Design Debut brings the very latest new products to the Show. The 11 entrepreneurs lining the east wall of Discover Design come from the dynamic start up culture and often establish their companies with Kickstarter support.
For example, coffee-lover Jake Miller launched the Duo Coffee Brewer on Kickstarter in 2013. A former brand manager at Caribou Coffee, he started developing a coffee brewer while studying at Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Three years and several products later, Jake’s company Fellow meets the housewares market at the 2016 Show.
Jake, tell us a little about yourself and how you started Fellow.
I adore coffee. I had been brewing coffee at home for years. For home brew I went back and forth between a French press and a pour-over. Both can make a great cup of joe, but each have their respective drawbacks. The French press is great because the coffee grounds get to steep in the hot water for a few minutes (a full immersion allows for a robust extraction), but the single filter leaves a lot of coffee gunk in your cup…or mouth. The pour-over produces a crisp cup, but it’s a very manual and tedious process. If you don’t know what you’re doing you’ll end up with under-extracted coffee…brown water, not black gold.
After months of picking French press grinds out of my teeth, I wanted something better. The team and I kept moving back and forth between the French press and pour-over. Both can make a great cup of coffee, but have their respective drawbacks. After eight months and countless prototypes we launched Duo Coffee Steeper – a dual chamber “twist” on a traditional French press. Much like a French press, Duo’s stainless steel brewing chamber lets coffee grounds steep in hot water for a full immersion and robust extraction. After a few minutes of brewing time, simply twist the cap to strain the coffee through the filter and let it flow into borosilicate glass carafe to serve. Unlike the French press, Duo’s etched cone filter ensures no gunk at the bottom of your cup. Like the pour-over method, Duo also gives you complete control over the extraction time by separating your grounds from your serving carafe. There’s no worrying about under-extracting coffee and ending up with sad, brown water.
What happened after your launch?
We sought out to create a different type of coffee brewer, one that was equally functional and beautiful. Our Kickstarter campaign took off, and that’s what motivated us to continue making beautifully functional coffee brewing equipment. Since Kickstarter, we’ve followed up with a second generation Duo, some barware and our Stagg Pour-Over Kettle, which we’ve been selling since September 2015.
How did you decide on your company name?
We are in San Francisco, a city that loves its coffee. We decided on the name Fellow because one of our main objectives is to be your friend in the pursuit of great coffee. We’re making brewing equipment for folks at all different levels of coffee knowledge. The specialty coffee industry can often times be pretty intimidating, so we aim to be as approachable as possible.
Tell us about how you approach product development.
Our design process for each of our products always starts with the user and understanding how we can improve their home brewing experience. Our consumers have the choice of buying their coffee in a cafe or grabbing their caffeine fix at work, so it’s crucial to understand what they want for their home setup. After we understand our user’s needs, we’re onto adding unexpected features. Take our newest product, Stagg Pour-Over Kettle, for example. Stagg’s design features include: a brew-range thermometer to ensure you’re at optimal brewing temperature (an important variable for brewing), a counterbalanced handle to move the center of mass back towards your hand for an easier pour and a precision pour spout for a slow, intuitive pour.
Beyond functionality, we’re always aiming to create products that make folks do a double take. Our products are modern and masculine, which is an unexpected aesthetic in the coffee and tea world. There isn’t a pour-over kettle on the market that looks like our matte black Stagg. Our goal is for our users to want to keep their Fellow products out on the counter, not in their cabinet. If you’re using your brewing equipment every morning you shouldn’t have to hide it.
What are your hopes for your debut at our Show?
We’ve made a few waves in the specialty coffee world, but that doesn’t mean our products are just for coffee nerds. We’re excited to debut at this Show because almost everyone drinks coffee, and we know folks outside of the specialty coffee world would benefit from our products.
Thank you, Jake, for sharing your story. You’re in great company at Discover Design with your “fellow” debutantes –it’s an inspiring array of passionate designers and energetic entrepreneurs. Wishing you a successful entry into the housewares market! To learn more about Jake and Fellow, see:
The Discover Design Expo hosts established design brands such as Alessi and JosephJoseph and introduces rising newcomers in Design Debut, the Show’s incubator for budding companies. Housewares buyers seeking the very latest in creative directions will discover these selected 11 exhibitors from California, Texas, New York, Detroit, Chicago and Germany, at their mini-displays set in N8724.