THE REAL AFICIONADO

Drinking coffee has become an everyday ritual for people. In many cases, however, we drink coffee for other purposes: waking up, fueling for study or work, not drinking coffee for its own taste although we pretend to appreciate the taste of coffee with lots of 'flowery words' such as earthy aroma or full-body with a hint of chocolate, like a wine. Let's ask ourselves: how often do we drink coffee only for appreciation of its taste?

The Real Aficionado is a coffee grinder and maker intended to stretch out the coffee making process to the utmost as opposed to a one-button electric coffee grinder. Through the extended process, it creates multi-sensory experience beyond the taste, such as touching coffee beans, vibrating stones while grinding, inhaling aroma from grounds, dripping sounds from a bamboo tip, and feeling tranquility like being in a zen-garden. As opposed to the quick-and-easy quaffing culture, it suggests an alternative ritual for experiencing coffee in our lives.

2018

16 x 12 x 4 inches

wood, slate, fabric, styrofoam

Background

Tracing 'evolutionary path' of an object

The Real Aficionado is the result of the special topic studio, FuturePast: Springboard to Innovation, by redesigning Krups electric coffee grinder. Setting aside a conventional design research methodology, this class employs the anthropological approach to mine the historical references to uncover a well-spring of new design inspirations and innovations. By doing so, this approach focuses on where people may overlook or not know and reinterpret an object in the modern context.

process

anthropological research

The object I chose was Krups coffee grinder, representing quick-and-easy coffee drinking culture. Coffee culture in modern western society is represented as being caffeinated; coffee as a tool keeping myself awake, while drinking coffee itself had ever been a purpose in history and other cultures such as Ethiopian and Turkish.

However, it was interesting to see that coffee has been described like wine with full of metaphoric words, while many people just drink coffee for its 'functional' value. Do people really appreciate the coffee? Or, is it a just corporate marketing to delude with fantasy being an aficionado? What would be an alternative that allows us to appreciate the real taste of coffee?

In history, drinking coffee used to be a purpose itself as a daily ritual in Ethiopia where coffee has been cultivated in the 9th century. For Ethiopians, drinking coffee is a daily ritual taking over around 2 hours from roasting to drinking. Moreover, it functions as a social cohesion fostering communities. Of course, we might not investctwo hours to drink coffee in our 'busy' modern days. However, can we adopt some of the elements from the heritage?

Uncovered the evolutionary path and associated reference of Krups coffee grinder
Uncovered the evolutionary path and associated reference of Krups coffee grinder

form exploration & prototyping

Before electricity was invented, coffee used to be ground with hands. Although it may require more efforts, the process itself may also give you joy from expectation and sensory experiences such as aroma from the coffee grounds and tactile feedback during grinding, which enrich your coffee drinking experience, which in turn may make you have more appreciation. So, I decided to use hand grinding for the essential elements of the redesigned object.

Also, I believed that the real appreciation could not come from being busy, rather from being in the moment. So, I tried to incorporate the intentional pause and pondered how this object can embrace taking a pause. After a while, I came up with a zen-garden and employed //speficifed //some visual vocabularies from that (even you can make your own zen-garden while you are grinding!)

techniques | sketch model making
tools | hot wire cutting, bandsaw, drill press, hand tools

Quick-sketched the idea and looked at its dimension with forms
Quick-sketched the idea and looked at its dimension with forms
Making process: the rough model turning into a hi-fidelity form
Making process: the rough model turning into a hi-fidelity form