The masthead at Fast Company this week.
The top-banner at Fast Company this week.

Hold on to your butts! It’s Coffee Week at Fast Company, the executive-business-design-innovation-lifestyle network of publications. They’re leading things off with a multitude of Monday morning curated coffee content–eight articles so far from seven different writers!–including two tent-pole articles: “The Multimillion Dollar Quest To Brew The Perfect Cup Of Coffee” by senior Fast Company writer Danielle Sacks, and “Can Starbucks Make 23,000 Coffee Shops Feel Unique?” by Mark Wilson.

The scope of this first volley of content is wide, befitting the range of outlets under the Fast Company umbrella. Truly there is something for every coffee appreciating media consumer in these articles, whether you’re looking for an overview of recent updates in thinking on the best way to tell if your caffeine fix is also fixing the planet?”, or you want to read a deep-dive into some very particular segments of North American specialty coffee history and future, complete with the all-important Duane Sorenson moneyball interview f-bomb: “I want to blow someone’s mind every single morning, like FUCKKKKKK!”

To help guide you in maximizing your own personal Coffee Week readings, we’ve put together this handy overview of the articles so far. As to what exciting perspectives, exhaustive use of coffee media tropes and wide-ranging attempts to grab interest in coffee from all sides Tuesday through Friday will hold? Who can say!

The Multimillion Dollar Quest To Brew The Perfect Cup Of Coffee

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The big one that’s probably going to have all the coffee geekerati talking the most. Chock full of quotes from people like the Belanich brothers of Joyride Coffee, Jeremy Kuempel of Blossom Coffee, James Freeman, Tony Conrad and Mike Phillips of Blue Bottle Coffee, Alpha Dominche founder Khristian Bombeck, Joth Ricci and Duane Sorenson of Stumptown, Major Cohen of Starbucks, and Todd Carmichael of La Colombe.

Is this the Coffee Week Article for you?

Do you want a deep look at a selection of coffee related North American people/projects with ties to venture capital backing or a general disrupt-y, startup-y narrative? Are you okay with the following statement? “The Chemex is a sultry piece of glass.” Has it been too long since you’ve read an interview where Duane Sorenson swears? Does a long-read that tries to capture this funny moment of the San Franciscification™ of specialty coffee in America sound interesting?

Then truly, this is the piece for you.

Can Starbucks Make 23,000 Coffee Shops Feel Unique?

A thorough look at the new design regime remaking the Starbucks image, featuring insights from Starbucks President of Global Development Arthur Rubinfeld and VP of Design Bill Sleeth, who gave a fascinating lecture on the subject at 2014 SCAA Symposium.

The $58 billion company (market cap) is trying to solve one of the most bedeviling challenges for any business that grows as large it has: How can Starbucks use design to make every store feel not like a mass-produced product out of Seattle, but rather a bespoke, local coffee shop? And do it within a language that still lets you know where you are?

Is this the Coffee Week Article for you?

This one is for you if you like design and branding, want to learn more about the internal working of an international retail company, and appreciate balanced and insightful statements like:

advert but first coffee cookbook now available


Starbucks will inevitably fail at true mass customization because it’s impossible to scale and implement. But getting just halfway there may be a better proposition anyway. Because “sincere,” “warm,” “elegant,” and “curious”–these aren’t bespoke design concepts. They’re universal.

Your Coffee Is Getting Fancier, But Is It Getting Better For The World?

A nice selection of voices trying to wrap their hands around a complicated set of issues. Karen Cantor of “Chipped Cup Coffee, West Harlem’s first artisanal coffee shop,” Counter Culture Coffee’s Kim Elena Ionescu, and Mary Jo Cook of Fair Trade USA all get quoted talking about the evolution of Fair Trade, Direct Trade, and the hard road of tracing impact all the way back to not just farm owners, but farm workers.

Is this the Coffee Week article for you?

Do you care about saving the planet and want to have some more context on how that can or can’t be accomplished through coffee? Are all the coffee trade terms out there feeling rather confusing to you? Have you heard about this study questioning the efficacy of Fair Trade? Do you want to read the only article so far in Fast Company’s #CoffeeWeek that quotes women?

Then start your Coffee Week here.

The New Habit Challenge Drink Your Coffee When Science Tells You To

Sixty percent of American coffee drinkers claim they need coffee to start their day…I’m sad to say that scientists disagree. No, really.

For the next week, I plan to put this theory to the test, and I hope you’ll join me.

Is this the Coffee Week article for you?

Do you want a quick look at a bunch of science-y stuff that tells you how coffee actually affects wakefulness and alertness, combined with a viral challenge to disrupt your mindshare?

Then by all means, get amongst it.

Coffee Alternatives That Are Better For Productivity

Sure, a cup of joe can boost your alertness and help you get through the day, but too much caffeine can also have negative side effects including a bad case of the jitters, digestive upset, and heartburn. Fortunately, there are coffee alternatives that might make you feel even more productive

Is this the Coffee Week article for you? 

Have you ever considered 1. taking a break, 2. take a power nap, 3. hitting the gym, 4. “eating some chocolate and having a laugh” or 5. raising the heat in your office when you feel unproductive and out of it?

No? Well then this collection of hard, pop, and psuedo-scientific claims might help spur your thoughts.

Quote Of The Week: Coffee Solves Everything

Meeting for coffee, as Jerry Seinfeld aptly put it to NPR, is “a wonderful, compact, accessible, and portable social interaction.” Holding a mug is a conversational lubricant akin to talking while staring together out a windshield or at a movie screen. Anxious, shy, or just sleep-deprived, the answer’s found in the brew, Seinfeld says:

“Coffee solves all these problems in one delightful little cup.”

Is this the Coffee Week article for you?

Come on, it’s Jerry Seinfeld! The man who used to buy coffee from all these cool places he visited on Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee! And they’ve got a downloadable poster version of the quote!

Who Makes The Best Coffee? Cast Your Vote In Our Coffee Week Championship

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36 coffee companies. 36 “signature drinks” presented by the companies and/or chosen by the editors (it’s not totally clear). One week-long competition bracket asking readers to evaluate their favorite company (not, I think, the actual signature drink, although again this is unclear) with scoring based on:

Brew: emphasis is on the single-origin roast, a pure cup.
Cold: everything from the iced latte to overnight without heat brew.
Mix: bean blends and caffeinated cocktails.
Shot: it’s all about the espresso.

Is this the Coffee Week article for you?

Sure, who doesn’t love voting and regional favorites and stuff. Engage early, eagerly and often! Just ignore the weird typos, like “Joe’s Coffee”, and the fact that Clive Coffee’s “Clive At Five” has not existed since 2012.

10 Third Wave Coffee Innovators Worth Buzzing About

Saved you a click: The top 10 are Duane Sorenson of Stumptown, Tony Conrad and James Freeman of Blue Bottle, Jacob Jaber of Philz Coffee, Alpha Dominche founder Khristian Bombeck, Jeremy Kuempel of Blossom, Noah, Adam, and David Belanich of Joyride Coffee, and  Corey Waldron of Modbar.

In summation, #CoffeeWeek events like this one (or the one staged annually at Zagat) usually offer a kind of best-and-worst of mainstream coffee writing, and Fast Company’s opening spate of content fits that bill, though so far the good seems to largely outweigh the bad. As another week of coffee rolls on here at, we’ll be reading and sharing more articles from #CoffeeWeek as it plays out across FastCo’s network of verticals.

 Alex Bernson (@AlexBernson) is the Assistant Editor at Read more Bernson here.

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