We’ve been following Chicago roaster Metric Coffee since its start in 2015 and tracking its growth in the last six years. In 2020, Xavier Alexander and the team began a conversation to overhaul Metric from the bottom up. “We had just launched a new line which we felt served its purpose but lacked a timeless nature,” Alexander told us, “and our vision was to strip the flash and stick to keeping it clean and simple.” Metric has also started to dip their toes into print media—with the launch of their magazine Source Code coming soon. More on this below.

We spoke with Alexander digitally to learn more.

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Who did you work with on the design?

We worked with Lauren Gallagher, Creative Director of Something Else, a small design studio based here in Chicago. Prior to working with Metric, Lauren served as Lead Designer for Cards Against Humanity and as a Senior Designer for Varyer. When we saw her work, we were immediately drawn to her style, and after a few months of working together, Darko (my partner) and I appreciated that we could communicate with someone who understood how to achieve what we have always wanted. For our illustrations, we have been working with the talented Nick Vargas, who did all of the illustrations for our pastry company, Brite Donuts & Baked Goods, as well as for Metric’s website and marketing materials.

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Tell us about the changes that were made.

With the rebrand, the biggest change was the omission of our circular logo as our primary mark and replaced it with our new logotype which we feel best represents who we are today, tomorrow, and always. Beyond that, we worked our way through the website, packaging, and apparel until it all felt cohesive and representative of our mission to champion quality, transparency, and sustainability in specialty coffee.

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Tell us about your print publication Source Code!

Source Code began as a personal project of mine that bloomed into a print publication geared towards educating coffee consumers. Source Code walks them through some of our industry definitions as they relate to coffee sourcing. It is no surprise, after speaking to other buyers, that much of the work we do in the development of equitable relationships, quality control, and on logistical front is very misunderstood, and our hope is to bring people into that conversation. Moreover, we published a case study that uses one Colombian producer’s data from 2018-2020 to show the public a breakdown of what a more sustainable price looks like. Readers can scan QR codes throughout the magazine to view our source material, like the literal contracts and receipts.

As for the release, we are looking at a mid-June launch of the magazine, and will follow up with a mini-podcast series, where this time we interview other green coffee buyers to walk us through their mission for sourcing quality coffees at equitable wages. We plan on talking to Ryan Knapp from Azahar Coffee, Tim Hill from Atlantic, Caleb Nichols from Wonderstate, and Gabe Boscana from Maquina, with more names coming soon.

Source Code would not be possible were it not for the generous donation of data from our partners at Azahar Coffee, and for the support from our friends at Savor Brands and Oatly.

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What coffees are you excited about heading into Summer?

As we head into the summer, I am excited for all of our Fresh Crop Ethiopias, from our partners at Snap, along with a few coffees from Kata Maduga. The Costa Rican coffees from Selva are some of the tastiest Costa Rican coffees we’ve had in years—we have a few special prep micros coming from them soon. I am over the moon about our new relationship with 88 Graines, in Guatemala. Last, but not least, all of our Honduran micros this year from Benjamin Paz.

How should we spend a perfect day in Metric’s neighborhood?

Because our neighborhood is technically an industrial/manufacturing zone, there isn’t a whole heck of a lot to do or see around here. Still, we recommend starting the day with a visit to our cafe, enjoy a cup of our batch brew or pour over along with our donuts/pastries, at lunchtime head on over to Lula Cafe for curbside pickup and find a shaded tree in Logan Square to enjoy your meal. If the mood strikes you, grab a glass or bottle of wine at Websters.


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