Handground made its way onto the shelf at James Coffee Co., which is in a really cool location with a large open floor plan that caters to other small boutique shops as well.
Daniel and Brandon, inventors of the lauded Handground coffee grinder, café crawl down the West Coast of the United States
BY BRANDON WARMAN, WITH DANIEL VITIELLO
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE
Daniel and I decided to do something a little unconventional to officially launch
our Kickstarter campaign for Handground, the coffee grinder that we had been developing. Since conception, many people had contributed to our project by giving opinions, making suggestions, and helping us make decisions that would ultimately shape what has finally become the Handground coffee grinder. Although many of these people hail from all over the world, a large number came from the West Coast of the United States, which happens to be where we are from! We decided there would be no better way to launch our project on Kickstarter than to go on a road trip starting in San Diego heading up the coast until we reached Vancouver. That way, we could give those who had helped us out so far a chance to meet us in person and see the grinder prototype while at the same time getting to visit some of the most coveted coffee shops in the US.
Here is a series of snapshots of our journey…
January 31st. Preparing the essentials for the #handgroundtour. Only 2 days until launch!
February 1st. All packed up and ready to go! On the drive down to San Diego we listened to hundreds of sample audio clips trying to find the right song for the background music in our video. That was cutting it close but I think we found the best music to go with our message.
6:00PM PST February 2, 2015. Kickstarter launch in San Diego. All of our months of work and we pressed go at a secret launch time of 6pm on a Monday night so that members of Team Handground could claim the early bird prizes. The orders started coming in and we stayed up all night answering emails and questions from our backers. By noon the next day, we hit our funding goal of $35,000.
We ended up being a little short on time for visiting coffee shops in San Diego because of the launch but had just enough time to visit 3 shops before hitting the road, with Dark Horse Coffee being one of them. This place has character and they make a darn good cold brew coffee ON TAP!
Handground made its way onto the shelf at San Diego’s James Coffee Co., which is in a really cool location with a large open floor plan that caters to other small boutique shops as well.
We met with Jon at Halcyon East Village, a new San Diego coffee bar/actual bar and restaurant concept that had us thinking why anyone would do it differently. You could go for afternoon coffee, then eat dinner and drink alcohol, then keep the night going with some coffee cocktails. What a great combination!
Off to Los Angeles. Sorry, Daniel ”Handground called shotgun.
On the way to L.A., we stopped into Portola Coffee Lab in Costa Mesa and met with Pedro. He showed us their specialty brew bar and told us about their plans for a new store.
Stopped by the Intelligentsia Silver Lake location with their classic red building. We wanted to meet Eden Marie but missed her because she was training for the US Coffee Championships!
In San Francisco we held a meet-and-greet at Four Barrel Coffee. We got a chance to meet Jen from Acaia scales and many people who had never seen Handground before. There was a really special moment when one of the first members of Team Handground, Zack, walked into the shop (pictured above). He happened to be in SF for work but didn’t think he was going to be able to make it. We’re glad he did and are glad we were able to say thank you in person.
There were many to choose from, but we ended up at the Blue Bottle on Broadway in Oakland right outside of San Francisco. This location is very chic like all blue bottle locations. They serve a delicious sugared waffle that goes good with any drink.
In Portland, Ore., we got a rare chance to meet Steve Kirbach, the head roaster for Stumptown Coffee. We got to see their entire facility including the tasting room pictured above. In the Stumptown Annex we talked with Steve about the grinder and he said that he prefered the dots to the numbers.
We also got to check out Coava Coffee’s original location that they share with a custom bamboo company. The resulting interior design is stunning. A couple of other members of Team Handground met us there too.
We also had the pleasure of hanging out with Wille from Heart Coffee Roasters in Portland, and got to see their beautiful roaster in person, as everyone does because it’s the centerpiece of their cafe!
The first thing we did when we got to Seattle was set up at one of the best farmers markets in the nation, The University District Farmers Market! We ran into Akaash, who would go on to win the Northwest Brewers Cup title at the U.S. Coffee Championships in a week, who was one of our backers on Kickstarter, and were impressed to see that he could explain the grinder’s functions as well as we could to a group of his friends. Thanks, Akaash!
Our plan was to end in Vancouver, B.C., and then go skiing at Whistler, but there was no snow, so we took a detour back to a beautiful placed tucked away in Oregon called Bend. We went skiing on their mountain, Mt. Bachelor, and discovered a run called Coffee! We visited a wonderful little coffee shop called Looney Bean, which had an incredible backyard that backed right up to a lake. We spent the evening there drinking a specialty drink called a dirty hippie.
We drove to Vancouver, where we thought we would be after Seattle and not Bend, to catch our flight to Long Beach, Calif., for the U.S. Coffee Championships. That first night we went to the latte art throwdown at Lord Windsor Roasters to witness some harmless fun competition.
We both volunteered, Daniel for the Brewers Cup and Brandon for the Barista Championships. Can you spot Brandon as the head timer for the Barista Championship Finals in this photo?
After the event, we went onwards to Vancouver. We had a great time over at Revolver Coffee and learned about the rich coffee scene in Vancouver. It’s a beautiful two part shop with a coffee bar on one side and an annex store on the other. The wood bar itself is a masterpiece and they carry some of the finest roasted coffees in the West. The annex at Revolver is every barista’s dream closet.
Talk about cozy coffee. @ 49th Parallel on Main in Vancouver has this concept nailed down. Add one orange honey pistachio doughnut and you’re in for one deliciously sweet experience.
We stopped by the Cold Bruer HQ on the drive back to Santa Barbara. They have an amazing location tucked away in the woods of Santa Cruz. The Bruer device is a piece of art and the smooth, sweet coffee it brews is even better! We learned about their experience doing a Kickstarter campaign and going through manufacturing.
Finally, after 34 days of travel, we made it back home to Santa Barbara and held a cupping for our friends in town with all the coffee we had collected on our tour. This couldn’t have been a more perfect ending to the #HandgroundTour.
*for more photos from the journey, check out #HandgroundTour on instagram
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Daniel Vitiello and Brandon Warman are cofounders of the Handground Precision Coffee Grinder that was successfully funded on Kickstarter in early 2015. They recently embarked on a trip to Asia to oversee production of the grinder and explore coffee in Thailand. Daniel and Brandon currently live and work in Santa Barbara, Calif., where they welcome you to stay with them as Airbnb guests.