30 Jun
   Filed Under: Personal   

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After all the hard work of last week, I thought a light-hearted end of the month with a look at European iced coffee brands and how they compare to each other would be nice. Every travelling geek needs his cafeïne kick, and iced coffee is one of my favorite drinks to stay sharp and enjoy the taste of arabica.

I’ve picked three brands that are mostly available. As a weigh-in, I’ve taken Emmi’s “Choco Latte” swiss chocolate milk, because Emmi’s renowned for it’s cafeïne-containing drinks beyond just the coffee-flavoured ones. I will judge the four contestants by ‘coder’s value’ (Cafeïne, general effects on your mental state), ‘taster’s choice’ (overall flavour), graphic design, and ‘interface’ design (meaning the end-user friendliness of the package).

From left to right in the header image you can see;

  • 1. Café Fresco by Douwe Egberts and Campina. Café Fresco is a relatively novel entrant to the iced coffee market and a collaborative effort by Dutch Coffee brand Douwe Egberts (a subsidiary of Sarah Lee) and Campina, one of the premier dairy companies in the Netherlands. It’s advertising campaign was a blast to graphic designers. Recently, a ‘Light’ variant was launched aside the two existing variants; “Cappuccino” and “Macchiato”
  • 2. Mövenpick Caffé Espresso Fredo. Mövenpick ventured into the iced coffee business from their ‘home ground’ as an ice-cream producer. Not really marketed locally, it can be found in the less mainstream aisles in some select chains of supermarkets.
  • 3. Emmi’s Caffé Latte Espresso. Although “Latte Espresso” screams “contradictio-in-terminis” to me, Emmi’s a renowned maker of cold drinks and has a large selection of iced coffees. For a fair comparison, I’ve chosen the espresso variant, but there are many more.
  • Last but not least, 4. Emmi’s Choco Latte is a good alternative to iced coffee when you’ve lost the taste for it.
  • So, how do the contestants weigh in terms of cafeïne? It’s easy to match the drinks, given the numbers are out there. When consulting the packaging of the drinks, we can find out that contestant 2 (Mövenpick’s Caffé Espresso Fredo) does do justice to it’s name. It contains about six percent total in coffee extract, placing just above contestant 4 (Swiss chocolate milk Emmi’s Choco Latte) when it comes to cafeïne percentages. Top ranked is contestant 3 (Emmi’s Caffé Latte Espresso) – it contains a whopping 13% of coffee extract. Closing the gate is Café Fresco, with a minute 1,1% of coffee extract.

    Conclusion for the ‘coder’s value’: Picking an Emmi’s or Mövenpick might be the best idea if you are going for a more clear state of mind.

    Moving on to general flavour. Although it’s hard to pass judgement on something so personal, I can say I like a round but tangy taste in iced coffee; it shouldn’t slap you in the face with bitterness but it should also remind you you’re drinking coffee instead of aromated chocolate milk.

    The absolute winner of flavour is Emmi’s Caffé Latte Espresso. It’s very tangy, has a strong taste that doesn’t make your cheek muscles contract and it sits nicely on an empty stomach. Second is Café Fresco; although it’s meager cafeïne percentages wouldn’t indicate for it, it has a rich flavour that sticks around, while not being fast in it’s deterioration into a milky after taste. Mövenpick can easily be ranked last; it has a watery flavour and doesn’t bring a special aroma or detail worth remembering to the table. I will keep out the Emmi’s Choco Latte from this part of the review because it’s not worth weighing it up against all-coffee flavoured drinks.

    Graphic and end-user interface design are also important. While being a matter of opinion, I can definitely say that Café Fresco takes the award. The posters advertising it around my city are fantastic to look at;

    cafe_fresco_ad 1.jpg

    Strong, truly Dutch design sticking up it’s head in our streets. There is another poster with metro graphics; I suggest you take a search around the internet if you like them, there’s some pretty high-res imagery of it out there. A runner-up is Emmi’s, for having a tight, unified style, albeit somewhat heavily leaning on design cliché’s.

    That’s graphic, however. The ‘interfacing’ with Café Fresco iced coffee (and all others, really) is a bit of a nuisance. First of all, there’s always two steps to opening your package; there is some sort of plastic cover on top that breaks too easily and is prone to cut open your second drink cover, and there’s the plastic cover that you pull off (a ‘freshness seal’, if you will). The second, I have no problems with, but it’s the first that’s really purely aesthetic. You can’t convince me that you should use it to re-seal your drink because it does a shitty job about that.

    Mövenpick has an interesting feat, however; their drink is encased in something which seems to be shaped to a standard model of a human hand. Which means your fingers kind of fit ‘into’ the drinking cup, which is a bit freaky, cool, and useless at the same time. I’m not going to give out points for that, and based off my previous observation about the top covers of the drinks, they’re all getting an “F” for not being able to innovate.

    Becher-Espresso.jpg

    Conclusion

    For overall value for coding geeks, and pure taste and simple design I think Emmi’s is a clear winner. Café Fresco is a runner-up, while it has good design, it fails to deliver when it comes to the desires of people like me.

    That was it for this month. Expect some words on the new Cocoia Main on here, perhaps, and of course, blogging into July this night. Stay tuned and thanks for reading :).

    30 Jun
       Filed Under: Apple, Personal   

    A good friend has helped me out with this; as a lucky owner of a great brain and an iPhone, he’s shot these images for me;

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    Photo 6.jpg

    As you can see, that looks totally gorgeous. I’ve also seen some pictures of my mail and my personal work, but I won’t bore you with this further. I just thought this was pretty awesome.

    29 Jun
       Filed Under: Apple, Design   

    Well, if you ever wanted some higher-res images of the arrows in the iPhone or were wondering what Apple will do to integrate Apple.com and the iPhone, here’s a scoop;

    applearrows.jpg

    Also, as you can see in the Downloads section, all rollovers are disabled when you use an iPhone. Obvious, but clever that they’ve got it all in line. Speaking of which (this is unrelated to the post’s topic), Apple Downloads…

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    I was put on it overnight, this time around (thanks guys!) and, as the day is progressing, I have already transferred about 5 gigabyte of icon material. That’s neat! An excellent reception of the icon set and something that will definitely encourage me to make a second one. As I said, pass on requests and icon ideas in the last post.

    Thanks, everyone at Macthemes and Apple.com – the input and downloads are appreciated. More cool unveilings very soon.

    29 Jun
       Filed Under: Icon Design, Personal   

    Hello readers. I’ve gotten quite a few people who have requests for a specific icon, whether it be a replacement or original icon, or a system icon, some people have some good ideas and want to see more icons pushed out.

    I got vacation, and although I work a lot of client work and the second pack of the War on Bad Design icons is already underway, I want to see some requests. I might, if the amount of requests is sufficient, make a “Month of Icons” following the “Month of X” convention of making a new release each day. So, what do you want to see? Let me know in the comments or via email. As I said, sufficient requests means that you’ll get what you want.

    28 Jun
       Filed Under: Design, Icon Design, Personal Work   

    wobd.jpg


    A set of quality freeware icons by Icon Designer.

    If you like this icon set, please comment, write a blog post, or drop me an email (see Icon Designer for contact details).

    Download

    28 Jun
       Filed Under: Apple   

    It’s a word we’ve been associating with OS 9. OS X has a ‘Classic’ mode to run legacy OS 9 applications, but we’re looking at a whole new ‘classic’ now.

    Security in Leopard has had a roadmap of its own – after several developer builds in 2006, it became apparent that there was a lot of attention from Apple to invest in security; perhaps following the Month of Apple Bugs, but, most likely, to prove that now OS X is gaining is it’s user base, is still ‘the most secure desktop operating system’.

    After WWDC ’07, a few things have become more clear to me. What first was a loosely affiliated set of securing elements, has become an extremely intuitive addition to the standard way of doing things. A good example of how flawless these new security-improving additions are, I’ll take an example that’s just freshly new. In Tiger, we get a dialog when we open an application for the first time. It’s an informative dialogue, but it’s not really helping us in terms of finding out where the hell we got it. In Leopard, as you might have seen, there is a new downloading system. Downloads are placed in a new ‘downloads’ folder and in a download stack in the Dock, and even cooler, once you open a downloaded application for the first time, it pops up the same familiar dialogue. However, this time, it also shows where you downloaded it, and when. With a minimal addition, the user’s ability to stay secure has gained a lot.

    Another good example are InputManagers. The ‘classic’ Tiger hacks that allow you to modify code at runtime, are disabled by default in Leopard. However, placing an InputManager file in the correct folder prompts you if you want to enable them. Safe by default, perhaps quite to the contrary when you compare it with Tiger.

    Overall, there are a lot of things I don’t want to mention or cannot mention because they haven’t been shown in the SteveNote or otherwise broadly carried by the blogosphere. Some of these are so non-obvious that people just don’t bother to find out, I guess. But I can guarantee you that you’re in for a completely new experience once you switch from Tiger to Leopard. And it won’t be like going from XP to Vista; you’ll actually feel like you’re more in control, all the while clicking less buttons to achieve that feeling.

    Apple has a very clear message; I think that once Apple is around to releasing Leopard, you can go ahead and write malware; see if it works. In an OS that has code-signing, sandboxing, and other fantastic new hardening efforts all built-in, we’re safe. I think I’ll have some vacation instead of having to write a new “A more secure OS X before 10.6″ ;).