design

Make Coffee With Your iPhone

This may be the coolest thing I've seen in a while.

Now I'm a bit of a coffee nut and also a serious fan of design and technology, so this one pushes all the right buttons for me personally. Plus, you can make coffee with your iPhone!

But even if you're not into those things, you'll understand that this is some serious innovation in a category that needs it badly. Search Amazon for Espresso Machine, and you get over 1,200 results, most of which are basically the same. Sure they have different logos on the front; some are silver while others are black, and you have a handful of different options for feature sets. But the last real innovation the category saw was the K-Cup, introduced nearly a decade ago and knocked off by everyone in the business, including retailers like The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

It's not that any of those machines are bad, but none of the competitors really distinguishes itself from the others. By contrast, the Scanomat TopBrewer is elegant, functional, convenient, and above all, interesting.

Think about this: What can you do to make your brand or product all of the above?

Then think about this: Buy me a TopBrewer and I'll make you coffee anytime you want to come over.

Wine Design

Wine snobs may want to skip this post.

For the rest of you, a question: Does packaging matter for the wines you buy? Is it all about the Parker score? A friend's recommendation? A sommelier's suggestion?

For most people, package design is important. It catches our attention, communicates positioning, attracts or repels us. I'm not telling you anything here. But somehow, the wine business has largely been immune to innovations in design. There are literally tens of thousands of French, Italian, and German bottles that look almost exactly alike. In the U.S., we have more than 5,000 domestic producers, most of whom choose — as if from a catalog — between classic, down-to-earth, or contemporary label looks.

Don't believe me? Perhaps you can think of your favorite wine that has an interesting label —the black-on-black one that just seems really cool. Take a stroll down the wine aisle in a grocery store. It's a sea of sameness that always leaves me wondering how they sell any wine at all.

Anyhow, the good people at thecoolist.com have managed to come up with a selection of really good, innovative wine packages. They don't all appeal to me — I don't see myself drinking wine out of an oil can anytime soon. But that's the point of good packaging, isn't it? Help people find you and decide whether or not to buy you.

What about you? What are your favorites on this list? Or do you have another great wine label to share? Let's see it.

Looks cool. Not sure about the portions.