The Portland Press: A French Press in a Jar

05.23

bucket_press_top

The Portland Press is a beautiful and responsible new approach to manufacturing a coffee brewing staple—the French press. This is the first product from Bucket, a two person startup in Portland, Oregon who wants to manufacture products as responsibly as possible while creating relationships between customers and the craftsmen who make their products. The coffee market seems like a good place to start.

Bryan Kappa and Rob Story wanted to develop a French press that was manufactured locally using materials from the US and wasn’t as fragile as the typical French press glass that most of us have probably shattered ourselves more than once.

The Portland Press is a french press for a Mason jar, made in the state of Oregon, out of materials sourced in the USA. It’s a simple, clean, practical design made out of fundamental materials: glass, wool, steel, wood. Most importantly, the Mason jar is easy to replace if it breaks, and the rest of the Portland Press is backed with a lifetime warranty. -Bucket

portland_press_pieces

While I continue to support the French press as a simple way of introducing people to the joys of brewing fresh coffee at home, I do wish Bucket could have partnered with Espro to develop a next generation version of this lovely product.

Responsibly made also doesn’t come cheap, and $100 for a 24oz French press positions this on the high end of the price spectrum. Maybe the lifetime warranty will help offset the sticker shock or maybe the beauty of the Oregon maple lid and the wool sleeve are enough to persuade you to part with your money a bit easier.

Bucket is currently taking pre-orders at Crowd Supply.

bucket_press_cups

bucket_press_spout

 

posted by on 05.23.2013, under Brew Methods, Design, Products

Your #KeepCupStyle Could Win You A New Bike

11.20

The team behind KeepCup, the environmentally friendly and reusable take-away cup, are offering two talented Instagrammers a chance to win a more environmentally friendly way to get to their favorite café.

To enter, just share your best photos of you and your favorite KeepCup on Instagram and tag with #keepcupstyle before November 30th. A panel of judges will select two of the best photos, whose lucky photographers will win a customized ride from Mojo Bikes.

Don’t have a KeepCup (read my thoughts on them here)? Lucky for you the latest shipment of DCILY KeepCups have just arrived in 8oz & 12oz sizes. So get yourself a KeepCup, fill it with your favorite coffee and start snapping photos of it around town. Next time you’re out and about, it could be on a fancy new set of wheels.

Visit KeepCup Style for more details and to browse your competition.

posted by on 11.20.2012, under Misc., Products

The Holdster Mason Jar Handler

10.05

Mason jars are beautiful vessels for drinking everything from lemonade to ice tea. While  some people have tried promoting them for hot coffee, it never seemed very practical on account of the heat. But now, thanks to a couple crafty guys in Vermont, the mason jar is not only a viable take-away option, but it just got a bit sexier.

The Holdster is a leather coffee clutch designed by Marsh Gooding that has been made by hand and sold locally in Vermont, until now. The company’s dream of expanding nationally has been realized by Kickstarter backers who easily helped them surpass their goal. The company currently sells 4 models, with and without handles, ranging from $20 – $30 (much less than an early 19th century zarf).

The Holdster offers a unique, reusable solution in a new form that is well designed and beautifully crafted. Now any standard wide-mouth mason jar can become your new favorite coffee mug. Congrats to Marsh and Bobby for successfully funding their goal, and giving us one more way to avoid paper. Damn thy disposable.

Holdster USA

 

posted by on 10.05.2012, under Design, Products

Nau X Snow Peak: Fancy Camp Coffee

06.20

The fashionable, eco-conscious lifestyle company Nau, is no stranger to collaborations. Their latest project is a deluxe titanium coffee set designed with Snow Peak that’s sure to improve any campsite or picnic. The set includes a French press, double-walled mug, milk frother, a bag of Stumptown coffee, and a clever cutting board that encases a Japanese-made knife. It’s the brunch kit in a bag that you never knew you needed.

I’ve been a huge fan of Nau since their early days as a company—before they were almost a casualty of the economic crash in 2008. In fact, all of my outerwear comes from their collection. So if the integrity and quality of their collaborations are as solid as their own products, this is most likely an equally good investment.

With summer upon us, you will hopefully get to spend some quality time outdoors. Here in Sweden, there are 5 weeks of mandatory holiday were most of the country runs off to a cabin, boat or archipelago—but coffee is still a daily necessity.

My preferred coffee companion while traveling may be an AeroPress, but in some cases a French press may be more practical—and it’s still an appreciated brew method. My only complaint is that it comes with a milk frother instead of a hand grinder—a much more practical and necessary tool for great coffee.

Nau x Snow Peak Café Luxe Kit ($125)

posted by on 06.20.2012, under Design, Products

Why the Compleat Cup is Incomplete

12.12

There’s been a lot of buzz in both the design and coffee worlds this past week about an innovative take on the disposable cup called, Compleat. The concept was developed by Architect Peter Herman and refined by graphic designer Daren Bascome, both based in Boston. The problem behind it is a persistent one that many people have attempted to solve—reduce the waste from disposable cups.

Last year Starbucks sponsored the BetaCup contest on Jovoto, a forum for product design competitions, to develop a more sustainable to-go cup. The winner wasn’t a cup at all, but a game that served as an incentive to bring your own reusable cup. I found the winning solution quite admirable, but have yet to hear about it implemented in Starbucks stores.

The Compleat Cup is the latest attempt to solve one of the more annoying environmental problems in the coffee industry. While it’s a nice concept, I don’t think its ready for prime time and I wouldn’t expect to see them popping up in coffee shops around the world just yet.

Sustainability
While the main pitch is that you reduce the use of a plastic lid, which is of course a scourge in itself—many lids alone can be recycled. The cups are the problem, because the paper is fused to a thin plastic lining that most US recycling systems can’t handle.

Even if the lining used a bio plastic, those only degrade if they are properly disposed of, i.e. composted. Most places in the US don’t have compost programs in place. So while these cups will reduce part of the problem, it still leaves a pressing one that can really only be solved by bringing your own mug.

Design
The design may be iconic, but what about the people—myself included—who prefer to drink without a lid? If you open the folds, I don’t see any practical way to drink from this like a normal cup.

When the cup is folded up to create a drinking spout, it forms a direct funnel into your mouth. While this may be a great idea for cold drinks on hot days, it makes me pause when considering hot coffee. There’s no longer a barrier to allow for the “is this going to scald my mouth” sip while drinking blindly.


Admittedly these observations have been made without having yet tried a Compleat cup, however, I feel that I’ve drank coffee from enough beverage receptacles to make an educated critique of it. Once I’ve had the opportunity to try one, I’ll be sure to follow up with the results.

The Compleat Cup

posted by on 12.12.2011, under Design, Misc., Products

30 Cups, 30 Days, 3D Printed

08.16

Barcelona based design firm cunicode, tasked themselves with designing and creating a new espresso cup every day for 30 days. The results are pretty incredible. From the clever, to the impossible, there’s a great range of  creativity. The cups are made with white glazed ceramic and each demitasse can be purchased and manufactured to order—one of the benefits of 3D printing.

Last week I wrote about an artist who draws a daily cup of coffee on post-it notes—and now this. Drinking coffee every day just isn’t enough for some. These were posted on ShotZombiesSprudge a few weeks ago, but they’re worth giving another bump.

See all of them here

posted by on 08.16.2011, under Design, Products

Doctor Drip Needs a Second Opinion

07.06

There’s a new coffee doctor in town, Dr.Drip, whose medicinal looking product aims to combat the virus of instant brew across the land. Each pack comes with five “pop-up” pour over stands and five packs of pre-ground coffee—available in four mediocre sounding blends: Organic Blend, Premium Signature Blend, Dark Sumatran Blend, and Decaffeinated Premium.

The product was created by Gordon Grade Coffee, a father/son company who wanted to develop a simple and portable single-cup brewing device that didn’t need any fancy equipment. Its a good looking product. Sadly, they’ve chosen to market their product in the most trite sounding terms available, using every catchphrase of the moment:

All of our Gordon Grade Coffee is made from 100% superior quality Arabica beans, carefully selected from the world’s best growing regions. Artisan roasters escort the beans through the roasting process, crafting rich, flavorful all natural, fair-trade or organically grown blends before the beans go on to receive a precision grind.

I haven’t personally tried these, and won’t have time to before leaving the country, but they piqued my interest for two reasons. First, I think the design, although very pharmaceutical, is kind of nice. I’m a sucker for simple geometric illustrations. However, the perpetuation of marketing coffee as a drug is rather annoying. Second, they reminded me of the Kalita Katan disposable drippers that Wrecking Ball Coffee sells (and for much less). A pack of five Dr.Drip pouches costs $9, while a pack of 30 Kalita drippers costs only $8—but you must supply your own questionable pre-ground coffee.

I think the drippers are a great idea for travelers, and they look sturdier than the Kalitas, though I’m not sure how they compare brewing wise. My suggestion to Gordon Grade Coffee would be to start selling just the drippers (at a more competitive price) and let the customer provide their own coffee. If the product performs, I bet they’d have a bigger market in Specialty Coffee than they realize.

Dr. Drip Coffee

posted by on 07.06.2011, under Design, Products

The Coffee Joulies Joke

04.11


Coffee and love taste best when hot. -Ethiopian proverb

When my non-coffee loving friends begin sending me links to things before I’ve seen them, red flags immediately go up. This isn’t because I think I know everything about coffee, but if something has bypassed all the normal industry channels and immediately lands on the pages of non-coffee blogs, there is usually something gimmicky or blasphemous about its existence. Coffee Joulies happen to be both.

The creators of Coffee Joulies are currently raising money on Kickstarter. While they only needed $9,500 to begin production of their product, they’ve already raised over $134,000 with another 3 weeks left. That’s awesome for them—it really is. I support entrepreneurship and getting that kind of financial backing is a dream come true. They’re even going to produce them in the USA, reviving an old silverware factory and probably create more jobs than the US Government. However, their product is a joke.

In a video that demonstrates the Joulies ability to cool coffee, it takes less than 90 seconds to bring the temp of boiling water down to 140°F (60°C). Wicked fast, right? But here lies the ultimate problem with the product. According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America, 160° (71°C) is the temperature when flavor and aftertaste are at their greatest intensity. Those flavors continue to evolve as it cools, with 160°–140° being the ideal temperature range to best note the acidity, body and balance of a coffee.

With a set of Joulies making your coffee race past both temperatures, it takes less than 90 seconds before you miss the opportunity to enjoy some of the best moments your coffee has to offer. You may be able to chug 3 minutes sooner, but you’re going to miss out on the coffee’s unique flavor notes the farmer and roaster worked so hard to discover and highlight—assuming it doesn’t look like the charcoal they used in the photo above.

For $40, you’re better off investing in a burr grinder, which many people fail to do. This will improve you’re coffee dramatically, as long as you can wait a couple minutes before you start sipping it. If you have a grinder, treat yourself to a couple bags of really nice Direct Trade coffee instead. While I’m constantly trying to get people to stop putting things in their coffee (cream & sugar), along comes someone asking them to drop a few steel “ice cubes” into their mug. How long before an eager coffee lover chips a tooth?

I’m tired of reading praise for design solutions to non-problems and seeing people—who seem to know very little about coffee—flooding the industry with more junk we don’t need. Who keeps a cup of coffee for 3 hours anyway? Even Starbucks dumps airpots in their store every 30 minutes if the coffee hasn’t been purchased because of quality loss.

They say there’s a sucker born every minute. In this case there’s over 2000 of them. Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for the punchline.

More info on Kickstarter or at www.joulies.com

posted by on 04.11.2011, under Misc., Products, Videos

Intelli Filter Mug

02.28

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.

Intelligentsia Filter Coffee Mug

posted by on 02.28.2011, under Design, Products

Bringin’ back Memphis

03.22

Bodum’s design has been moving in this direction over the last year or so, but most of their new products have been too bubbly for my taste. However, their recently unveiled Ettore Kettle is magnificent looking. According to Core77 it was designed in 1986 (during the Memphis period), but technical limits kept it from being produced until now.

Jørgen Bodum—the co-owner of Bodum and son of company founder Peter Bodum—worked with Sottsass Associates on the design, and shows it off for us below, pointing out a few distinctly Memphis moments, and the manufacturing problem that kept this off the shelves until now.

(more at Core77)

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posted by on 03.22.2010, under Design, Products