Design Alert: Commonwealth Coffee

07.16

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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.

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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

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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.

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Enjoy the photos here and then head over to Kevin Cantrell’s site to view much more of the design development. Order a bag of your own from Commonwealth Coffee.

 

posted by on 07.16.2014, under Design, Misc., Recommended Roasters

Intelligentsia’s Beautifully Rare Café Inmaculada

02.05

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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.

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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.

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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.

More about Café Inmaculada at Intelligentsia

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posted by on 02.05.2014, under Design

Verve Coffee Limited Roast Gesha Cans

12.28

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.

Finca Los Lajones Gesha Natural – 8oz – $45
Panama Elida Green-Tip Gesha – 8oz – $65 (Sold Out)

posted by on 12.28.2012, under Design, Recommended Roasters

A Year in Coffee Consumption 2011

12.31

Originally inspired by Mike White’s “2010 Coffees,” (and now 2011) I began saving all the coffee bags I finished back in January. However, when June came and I decided to move to Sweden, I didn’t want to use limited luggage space to haul empty bags. The top image captures my coffee consumption from the first six months of 2011 and the bottom image captures the second half of the year after I moved to Sweden.

There were several bags left behind or shared with friends while traveling—leaving the second part of the year a bit incomplete. But the collection above still accounts for at least one bag of coffee a week. Not too shabby.

I also narrowed down a list of the 10 most memorable cups of coffee from 2011:

1. Finca San Luis: Libano, Colombia – Gimme! Coffee
2. Kieni: Nyeri, Kenya – The Coffee Collective
3. Luis Alfredo Rojas: Huila, Colombia – Heart Roasters
4. Katowa Don K Estate: Boquete, Panama – Koppi Roasters
5. Limoncello Pacamara Natural: Matagalpa, Nicaragua – HasBean Coffee
6. Worka: Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia – Verve Coffee Roasters
7. Guji Natural: Sidamo, Ethiopia – Forty Weight Coffee
8. Finca Machacamarca: Sud Yungas, Bolivia – HasBean Coffee
9. Zirikana: Abangakurushwa, Rwanda – Intelligentsia Coffee
10. Elephante: El Porvenir, El Salvador – MadCap Coffee

I look forward to more great coffee in 2012. Have a safe and Happy New Year!

View the high res image

posted by on 12.31.2011, under Misc.

Mighty Handsome Coffee Packaging

12.21

When I was last in the US, Handsome Coffee had yet to release their new packaging—so until now, I had only seen it via twitpics and Instagrams posted by all the lucky ones drinking it. But it was immediately obvious they made a fantastic choice working with Sissy Emmons, at PTARMAK in Austin, to capture the Handsome brand.

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of browsing the aisles of the SCAA tradeshow with Tyler and we talked a bit about the importance of a brand and how great packaging can make a huge impact on a company. I knew then that Handsome was working with PTARMAK and I’m really pleased to see the the outcome of their relationship so far.

Yesterday, Handsome’s new bags were featured on The Dieline—the internet’s top package design website. The featured photos give a much better look at some details I hadn’t previously seen. The new packaging combines the right amount of handcrafted illustration and wit with enough modern typography to give the handsome ruggedness a refined feeling of quality. Great work to everyone invloved.

We employed color, shape and a little figure ground to differentiate between the lines and categories. The color system was developed loosely around a 1940′s craftsman—workshirt blue, denim, utility orange, metallic copper, crisp white, no-nonsense black and a rich black-brown… in honor of the coffee.

Illustrations line the sides and are what we like to call the manly-man items—objects that share the Handsome dedication to a by-gone era where handmade craft and a dedication to quality were a labor of love as well as a way of life. A dip of copper at the bottom of the bags is a continuation of the copper counters in the Handsome shop and on the Handsome Traveler. It adds just a touch of elegance to the otherwise practical bags. The system is intended to be humble and utilitarian with every detail lovingly applied. -PTARMAK

Read more about the design and see all the images at The Dieline

posted by on 12.21.2011, under Design, Recommended Roasters

Star Wars Coffee

12.01

For all those Star Wars fans out there, designer Eric Beatty has designed the ultimate gift—if only it were more than a concept. This was developed for a school project asking students to design a new product for Urban Outfitters. While I hope the clothing boutique refrains from selling coffee, I’m sure there’s a very big market for something like this. Intelligentsia x George Lucas Collab anyone? The set includes Darth Coffee blend, Storm Trooper filters, and Chewbacca brown sugar. Truly wonderful…

May the force brew with you…
No, I am your barista…
He’s holding a thermal carafe!

Ok, I’m done.

[via TheDieline]

posted by on 12.01.2011, under Design, Misc., Products

Six Months of Coffee

08.08

I planned on saving up a years worth of coffee bags, but when I recently packed up to move abroad, I choose not to save them any longer. So here is roughly six months of coffee consumed at the DCILY headquarters—minus a few bags I gave to friends.

View the high-res on Flickr

posted by on 08.08.2011, under Recommended Roasters

Coava Grows Up & Able Rolls Out

07.08

Today is the one year anniversary of Coava’s coffee bar and roastery in Portland and they’ve released photos of the new Able Disk (AeroPress filter) packaging just in time for the celebration. As I’ve mentioned before, I totally love Coava. Their continued innovation, attention to design, stellar baristas—not to mention great coffee—make them a truly inspiring company in the world of coffee.

Since opening the doors of their shop a year ago, they swept the Northwest Regional Barista and Brewers Cup competitions, released a new and improved version of their popular Kone filter and spawned a second company, Able, which will focus solely on creating quality, sustainable coffee brewing equipment that’s made in the USA.

The packaging itself mirrors the thoughtfulness that exists throughout both companies. The package doubles as an envelope for easy shipping and the custom designed postage stamp nicely illustrates an adept attention to detail. The generous use of white space, simple color palette and solid typography make it lovely all around. Who wouldn’t want to pull this from their mailbox?

The “Year of the Coava” isn’t over yet and I look forward to all there is to come.

Design by Jolby

posted by on 07.08.2011, under Design, Products, Recommended Roasters

Review – Verve Ethiopian Worka

06.14

Verve Coffee – Ethiopia Worka, Dry-Process
12oz Whole Bean – $14.50
Santa Cruz, California
www.vervecoffeeroasters.com

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.

Order some Verve Ethiopia Worka

Design by Chen Design Associates

posted by on 06.14.2011, under Coffee Reviews, Design, Recommended Roasters

Rise: Coffee Vs. Zombies

02.08

This is a fun packaging concept by designer Hillary Fisher, who’s aptly blended the latest cycle of zombie trendiness with a brand of coffee called Rise. The colors and illustrations evoke a bit of a candy shop feel and remind me of Plants Vs. Zombies, which is what makes it so interesting in the realm of coffee.

While the stitched closure wouldn’t really keep the beans fresh, I’m sure that with more exploration, a functional solution could be discovered. I really enjoy the blend names, “Flesh Faced French Roast”—also how I’d describe the taste of a French roast—and “Brain Dead Breakfast Blend,” which is just fun to say (ten times fast).

Hillary also developed a line of post-coffee gum to compliment the other offerings and designed a miniature grave site to create a brilliant presentation of the goods.

[via The Dieline]

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posted by on 02.08.2011, under Design, Misc., Products