It’s Coffee Time, All the Time with a DCILY Watch

11.14

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This week, the latest DCILY collaboration launched in the form of a coffee lover’s wristwatch. The timepiece, designed with the Hong Kong-based Moment Watches, is part of a year long project that features 52 limited edition watches—this one, inspired by my own coffee story and the craft of making exceptional coffee.

Four key elements to brewing a delicious cup of coffee are great coffee beans, clean water, a solid burr grinder and the right amount of time. The impact of time affects every aspect of the coffee chain: from growing, harvesting, processing, roasting, resting, and brewing. Precision and attention to detail (along with the right ingredients) is what transforms an average cup of coffee into a fantastic one.

dcily_coffee_watch_process

The details of the watch face reflect the burrs of a grinder as they mill down the seconds until your next coffee break. The DCILY logo allows you to proudly wear your love of coffee on your sleeve and the mantra serves a daily reminder to live well. When life gets hard, grab another cup of coffee and give things another go.

Aligning with the DCILY mission to “love coffee, live well, give back and inspire others,” Moment Watches donates 30% of their proceeds to charity and works directly with artists and designers to inspire others with their watches. It’s been great working with Moment Watches and it’s exciting to have such a fun product available to DCILY readers.

Pre-Order yours now from Moment Watches [$40]

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posted by on 11.14.2013, under Design, Products

The Minimalist New Cold Bruer

10.03

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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.

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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.

Cold Bruer on Kickstarter

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posted by on 10.03.2013, under Design, Products

Novel: The Folding Dream Kettle

09.25

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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.

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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!

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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?

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[ht PSFK]

posted by on 09.25.2013, under Design, Misc., Products

Prima Tamp: Adjustable Angle Tamper

11.19

Prima Coffee (a DCILY sponsor) has just unveiled an innovative take on a standard tool of the barista trade—the tamper. With an attempt to aid better tamping technique and reduce strain due to of awkward positioning, this adjustable angle tamper allows those who have been searching for a better way to try something new.

The Prima Tamp is our answer to the challenges of everyday espresso prep: fatigue and form. Proper tamping technique allows the barista to compress coffee evenly and comfortably over and over again, but this is tough to achieve with an ordinary tamper. A handle that sits perpendicular to the base either forces one’s wrist and arm off center or requires a specific posture that’s just unnatural. With a tilted handle, a barista can easily take a position that encourages improved technique. -Prima Coffee

I haven’t worked regularly on a bar in years and have never considered any other way of tamping, but I can understand the potential benefits of this and would be interested to hear feedback from anyone who’s given it a try. This beaut is made in the USA using Indiana black walnut and Kentucky stainless steel ($140).

More info at Prima Coffee

posted by on 11.19.2012, under Design, Products

The Impress Coffee Brewer: Potentially Impressive

10.09

There’s a new coffee brewer vying for attention on the internet, but without an $11,000 price tag, this one has received much less fanfare. The Impress, a stainless steel AeroPress-like contraption, is the latest coffee product to raise production costs through pre-orders on Kickstarter. The campaign will have most likely reached its $50,000 goal by the time you read this post—with 25 days remaining.

This latest attempt to improve how we brew coffee comes from Raleigh-based Gamil Design. The husband and wife led design team have taken elements from several brew methods to create a simple and streamlined product with curiosity inducing potential.

The primary concept is based on full immersion brewers like the French press and Eva Solo—pour in hot water, ground coffee and steep—but the Impress utilizes a new way of separating the grounds from the water. It uses a plunger like contraption resembling one from an AeroPress, with an inverted portafilter basket attached to the bottom. After the proper amount of time has passed (3-4 min), pushing down on the plunger will draw the coffee through the microfilter, while trapping the grounds at the bottom.

The tight seal of the plunger combined with the more precise holes in the metal filter, are designed to allow far less sediment through than a French press (an AeroPress using a Disk filter comes to mind). Once the plunger has been pressed all the way down, the Impress becomes a 12oz travel mug that carries your freshly brewed coffee.

While my immediate thought was the over extraction that would occur from continuous steeping, the designers claim that it’s virtually nonexistent because of a much more prominent barrier created between the coffee and extracted grounds than what you find in a French press—if nothing else, the affect is most likely reduced a fair amount.

The double-walled exterior, combined with the steel plunger create 3 walls of insulation that’s sure to keep your coffee temperature stable and offers an attractive new coffee brewing option for traveling and camping (although its current design can’t be used to boil water). The designers experimented with a version that worked with interchangeable filter baskets, including VST baskets, but ultimately decided to use a proprietary filter design that screws in place for added durability while plunging.

Without having tested the Impress, it’s hard to say how well it brews a cup of coffee, but the idea was intriguing enough to support and I look forward to giving it a try.

Impress Coffee Brewer

posted by on 10.09.2012, under Brew Methods, Design, Products

The Able Kone 3

08.26

Less than three months after Able launched their successful Kickstarter campaign to fund a production run of its latest Kone coffee filter, their beautifully designed white boxes have begun appearing in mailboxes and Instagram feeds around the world.

The new Kone and soon to be released ceramic brewer raised $150,000 more than the initial $5000 requested for tooling and production costs. Now with over 1200 backers supporting Keith Gehrke, the founder of Able Brewing, it’s become clear that his company’s new life after Coava, will create a bright new path on its own.

The Kone is a reusable, stainless steel coffee filter originally designed to fit the Chemex coffee maker, but can really be used with any vessel that supports its size and shape. The filter uses hundreds of thousands of micro-sized holes, created using a process of photo-etched steel, to form a precise filter pattern for uniform extraction.

I prefer not to compare the Kone with Chemex paper filters, because there is little comparison in the resulting coffee. The Kone is a unique brew method that incorporates pour over techniques to produce a heavier, oil-rich brew that’s still cleaner than a French press, which many people enjoy more than paper.

I’ve used the Kone since the first version was released more than 2 years ago. It’s been great following the progression of the filter and the company as it’s been refined over the years. The third and newest version is no exception.

The most obvious changes in the new design is the black plastic ring around the edge along with a new blunted tip. My reaction to the black ring was negative at first for altering the elegant, streamlined aesthetic of previous versions (it also slightly affects how well it sits in a Chemex).

However, once I handled the new Kone, the extra rigidity added to the shape and structure by the plastic ring becomes obvious and appreciated. For the coffee shops who use the Kone all day long, the new lip will greatly improve emptying spent grounds and seemingly extend the filters overall life.

The new blunted tip not only makes the Kone safer to handle, but it eliminates the small gap found on the tip of older versions, which was a clear path for fine grounds that increase sediment in the cup. This new “cap” plays a part in catching fines and helping produce a cleaner cup overall than the previous Kones.

With even smaller holes and a new pattern that becomes more concentrated near the tip, the new Kone offers more uniform passthrough as well. More of the water makes its way to the bottom, instead of leaking dramatically through the sides of the filter.

When the first Kone came out, I thought it looked incredible and worked great. It was new and there was nothing to compare it with. Once version 2 came out, the first one suddenly looked and felt like a prototype and the quality of the brew greatly improved.

The latest version, while losing some of its elegance, looks like a retail-ready product that could be sold on the shelves of Williams-Sonoma. From the packaging to the product itself, there’s a much greater feeling of value.

Below I’ve run an experiment to illustrate the progression of the Kone and how much the sediment has been reduced with each new version.

I brewed coffee with each version of the Kone using the same parameters and technique: 40 grams of coffee to 600 grams of water, 30 second bloom followed by a slow and steady center pour, using a medium grind (5-O on a Baratza Vario-W).

After each coffee was done brewing, I poured the result through a rinsed, white V60 filter to capture the sediment. Results pictured below begin with version 1.

From my highly unscientific experiment, you can clearly see how much the sediment is reduced with each new version, but there is always some sediment. With a refined technique, it’s likely possible to minimize the sediment even more, but I don’t find the current amount distracting and have been surprised by the clarity achieved.

Overall, the new Kone is a great improvement over its predecessor. From its reinforced new structure to the increased clarity in the cup—if you were a fan of previous versions then you’ll love the latest. If you’re just now discovering the Kone or have been waiting to purchase one, this is definitely the best version so far and you’ll be happy you waited.

Able Brewing Equipment

[DCILY tip: Dry & store the Kone upright with an unused AeroPress funnel]

 

posted by on 08.26.2012, under Brew Methods, Products

McDonald’s Cups by Patrick Norguet

07.23

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.

Patrick Norguet

 

posted by on 07.23.2012, under Design, Products

Able’s New Kone & Brewing System

05.25

 
I’ve been a big fan of the Kone filter for Chemex and the Disk filter for AeroPress since I first started using them almost two years ago. From reducing waste, to highlighting certain elements of a coffee that may not make it through paper filters, the Kone and Disk are both used frequently in my brewing rotation. So I’m thrilled to share the latest progression of filters and brewing devices from DCILY sponsor, Able Brewing.

After Able Brewing amicably parted ways with Coava Coffee earlier this year to focus solely on brewing equipment, Keith Gehrke has officially reintroduced the new company. Today, Keith launched an elegant new website (designed by Jolby) while also unveiling the latest (and possibly last) version of the Kone with its beautiful new porcelain companion—a coffee brewing system designed specifically for the filter.

KONE Brewing System:

We really wanted a way to showcase the KONE’s unique coffee. So we teamed up with a local ceramic studio here in Portland with the goal of producing a manual brewer that is as versatile as possible, a joy to use and a centerpiece in your home. The brewer beautifully houses the KONE and after the coffee is done dripping, the filter support can be removed and replaced by an elegant lid. Up to 32 ounces of Coffee can be served directly from the kettle. While designing the brewer, we also realized that with the KONE resting inside the kettle you could steep a full pot of tea.

Initial orders for the new products are being taken though Kickstarter to help offset the tooling and production costs of the first run (made in the USA). In less than 2 hours, the Kickstarter campaign surpassed the initial $5000 goal, so there’s no doubt this will happen. But if you have any interest, you can take advantage of the significant savings opportunity by pre-ordering yours in the next month.

Congrats to Keith on what will likely be another beloved coffee brewing device.

Able Brewing & Kickstarter Pre-Order

 

posted by on 05.25.2012, under Design, Products

WTF Coleman Propane Coffee

07.01

When I first saw this video I thought it was from The Onion. But it’s real. And for just $89.99 you can lug the most absurd coffee maker with you on your next camping trip! In just 18 minutes, this propane powered monstrosity will brew up to 10 cups of the same terrible drip coffee you love at home! The reviews are raving:

Way cool piezoelectric push button lite. Fast, modern, safe homestyle coffee. Almost as easy as carrying a thermos bottle of coffee. Keep it in the trunk with your lantern for coffee anywhere, anytime, no stove necessary. –Lloyd

Almost as easy—except for it being twice the size of a thermos, needing a propane tank, and taking 18 minutes to brew your coffee. I’m honestly baffled that something like this not only left the idea phase of the product development department, but was actually produced and found its way to market.

If you’re a big outdoor person, camper, hiker, picnicer—try a stainless steel French press, an AeroPress, a Melitta. While these won’t make 10 cups of coffee at once, I’m sure you could come close with 18 minutes to compete with.

posted by on 07.01.2011, under Design, Misc., Products

Kapu, The Finnish Coffee Clip

01.31

Finland is known more for the quality of their design than their coffee, but they drink a lot of it—so well-designed coffee accessories shouldn’t come as a surprise. While browsing the Design Forum in Helsinki last week, I came across a nice solution to the problem of coffee bags without closure tabs—the Kapu.

The Kapu is both a bag clip and coffee scoop, made from Finnish Birch plywood, that will help keep your bag sealed and your coffee fresh. Designed in 2003 by Teemu Karhunen, the early prototypes where entered into a design competition and a small batch where given as gifts to a few friends who became big fans of them. One of those friends was the manager of the Design Forum Shop, who encouraged Teemu to produce more of them.

A few years later Teemu joined his girlfriend Hilja Nikkanen, who founded the socially responsible design company Hile, to relaunch the Kapu as part of their product line.

The production process of the Kapu is kept within a 100km radius of Helsinki and the simple, high-quality design is typical of the Scandinavian style. Even the packaging, with one color printing on raw cardboard, maintains an elegant feel that matches the craftsmanship of the product itself.

At $25 the price is steep, but it’s a beautiful object that should last a lifetime or more.

Hile Design

Photos by Paula Lehto

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posted by on 01.31.2011, under Design, Products