2013 was a wild year, for coffee and the internet in general, and for coffee on the internet specifically. For the last few days we've been running our Editor's Picks for the most popular and beloved features from Sprudge's 2013 content onslaught. But over the last year, few things brought joy to our Sprudgey hearts quite like featuring the cartooning work of Ben Blake (of Draw Coffee fame) week in and week out on Sprudge.
Ben Blake has handled our weekly recaps since January 5th, 2013, and today we want to take a look back at some of our favorite original artwork that has accompanied these news briefs. It's been an honor, and really a lot of fun, to get to feature Ben Blake's artwork on Sprudge. His art is becoming increasingly iconic, serving as a wider artistic expression for this moment in global coffee culture. His cartoons are always a surprise, shifting gleefully in form and subject, stylistically diverse and unafraid of challenge.
We get to work with Ben every week, and we're also huge fans. You can (and should!) peruse the full archive of Ben Blake content on Sprudge by clicking here (he's also got a darn good nose for news, as the actual reporting contained in each recap plainly shows). But for now, let's look back at some of our favorite Ben Blake artwork originals from 2013.
From the January 12th, 2013 recap, Ben's “Brew A Hobbit” doodle is a bit of a stylistic break for him, for while it features a coffee filter, it was not drawn on one. Sometimes Ben's doodles are a specific tribute to a feature that had run on the site during the previous week, and this doodle was meant to honor Joe Marrocco's epic feature “Why Did ‘The Hobbit' Spend $380,000 On Coffee? We Ask An Elf“.
From the February 2nd, 2013 edition. What gets us here is the way Ben's mimicked that delightful curved roundness that these Hario products have. That, and the stylized “handcrafted” font for the pouring water.
Here's a classic filter drawing, made in tribute to the 2013 Southwest Regional Barista Competition in Santa Cruz, California. This filter ran the week of March 18th, 2013, and features a lovely rendering of the iconic Santa Cruz Boardwalk roller coaster, plus the winners of that week's Barista and Brewers Cup competitions.
Going back through the year, it's kind of impossible not to stop in your tracks when thinking about the 2013 United States Barista Championship. The event itself went off without a hitch, but the days that followed were marred by unspeakable tragedy in the city of Boston. Outpourings of support for the people of Boston flooded all corners of the internet, including the filter doodle you see above from Ben.
Here's something a bit lighter. Ben Blake spent Summer 2013 in the city of Seattle, and here's his doodly tribute from June 7th to some of his favorite coffee roasters and bars in the Emerald City.
Ben's style shifts from week to week, which is great fun to watch. Here he's using original photography, and overlaying that with some stylized fonts. “Draw Coffee” gets a lot of attention for its most common medium – coffee filters – but it's the fonts and scripts that wow us every week. This was from the August 17th edition of Ben's weekly recaps.
Super interesting use of light and dark here, as Ben creates a textured, ink-black filter and then works within its blank spaces. The font up top would feel at home in a Superman comic. From the September 14th, 2013 recap.
Ben's art is often meant as a genuine kind of open tribute, but he also has the capacity for wry observational humor. This is taken from the November 9th recap, and is a staff favorite.
Ben is now a working barista at Peregrine Espresso in Washington DC. Our December 7th recap used the doodle you see above, some original promo material by Ben for a Thursday Night Throwdown event at Peregrine.
Ben drew a couple of different tributes to coffee producer Aida Battle this year, but this one's our favorite, from the December 14th post. There's a real depth and character at work for this script, with the initials CCC – Counter Culture Coffee – worked in subtly to the upper left corner. This one is another staff favorite at Sprudge.
Can't get enough Ben Blake? Peruse all of his content for Sprudge here in our Ben Blake archives.
Go enjoy more of Ben Blake's artwork at Draw Coffee Dot Com.