Archive for the ‘Coffee’ Category

Speaking of coffee…


A handy dandy chart found on swissmiss. Enjoy.


Illy in a Box


This is the coolest thing I’ve seen all day.

Designer Adam Kalkin has teamed up with Illy Coffee and designed a café in a box that unfolds at the push of a button.

Holiday shoppers milling about the Time Warner Center in New York will have a fabulous chance to experience one of these (pop-up metal containers) soon. Between November 28 and December 29, 2007, they can rest, relax and sip a perfect cup of illy espresso in one of Kalkin’s creations, the temporary Push Button House cafe that the Trieste, Italy-based illycaffè will install there.

With the push of a button, the house opens in 90 seconds like a flower and transforms from a compact container into a fully furnished and functional space with a kitchen, dining room, bathroom, bedroom, living room and library. All materials used in the Biennale house were recyclable or recycled. As Andrea Illy, chairman and CEO of illycaffe, has been quoted as saying, illy was initially interested in Kalkin’s idea as an examination of “home as one continuous mouldable surface, a relief against which human activity would pop out.” (from Cool Hunter)

And according to Gizmodo

Not only will you get to check out a cool piece of outside-the-box (or inside-the-box, I guess) design, but you’ll get a free espresso when you go.

If you go, report back and let us know how it was. If all goes as planned I’ll be stopping by sometime in December to check it out.

How Starbucks Saved My Life

Saved by Starbucks

Need a good read? Already finished reading Heat? Well pick this up and read it before Tom Hanks turns it into a movie.


How Starbucks Saved My Life tells the story of how Michael Gates Gill, a successful advertising exec. for the Ford Motor Company at J. Walter Thompson, was canned from his $160,000 per year job and hired by Starbucks. According to Reveries

JWT denies Michael’s version of events, but whatever happened, it led him to where he is today — earning $10.50 an hour at a Starbucks in Bronxville, New York. That unusual career move occurred some ten years after starting a business that ultimately failed, and about a week after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. Michael was sitting in the Starbucks, unemployed and with no health insurance, dressed in an expensive suit and doing his best to look important. Oddly, the manager asked him if he wanted a job. The offer included health insurance, so he took it, and, Michael says, entered a world “where everything, even cleaning grubby tiles, is given a positive spin.” Sounds just like….advertising.

Gill was “surprised by how little revulsion I felt for a job I would have previously thought beneath me.”

He found comfort working “where people could be nicer and the work environment better than I had ever believed possible … What you are trying to do is help other people enjoy something,” he says. That “something,” he explains, is not a “multimillion dollar ad campaign. It’s just trying to serve a good cup of coffee.”

The book will be released on September 20th.

And according to Variety

Universal Pictures has made a six-figure acquisition of “How Starbucks Saved My Life” based on a 102-page proposal and attached Tom Hanks to star and Gus Van Sant to direct.

And according to Defamer

Universal picks up the rights to the forthcoming memoir How Starbucks Saved My Life, about an ad exec who loses his job and becomes a professional macchiato slinger, with the intention of having Tom Hanks don the green apron. Of course, the book’s author was in his 60s during the personal crisis, but fudging the age downward should make the whole story that much more poignant as the humbled, middle-aged Hanks struggles to master the frappuccino blender.

Photo from Flickr.

The New Dunkin’ Donuts – in LA?


Not sure if this is a good or bad thing, but the Dunkin’ Donuts you know and love may soon be changing. According to a Time Magazine article a couple months ago…

If it weren’t for the pink door handle shaped like the letter D at the new Dunkin’ Donuts shop in Sarasota, Fla., you might think you had stumbled into a Starbucks. Bags of beans and oversize coffee mugs near the door? Check. A waiting area for lattes and cappuccinos? Check. Heck, there’s even free wi-fi and a rack of gift cards by the register.

This is the Dunkin’ Donuts of the future, a chic space with soaring ceilings and earth-toned walls that will be the prototype for every new store the 57-year-old chain opens. “We’re not a sleepy little New England company anymore,” says Dunkin’ Brands CEO Jon Luther, 63. Sure, they’ll still have time to make the doughnuts for your morning commute, but Luther thinks the slightly musty chain is ready to take on the industry giants–Starbucks and McDonald’s–on their turf. He started small, rolling out espresso drinks in 2003; they now account for 5% of sales. Next he plans to triple the number of U.S. stores, to 15,000, by 2020; expand the menu with pizza and flatbread sandwiches; and give the stores a much-needed makeover.

I just hope they expand out to the west coast. Everytime I visit the east coast I always grab a cup of DD coffee and a couple of bags to take back to LA.

BREAKING NEWS!: Just a couple days ago I spotted Dunkin’ Donuts bags of beans in a Los Angeles area Walgreens. To my knowledge this had previously been unavailable ANYWHERE on the west coast. Correct me if I’m wrong…

But don’t worry about DD turning into a Starbucks or McDonalds.

Instead of trying to compete head on at lunch and dinner, Dunkin’ is betting on snacks like smoothies and miniature pizzas. Drive-through customers account for 60% of its business, so Dunkin’ is focusing on food you can eat with one hand on the steering wheel. Since people stop in for coffee all day long, the hope is that they will be more inclined to grab a quick snack too. The prototype store uses high-speed ovens that can heat sandwiches in less than a minute while giving the bread those toasted brown edges no microwave can imitate.

But you won’t find a dollar doughnut menu at Dunkin’. Rather than engage in a price war with the fast-food giants, Dunkin’ is trying to close the gap between itself and Starbucks. Although it makes more money on breakfast sales overall than the Seattle-based chain, the average Dunkin’ check is just $1.85, vs. $3.75 at Starbucks, notes food analyst Tom Miner of research firm Technomic. Dunkin’ has positioned its breakfast sandwiches as quick quality, at the same price as Starbucks, $2.99. “I think they’re in a good position against their competitors,” says Miner. “Their biggest challenge is to focus on a couple of very popular items and do them really well.”

Oh, and just in case you want a Dunkin’ Donuts fix every morning, pick up one of these Retro Dunkin’ Donut Diner Mug featuring “Dunkie” the original mascot for $3.99.

Photo from Flickr.

High ‘n Low Sugar Substitute

High ‘n Low

It looks like this is just a design concept, but they should without a doubt make these.

They’re little silicone rectangles, made to resemble sugar packets that are usually used to help keep uneven tables stable.

I can’t imagine they’d cost a lot to produce. Every restaurant should have these on hand.

Toronto and Brooklyn-based design studio NYTO has recently developed High ‘n Low, a silicone shim substitute for wobbly tables and chairs. Real-deal sugar packets aren’t the most reliable and certainly aren’t reusable after they bust open. This rubber replica can be used over and over, easily carried in the pocket or purse, readily accessible when your seat or surface is less than stable. (from Core 77)

Eat with your Entourage


Fans of Entourage probably know that they use a lot of “real” LA spots to shoot the show. If you’re from LA and a fan of the show, you might recognize a lot of the places they frequent. But in case you’re having trouble, check out this consisive list of LA restaurants, bars, clubs and shops compiled by


KOI 730 N. La Cienega Blvd. This scene-y sushi place is the site of choice for Eric’s verbal sparring with Vince’s agent, Ari (Jeremy Piven) (see episodes 1, 9 and 22). So many hot young actresses (Lindsay Lohan, Mischa Barton, Paris Hilton among them) regularly pack the joint that exec producer Larry Charles dubs it “flesh and fish” on the season one DVD commentary. In fact, Amanda Peet drops by Eric’s table in episode 9 saying she wants to do a movie with Vince.

URTH CAFFE 8565 Melrose Ave. This uber-trendy organic coffeehouse is where Jessica Alba runs into the guys in episode 2 and invites them to a party at her Malibu house. On another day, they might have run into other Young Hollywooders like Amanda Bynes, Jake Gyllenhaal and Rachel Bilson–or perhaps a producer or two. “That’s a place [producer] Steve Levinson and I live for,” says Ellin. “We go there all the time.”

COFFEE BEAN & TEA LEAF 8793 Beverly Blvd. The guys meet up here with Ari (who’s mistakenly waiting at the Starbucks across the street) in episode 7, but this celeb-frequented coffeehouse is most notable for becoming Ari’s makeshift office after he’s drummed out of the agency at the end of season 2. He meets with client Richard Schiff at one of the indoor tables; trusty assistant Lloyd offers up tokens for the restroom.

JERRY’S FAMOUS DELI 8701 Beverly Blvd. A regular hang for the Entourage quartet, who make room in their booth for Mandy Moore (who plays herself throughout the second half of season 2) in episode 19, even though Vince and Mandy are supposed to be avoiding PDAs after an item about their rekindled romance appears in Page Six. In real-life, you might run into Johnny Knoxville, Evangeline Lilly or Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake at this delicatessen decorated with theater posters and boasting a menu of over 600 items.

PINK’S 709 N. La Brea Ave. Iconic L.A. hot dog stand which invariably has a line of patrons down the block. Queued up with the guys, Eric gets a call on his cell here from Ari here in episode 6. Nicole Kidman and Tom Hanks are among those who love the famed chili dogs; it’s even said that Bruce Willis proposed to Demi Moore here.

REAL FOOD DAILY 414 N. La Cienega Blvd. Popular organic vegan restaurant–Alicia Silverstone and Tobey Maguire are fans–to which Vince’s health-conscious fling Fiona drags him and his buds in episode 5, plus a predictably irritated Ari: “I’m on Atkins. I need protein…real protein, like man protein, from the flesh of slaughtered animals.”

THE IVY 113 N. Robertson Blvd. Well-known Industry power-lunch spot and paparazzi hotbed where stars like Tom Cruise and Jessica Simpson go when they want their photos taken. In Entourage’s first episode, Ari is briefly shown talking on his cell phone in front of the restaurant. “We didn’t have permission for that,” Ellin says. “Literally, Jeremy and I were in the back of a car. He jumped out and ran across the street. There were no permits. Cars were honking. And Jeremy almost got run over, actually.”

TOAST 8221 W. 3rd St. Over a cup of coffee outside this cozy bakery/cafe where you might spot Nicky Hilton or Jared Leto, the guys discuss decamping for NYC to shoot Queens Boulevard in episode 8. It’s also where they try to tell Vince that Mandy Moore is cheating on him with her ex-fiance in episode 21, but he won’t hear it.

TABLE 8 7661 Melrose Ave. Vince and Eric have a blowout argument in this restaurant at the end of season 1 when Eric insists on full compensation for being Vince’s manager. The eatery–discreetly tucked underneath a tattoo parlor on Melrose–counts funnyman Jamie Kennedy among its investors, and Jennifer Aniston, Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart among its patrons.

PANE E VINO 8265 Beverly Blvd. At this celeb-favored Italian trattoria where the guys have lunch on the garden patio in episode 13, Drama runs into his bud Anthony Anderson, who hooked him up with a role in Barbershop (left on the cutting-room floor, of course), and Turtle’s “sure thing” blind date scurries off after getting a cross-patio glimpse of him (awww).

LUCQUES 8474 Melrose Ave. Eric and Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), daughter of the owner of Ari’s agency, Terrence (Malcolm McDowell), share a romantic dinner in episode 19 at this restaurant renowned for its French-Mediterranean cuisine.

THE LITTLE DOOR 8164 W. 3rd St. Lunching in the courtyard of this enchanting, Industry-frequented eatery, Sloan offers to help Eric get a job with her father in episode 22.

HAMBURGER HAMLET 9201 W. Sunset Blvd. In episode 21, Ari, locked in a power struggle with his boss Terrence, activates his emergency secession plan at the agency with two code words–”tsetse fly”–that signal a secret meeting is being held at this casual dining chain. Why here? “Because nobody who works in this business would ever be caught dead eating there,” says Ari.

ALMOR WINE AND SPIRITS 7855 W. Sunset Blvd. The boys drop by this elegant, well-stocked liquor outpost on the edge of the Sunset Strip to pick up a bottle on the way to Jessica Alba’s bash in episode 2.

MASTRO’S STEAKHOUSE 246 N. Canon Dr. Opulent (and pricey) eatery favored by old-school Industry players. It’s where Vince charms the initially hesitant, middle-aged producer into casting him in Queens Boulevard by discussing L.A.’s “weed drought” over beluga caviar in episode 5.

MULBERRY STREET PIZZERIA 240 S. Beverly Dr. In episode 19, the group enjoys what’s often called the best pizza in L.A. at this New York-style joint opened by Raging Bull star Cathy Moriarty.


GEISHA HOUSE 6633 Hollywood Blvd. Mandy Moore celebrates her birthday with Vince and his buds in episode 19 at this hip, bold, two-level Japanese restaurant/lounge whose backers include–dontcha know?–Ashton Kutcher, Wilmer Valderrama, Danny Masterson and Jamie Kennedy.

101 COFFEE SHOP 6145 Franklin Ave. Late-night Hollywood clubgoers flock to this funky, retro eatery just off the 101 freeway to sober up with delish diner fare. Entourage’s foursome chows down here in episode 4.

CRAZY GIRLS 1433 N. La Brea Ave. Strip joint where the guys meet with Walsh in episode 7 to discuss the Queens Boulevard script–at noon. “Crazy Girls has got a great buffet,” says Drama. (”I’ve been there a couple of times,” Ellin admits.)


THE PALM 1100 S. Flower St. After the boxing match in episode 3, the guys kick back with Luke Wilson and Jimmy Kimmel (who invites Vince to be a guest on his show) at this downtown branch of the upscale steakhouse chain, known for its caricatures of celebs, politicians and loyal customers adorning the walls. Filming took place during a real post-fight party that night.


I CUGINI 1501 Ocean Ave. Italian seafood restaurant where, in episode 11, Vince’s lawyer breaks the news to the quartet over an alfresco lunch that, due to a dwindling bank account, the most Vince can spend on a new house is a paltry $1 million–unless, of course, he agrees to star in Aquaman.

URTH CAFFE 2327 Main St. In episode 20, a lovestruck Vince is late for breakfast with his buds at this recently opened branch of the WeHo organic coffeehouse–so late that Drama has scarfed down Vince’s egg-white frittata.

DRAGO 2628 Wilshire Blvd. Mandy Moore meets with Vince in episode 16 to make sure working together won’t be awkward for the former lovebirds in this resplendent Italian restaurant from noted chef Celestino Drago.

Excerpted from the May/June 2006 issue of Hollywood Life. Photo from the New York Times.

Pizzeria Mozza…yes, another review.

Mozza Logo

I know I’m a little late in joining the Pizzeria Mozza party, but better late than never I guess.

The somewhat new Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich pizza restaurant is literally about 3 blocks away from my apartment, and yet it took me about 7 months to make it there for dinner. Man, was I glad I chose this place.

I had been wanting to visit Pizzeria Mozza since it opened back in November, but I figured I’d wait for a special occasion, since reservations are needed a month prior to your visit. Since I couldn’t tell you what my plans are a week from now, let alone a month, I decided my 26th birthday would be ideal. On April 5th, about mid afternoon, I placed a call to Mozza and most of the tables were already filled. You gotta be early if you want a specific time. But I was fortunate to grab the 6:15 seating and took it.

Oh, and I wasn’t thinking and left my camera at home, so I’ll link to as many Flickr photos as I can. Next time I’ll be sure to take some pictures.

My party, a table of 4, arrived a bit early in hopes of getting seated due to the De La Hoya/Mayweather fight. We wanted to make sure we were home in time. We arrived about 5:45 and were seating within 3 minutes.

When entering Mozza, the first thing I noticed was how small the place is. There are 2 bars; a wine bar and a pizza bar. Both are first come, first serve, and apparently quite accessable. Both were filled. Mozza was filled with people, not an empty table. Probably about 60 or so people fill it up, so it’s really quite tiny. But that allows for a more personal eating experience and very good service.

The first thing I noticed once seated were the placemats and silverware in matching pouches. The placemats were each unique and featured fun Italian-themed prints, such as hand gestures and Italian food facts. Breadsticks were soon brought out, water was poured and an Italian red wine was order. Then came the food.

NOTE: Everything was good. Really good. Great in fact. Nothing was bad, so I can’t really knock any of the menu items below. Keep that in mind. Order any (or all) of the below items. You can’t go wrong.

First up, the Caprese ($12). Slightly roasted tomatoes, soft wet burrata, and shredded and basil topped with drizzles of extra virgin olive oil.

Next came the Fried squash blossoms ($6) which are filled with ricotta cheese. The blossoms literally look like flowers, and are lightly fried. We each had a piece, but I could’ve gone for a second order.

Then came the Bufala mozzarella & prosciutto di Parma ($15). More of that super soft mozzarella smothered in thin slices of prosciutto. Served with a small bowl of what I’m sure was some top quality olive oil.

Next came the pizzas. It really should’ve only been one pizza. I thought I had ordered a goat cheese appetizer or some sort of salad, but either it was my mistake or the waitresses, but we didn’t complain. It looked too good to send back. First we had the Bianco with fontina, mozzarella, sottocenere & sage ($13). The sage really makes this pizza as it’s plentiful and crisp. The second unintentional pizza was the Coach farm goat cheese, leeks, roasted garlic & bacon ($14). More fresh, crunchy herbs and crispy bacon. The goat cheese was nice and soft. Both pizza breads are obviously hand tossed and uneven, a little burnt, a little bubbly and a little doughy in the middle. On purpose.

Last but not least, we ordered the Saturday special, Lamb stracotto. A fall-off-the-bone shank of lamb, cooked perfectly, sitting on soft, melted goat cheese (I think). I can’t remember the exact price, but I want to say $20.

It seems at this point, a lot of food was consumed, but everything comes in small but filling proportions. And when I say small, I mean small in comparison to any Italian-style chain restaurant.

So finally it was time for dessert. For dessert we sampled a number of items, including the trio of gelatos; espresso, rum raisin and olive oil ($7), the assorted biscotti ($8 I think), and the Mulberry yogurt parfait (can’t remember official name or the price). The most interesting of the desserts was the olive oil gelato. It had a drizzle of olive oil on top and it tasted, well, like olive oil. It was strangely good. Even better in my opinion was the Mulberry yogurt parfait.

We also had a round of cappuccinos served sans artificial sweetener. I didn’t ask if they had any, but we were presented with our choice of brown or granulated. I’m assuming most Italians don’t use the yellow, pink or blue packets.

A few tips and secrets…

  1. You don’t have to order wine from the menu. Most bottles cost over $30, but you can bring your own bottle and pay a corkage fee of $20 (I believe).
  2. Ask your waiter about the wines. They know what they’re talking about. Our waitress suggested a nice fruity Italian wine for my table. Very nice.
  3. When you walk in, directly to the right is what looks to be a wine cellar room. It’s a private room able to accomodate 14 people sitting, and 20 standing. You’ll need to indulge yourself in a tab of at least $1500, but after tax and tip it’s more like $1900. But you have that much as a tab, so you can go wild ordering as much food and wine as you’d like.
  4. I said it before and I’ll say it again. Book in advance. At the moment, tables don’t become available until a month prior, so make sure you call a month ahead of the day you want to go.
  5. That said, if you are in the area and want to attempt to walk in and grab a bar stool, go for it. From what I’m told, you can usually get one within a few minutes either late afternoon or after 10pm. No guarantees, but worth a shot.
  6. Park at my place. Save the money for valet and order an extra dish. You could use the exercise anyways.

Pizzeria Mozza
641 N. Highland Ave (at Melrose)
Los Angeles, CA 90036

The Secret Starbucks Cappuccino

Starbucks Short Cup

I’m not a Starbucks fan, but some people can’t help it. Actually, if the coffee machine at work is broken I sometimes have to settle for Starbucks since it’s the closest place to my office (although a Coffee Bean is scheduled to open in a month or two…)

When I am forced to go, I only order a cappuccino or one of their teas, never the crazy concoctions or frozen slushie drinks. I don’t order a tall, grande or venti. I order a short.

Starbucks has a size that they don’t feature on their boards. If the current sizes are too large for you, ask for a “short” cup.

Here’s a little secret that Starbucks doesn’t want you to know: they will serve you a better, stronger cappuccino if you want one, and they will charge you less for it. Ask for it in any Starbucks and the barista will comply without batting an eye. The puzzle is to work out why.

The drink in question is the elusive “short cappuccino”—at 8 ounces, a third smaller than the smallest size on the official menu, the “tall,” and dwarfed by what Starbucks calls the “customer-preferred” size, the “Venti,” which weighs in at 20 ounces and more than 200 calories before you add the sugar.

The short cappuccino has the same amount of espresso as the 12-ounce tall, meaning a bolder coffee taste, and also a better one. The World Barista Championship rules, for example, define a traditional cappuccino as a “five- to six-ounce beverage.” This is also the size of cappuccino served by many continental cafés. Within reason, the shorter the cappuccino, the better.

More on the economics on the “short” cup over at Slate. More proof of short cups on Flickr.

So besides getting better flavor from a short cup, you’ll also save some change. The short cup costs less than most of the more exotic items on the menu.

Why doesn’t Starbucks feature the short cup on the menu? They claim that they don’t have enough room on the menu boards. And the Slate article mentions that the short can’t be found on their website or other signage either. But the real reason?

Economics has the answer: this is the Starbucks way of sidestepping a painful dilemma over how high to set prices. Price too low and the margins disappear; too high and the customers do. Any business that is able to charge one price to price-sensitive customers and a higher price to the rest will avoid some of that awkward trade-off.

This isn’t breaking news, but I thought I’d share in case you haven’t heard about this by now. Anyway, it tastes better and it’s cheaper, so why not go short?

Oh, and you also might want to know that apparently Starbucks baristas will make anything you can think of. They technically aren’t allowed to say “no” to something they’re capable of making. So let your mind go crazy and watch the baristas go nuts.

Color Me Coffee


I saw this on yumsugar and I thought this was a really creative way to paint. Why is this painting so unique you ask?

For several years, Duluth based artists Andy and Angel Saur have been creating all of their works of art with coffee. Like fine watercolors, the coffee works as washes and shading and each painting is 100% coffee (with the exception of an acrylic coat to preserve the art). It started when the artists were working on a new exhibit for a coffee house. Hoping to create something unique and fun, they decided to work with coffee as a medium. To achieve the different gradients, the artists brew their own thick coffee and dilute as needed. (yumsugar)

I really like the painting above, but browse their site for lots of other paintings, such as this one of George Costanza. The paintings are pricey, but you can get a print for $10.

My only question is, do you think they paintings actually smell like coffee?

Lucky Clover

Sure, a cup of coffee these days costs a couple of bucks (more or less) and it seems like a bit of a rip off. But a new machine that just came out justifies the price.

Drip coffee is getting a serious upgrade, thanks to a new machine called the Clover. A high-tech gadget that looks like a cross between a water cooler and a microwave (and it’s the size of a small one), the Clover brews a single cup of coffee at a time, to order, through a process that allows the barista to adjust the brewing to fit the flavor profile of specific lots of coffee.

Coffee brewed in the Clover has the depth of flavor of a French-press brew with none of the sediment; it has a clarity and focus, even an elegance, that you just don’t experience with other brewing methods.

This $11,000 machine, yes, $11,000, is currently up and running at only one location in LA, at the Groundwork Coffee Co.’s newest brand downtown. Two are currently operating in San Fran, and only one is being used in Seattle.

For more info and for the article on the Clover found in today’s LA Times, click here.

And speaking of coffee…don’t forget to take your Starbucks coffee break tomorrow between 10am – noon for your free cup of coffee.