland, including their new timer/scale, smaller and electric Buono kettles, syphon concept and double walled glassware. Even with all the new competition, I think Hario make some of the best looking glass products you can buy—all brewing preferences aside.
Swedish-based Espresso Gear was also showing off a variety of Tiamo gear which is one of the newer brands to appear in the growing pour over scene. Tiamo is priced at the lower end of the cost spectrum, but offers several unique designs—as well as some questionably blatant knock-offs of their competitors products.
After an overload of pour over cones and pouring kettles, I wandered back to the espresso side of the showroom to get a better look at the French-made Unic espresso machines and learn about their new Viper pressure profiling system on the Stella di Caffé.
The machine offers a unique design, more akin to an 80′s arcade than the sexy lines of a La Marzocco or the grown-up aesthetic of a Nouva Simonelli. A touchpad interface and glowing light bar, combined with manual hot-rod levers add to its MechWarrior vibe.
The pressure profiling system is computer programmable (with a manual option), making the profiles consistent and repeatable. It also has a unique hydraulic assist in the grouphead, making it surprisingly easy to lock in the portafilter.
I’d be interested to hear feedback from any baristas with more experience who have worked with the Viper System. While I’m not a huge fan of the machines overall look, I was definitely impressed by some of its details and features.
I was also pleased to meet Julie Smith-Clementi, one of the owners of notNuetral—who makes specialty coffee’s iconic ceramic cups that were developed in partnership with Intelligentsia. Their booth had a spread of various cup sizes and graphic samples, including these from NYC’s Doughnut Plant (a personal favorite).
Julie also gave me an exclusive peek at a prototype of their next product in development—a thinner, more refined version of their popular Lino espresso and cappuccino cups. I look forward to sharing the final product once they’re complete.
With soo much to see at these events, it’s impossible to capture it all while also trying to watch as much of the barista competitions as possible. Overall, this was another great show that’s a bit more intimate and manageable than others I’ve been to in the past. But with so many great people gathered in one place, it’s impossible to not enjoy yourself.
There’s a new Nordic coffee roaster to keep your eye on in Ålesund, Norway named Jacu Coffee Roasters. I first met Anne Birte and Gunnar last fall when I attended a coffee and chocolate pairing at their shop, then called Brenneriet.
At the time, Anne Birte told me of their future plans to begin roasting and gave me a sneak peek at their new rebrand, which I loved from first sight. We kept in touch after I left Ålesund and she even used two photos of mine in the re-design of their shop—mounting them like pillars on the sides of their front door.
Jacu’s name refers to the Brazilian Jacu bird, who like the Civet cat in Indonesia, is known to seek out and eat the finest coffee cherries. While Jacu (thankfully) doesn’t sell bird poo coffee, its goal is to be just as discerning when looking for the best coffees to roast and serve to their customers.
The branding, done by Tom Emil Olsen, begins with a beautiful custom wordmark that with a slight modification transforms the letter “J” into a simple icon of a Jacu bird.
The system is very thorough, designed with modular elements and economic methods of branding various pieces of collateral. There are stamps, wax seals, and embosses that all add beautiful hand-touched flare to envelopes, coffee bags and business cards.
The matte black, resealable bags are labeled with printed kraft paper that share taste and aroma notes along with basic origin information. The bags look and feel elegant, while also capturing the warm colors and textures many people associate with coffee and natural foods—a feat that can be difficult to execute well.
The café (and now roastery) has been updated along with the brand, including warm walls of wood, shelves full of coffee and a shiny new roaster. Next time you find yourself in Ålesund, be sure to visit Jacu’s revitalized home for some of the best coffee in town.
So far, the coffees I’ve tried from Jacu have been quite enjoyable (especially the Honduras, Montana Verde). Although none of them were very unique or exciting, for a new roastery, they’re off to a great start. In a country known for its high quality specialty coffee and high coffee consumption, Jacu will have no trouble finding themselves in good company. I look forward to seeing what coffees are sourced and how their offerings develop in the future—maybe something from Nordic Approach.
Like Jacu on Facebook and view more photos of their lovely branding here.
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.
Tonight is the Grand Opening Party for three fellows in LA who couldn’t stay out of the news if they tried. Handsome Coffee will be opening to the public very soon and they’ve released this stunning video that shows all the work that’s gone into building out their flagship coffee bar and roastery. Good luck to Handsome as they open their doors to the world and I look forward to walking through them in a couple weeks.
More photos on Cool Hunting
Coffee is a wonderful thing. But it takes a vast amount of resources to bring us our daily cup(s). The least we can do is try to minimize that impact. In an ideal world, everyone has the time to sit down with a ceramic mug and enjoy their coffee until it’s gone. However, in real life people have things to do and places to go—so they take their coffee with them. All of those cups add up (500 Billion per year) and they do a great job of ruining the drinking experience as well.
For the last year, I’ve been trying to find the best travel cup for my coffee. Ceramic tastes the best, but it’s too heavy, too fragile and those rubbery lids are worse to drink from than plastic ones. Stainless steel would seem to be the most “sustainable” but you still end up drinking through a plastic lid and they’re a costly investment. So after weighing the benefits of several different option, including the overall design, cost, functionality, taste, etc.—the KeepCup is my favorite option available for mobile coffee drinkers.
So I partnered with the Mug Users Guild to bring DCILY fans a reusable cup that works great, looks great and lets the world know how you feel about all those paper cups.
The 8oz (black) is my favorite and holds the perfect amount for an AeroPress on the go. The 12oz (white) will let you carry a bit more but still has markings for both 8oz and 12oz volumes on the inside of the cup. These also fit under the grouphead of most espresso machines, which means the barista won’t need to waste a cup, just to transfer the drink. The lids are splash proof—not spill proof. So you can walk or drive around without spilling, but don’t take it rock climbing or throw it in a bag with coffee inside. [also great for poolside cocktails when there's no glass allowed]
While a KeepCup isn’t the same as drinking from a ceramic or glass mug, the taste differences are more of a perception than a reality and the rounded design of the lids make drinking from them far more enjoyable than a standard disposable one. KeepCups are BPA free, recyclable at the end of their life and have been tested for up to 1000 uses (more technical details).
The DCILY KeepCups are limited, so get them while you can! Make 2012 the year you stop throwing away coffee cups and damn thy disposable.
Order one from the DCILY merch store.