Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Java Junkie: Logos and Brews

Anyone who knows me, knows I love coffee almost as much as I love art and design. I started drinking coffee in college and have since become quite the connoisseur. Everywhere I go, I like to sample the brew from locally-owned shops. Though there are some who would argue Starbucks is the only place to get your coffee fix, I disagree. Here I will sample a few coffee shops I've visited. I've been to quite a few, but these sport the best coffee and perhaps nearly as important from a design perspective, the best logos.

First up is Java Brewing Company in Louisville, Kentucky. This logo is energetic and clean, but also has a nice bit of whimsy. The color choices are earthy without being too bland. The coffee here is rich and tasty, though some roasts have a slight bitterness.

Semolino is a small shop in the college town of Hays, Kansas. Housed in a revamped downtown building, the cafe's name alludes to the area's wheat farming industry. The logo is somewhat 'antique' and uses an aged red and burnished gold. You can almost see this logo on the side of an antique coffee tin. The java at Semolino is great, the atmosphere relaxing, and the baked goods tantalizing.

I have two offerings from the Gateway city of St. Louis. First, we'll take a look at Kaldi's. This shop takes its name from the legendary goatherd Kaldi. The story states that Kaldi's goats nibbled on coffee cherries one day and became filled with energy, leading him to 'discover' the fruit. The logo is a throwback to that story, exuding an African/Middle Eastern flair with the swirling roundel and dancing goats. Kaldi's is a must-see for anyone visiting St. Louis.

Northwest Coffee Roasters is a small operation with only two shops, but the coffee is superb. Sporting an elegant logo, Northwest sells coffee beans in slick black bags that set off the beauty of the logo. They roast all their own coffee, much like most of the others I've listed. I purchased a pound of their Italian Roast once and enjoyed it thoroughly.

The logo and corresponding graphics for The Roasterie in Kansas City, Missouri are simply the bees knees! The logo, with the tagline 'Air Roasted Coffee' has a distinctive early 20th century flair. The font choice and bold black and white graphics lend a retro industrial feel. Though the shop was terribly busy when I visited and it took a while to place my order, the coffee was fresh and crisp.

Lastly, I give you the Frothy Monkey. The name alone is enough to peak interest. I visited the one in Nashville, Tennessee. A very earth-friendly shop, the Frothy Monkey has an eclectic atmosphere and really tasty coffee. The logo is simply delightful with its friendly lower-case font and ambling monkey.

Local coffee shops are sometimes the best places to get a feel for the city. They're also great for the economy. Chain stores are fine, but venture off the beaten path and give local a try. You may find a new place to hang out and enjoy some joe. We creative types need fuel after all!

Note: All of these shops were in business at the time of this entry.

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