Coffee inspires creativity—this is merely an overflow of that. A bit of my coffee journey in the form of doodles and sketches.
April 16, 2014

Seattle You Are Here Map
The folks over at MIT’s Social Computing team have come up with a series of data-driven maps that show specialty coffee shops in different cities around the world, as well as the walkable areas surrounding each shop.

The maps are part of an ongoing project called “You Are Here” that’s striving to collect data, stories, and experiences, and turn them into a meaningful and interactive “atlas of human experience.”

A bit more on the project:

Each of these maps will be an aggregation of thousands of microstories, tracing the narratives of our collective experience. We will make maps of the little things that make up life — from the trees we hug, to the places where we crashed our bikes, to the benches where we fell in love.

Over time, we will grow this to 100 different maps of 100 different cities, creating an atlas of human experience.

We hope that by showing these stories, we empower people to make their city — and therefore the world — a more beautiful place.

Currently, the group has created specialty coffee maps for Seattle, Portland, Brooklyn, San Francisco, and Cambridge.

Be sure to click through the links and take advantage of the interactive feature of each map.

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May 20, 2013

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Bucket, a design and build studio out of Portland, Oregon is throwing their hat into the ring of beautifully designed coffee equipment. Basing their design around a mason jar and natural elements, they recently released a Crowd Supply campaign to fund their latest creation, “The Portland Press.”

The Portland Press is essentially a French Press that screws onto the top of a mason jar, and features a design buildout of wood, wool, and steel. Besides the beautiful aesthetic these elements combine for, they also give the traditional French Press and plunger a unique, exciting and sturdy design. Plus, the mason jar itself gives the Portland Press an added level of durability rarely found in a traditional French Press—no need to worry about shattering your French Press and then buying a new one or finding a new carafe online—if you break your mason jar, just pick up any other mason jar for a couple bucks.

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I can’t vouch for the steel mesh filter at this point, and admittedly haven’t tried the Portland Press as of now—but if all goes as planned, this would be a great addition to any coffee lover’s arsenal. The French Press is in need of a bit of a refresh and Bucket’s design could give it a shot of energy and excitement. The easily removable top and durable mason jar bottom would make this a great travel companion as well.

Check out the video and their Crowd Supply page and decide for yourself.

The Portland Press is made in the state of Oregon from products sourced entirely in the U.S. and is backed by a lifetime warranty.

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January 13, 2013

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Another Portland coffee bites the dust. I used the last 30g of Water Avenue’s Oak Aged Sumatra to serve some out-of-town guests this morning.

I had a bit of trouble explaining the coffee to them—I’ve never tried an aged coffee, nor have I ever had a significant conversation with anyone who has an opinion on the matter.

Water Avenue recommends using a press for the coffee, and calls it one of their “grand experiments.”

Coffee is aged in Virgin White Oak, then roasted, which, according to Water Ave. “opens up a gigantic spectrum of subtle flavors locked away in this bean.”

I’m not sure how I feel about this coffee, but would recommend it to anyone who likes a more “traditional” tasting coffee—something roasted a bit on the darker end of the spectrum, and most likely enjoyed with an after dinner dessert.

An interesting experiment by the folks at Water Ave, to say the least.

I’d love to hear some opinions on aged coffee—I truly know nothing about it.

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August 10, 2012

Back in April, I flew out to Portland to spend some time visiting with Mark Hellweg, owner of Clive Coffee, and to visit some of the local shops I’d heard so much about. I instantly fell in love with the comfortable, unique, and neighborhood-like feel of the city, and was exposed to some great coffees and spaces laced throughout the city.

The main reason for my trip, though, was to work on a film project with Clive. The premise of the video was to explain some of the differences between home espresso machines, and to visualize some of the benefits and qualities you should be looking for when approaching espresso machines for home use.

The video starts off with a Venetian style coffee house—symbolizing the first time you ever fell in love with espresso. From there, the video walks through the thought process of trying to figure out how to get the same experience at home.

Highlighting some different espresso machine styles—from the simplistic and cheap plastic models to the over-complicated Rube-Goldberg style with unnecessary bells-and-whistles, the video finally lands on some good quality options to use at home.

The whole experience was really fun for me—getting to travel to Portland and immerse myself in some of the coffee scene out there was an added bonus, but getting to work with Mark and the gang at Clive to put this together was a real highlight. Great people doing great things—I really appreciate the oportunity to work with them and look forward to connecting with them again in the future.

Be sure to check out the entire page to learn a little bit more about different espresso machines and boiler types.

 

**Also, I learned a lot about drawing and myself while I was out in Portland. Being filmed while drawing really adds a strange dynamic to my thought process. I really started to over-analyze every movement, and started worrying about things like staying out of the way of the camera, lighting, subtle movements, etc. Needless to say, I don’t think the drawings in the video are my best work, but they sure did a great job with the video as a whole, adding in some nice B-roll and annotations.**

 

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June 2, 2012


Last week I received a nice package in the mail from the kind folks at Craft Coffee. I’ve always been a fan of what Craft does, so I was excited to finally get my first box of their multi-roaster, subscription-style coffee sampling.

This month featured Flying Goat Coffee, Kuma Coffee, and Water Avenue Coffee.

I enjoyed a French Press + Filtered cup of Water Ave.’s Las Margaritas. It’s a great coffee out of Colombia, and came out really nice in the press.

Since I stopped by Water Ave. for a cupping in Portland, I’d been wanting to get my hands on some of their coffee to try at home. Thanks to Craft for making that possible.

 

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May 28, 2012

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Just last week I was in Portland enjoying coffee from Coava in their beautiful shop. Luckily, I was able to take a bag of their coffee home with me thanks to the wonderful people at Clive Coffee.

I’m a huge fan of the simplicity that Coava gives off as a brand – from their shop set up all the way to their bag design.

This coffee from Ethiopia is full of intense blueberries and is extremely sweet, tart, and rich. I’ve been enjoying it through a french press filtered through a V60.

I’ve been finding that I love the depth and characteristics that a 4+ minute brew time provides, but I also like the clean, brightness that the filter provides.

It sounds like a lot more trouble than it is, and some have told me that it’s basically the same idea as a Clever.

If you’re interested in trying it out, here’s the recipe:

1. Boil water (you need a total of 375g)
2. Rinse paper filter with hot water
3. Heat French press or Soft Brew with hot water
4. Grind 27g coffee coarse (31 on a Baratza Virtuoso)
5. Pour 90g water evenly over grounds, “bloom” for 20 seconds.
6. Start timer for 4 minutes
7. Pour remaining 285g of water over grounds in a circular motion
8. Give it a quick stir
9. With about 1 minute left, break the crust
10. Plunge at 4 minutes
11. Pour through a V60 filter (it won’t drain all the way)

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May 25, 2012

Last weekend, I traveled out to the Pacific Northwest to work on a project with Clive Coffee in Portland. I’d never been to Portland, but I’ve obviously heard tons about it thanks to social media, conversations with friends, and yes, through Portlandia.*

Last month especially, Portland was in the spotlight thanks to SCAA. As I sat back and painfully watched the event unfold via twitter from Ohio, I was able to gather some pretty good coffee suggestions that got me excited to visit.

It was an extremely short trip that put me in Portland for a total of 40 hours, but while I was there, I got to visit some great spots I’d wanted to get to for some time.

Clive Coffee Showroom

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I met Mark Hellweg a few months back at Coffee Con in Chicago. We had chatted before the event about collaborating on a project, so it was nice to reconnect in Portland and actually see the project come to fruition.

I had some time on Friday to browse the showroom with Jenn, a worker at Clive. Jenn is talented on a letterpress and has found a niche at Clive working in the office and designing labels, bags, advertisements, etc. She talked about about her love of coffee and how working at Clive has really taught her a lot about espresso.

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The Showroom itself is beautiful, and is very much set up like an Apple store in that you can browse, look, and use the equipment before you purchase. The right wall is lined with shiny home espresso machines that any coffee lover would like to have, and other displays show porcelain pourovers, espresso tampers, kettles, and other equipment.

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Water Ave. Coffee

After a short visit to the showroom, Mark and I went next door to Water Ave. to grab a sandwich.  The actual shop portion of Water Ave. is a bit of an experiment and an extension of their Coffee Education classroom and roasting facility.

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While we were there, we took part in a cupping with some new coffees from some of the farms that head roaster Brandon Smyth visited. It was a great experience, and I learned that I am subpar at cupping. Everyone else seemed to have a very audible and pronounced technique that left me in the dust and coughing a lot. Regardless, it was fun to compare coffees with the roaster, and to get different perspectives from the others involved.

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Coava Coffee

I left Mark back at Clive and walked up a few blocks to find Coava, one of my must-sees while in Portland. I had a nice chat with the barista while she made me some Reinelio Lopez from Huila, Columbia in a Kone. The shop itself has a really cool, workshop feel, partly because it shares its space with Bamboo Revolution, a manufacturer whose design and products utilize bamboo.

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Besides the beautiful brew bar area, and their exclusive use of the Able Kone for drip brew, one thing that sets Coava apart is their open space which features a an exposed roaster, as well as old bench tools used for tables. A beautiful space with beautiful coffee. One of the best I’ve been to.

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Heart

I met up with Keith Gehrke of Able Brewing and we headed over to Heart Roasters for a chat and some coffee. I ended up not taking any pictures, but really enjoyed my time here as Keith talked through his philosophy on brewing, why he designed the Kone, and what’s next for Able Brewing. Keith has a real passion for the products he makes, and I was blown away while he explained the many steps that a Kone goes through before it ends up in your Chemex. I’m really excited about his latest project, the Kone Brewing System, which is currently featured on Kickstarter and is accompanied by a fantastic video.

Barista PDX

We finished our drinks and headed across town to Barista, where Tyler Stevens prepared our drinks. Coincidentally, Barista was featuring Kuma Coffee in their espresso while I was there. I’m a big fan of Kuma, so it was nice to have their coffee pulled by such a talented barista.

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Tyler shared his love for peanut butter pretzels and poured a perfect macchiato. Really enjoyed the shop overall — it has a bar-like atmosphere to it, and the baristas are extremely professional and approachable. I wish I could have visited their other location as well, but time was short.

Sterling Coffee

My final coffee stop in Portland was to Sterling Coffee, a small stand outside of a local Trader Joes. I’d heard great things about them from some baristas, as well as my hosts, Ryan and Liz.

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What Sterling lacks in size, it makes up for in personality and appearance. The baristas were dapper in vests and ties, and served up drinks on a one-group Synesso in what felt like a living room from an old estate. We enjoyed a flight of espresso – which was basically a pairing of two espressos. Our visit was short, but I really appreciated the conversation with the guys and was excited to hear about an upcoming roaster partnership they’re taking part in. Should be some good stuff down the road for Sterling.

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Portland was as unique and weird as I expected it to be, but I loved it. Everywhere I went, it seemed that people took pride in what they were doing. Thanks to everyone who took the time to talk with me and take me around – it’s much appreciated. Hopefully, I’ll be back out to the Pacific Northwest soon.

 *I assumed people in Portland would be annoyed that I watched and enjoyed Portlandia, but was surprised to find that most people I talked to also enjoyed the show.
 
 

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May 23, 2012

I had a great, albeit brief, visit to Portland this past weekend and got to experience some of the best shops in town. Portland is a great town and has an amazing selection of coffee roasters and shops, with some of the most beautifully designed spaces anywhere. More photos to come.

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