As usual, there was a glut of coffee-related products at this year's International Home + Housewares Show: we were interested to see that Bodum joined Keurig (to name a few) in the "Wired + Well" section this year, presumably because the former is expanding its eBodum line even as they celebrate the 55th Anniversary of the Santos coffeemaker... but more on that later. Here are two other interesting takes on coffee culture, one a symptom of our collective caffeine dependency (and the distinctly American phenomenon of the to-go cup), the other a story of a startup that's turning the corner.
I first spotted Mark A. Beckey nonchalantly sporting his Javahook on his way to his booth on Friday morning, making final preparations in anticipation of opening day. A Starbucks cup (the only option at McCormick, besides the free coffee scattered throughout the exhibition halls) rested against his iPad, suspended as if by magic... or, as it turned out, a concealed hook. Although the product itself didn't require much in the way of explanation, so Beckey delivered a quick escalator pitch anyway (I happened to be right behind him on the way up to the show floor): the Javahook had won Best New Product at Seattle's CoffeeFest and he was in the running for an IHA Innovation Award as well.
In fact, he might have been better off walking the floor with the device to generate interest, as his booth was in the far end of the North Building, corralled in the so-called Inventors' Corner (as was the previously-seen Brolly umbrella). I made my way over there on Saturday, where Beckey shared more information about his company: They're based in San Antonio, Texas, and the product is made in the USA.
Nevertheless, I doubt that I would ever use a Javahook myself—the promo video sells it as a portable cupholder, but the nominal convenience seems excessive, at least to the extent that the doodad has no impact on conservation or more conscientious consumption. Its versatility is certainly a selling point, but if it came with a reusable sleeve, for instance, the semblance of eco-friendliness might go a long way.
As for the Mighty Mug, we were pleasantly surprised to see their latest innovations, from the new and improved flagship product to prototypes of future wares. The premise is simple—so simple that it's proven to be quite the design/engineering challenge: to make a mug that can't be knocked over accidentally yet feels otherwise natural to use. Even as their product has been picked up by the likes of Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond, the founders concede that there is room for improvement.
Brian, Dan and Jamie have come a long way since they showed us the first Mighty Mug over a year and a half ago, and the new travel mug marks a breakthrough for the New Jersey-based entrepreneurs. Besides its slimmed-down form factor (and sleek airplane-turbine-like lid), Dan noted that the visibility of the suction cup in the original model was a major miscue for UI: users would overcompensate for a suction when a simple tug would suffice. The concealed suction of the travel mug marks a substantial improvement over its predecessor, and they hope to eliminate the plastic seam that is a hint about the release mechanism.
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