Month: June 2016

CoffeeCon 2016: A Community of Connoisseurs


On June 4, 2016, Industry City in Brooklyn was on an all-day caffeine buzz. Over a 1,000 attendees flocked to the warehouse campus located near the waterfront in Sunset Park. By 9am, the CoffeeCon’s exhibitor floor was alive with the aromas of mocha, caramel, accented by hints of cherries and floral.

CoffeeCon Event 2016 in Indistry City Brooklyn NYC

Areli’s President Steven Chiocchi, photographer Bill Mangino and I checked in and helped ourselves to our first (of many) cups of coffee, we soaked up the surreal moment before us. CoffeeCon – A convention, like Comic-Con or E3, all for coffee. How did this happen?

Five years ago…

Kevin Sinnott was traveling the world, working on a documentary called, ‘Coffee Brewing Secrets’ where he interviewed some of the industry’s top professionals on some secrets of the trade. After getting the opportunity to interview George Howell, Erna Knutsen, Kenneth Davids and many others, he felt inspired. He wanted to create a live experience where people could learn from industry experts face to face, but more importantly, he wanted to create something he himself would be excited to attend.

‘I have to admit I invented it only because I wanted to attend it. Coffee is so often compared to craft beer and wine, but while each of those beverages is ready to consume when you get it, the finest coffees require a final step called brewing, a significant difference.’ Kevin explains.

They held their first CoffeeCon in 2011 in Chicago, and in the last five years have hosted a total of 9 conventions, in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. Industry City marked their second appearance in New York and was the perfect setting to complement the overall theme.

At The Present Time…

By 11am the floor was packed and bustling with brands like Bodum, Hario, Rusty’s Hawaiian, ReAnimator, and Gorilla Coffee lost among the crowds of attendees at their booths. Throughout the day, we had the opportunity to talk with some of the exhibitors to see what they thought of the event.

CoffeeCon Event 2016 in Indistry City Brooklyn NYC

Bodum’s Back

The inventors of the original French Press, Bodum was present and accounted for as they recently decided to jump back into the coffee and tea community. Daniel from Bodum had said, ‘We loved the fact that it was so laid back, yet very professionally organized.’

CoffeeCon Event 2016 in Indistry City Brooklyn NYC

With over 1200 attendees at the event, it’s a good thing it was well organized. As you walked through Industry City’s campus along the lines of booths you felt like you were part of a selective community, one driven by what we all love, coffee.  There was an unspoken camaraderie with each of the exhibitors, offering an extra hand or space to work.

CoffeeCon Event 2016 in Indistry City Brooklyn NYC

One of Toby’s Estate’s booth runners was actually hanging out at the Bodum booth, giving out free samples of Toby’s Estate coffee brewed with a Bodum French Press.

Philadelphia Love

Matt from Philadelphia’s ReAnimator Coffee also shared his thoughts on CoffeeCon, “…what we loved most about the event was the consumer focus and the fact that most in attendance were just coffee lovers. A lot of times with conventions/conferences/fests, the audience is more industry focused, and everyone is there with an agenda of some sort.”

CoffeeCon Event 2016 in Indistry City Brooklyn NYC

If there was any type of agenda at CoffeeCon, it was to spread the good word of coffee! For many of the exhibitors, time on the floor gave them a great opportunity to have meaningful conversations with consumers, while also getting feedback on their own products.

A Fresh Take From The Locals

‘CoffeeCon gave us the opportunity to share our product directly with a community that we value. It was the perfect place to introduce our take on coffee with like-minded coffee enthusiasts.’ Mache of Tom’s Lemon Coffee told us.

CoffeeCon Event 2016 in Indistry City Brooklyn NYC

The local Brooklyn Brewers brought their old-school coffee cart and fresh new spin on coffee with them to showcase their new drink to a niche audience.

Besides the amazing exhibitor presence, there were educational sessions throughout the day. These ranged from Cold Brew labs and latte art to water quality and tasting like an expert. Kevin Sinnott actually described the overall concept of CoffeeCon perfectly, saying it’s really just a cooking school in disguise. “My dream is for everyone to learn to brew coffee. That would improve coffee taste more than any farming or roasting innovation.”

Learning From the Creme de la Crema

CoffeeCon did not shirk on the talent they had for their sessions that Saturday. It was apparent they seek out the top people in their field to be guest presenters. While some are inventors, others have started movements. Some of the day’s speakers included the Father of Third Wave -George Howell, 2015 US AeroPress Champion Rusty Obra, and many others.

CoffeeCon Event 2016 in Indistry City Brooklyn NYC

Throughout the busy day, I had the chance to sit in on three sessions, including both of the speaker’s above as well as Jim Schulman’s water quality workshop. Each presenter easily demonstrated why they were chosen with their overflowing knowledge and stellar qualifications in the coffee world.

Taste Like An Expert

The first session we went to was George Howell’s ‘Taste Like an Expert’ VIP session. Even though Howell has become such an influencer in the coffee industry, his demeanor was extremely friendly and welcoming.

CoffeeCon Event 2016 in Indistry City Brooklyn NYC

The amount of information he imparted on the attendees was amazing, as he discussed the pivotal components of a good tasting cup of coffee before diving deep into each of the key points. From there, we tried a variety of different brews and beans from different regions to identify how they each have their own characteristics. This session alone was worth the entire day in Brooklyn.

AeroPress: Becoming a Master

I was interested in the next session because AeroPress always seemed overwhelming to me. From the AeroPress itself to the brewing method it just seemed like a lot of work for a cup of coffee. After sitting in on Rusty Obra’s workshop, “AeroPress: Becoming a Master,” I quickly realized I wasn’t brewing the coffee correctly. By learning about the elements that made up a great cup of AeroPress coffee, I gained some perspective for my next attempt.

CoffeeCon Event 2016 in Indistry City Brooklyn NYC

Prior to his session, Rusty had spent most of the day helping out at Aerobie’s exhibitor booth which featured his family’s Rusty’s Hawaiian coffee. He realized many were in the same situation as myself. “I had numerous people say that they have an AP but have no idea how to use one properly.  So, it was my job to walk them through the process,” which he did effortlessly during his workshop.

My next try at AeroPress may not be a championship cup, but it should taste a whole lot better!

Water: The Silent Majority

The last session we were able to catch was Jim Schulman’s ‘Water: Coffee’s Silent Majority’ workshop. Here Jim discussed what components can affect the taste of coffee after it’s brewed, which is something we tend to overlook.

CoffeeCon Event 2016 in Indistry City Brooklyn NYC

The water quality itself plays a major role and does not come down to hard or soft pH levels but the TDS concentration, which is made up of minerals, metals, vitamins, and other organic dissolved solids. This is why using distilled water to brew coffee will result in a coffee that tastes much different than using tap water. Actually, we learned that distilled water is not recommended for brewing coffee. Overall Jim was able to take a subject like water and keep it engaging throughout the entire workshop. It was definitely a great session to catch before we had to head out!

What’s Next for CoffeeCon?

All in all, our first CoffeeCon experience was great. We had the opportunity to try some of the best beans and blends out there as well as some interesting products like Nitro cold brew and sparkling lemon coffee. When I asked Patricia what CoffeeCon in the years to come looks like, she explained how this is only the beginning.  They aim to always build something better, with plans on expanding the event to two days to offer more opportunities for learning sessions and social events.

CoffeeCon Event 2016 in Indistry City Brooklyn NYC

It doesn’t look like they’ll have any trouble finding exhibitors, as all of them expressed how much they enjoyed being at the event and part of such a close-knit community. In the end, it looks like the founder Kevin Sinnott got his wish, creating a fun and educational event he himself would be thrilled to attend.

“While I want coffee to improve in flavor, I still stay grounded. I’d still prefer a good cup of coffee shared with a friend to a superlative cup alone.” – Kevin Sinnott

10 Best Apps for Startups

best apps for startups

So much to do, so little time. Starting a business or new venture should be a fun and exciting time, but most of the time it’s just frantically chaotic. There’s always a new fire that has to be put out, not enough people for hats not to mention a super lean budget. We’re all supposed to be influencers, showing others how to utilize technology, but many times we don’t practice what we preach.

What can we adjust in our daily routines to boost productivity and ultimately get more shit done? With all of the web applications, digital services, and software inundating the market, what ones are actually worth it? If you’re looking for some industry insight, these are the 10 best apps for startups to use as soon as they launch.

Best Apps for Startups and Agencies

1. Google Chrome

Browser | Pricing: Free

A lot of people know this one, but we’re listing it for those that don’t. You can log into Chrome with your Gmail account and load all your bookmarks, extensions, and information. Great for those with multiple emails.

best apps for startups

We personally use Google Chrome for all of our projects, creating specific browsers for certain tasks such as social media management, design, partnerships and more. Their auto-tab launch (set up a default set of tabs to open up every time you use a window) and their wide selection of extensions like Rapportive makes it an invaluable resource.

2. Google Apps

Web Apps/Service | Pricing: $5 per user per month

If your startup has some basic vanilla email such as or it’s time to make a switch.

best apps for startups

Besides a branded email, you also gain access to a plethora of tools for your use, including Google Docs, Sheets, Forms, Google Calendar, and Google Drive. One of our favorite ways to use Google Calendar is to stay synced with our clients for upcoming events, blog posts, calls and more.

3. Basecamp

Web App | Pricing: Starts at $29/month for internal teams and $79/month to invite clients to your projects

When you’re handling multiple clients, requests, and points of contact it can be tough to manage.

best apps for startups

Basecamp helps solve this, by giving you the ability to create various projects and populate each with the different tasks and documents while also acting as a communication platform for clients. We use Basecamp 2, we’re big fans of how clients can log in and use it to keep us updated on their latest efforts.

4. Grasshopper

Web App/Service | Pricing: $12 a month

Just like Google Apps, Grasshopper gives you more of a professional appearance at a low cost.

best apps for startups

Besides receiving a branded number, you can also set up your own digital phone system by assigning different team members different extensions. These all work through call forwarding which means if your designer gets a call through his extension, you can have it sent directly to their mobile phone.

5. UberConference

Web App/Service | Pricing: FREE or $10 per month for more features.

There’s nothing worse than having a conference call where one person gets the short straw and has to take all of the notes. It also can be a pain in the ass to shift between various screen-sharing apps, conference bridges and chat platforms, which UberConference consolidates down into one service.

best apps for startups

The two biggest reasons why we use UberConference for all client calls (besides their ‘awesome’ hold music) are the call recordings and the screen sharing capabilities. This allows all of the team members to be fully engaged with no distractions and gives us and the client the ability to brainstorm or review our latest iterations.

6. Rapportive

Extension | Pricing: FREE

We mentioned this one earlier, but it’s awesome enough to get its own section. Working as an extension for Google Chrome, Rapportive gives you the ability to connect and grow your network with your email contacts.

best apps for startups

Each time you start a new email or conversation, Rapportive will scrape the contact’s email and locate their LinkedIn and Twitter. Without leaving your email message, you have the ability to ‘invite’ the contact to connect on social, giving you the ability to easily stay connected and grow your network.

7. Slack

App | Pricing: FREE with Paid Premium Options starting at $6.67 per user per month

If you haven’t heard of Slack by this point, you’re probably living under a rock. What started as a simple chatting app for offices has evolved into just a great messenger for a variety of uses, from team collaborations to gaming and more.

best apps for startups

We use it daily for work, with at least four different Slack teams within our app that allows us to bounce between our client work and partner work. The number of apps you can integrate into Slack are amazing, including Invision which we use for design prototypes. This comprehensive messaging app that lets you organize conversations, access archives, share files and more. It’s definitely one of the tools our agency can’t live without.

Best Apps for Startups: Social Media

8. Buffer

Web App/Extension | Pricing: FREE for one platform but starting at $10/month for individuals

If you only have a few social handles to manage or you’re just getting started, Buffer can be a great asset for you to try out. It is both an app and a Google Chrome extension and gives you the ability to ‘set it and forget it’ for all things social.

best apps for startups

Buffer not only helps curate content related to some of your posts but also allows you to schedule, monitor and review post performance. The extension itself helps you save time by easily scheduling any post you come across throughout the day without having to leave the post and login to Buffer.

9. Sprout Social

Web/App/Extension | Pricing: Starting at $59/month

There’s a good chance you’ve already heard of Sprout or could possibly be trying it out now. Sprout is basically what Buffer will eventually evolve into which is an all-inclusive enterprise level social media management tool.

best apps for startups

Depending on the plan you select, you can link up a variety of social handles that can be organized by client. Their reporting features give you more insights on your content and engagement, breaking posts down to the hashtag. If you’ve used Buffer but feel like you’re outgrowing it, Sprout Social is definitely a great resource to try.

Best Apps for Startups: Security

10. LastPass

Web App/Extension | Pricing: FREE

We’re in a digital world and everyone’s top priority is keeping information secure. Clients are trusting you with a lot of personal information, so keeping all of their passwords in a handwritten notebook or Word doc probably isn’t the best means of security. LastPass solves this issue, assuring all users that any information stored within it is safe and secure.

best apps for startups

Logging into different apps and platforms has never been so safe and easy, as you can just click a button and all of your login info is automatically synced. LastPass also helps you share information with other team members, create incredibly strong passwords and organize everything to keep it manageable. If you are handling other people’s sensitive data, LastPass is the platform for you.

Wrapping Up…

Listen, we all know time is money. Why not spend your time on client work rather than silly day-to-day redundancies? Each of these apps and programs gives you the edge against the day, helping you focus on what matters the most which are your billable time. We bet even if you only tried a few of these apps, you’ll be able to up the ante on your workflow and will produce better results!