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

A solo opinion

03.08

While I recently posted about the beauty of a reusable lid for your ceramic mug, I was coincidentally sent this editorial, writen by reknown design writer Steven Heller, regarding his love for the Solo plastic lid.

Like Pavlov’s compliant canine, I salivate whenever I see someone walking down the street holding a paper coffee cup topped with a Solo Traveler lid. The various other varieties of plastic covers, including some that look like the Starship Enterprise, don’t move me at all. And Styrofoam cups are a total turn-off, but paper cups crowned with that raised, pierced rim make me want to bark at the moon — I mean, savor a hot beverage… -Times Magazine

While I admire Heller’s passion—I too prefer the simple Solo lid to the complex mechanisms in the fancier ones, which never seem to work correctly—I believe his article’s focus is naive and irresponsible. To praise the design of something that is meant to have a lifespan of less than an hour—only to sit for billions of years in a pile someplace, or float around aimlessly in The Great Pacific Garbage Patch—is wreckless abuse of his authority as a design critic. While the Mug Hug isn’t the most beautiful solution(though it’s clearly inspired by the Solo lid), functionally it’s far superior. It reduces mass amounts of unnecessary waste, which is a far more pressing problem designers should be focused on solving, not how well a lid, metaphorically, resembles suckling from our mother’s tit.

Thanks to Marc O’Brien for the tip.

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posted by on 03.08.2010, under Design, Misc.