August 16, 2016

Why Specialty Tea and Coffee Are Siblings, Not Strangers


You may have heard of Manual Goods, the company that successfully Kickstarted the stylish Coffee Maker Nº1. Now they’re venturing into specialty tea – and for them, this isn’t a change of industry.

Because for them, specialty tea and coffee have far more in common than that which divides them.

I sat down with Craighton Berman for a delicious Papua New Guinean coffee, roasted by himself at home, and brewed in his newest coffee brewing device: the Coffee Maker Nº2. He told me why he thinks tea and coffee are similar, and how he set out to provide a solution to the very same problem when designing his Tea Makers and Coffee Makers.

SEE ALSO: Coffee Flower Tea: A Specialty Coffee Product Explained in 1 VIDEO


Craighton Berman, designer of the Coffee Maker and Tea Maker Nº1. Credit: M. Scheffer

Tea & Coffee: Two… Beans In a Cherry?

“There are a lot of similarities between specialty coffee and specialty tea,” Craighton begins. “The story is similar. Both seek to learn more at the source.”

Manual Goods are developing Tea Maker Nº1 in a collaboration with Spirit Tea. Craighton tells me that Jordan and Taylor of Spirit Tea have gone on origin trips much like the ones taken by roasters and green buyers.

But the similarity doesn’t end with the importance of origin: coffee and tea share many other things. They’re both a hot beverage with the potential for complex flavor profiles. Weight, volume, temperature, and time all affect the extraction. While the numbers may be different, the processes are very similar.

Tea Maker No 1 in use

The Tea Maker Nº1 in use. Credit: Manual Goods

Simplifying the Brewing Process

Craighton doesn’t just want to make good tea and coffee brewing devices. He also believes that both industries can benefit from more accessible brewing devices. And with a history as an industrial designer, he has the ability to create those products: he’s designed items for companies as big as Starbucks, and a lamp of his is even on permanent display in the Art Institute of Chicago.

He began to make coffee brewing devices after seeing a need in manual brewing that reconciled the technicality of coffee with the accessibility of a home appliance, he explains. As a result, Coffee Maker Nº1 works with most filters and doesn’t even require you to weigh your water – you just compare how much coffee you’ve used to the measurements on the side of the carafe.

Manual Good's Coffee Maker No 1 being used

The Coffee Maker Nº1 in use. Credit: M. Scheffer

And similarly with tea, he wanted to celebrate the complexities of the product while making the brewing process easy. “I saw most tea brewers as overly complicated, brewing with mesh bags or metal filters,” he explains. “The Tea Brewer is more simple, and is alike to the gaiwan, a vessel used in ancient Chinese tea tradition.”

Tea Brewer Nº1 is a 6 oz. glass vessel, double walled to prevent burns and retain heat, with a prominent ceramic lid and decanter. When the lid is placed on the vessel, there’s enough room for the tea to empty into the decanter, while the tea leaves remain in the brewer. Simple, but effective. It’s available complete with Spirit Tea samples and boxes on Kickstarter, although that ends on the 19th of August.

Tea Maker with Spirit Tea

Tea Maker Nº1 with Spirit Tea. Credit: M. Scheffer

So next time you’re in a specialty café, why not stop and ask them about the origin of their teas? You might find it just as fascinating as coffee.

Feature photo credit: Manual Goods

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