Clover Innovates the Coffee Maker

The $11,000 Clover Coffee Maker brews one cup of coffee at a time using a method similar to a French Press, but with the ability to customize water volume and temperature per cup. The machine is programmable and has a network connection, so the machine can use brewing parameters for specific roasts. Check the video below for the Clover in action.

According to Wired Magazine, Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks described the coffee by saying, "In my 25 years at Starbucks, the Clover machine unquestionably delivers the best cup of brewed coffee I have ever tasted." Schultz tried his first cup after seeing a line formed outside of Cafe Grumpy in Chelsea. The company later bought out the Coffee Equipment Company, which makes the Clover, and will be testing them in Starbucks coffee shops. Shultz, who has retaken the position of CEO is hoping to restore the original idea of Starbucks, and support the the heritage of coffee at their shops. They will be making changes like grinding beans in store, and getting rid of the breakfast sandwiches.

The Clover seems to have an almost cult-like following. What I like most about this story is the history and back story of the Coffee Equipment Company. The company was started by Zander Nosler, a former product designer at IDEO, with the purpose of perfecting the single-brew coffee machine, based on research he did designing a commercial machine while at IDEO. This single idea led to the realization of a machine that produced unmatched quality in a cup of coffee that no other machine had, by focusing on delivering one cup at a time with very controlled customization of the brewing process. That attention to this process produced this $11,000 machine that indie shops and wealthy coffee connoisseurs were apparently happily paying for to make the perfect cup.

The Clover is no longer for sale to indie shops and individuals. It will be manufactured for Starbucks only in the future. For more about the Clover Coffee Machine, check out the August issue of Wired.

http://cloverequipment.com/home/

To All the Notebooks I've Ever Loved Before

I recently talked to someone about the graph/grid paper books I’ve acquired over the years which have become a central part of my process. This is a listing of those pads, and a telling of their virtues.

Rhodia

This is my workhorse. At first I didn’t get why so many designers carried these around, until I got my hands on one. To me the Rhodias are an all-around notepad for in office or outside use. They’re well constructed and durable. They have the nicest covers of all the notepads, so portability/carry-ability is what this notepad is about. The cover is hefty and scored so you can fold it back and out of the way. I sometimes dislike the violet hue of the gridlines and paper.

A5 is my basic sketch pad. I do thumbnail sketches on it before doing a detailed version on my letter-sized graph paper. It’s reasonably priced considering the quality.

A7 is always with me. I carry the one you see above with the black leather cover in my back pocket. I abolutely love this notepad. It has even doubled as a wallet when I want to go out with nothing else with me but my Rhodia and a mechanical pencil.

Load up on Rhodia at better stationery and art stores or online at Exalair.

Moleskine

Like many UX people, I have loved Moleskine for years. But I stopped carrying around the lined and sketch books because they were bulky. I have so many of these laying around now because I’ve picked up quite a few from event swag bags.

The beige Cahier is another story altogether. I love the warm color of the paper and the fact that leaves are perforated. The weight is right for sketches, almost analogous to using newsprint or butcher sheets when warming up. It got a little costly for me to keep buying these though. I used to go through a Cahier pretty quickly. Maybe because the texture of the paper reminded me of newsprint and I used it for jotting down everything on it. I keep a few around the house because I love them so for their multi-purpose qualities.

You can get your hands on a Moleskine Cahier at stationery and art stores in every civilized city on the planet or via the Moleskine store.

Behance dot grid

Behance makes cool business-oriented notepads for their “Action Method” concept, which seems sort of like a lightweight GTD for creatives, or more specifically for design meetings.

I got my first Behance Action Method notepad from a design director who had no use for it. I use the back side of an action pad for its dot grid. I love the design of both sides and the colors used. The design is thoughtful and elegant. Sometimes I love the dots. Other times I feel like lines work better for me when I’m doing more rigid drawing. It’s great for sketching and the weight is nice. You can buy a gummed edge notepad drilled for 3 hole binders or a spiral with perforations.

The spiral Dot Grid book also looks good. It’s got a rigid cover, a squarish shape at 9 x 10.5”, and is perforated.

You can acquire Behance goodness at the Behance Outfitter.

Tufte Graph

After I went to Tufte’s seminar in 2000, I snatched up a bunch of letter and tabloid notepads. My Tufte paper ran out years ago, except for a single tabloid pad I use on special occassions. I loved the color and weight of the grid lines, and the weight of the paper.

Get your Tufte on here by scrolling down to the bottom of the posters page. Guess they couldn’t be bothered giving the pads their own page. ;)

That’s the list of past and present loved notepads and notebooks. Would love to hear what you use now, what you’ve used in the past, and what you loved or hated about using them in your daily UX work.

Graph Paper Color Modifications

I made some color modifications to the graph paper, bumping the cyan of the non-photo lines up slightly. I was noticing that when I print these in grayscale on a black and white laser printer, that the blues were a bit too pale to print clearly. This version works very well when printed. Color printer users will still be able to knock out the blue.

http://konigi.com/tools/graph-paper

The New Xbox Experience

Kotaku reports on the New Xbox Experience, which does away with the Blade interface, and replaces with a remote-control type UI with cover-flow-like browsability. We’ll have to see what the reception will be for this. Xbox are integrating Netflix soon, and may be hoping to simplify the experience for a wider audience. I found the Blade UI to be pretty interesting the few times I got to use it.

http://kotaku.com/5025143/the-new-xbox-experience-just-the-facts-and-maybe-some-conjecture

Back From a Break

So, I pretty much took the week off from blogging because I was having a little bit of a creative block this week after finishing off a project and starting a new one. I also had a little bit of a let down after seeking out an estimate to create custom notebooks with my graph paper. Of course, I wanted to do a really high quality book, with a scored cover like the Rhodia, but the quote came in so high that I got really discouraged. So I stepped away from the blog to focus on other things.

I spent this week doing some competitive research on the new project, and doing other creative things, like helping my son do some animation in Flash, playing with Ableton Live, cycling of course, and watching Le Tour. But now I'm back and ready to start posting again and starting a new podcast recording. I gathered a bunch of sites I want to share with you and you should start seeing them next week.

As for the notepads, I have some ideas for making that happen, and I'm going to start developing some new parts of this site related to that. Stay tuned.

-m

OmniGraffle Icons and Controls Set Coming

I’ve been accumulating a bunch of icons and other miscellaneous controls in my OmniGraffle Wireframe Stencil and think it’s about time to separate those into their own stencil set. The icons you see here are some of the ones I plan to include in this new set.

Any others you’d like to see here that aren’t already represented? These are the ones I’ve actually had to use in the past 3 or 4 years.

How to Talk to Non-Tech-Savvy Clients

Jacob Cass offers some advice for freelancers in sussing out the technical savvy of potential clients and how to approach the project discovery discussion.

You may want to impress your client with the vast amount of knowledge that you have, however, if they do not understand it, then all of your effort is lost. … [W]hen explaining a concept, slow down, provide examples and talk in familiar terms.

http://justcreativedesign.com/2008/07/06/how-to-talk-to-non-tech-savvy-clients/