Coffee needs Design. Design needs Coffee.

So, that’s me: a co-founder of the world wide coffee project Third Wave Wichteln, a Program Manager of the Design Team of Deutsche Telekom, and somebody who loves to realize projects in general. Now it’s time to combine these passions: Coffee and Design. Design and Coffee.

As part of our coffee exchange we work with MailChimp, the outstanding mailing tool. Since we are a non-commercial global (more or less social) project, we tried to convince MailChimp that we don’t have to pay these huge fees we have to pay now since we grew over 2,000 participants ($50.00 per month). They said “no”. Which is totally ok. But their argument made me thinking…

Third Wave Wichteln sounds like an awesome project! Unfortunately it is not within the umbrella of our current sponsorship focus (design/tech/experimental multimedia) so we’re not going to be able to sponsor your account at this time. I appreciate you letting us consider the opportunity.

“design/tech/experimental multimedia” — what about Third Wave Wichteln? Is this project just about coffee? I would say no. For me, Third Wave Wichteln is a playground, a canvas, a way to express me and my passion. And not only my passion, apparently a lot of people feel this way. At first my co-founders André and Thorsten. This project grew from a comment on Instagram to a global platform & community.

In our third year, 2015, we were able to win Present Progressive, a multi­disciplinary design studio from Düsseldorf, as partners. They created the new design. The logo, the website, the animations, the newsletter/mailings for the Wichteln. But not only the design also the coding: the (responsive) website, the integration of MailChimp, the coffee map, etc. And why is this not design or tech? (see argumentation of MailChimp)

Animated gif by Present Progressive

Christian and Benedict of Present Progressive joined us because they liked the project, coffee, and the idea of having a playground for their design and coding. We did awesome stuff, like the animation above. Therefore we recored the globe, coffee cup, kettle, etc. spinning on a record player and Christian transformed it all into gifs (you can find the final stuff on our website). And why is this not experimental multimedia? (see argumentation of MailChimp)

Behind the scenes of creating animated gifs

Last year, we got together with Dan Schonknecht of Specht Design. He is a wood craftsmen from Australia and is customizing coffee machines. Usually big espresso machines, but we collaborated also with the filter coffee machine Moccamaster and Dan customized a “Third Wave Wichteln Moccamaster” which we gave away as a present and is now standing in a coffee shop in Opole, Poland. And why is this not design? (see argumentation of MailChimp)

Customized Moccamaster by Specht Design

Besides Third Wave Wichteln, there were several other projects where the worlds of coffee and design collide, one example: Natalie of did this awesome project The Coffee Traveller in 2012 (before the idea of Third Wave Wichteln was even born). I participated and contributed a few coffee spots from Europe.

The Coffee Traveller by Natalie Hanke

Then there is Brian W. Jones, the creative genius behind Dear Coffee, I love you, AKA Coffee, and many other coffee corporate identities. There is even a talk of him about the importance of design and branding for coffee.

AKA Coffee by Brian W. Jones

As a last example I want to mention The Coffee Officina by Marcella Fiori and Rory Lloyd from Essex, UK. Besides their roastery, they also have the design studio The Design Officina, where they create small coffee related products like a cupping spoon. And after seeing this video, I totally fell in love with them:

On the other side there is my profession, my daily job: working for a design department. And there I see that more and more colleagues get the passion for coffee as well. One example is my former colleague Lennart Hennigs: He is an UX designer, now working for Miele (who are building coffee machines). He has a passion for tinkering, LEGO and coffee. So, he created a coffee roaster from a popcorn machine. He created a heating module, was able to scan the temperature, record it (inside a little LEGO box) and recall heating curves. Is there anything not design/tech/experimental multimedia about this?

Lennart’s coffee roasting popcorn machine and LEGO control

As you can see there are already endless examples of how close the relationship between design and coffee is. And that the argumentation of MailChimp is not working.

So, Coffee needs Design. But there is also the other side. Most people need it as fuel. Need it to get their (creative) machines running. That’s why phrases like “But first, coffee” exist.

“But first, coffee” at Alfred Coffee in Los Angeles

So, Design needs Coffee.

That’s why I want to combine these topics, my passions. And the first feedbacks on twitter and facebook show me more people like the idea. For now I only have the idea or the attempt but more and more ideas pop into my mind. Creating stuff: t-shirts, prints… An event where inspirational talks about both fields take place… A special coffee edition as cooperation with roasters. Let designers get creative, have a playground. Let coffee people have a playground. So here it is, the new project:

Coffee needs Design. Design needs Coffee.

Let’s start from here. As a first step: & are registered. Whoever is interested, I would suggest shot me an email: yo (at) 
I also started a Slack group to gather people, collect ideas, etc. How does that sound? I don’t where this will bring us, but as mentioned above: Third Wave Wichteln started with a comment on Instagram…