Hopefully you’re reading this and a great wave hasn’t destroyed our coastal cities and the world hasn’t come to an end. But if it does, I hope you had a great cup of coffee this morning, the Mayans never even had the chance to taste it.
However, one civilization that does have a taste for coffee are Lithuanians, who I had the tremendous pleasure of meeting several this past weekend. Coffee Inn, Lithuania’s largest specialty coffee chain, has over 20 locations throughout the country and plans for many more. While I’ve yet to visit one, they roast their own single origin coffees and brew them with Hario V60s alongside a full espresso menu.
Last month, the company released this great ad, inspired by Hokusai’s famous woodblock print “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa,” for a campaign introducing the flat white to Lithuania. A quite poetic way of illustrating the message of “less milk, more coffee” to woo latte drinkers away from so much dairy.
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.
The chart masters over at Pop Chart Lab have just released an impressively comprehensive flow chart that diagrams the various elements required for all manner of coffee drinks. Including various types of grinders, brew methods, mixers, and the resulting beverages they create. The listed brew methods even include such new and notable options such as the Steampunk and Able Kone.
Overall, it’s one of the most accurate—and impressive—coffee illustations I’ve seen on the web. While obviously well researched, I noticed two glaring mistakes: the categorization of the AeroPress as an espresso maker and (most odd), connecting the “cupping” brew method to iced coffee. It may be too late for corrections, but either way, Pop Chart Lab will be printing 500 of them large scale, for wall hanging glory.
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!
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.”
Over the years, La Marzocco has published several books covering various aspects of the coffee industry, coffee process and the heritage of their beautiful espresso machines. For their most recent release, Year Book 2011, La Marzocco teamed up with renown designer and illustrator Jon Contino, known for highlighting authentic heritage (and creating the feeling of it) with wonderful hand drawn illustrations and typography.
Contino, a New York native who co-founded the lifestyle brand CXXVI, which captures the spirit of rugged east coast Americana has lent his creative hand to the tradition of fine espresso. The book’s gorgeous photos by Sven Hoffman are complimented with the hand-crafted stylings of La Marzocco’s focus on “true artisans” and the “finest quality.”
Ben Blake wants to learn everything he can about coffee—and he plans on doodling all the details along the way. The Ohioan started the blog, Draw Coffee, to capture his inspired coffee moments in a state that could benefit from new coffee energy.
The drawings, usually done on coffee filters, range from minimal depictions of daily brew methods to intricate homages of the coffee being brewed. Coffee Common and DCILY have both been doodle subjects, along with Intellisgentsia, Handsome, Verve, Coava and Kuma—who are even using some of Ben’s art on their new mugs.
DCILY was founded on the principle that coffee inspires creativity and Draw Coffee is one more example of that idea coming to fruition. So grab a fresh cup and start browsing through the archives, below are a few of my favorites.
This year’s barista competitions are now in full swing and baristas around the world have begun competing for a shot at the world title in Vienna this summer. It’s a big deal in the specialty coffee industry, but I doubt you’ll see many billboards from Ticketmaster advertising the event. However, if the World Barista Championship ever finds itself heading to San Francisco, they should call up designer Valerie Schwartz and ask what it would cost to change the date on these posters and start posting them around town.
The beautiful line drawings of San Francisco’s hillside landscapes combined with great typography have created a truly incredible set of collateral for the event—even in its hypothetical state. The series of posters, tickets and event program are successfully tied together with a system of watercolor (coffee) textures and a monochromatic palette.
The design uses several coffee clichés in new and elegant ways to make it populist as well as innovative. If real, it could have the potential of reaching a broader audience and encourage regular coffee consumers to learn more about how the profession is being pushed to new heights and improving their coffee experiences.
Doma Coffee is the first coffee roaster I’ve tried from Idaho. It may actually be the first thing I’ve tried from Idaho that isn’t a potato. Idaho is one of those places that never seems to come up in conversation and I’ve never had a specific reason to go there. However, I hear that part of the county is beautiful and if it’s filled with more people like the good folks at Doma Coffee, I won’t write off a future visit.
Doma sent some Idaho love my way and it was much appreciated. They’ve been roasting since 2000 and made it clear from the start that principles of social and environmental responsibility would be reflected by their business. From focusing solely on Fair Trade and relationship-based organic coffees, to roasting in a Loring Smart Roast—which is more efficient with its use of natural gas—the company has created a strong foundation for doing business right.
The design of Doma’s packaging and collateral all have a very tactile feel. The bags are biodegradable and letterpressed with veggie ink by Dreyer Press (who’s also responsible for the rad looking La Bicicletta illustration), and it all just looks and feels really nice in your hands. It’s the kind of bag you don’t want to throw out (or even compost), because they are individual pieces of art.
Aside from supporting coffee growers, the company also supports a variety of non-profit organizations as well as cycling advocacy—and after coffee and design, bikes are next on my list of things I love. Proceeds from their La Bicicletta blend go towards supporting competitive women’s cycling and the company often sponsors local cycling events.
Of the three coffees I received, the La Bicicletta blend was my favorite, a good balance of sugar and spice. Although all of them were roasted slightly darker than I prefer. I often found my palate contending with roast flavors while trying to discern the true essence of the coffee. This is not to say they were dark by any means, I know there are many people who would really enjoy them. The Colombia was comfortable, balanced, and would make for a fantastic “everyday” coffee for my parents.
Coffee can be very subjective and everyone will always debate what tastes “good” and what doesn’t. The industry continues to learn, experiment and evolve. However, coffee tastes aside, it’s clear that Doma’s heart for building a responsible company focused on supporting its community and providing a product that makes them and their customers feel good is honorable and much appreciated. Some coffee company’s principles are worth praising, while others most certainly aren’t.