Have you ever looked at a fat-lipped ceramic coffee mug and wished design and your morning caffeine routine would intersect? Recently, they have. Fellow is a relatively new company producing coffee equipment for the home brewer, imbuing products with strong visual and engineering design. Fellow’s ability to merge function and beauty in its products, building a reputation for quality while striking a playful tone, is rare.
This “nontech” yet technology-based startup is based, naturally, in single-origin soaked San Francisco. For decades, coffee shops and home brewers relied upon a handful of companies based in Asia – mostly Japan – such as Kalita, Yama, Takahiro, Kono, and Hario for well-designed products. For example, founded in the 1920s, Hario’s (“King of Glass” in Japanese) popular designs have become not just standards for the industry but iconic. The V60 dripper and Buono gooseneck kettle are two prominent examples.
Fellow is headed for that esteemed distinction. The industry upstart launched through Kickstarter four years ago. They’ve since made impressive inroads into coffee gear while winning shelf space in the kitchen décor scene playing out on Instagram.
The Stagg EKG Electric Kettle, starting at $149, is the best example of design and build capability. The kettle is offered in two sizes, 0.6 liters and 0.9 liters, and four finishes: black matte, polished steel, polished copper, and white matte. The white matte version pairs a white base with kettle, whereas the other three options have a black matte base (though a walnut version can be purchased separately for $80). It’s those types of details that Fellow excels at — modern design that is elegant, simple, and eye-catching. You’ll want to leave this showpiece, especially in copper, on the counter not hide it behind the flour jar.
Though the kettle is stylish, the product’s features will impress any coffee geek. The gooseneck spout offers the same level of control as other pour over kettles; the heating element is fast; the PID-enabled temperature control is precise; and the brew-timer is a unicorn feature. The kettle can be set to the desired temperature, using a dial which is paired to an LCD display. Once set, the temperature holds for an hour. Users have even greater control with the Bluetooth-enabled version, priced for $70 more, which can be set and turned on and off remotely. All kettles include a brewing stopwatch, that, of course, delays 3 seconds before starting — another indicator of thoughtful design.
Of course, Fellow didn’t design a kettle without an equally eye-catching drinking vessel. The company’s double wall ceramic cups feature striking copper bottoms. The Joey mug, offered in either white or black matte, is available as an espresso-size demitasse, a standard 8-ounce cup, or a large mug-sized 12 ounces. For those practicing their latte art, the Monty Milk Art Cups are particularly suited for espresso-based drinks. Their unique design feature is a parabolic curve on the cup’s bottom that pushes the cream to the surface, making it that much easier to work on latte art.
The Stagg kettle and mugs offer just a glimpse at the company’s product line. The rest of the pour over system includes an insulated dripper, a double-wall glass carafe, and double-wall (of course) glasses. This system is not even their first product line for manual brewing. That would be the Duo Coffee Steeper, Fellow’s answer to the French Press.