I’ve known about Verve for a while, but I hadn’t actually tried their coffee until recently. I had been completely enamored with their packaging, so I’m not sure what took so long for me to order some. Recently, I met Josh Kaplan, director of wholesale for Verve, while I was in Houston and had planned a visit to Sweetleaf the following week in NYC—who brews Verve. So everything fell in place for me to finally experience their coffee.
After a great experience at Sweetleaf, where Rich served up my first cup of Verve, he sent me on my way with a bag of Ethiopian Worka. However, I wasn’t able to brew it until meeting up with Mike White a few days later. By then, the beans were slightly passed peak freshness—and though it was good, I felt like I missed out on what it really had to offer. After getting home, I ordered a bag of their Ethiopian Lomi Peaberry—and after a series of shipping mishaps—really enjoyed this sweet and effervescent coffee.
But after all the shipping issues, which weren’t the fault of Verve, they made up for it anyway by sending me a fresh bag of Ethiopian Worka and my very own OG mug. I now had a second chance to taste this coffee in its prime and it didn’t disappoint.
Aroma: After opening the bag, I was blown away with dueling characteristics of Booberry and Count Chocula cereals. Dry and malty, but incredibly sweet with vanilla undertones. Once brewed, the cold cereal aroma became a warm buttered blueberry waffle. L’eggo my Eggo, this cup was all mine.
Taste: When the coffee fills your mouth, you discover dabs of sweet maple syrup that have burrowed into the bluberry waffle’s grid-like caverns. The syrupy body coats your mouth like a spoon of Mrs. Buttersworth’s, followed by a finish that is clean and bright—like a final swig of orange garnished spring water as you leave the table after Sunday morning brunch. Heavy and sweet, but well balanced.
This coffee is really exceptional, one of my favorites in recent months. I have no idea why it took so long to try Verve, but I’m glad that I have and I’m looking forward to more of their coffee in the future. Everyone I’ve spoken with at the company has been really awesome and I’ve found out first hand, just how much they value customer service.
It’s also very clear—once you’ve held a bag of their coffee in your hand—how great of an understanding and appreciation they have for design. There are few, if any, coffee bags that could rival the intricacy and production value of theirs. It feels nice in your hand and looks great on your counter. The best part is, the complexity and quality of the package reflects that of the product inside.
Kami means paper, and the Kami mug is hand crafted in a workshop in Hokkaido Japan by Hidetoshi Takahashi. The cup is made from Castor Aralia wood, shaped using a potter’s wheel and coated with a food safe resin. It is very pleasant to drink from.
This mug is absolutely beautiful. The designer has taken such a simple but iconic shape and combined it with a material almost completely foreign to such an everyday object. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted a mug so much as I want this one. However, with a price of $75, I think I’ll be sticking with ceramic for the time being.
Last summer I wrote about a prototype of a cement espresso machine, and this year I’ve come across one on the opposite end of the materials spectrum—built with Norwegian Poplar. The Linje, as it’s called, has a much softer presence and feels more refined than the cement model, but there’s probably just as little chance of it ever being produced. I really appreciate the natural finish of the wood, it appears much softer without the toxic shine of heavy varnish. The finish combined with the smooth profile of the machine make me want to reach out and touch it.
Simon Ålander is a Digital Media student at Hyper Island in Stockholm, Sweden. Hyper Island is basically the future of creative education and anyone who attends, will most likely have their choice of opportunities after graduation. Simon emailed me a few months ago with a typography question and recently sent me this—a coffee inspired poster he designed—leading me to believe there’s nothing new I could actually tell him about typography. Incredible work.
Minneapolis based design firm Sussner has created one of the best looking reusable “paper cups” I’ve seen. The cup was designed as a gift for friends, clients, and new business leads and makes me want to hire them or befriend them quick!
Along with the nice graphics printed on the cup, they also designed a beautiful package to contain it and supply each recipient with a cup of coffee via a pack of Starbucks instant VIA (which is a bit disheartening, but I can understand the logistics that most likely prompted this decision). Great job making reusable, desirable. With a mug like this, I’d gladly deal with the “inconvenience” of carrying it and washing it, just to be seen with it.
While I’m kicking off the week at Coffee Common here in Long Beach, I’m ending one that included a lot of tight printer deadlines and chats with Stephen Morrissey at Intelligentsia in preparation. During one of those conversations, I was reminded of this signature mug that Intelligentsia designed and recently released in their stores.
When it comes to mugs, I like a solid one that will retain heat, but I also appreciate a delicate form that doesn’t look clumsy. I have a few classic diner mugs which are heavy enough to double as a lethal weapon, but they lack the elegance I sometimes prefer. This mug seems to solve both problems with thick walled porcelain and a profile that could easily become a modern icon. I haven’t personally used one yet, but for only $12, I see a pair of these beautiful mugs in my future.
This is going to be my last post of 2010 and I want to dedicate it to the talented baristas who make every visit to our local cafés an experience we cherish. Wether they’re hypnotically circling the bloom of a Chemex, pouring latte art that makes us smile, or pulling a shot that’ll have our eyes roll back in our head—this goes out to all those who love coffee so much, they’ve made a career out of serving the best cup they can.
During my trip to Portland last week, I got a few goodies from Stumptown. While sitting at The Annex, I picked up this nice collection of booklets and started reading through them. It was a set of beautifully designed and illustrated home brewing guides that included five books: Chemex, press pot, moka pot, cone filter (Melitta/Hario v60), and vacuum pot. My first thought was how smart it was for Stumptown to produce such an obvious product. After asking how much they cost—free—I thought how awesome it is for Stumptown to treat their customers this way.
Last spring when writing about Stumptown’s brand, I hadn’t seen these, but they are another great example of the company sparing little expense to produce cool stuff for customers. Aside from roasting great coffee, that’s who Stumptown is—the first guy in school with a Nirvana bootleg willing to share it with everyone before anyone knew what grunge was. I’ve never met Duane Sorenson, the founder of Stumptown, but I imagine everything I’ve experienced with the company is in some form a reflection of him personally. From the high attention of detail spent on the coffee and the cafes, to the tattoos on the baristas reflected in the artwork on t-shirts and storefront windows.
Stumptown embodies a love for coffee of the highest quality united with the cool-as-fuck attitude expected from the leader of a burgeoning music scene. In many ways, that’s exactly what they are—leaders (along with a handful of other great roasters) in a growing new coffee scene that our parents will scoff at while they continue drinking their Sanka.
Kids these days.
The books were designed and printed by the awesome people at Pinball Publishing, who also made Stumptown these cupping journals to showcase Scout Books, one of their customizable printed products.
I’ve had a lot of requests for prints of the Dear Coffee, I Love You posters that I’ve designed. Now, thanks to Society6, you can order your favorite prints! They are gallery quality Giclée prints on natural white, matte, ultra smooth, 100% cotton rag, acid and lignin free archival paper using Epson K3 archival inks. This is the real deal. They’ll look great and last as long as the Mona Lisa.
If you order thru this Sunday, Society6 is offering free shipping on all orders! So skip the mall on Black Friday and order some prints for your coffee loving loved ones. If you have a color request that’s not in the store, I will take custom orders.