Just in Time for Valentine’s Day . . .

January 30, 2008
Terrakeramik.com is thrilled to launch the fine crystal stemware collection by Glasi Hergiswil of Switzerland. Each piece is individually mouthblown from lead-free crystal glass by skilled artisans in this 200-year old, employee-owned glassworks on the shores of Lake Lucerne, Switzerland.  
  The Glasi Wine Series comprises a Bordeaux wine glass, Burgundy wine glass, Chardonnay wine glass, and a wine decanter.The size and shape of the wine glass bowls and rims are designed to enhance the characteristics of particular wine varietals.Our wine decanter features a long neck with a slightly widened opening for easy, drip-less wine decanting and has a broad base to expose a greater surface area that allows the wine to aerate and release flavors and aromas.
The Glasi Champagne Series comprises a Champagne flute and the Conca ice cooler.The functional design of our Champagne flutes brings out the fine aromas and effervescence of fine Champagne and sparkling wine.With its stunning lines derived from a seashell, the Conca ice cooler is perfect to chill a bottle of Champagne or white wine. The thick glass helps insulate its contents and the weight provides the necessary stability to keep the contents upright.  
  Our handcrafted Glasi beer glasses are ideal for pilsner-style beers and showcase the color, effervescence, and clarity of the beer. The inverted cone shape with an even taper focuses the hop aroma of a beer and maintains a robust head.
Visit our online marketplace for additional handcrafted, eco-friendly products and information, including recipes, tips and videos. Happy Valentine’s Day!
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Buon Amici’s Coffee Special Promotion

January 29, 2008

Buon Amici’s Coffee of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada is offering an exciting limited time promotion:

buonamicisposter400x500.jpg

Derek Lucas, co-owner of Buon Amici’s Coffee, is one of Canada’s leading baristi. He won the 2007 Canadian Western Regional Barista Championship and placed 6th at the 2007 Canadian National Barista Championship. Derek purchased a small lot of the Esmeralda Special Geisha coffee, which was auctioned by La Hacienda Esmeralda of Panama on May 29, 2007 at a record $130 per pound of green (unroasted) coffee beans. Derek had used our Terra Keramik espresso and cappuccino cups during the 2007 Canadian Barista Championship, and we are thrilled that he chose to serve the Esmeralda Special Geisha coffee to his customers in Terra Keramik cups.

Buon Amici’s Coffee
Unit 110-645 Tyee Road
Victoria, BC V9A 6X5
Canada

www.buonamicis.com

You better hurry, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to enjoy this amazing coffee served in Terra Keramik cups!!!

New York Times “A Little Nostalgia, a Long Fork and Lots of Cheese”

January 25, 2008

nytfondue.jpg

Photo Copyright by The New York Times, Evan Sung for The New York Times.

The New York Times article “A Little Nostalgia, a Long Fork and Lots of Cheese” attempts to over-simplify an already simple and fun dish: the cheese fondue. We ask why? The NYT writer mentions that she consulted with Terrance Brennan, the chef at Artisanal, where fondue is on the menu year-round, about the choice of fondue pots (the writer’s mother apparently re-deployed her fondue pot as a planter). Brennan is quoted “You can use any pot for fondue, as long as you eat it fast enough, before it gets cold and hard.” NOT! We recommend you check out our guide to fondue sets. If you are serious about cheese and dessert fondues, we offer probably the best fondue set on the market, comprised of a fondue pot and matching plates, stainless steel burner and forks. Handcrafted in Switzerland and tested by Swiss fondue gourmands, the fondue set qualifies as professional equipment. In addition to being handcrafted, the fondue pots and plates are eco-friendly.

Terra Keramik Fondue Pot Terra Keramik Fondue Pot

Terra Keramik handcrafted, eco-friendly fondue set

The NYT writer continues with her advice “When the cheese started to cool and congeal, which took a good 30 minutes, all I did was stick it back on the stove, stirring until runny.” NOT! [Hint: you may need to add a little white wine and lemon juice]. Consult both our cooking and serving tips and our Swiss cheese fondue recipe. Or try our chocolate fondue recipe for a sweet dessert alternative.

To view the articles, you may need to sign up for a FREE New York Times online account (you don’t need to be a subscriber).

New York Times “At Last, a $20,000 Cup of Coffee”

January 25, 2008

Photo Copyright by The New York Times, Peter DaSilva for The New York Times.

The New York Times features an article “At Last, a $20,000 Cup of Coffee” about the changes percolating in the coffee machine segment driven by an ever-increasing interest among both baristi and consumers for a better cup of coffee. While much attention has been paid to the espresso machine segment, that has not been the case for coffee machines until the past few years.

The article covers both the $11,000 Clover machine as well as the (what it claims to be) $20,000 Japanese halogen-siphon machine. After a promising opening, the article fades a little and doesn’t provide much detailed information about the various machines and how they function (although there is a nice step by step slide show that accompanies the article).

This is one of several articles the New York Times has published in the past year covering the specialty coffee business (thank you for that!). See also “To Burundi and Beyond for Coffee’s Holy Grail”. To view the articles, you may need to sign up for a FREE New York Times online account (you don’t need to be a subscriber).

Update: search or “pay to play”

October 10, 2007

We posted on December 17, 2006 (6 weeks after we launched our online marketplace) that to drive customers to our site and create brand and product awareness, we wanted to be included in the major search engines and to advertise both online and offline. However, because Google did not rank us (at that time) in the top 1000 results for several of our keywords, including espresso cups, cappuccino cups and fondue pots, we decided to participate in “sponsored search”. We were aware that sponsored search is expensive and our early experience indicated sponsored search resulted in primarily low quality visits. So we asked the question: “Should we be patient and wait until we move up in the Google search results, or do we continue to spend on the Google Adwords program knowing that it doesn’t bring quality visits, product sales or even long-term customer relationships?”

We’re pleased to provide an update. The two screenshots below show that as of today, Google organic search ranks our website in the top 15 results (middle of page 2) for espresso cups (2,350,000 results) and top 20 results (bottom half of page 2) for cappuccino cups (1,940,000 results). For fondue pots (1,580,000 results), we rank in the top 90 results (bottom of page 9).

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googlecappuccinocups.jpg

To achieve this impressive keyword ranking on Google, we have continued to improve the search friendliness of our website as per the earlier post and we have been very patient. We worked and waited almost 12 months!

To improve the site, we have focused especially on page layout using Divs rather than tables (whenever possible – obviously for tabular data, tables make perfect sense) and ensuring that the site uses valid HTML and is CSS compliant. For example, it does matter where your content with keywords is on the page. If you use CSS and have column layouts, the search engines read left to right and top to bottom and give more weighting to content that appears on the top left vs. the bottom right. Also, the search engines cannot read images so you should use alt tags that contain keywords. HTML validation and CSS standards do impact on search rankings, i.e. it is important to understand that search bots that crawl your site are “blind” and do not visualize your site but instead “read” your HTML markup. Bad HTML or unecessary or messy code will negatively impact your ranking. Good HTML like using tags for titles will help Google boost the importance of the title (useful if the title contains your keywords). Using Div tags to lay out your pages rather than tables will help the search bot “read” your page faster because there is less “clutter”, which will also improve your ranking.

You can find advice and tools that should help you to structure your site at googlerankings.com. Also read Google’s FAQ for webmasters and Google’s Webmaster blog with great advice and news about coming features.

The key (pardon the pun) now is to maintain those search rankings. Our competitors can view our keyword rank and keyword usage using a variety of online tools. We are redesigning our navigation to use a pure CSS based navigation bar, instead of the current navigation bar based on HTML tables, javascript and jpg image files (although we do use alt tags). We’ll post about that later.

Honorable mention in eCommerce contest

October 3, 2007

For all the time we put into creating our online marketplace and the website that supports it, for all the late nights and weekends, for learning how to code using PHP, javascript, HTML and CSS, it’s nice to get a little recognition. Read on.

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WebAssist announced the winners of its 2007 “Do More / Win More” contest, and terrakeramik.com was awarded honorable mention (4th place) in the “best eCommerce” category.

WebAssist is a leading vendor of software solutions for the Adobe Macromedia Dreamweaver platform. The contest was open to all websites that incorporate certain of WebAssist’s products. terrakeramik.com, running on an Apache/Linux/PHP 5/ MySQL 5 platform, leverages WebAssist’s eCart (shopping cart), DataAssist (database integration), Universal Email, Cookies Toolkit, Validation Toolkit (both client and server side form validation), and SecurityAssist (registration and authentication). WebAssist products are available for PHP, ASP, and ColdFusion. WebAssist’s product suite is supported by first-class tech support as well as professional services for custom implementations.

WebAssist has some cool new products and tools, including a tool to help create CSS compliant websites in collaboration with Eric Meyer (recognized CSS guru), and tools to integrate Google apps, PayPal, Skype and PlayStream video.

A thank you to WebAssist for recognizing our work!

Canadian Barista Championship, Toronto, Sep 16-17

October 3, 2007

Just a quick late post with the results of the Canadian Barista Championship held in Toronto on September 16-17 in conjunction with the Canada Coffee & Tea Show.

The results of the finals (6 best baristi from the open round and 2 regional champions) are as follows:

1st Mike Yung Caffe Artigiano Vancouver, BC
2nd Cady Wu Wicked Cafe Vancouver, BC
3rd Anthony Benda Café Santé Veritas Montreal, Quebec
4th Colter Jones Caffè Artigiano Vancouver, BC
5th Mark Krause Espresso Post Collingwood, Ontario
6th Derek Lucas Buon Amici’s Coffee Victoria, BC
7th Brette Richard 2% Jazz Victoria, BC
8th Kimberly Staveley Matter of Taste Kitchener, Ontario

Both Mike Yung, the winner, and Anthony Benda, the 3rd place finisher, are first time competitors.  Colter Jones, the defending 2006 CNBC Champion, finished 4th. Colter had placed a strong 7th at the World Barista Championship held in Tokyo in July. Mike Yung will represent Canada at the 2008 WBC.

With the Canadian Barista Championship, Terra Keramik continued to supply several competing baristi with our line of handcrafted espresso cups and cappuccino cups. We appreciate the trust placed in our products by Anthony Benda (Café Santé Veritas), Colter Jones (Caffè Artigiano), Andrew Legg (Transcend Coffee), and Jeremie Thompson (Bridgehead Coffeehouses), all of whom competed with our cups.

Andrew Legg and Poul Mark have started a Transcend Coffee blog with photos of the Canadian Barista Championship. Also check out the Dwelltime coffee blog of Barrett Jones, himself a top Canadian barista and brother of Colter.

Several people have posted competition photos on flickr, including Liz Clayton (who wrote a nice article for Barista Magazine), Rich Westerfield of Aldo Coffee, Poul Mark of Transcend Coffee, and James Hoffmann, the current WBC champion.

New York Times “To Burundi and Beyond for Coffee’s Holy Grail”

September 13, 2007

Photo Copyright by The New York Times, Janet Jarman for The New York Times.

The New York Times features an awesome article “To Burundi and Beyond for Coffee’s Holy Grail” about the search for coffee perfection in far flung places of the world. We mean awesome because the 2nd largest national daily newspaper (after the Wall Street Journal), a barometer for mainstream media, is recognizing the efforts and progress from bean to cup in the specialty coffee segment. And we mean awesome because it describes how some of our favorite specialty roasters (Stumptown, Intelligentsia, Counter Culture, Terroir) discover the next great coffees and work with local farmers to improve the quality. All four roasters sell both single origin coffees as well as blends, including many that are certified organic, fair trade, and shade-grown coffees. The New York Times article includes a beautiful slide show of farms in Nicaragua’s coffee growing region and a video on coffee cupping (analogous to wine tasting) featuring a barista from 9th Street Espresso, one of New York City’s best cafes. To view the article, you may need to sign up for a FREE New York Times online account (you don’t need to be a subscriber).

World Barista Championship, Tokyo, Jul 31-Aug 2

July 31, 2007

James Hoffmann of the UK wins championship

Updated as of August 2

45 of the world’s best baristi, each representing their country as national champion, travelled to Tokyo for the 2007 World Barista Championship to demonstrate their skills and passion to craft and serve 4 espresso, 4 capuccino and 4 signature drinks (their choice) during a 15 minute competition slot.  Six baristi qualified for the finals.

Read our report on the 2007 US Barista Championship for more background information.

We encourage anyone interested in following the World Barista Championship to visit the following sites that are providing “live” coverage (blogs, photos and video):

  • zacharyzachary.com: Two well-regarded baristi, Katie Carguilo (herself a USBC semi-finalist) and Zachary Carlsen, travelled to Tokyo to provide hours and hours of amazing coverage of the WBC.  Both are blogging live from the competition and upload videos of each competitor’s performance within hours minutes.
  • Barista Magazine: Barista Magazine publisher Ken Olson covers the WBC from Tokyo with top notch reporting and stunning photos.  Very complementary to the zacharyzachary.com effort.
  • coffeegeek.com: Coffeegeek offering their insight into the WBC and some of the participants and one minor “controversy”.
  • Winners

    The results of the final round:

    1st Place: United Kingdom – James Hoffmann
    Watch his first round presentation

    2nd Place: United States – Heather Perry
    Watch her first round presentation

    3rd Place: New Zealand – Carl Sara
    Watch his first round presentation

    4th Place: Japan – Miyuki Miyamae
    Watch her first round presentation

    5th Place: Switzerland – Anna Kaeppeli
    Watch her first round presentation

    6th Place: Brazil – Sylvia Magalhaes
    Watch her first round presentation

    All first round videos courtesy of zacharyzachary.com.

    Colter Jones, national champion from Canada and general manager of Caffe Artigiano in Royal Park, Vancouver, competed in the first round (see the video) using the Terra Keramik espresso cups and cappuccino cupsColter finished a strong 7th place (1/2 point from 6th place and a place in the finals, due to going over the 15 minutes allotted time). Congratulations on an amazing performance and we hope he’ll defend his Canadian barista champion title and come back to the WBC next year!


    Colter Jones’ Cappuccino Pour during the 2007 Tokyo WBC (photo by Barrett Jones).

    Observations

    The finalist group represented four continents, demonstrating the global progress and success achieved by baristi in the past few years. Four of the six finalists are women.

    Heather Perry, the US national champion, achieved the highest US finish ever with her 2nd place. Matthew Riddle, the 2006 USBC champion, finished 3rd in the 2006 WBC. Jim Hoffmann, this year’s world champion, finished 5th in the 2006 WBC.

    Competition was very tough with several pre-competition “favorites” not qualifying for the finals (e.g., Scottie Callaghan of Australia, the various Nordic champions). The prior year, three of the six finalists were from Nordic countries (Denmark, Sweden and Iceland).

    Contrary to the sparse live media coverage of the 2007 USBC (see Takeaways in our report on the 2007 US Barista Championship), the live blogging with videos and commentary from zacharyzachary.com kept the global community of coffee enthusiasts well informed and riveted to their computer screens. Thanks for the unprecedented coverage! Both Barista Magazine and coffeegeek.com also reported from Tokyo.

    US Barista Championships, Long Beach, May 4-7

    May 7, 2007

    Heather Perry wins championship, only two-time USBC champion (2003 in Boston, 2007 in Long Beach)

    Updated as of May 18

    Leading up to the 2007 United States Barista Championships (USBC), the media has taken an increasing interest in the barista profession as well as the human side of preparing for an intense and highly competitive championship.  That’s great news (pardon the pun)!  However we still have a long way to go to raise awareness among the coffee consumer.  For example, a Krups-sponsored survey, which asks what is the definition of “barista”, received responses varying from a lawyer (barrister in the UK) to someone who loves burritos. About 33% of the survey respondents knew that a barista is someone who prepares and serves your cup of java.

    The Chicago Reader portrays one professional barista’s preparation for the 2007 United States Barista Championships (USBC) in its article The Best Barista in the World? about Intelligentsia Coffee’s Matt Riddle. Matt is the 2006 US barista champion and finished 3rd in the 2006 World Barista Championships (WBC) (highest placing ever by an American).

    Chow (an online food and drink blog) followed the progress of Murky Coffee’s Katie Carguilo (winner of the Midatlantic Regional Barista Championship) as she prepared for the USBC. Check out the initial article and the follow-up article. Katie qualified for the USBC semi-finals (top 25 baristi) but (unfortunately) did not make the finals.

    Mark Prince and his team at Coffeegeek are summarizing have summarized the SCAA Conference and the US Barista Championships in their daily report covering May 5 (day 1) and May 6 (day 2) and May 7 (day 3).  The daily reports provide really nice coverage (including photos) of several baristi, including Jay Caragay, Jon Lewis, Kyle Larson, Billy Wilson, Matt Riddle, Peter Licata, and Nick Cho.  You will see Nick Cho using the Terra Keramik espresso and cappuccino cups.

    Dan Kehn of Home Barista summarized the 6 finalists’ performance in a series of photos. The photos of Peter Middlecamp show him using the Terra Keramik espresso and cappuccino cups.

    Several attendees have posted photos on Flickr and videos on Youtube. Here’s a selection with credits:

  • Photos by Coffeegeek’s Mark Prince.
  • More photos by Mark Prince.
  • Mark Prince photos of barista Matt Riddle.
  • Photos by Espressoparts’s David White.
  • Photos by Intelligentsia’s Tonx.
  • Photos by Aaron Duckworth of Espresso dell’Anatra.
  • Photos by ghostbarista.
  • Video clip of barista Eton Tsuno by DevonTS.
  • Photos by dogmilque.
  • Championship Results

    Competitors prepared and served 12 coffee drinks: four espressos, four cappuccinos and four signature drinks within a 15-minute timeframe. Judges focused on station cleanliness, taste, beverage presentation, technical skills and total impression.

    We are honored that three competing baristi, Peter Middlecamp (finalist), Nick Cho (semi-finalist) and Daryn Berlin (semi-finalist) chose our Keramik espresso and cappuccino cups to hold and serve their culinary and artistic creations during the 2007 US Barista Championships.

    Below are the preliminary final results. Final results will be posted as soon as they are available.

    USBC RANK NAME COMPANY CITY, STATE REGION SCORE
    Final Round
    1st Heather Perry Coffee Klatch San Dimas, CA West 701.00
    2nd Pete Licata PT’s Coffee Overland Park, KS Midwest 671.00
    3rd Matthew Riddle Intelligentsia Chicago, IL Great Lakes 669.00
    4th Chris Deferio Carriage House Ithaca, NY Northeast 668.00
    5th Kyle Glanville Intelligentsia Los Angeles, CA West 663.50
    6th Peter Middlecamp Black Sheep St. Paul, MN Great Lakes 563.50
    Semi-Final Round
    7th Jon Lewis Bumper Crop Newman Lake, WA Northwest 615.50
    8th Kevin Fuller Albina Press Portland, OR Northwest 612.00
    9th Chris Baca Ritual San Francisco, CA West 610.00
    10th Phuong Tran Lava Java Ridgefield, WA Northwest 598.50
    11th Billy Wilson Albina Press Portland, OR Northwest 597.50
    12th Michael Phillips Intelligentsia Chicago, IL Great Lakes 591.00
    13th Amber Sather Intelligentsia Chicago, IL Great Lakes 590.50
    14th Robin Seitz PT’s Coffee Overland Park, KS Midwest 565.00
    15th* Alex McCracken Kaldis Coffee St. Louis, MO Midwest 564.00
    16th* Nick Griffith Coffee Klatch San Dimas, CA West 564.00
    17th Nicholas Cho Murky Coffee Arlington, VA Southeast 563.50
    18th Eton Tsuno Groundwork Los Angeles, CA West 561.50
    19th* Lucky Rodrigues Temple Sacramento, CA West 556.00
    20th* Katie Carguilo Murky Coffee Washington, DC Midatlantic 556.00
    21st Maki Campbell Zoka Seattle, WA Northwest 553.00
    22nd Steve Fritzen Coffee Hound Bloomington, IL Great Lakes 545.00
    23th Kyle Larson Stumptown Portland, OR Northwest 523.50
    24th Daryn Berlin Counter Culture Durham, NC Southeast 520.50
    25th Yaelle Levine Barefoot Santa Clara, CA West 515.50
    First Round
    N/A Justin Teisl Alterra Milwaukee, WI Great Lakes N/A
    N/A Sonja Schutte Aldo Pittsburgh, PA Midatlantic N/A
    N/A Scott Lucey Alterra Milwaukee, WI Great Lakes N/A
    N/A Josh Modrzynski Coffee by the Books Pasadena, CA West N/A
    N/A Tatiana Becker Trabant Seattle, WA Northwest N/A
    N/A Sean Kohmescher Temple Sacramento, CA West N/A
    N/A David Hermann The Roasterie Kansas City, MO Midwest N/A
    N/A Kyle Hill Zoka Seattle, WA Northwest N/A
    N/A Lem Butler Daily Grind Chapel Hill, NC Southeast N/A
    N/A Lorrie McCullaugh Trabant Seattle, WA Northwest N/A
    N/A Dismas Smithe Borogrove Everett, WA Northwest N/A
    N/A Dan Griffin Cafe Collage New York, NY Northeast N/A
    N/A Sean Douglas White Groundwork Santa Monica, CA West N/A
    N/A Jay Caragay Spro Towson, MD Midatlantic N/A
    N/A Scott Hladky JP’s Java Austin, TX South Central N/A
    N/A Dominic Taylor Barefoot Santa Clara, CA West N/A
    N/A Gail Nelson Cafe Verrazzano Lakeside, CA West N/A
    N/A Rafael Aguiar Jones Coffee Pasadena, CA West N/A
    N/A Ariel Meltzer Coffee Hound Normal, IL Great Lakes N/A
    N/A Chris Berola Latte Land Prairie Village, KS Midwest N/A
    N/A John Johnson JP’s Java Austin, TX South Central N/A
    * When a tie occurs, the USBC will break the tie by counting how many “6’s” and “5’s” each competitor received from the judges. The competitor with the most top scores will win and break the tie.

    Credits: Competitor information from Coffeed (Nick Cho, Billy Wilson, Jay Caragay) and Aldo Coffee (Rich Westerfield). Finalist results from Mark Prince, posted on Coffeed by Jim Hoffmann. Overall results from Dan Kehn at Home Barista.

    Some Take-Aways

    We were disappointed with the coverage during the 3-day event from both the traditional media as well as the blogs and forums and agree with suggestions from the coffee community that event organizers should consider contracting coverage to a PR firm that has experience organizing media coverage for a large, championship caliber event. 

    We would also appreciate if the SCAA considered additional rule changes to make the event more transparent and accessible to the coffee community because that would help increase awareness of and appreciation for the barista profession. Just a couple of examples:

  • Publishing the competitors’ scores immediately following the judges’ scoring decision. [Update: as of May 18, the SCAA which organizes the USBC has not yet published the above results on their public website].
  • Video clips of competitors’ performances for those interested but unable to attend. [Update: Several industry participants have agreed to work together to organize better media coverage for the 2008 USBC].
  • It would also generate more interest and enthusiasm for what is a terrific championship event! [Update: Apparently the US Air Guitar Championships, scheduled for June, is attracting huge media coverage].