Winners in each of this year’s four Design Lab categories were declared yesterday afternoon – meet them below!
At the heart of the show floor, The Commons has played host to this year’s Design Lab, a platform for showcasing great design in specialty coffee. First established at the 2016 Expo in Atlanta, Design Lab has now grown to include multiple showcases and first-place winners.
Branding | Rishi Tea
Design: Studio MPLS
Rishi is a direct-trade, best-source importer of organic teas and botanicals. Working closely with the design firm Studio MPLS, their collective goal was to envision a new mark and packaging system that would do a better job of expressing their values and the origins of their teas. With a 20-year history of building relationships across the tea-producing regions of the world, Rishi tea wanted to articulate their vertical integration as a selector, importer, and maker of direct trade, organic teas and botanicals.
“Our new plucking hand mark is inspired by the artistic depiction of Rishis beholding plants at the Wat Pho botanical school in Thailand, one of the original inspirations for our brand. We are proud to include our founding year and a celestial orb nods to our embracing of the dynamism of nature and its humbling mastery over the harvest.”
Spaces | Greater Goods Coffee Roasters
Design: Michael Hsu Office of Architecture
In designing their space, Greater Goods Coffee Roasters wanted to create a warm and welcoming café with open spaces around a centrally placed coffee bar to allow guests to engage with the baristas from any direction. To achieve this, they kept the original metal structure and foundation of the fifty-year-old warehouse/towing yard, used reclaimed materials, and focused on natural lighting to create an experience similar to being welcomed into a good friend’s home.
“Our company is based on community, approachability and education. We designed an open and warm space to bring community together, while also placing coffee and its preparation in the center as the focus. We wanted to create public intrigue in what specialty coffee means by showcasing the entire process from green to cup. A dedicated space for our SCA campus is adjacent to the entrance so every guest is made aware of the opportunity to learn more about coffee through our educational programs.”
Packaging | Blue Bottle Coffee Can
Design: Elaine Fong and Neil Day
Using proprietary technology, the Blue Bottle Coffee Can pressure seals coffee in an oxygen-free dome in order to “stop time” so that no matter when they are opened, the coffee tastes just like it did when roasted. The cans themselves are retrofuturistic in design, offering users a “satisfying pop” when the pull tab is opened. Minimal and modern, the vessel invokes the aesthetic of Blue Bottle cafes while simultaneously offering consumers a coffee container made out of a material with a great recycling track record.
“At home, you can keep the cans in your cabinet without worrying about them going stale shortly after purchase. At the grocery store, we no longer have to insist that our beans be discarded after two weeks to ensure freshness. Less coffee waste means that we can honor our farmers, roasters, and the environment by not having to throw away coffee that required time, energy, and used natural resources to produce.”
Vessels | KRUVE EQ Glassware Line by KRUVE Inc.
Design: Michael Vecchiarelli
The concept behind the EQ name is that well-balanced audio requires the use of a good equalizer (EQ), and “just like audio, great flavor requires harmony and balance.” The two styles of drinking glasses – the “EXCITE” and the “INSPIRE” – are designed to be used either in tandem to compare or contrast roasts or individually to suit your preference.
“The wine glass industry puts a lot of care and effort into helping consumers enjoy their beverage, yet coffee has just as much, if not more complexity than wine, with hundreds of volatile flavor compounds. So, it just didn’t seem right to be pouring such a wonderfully rich and complex beverage like coffee into a plain old mug. Add to that, the coffee community cares so much about the origin, roast, and brew method, it would be a shame not to put equal importance on the actual method of consuming the beverage.”