Category Coffee

Hi there. I'm a Partner at Undercurrent, where I lead a team focused on helping ambitious organizations operate in ways that are beneficial to all their users.

How I Make Coffee




Pot, with pour-sides. I fill my carafe to the 4 cup mark, and pour that amount into the pot. High heat, because you’re boiling, silly.


Carafe, with plastic filter-top. $12 at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Rinse your filter with hot water before you put coffee in it; nobody likes the taste of paper. Note: pay no mind to the soy sauce in this picture.

Coffee, ground, in can. Cans are far manlier than bags in any scenario, and the sort of coffee that comes in a can is cheaper than the bagged stuff. Plus, the cans are reusable. And grinding coffee is for snobs. I use three generous scoops with a regular spoon, not a coffee scoop. Your goal should be to minimize the coffee-specific you have laying about.


My aim is to create the best possible tasting single cup of coffee, from the least-expensive coffee I can find. So I use some methods that are a bit fussy and certainly in contrast to my rather minimalist setup, but they go a long way toward making a decent cup.

Once the water is boiling, pour about a tablespoon of water over all the grounds. This, I’m told, allows the grounds to soak up some water slowly and “bloom”. You may remark to yourself at this point at the silliness of the word “bloom” in the context of coffee. … Onward! Put the water back on the heat and let it get hot again.


Now, pour about 1/3 of the remaining water over all the grounds. Pour it quickly; coffee snobs would have you stir the mix at this point, but if you pour with a bit of vigor, the water will stir the grounds for you.


Wait a few beats and then pour 1/3 of the water, very slowly, into the center of the grounds. This will push the grounds away from the deep part of the cone, which I’m told will prevent something called “over-extraction”, which will make your coffee taste shittier.

Take this moment to marvel at your creation. Delicious coffee awaits.


See what the pouring in the middle did? It worked!

3. WHY?

You might be thinking… “Yeah, Clay, but the coffee I make in my fancy machine(s) is better.” To you, Thomas the Doubter, I say… “Perhaps?” It may be true that a better cup of coffee than this exists, but at what price? The overall investment required to achieve this cup is significantly lower than that of a typical setup, and the general “quality” is not that far off. And this method can be used when in the field, with nothing but a heat source and a 2-oz cone. And water and coffee and a receptacle. So: victory is mine.

Happy Birthday likemind

Happy Birthday Likemind

Today is the third Friday of July. And as such, I went down to Intelligentsia on 53 E. Randolph Street at 8:00 to meet up and chat with anyone who wanted free coffee. Mike Maddaloni is a blogger, dedicated Chicago Likemind-er and owner of Dunkirk Systems. We sat in the front window and talked about the troubles of e-commerce sites until Raza Imam, Managing Partner at Adaptive Solutions, showed up. Then we talked about social networking, what Raza’s company does and strangely effective but ugly websites.

We wore our name badges. Mike and Raza removed them before the photo, but we definitely wore them. Because we like our free coffee, provided by Anomaly. Then we went outside to have our photo taken (which is here). A friend of a friend, Adam, showed up, but couldn’t stay. He just wanted to say hello, and knew I was going to be at Intelligentsia with some folks. Weird how that all works.

Thanks to Noah, Piers and all the folks (almost 60 of them) around the world that make this such a cool thing.

Including: Mark, Tad, Scott, Elizabeth, Casper, Lauren, Jamie, Mack, Paul, Amanda, Verity, Daniele, David, Bjorn, Herb, Sarah, Luca, Antonio, Ryan, Alex, Arya, Yousuf, Matthias, Jens, Mikael, Mikaela, Koert, Simon, David, Richard, Michael, Lauren, Sage, Lauren, Mark, Michele, Lorenzo, Ozgur, Alemsah, Shu, Joseph, Amanda, Aaron, Roberto, Terronista, Iain, Curtis, Carolyn, Ronnie, Jason, Audrey, Nev, Eric, Jane, Paul, James, Geoff & Alex.

Here’s to many more Likeminds to come.

Likemind Chicago

Likemind Chicago is this Friday at Intelligentsia on Randolph.

Should be fun. I think Ben of the Design Conspiracy might be there. Here’s hoping.

Here’s the video.

likemind.chi – May 18

Hey, all you likeminded Chicagoans. Come to Intelligentsia Coffee (55 E. Randolph) at 8:00 AM tomorrow. It’s going to be awesome. I can’t think of any reason why you wouldn’t want to be there.

Here’s 5 reasons why you should come:

  1. Free coffee.
  2. Great discussion.
  3. Link-love for your blog.
  4. Cool new people to meet.
  5. The perfect way to jumpstart your Friday.

Industry Gatherings


What a weird 18 hours that was.

Last night there was an event held by Sticky (“The idea agency”) here in Chicago called Third Thursdays. It was designed to be an ad-industry night of collaboration and creative networking, and was held from 6-10PM in a bar/club called Enclave. I was very excited to go, especially because I could meet people to talk about likemind. I thought there would be a happy coincidence of networking events.

Maybe because it was the first Third Thursday, maybe because it was in a bar with hip-hop records a’spinnin’… the event left me feeling a little empty. Lots of people showed up and there wasn’t a whole lot of collaboration going on. Mostly it was a drinking affair. Eh.

And then this morning, this beautiful morning, came around and it was time for the first likemind. And I’m happy to report that it was a huge success. Four insightful, excited and generous people showed up and we had a great chat. By 8:15 we all had cups of strong Intellgentsia coffee (having beat this particular location’s massive morning rush) and were set to go.

Chris Thilk, blog-master, regaled us with blogging best practices, the right way to run a PR campaign, and some great thoughts about the next generation of social networking.

Mark Renshaw (co-host of likemind.chi) of Arc Worldwide brought the coolest business cards ever. He also was stung by a stingray in Australia.

Mike Walsh, who I met randomly last night at my favorite restaurant, is a newbie blogger and started a company that makes online community software. It’s called Leverage Software and I think it’s going to be the next big thing.

Mike Maddaloni (The Hot Iron) showed up a little later and had some smart things to say about selling good ideas/strategies. and was kind enough to stick around and help…

Hemal Gill, from NY, who was in town secret-shopping the Chicago likemind. She’s a regular at the likemind.ny which apparently gets 30 people every time. Hemal started a blog called The Eight Fold, and hopes to change the way we all think about brands. In a good way.

I felt so blessed to be around such smart people. Thank you to you four who showed up and gave away free inspiration to the group. Big things will come of the things we discuss and if you care about creating big things, changing the world, etc., you should have been there to share. And listen.

And the contrast between likemind.chi and Third Thursday serves to illustrate a point.

It’s easy to talk about collaboration and sharing. It’s much harder (and takes more dedication) to actually create an environment that encourages these principles. But I’d rather be in the creation business than the talking business.


likemind.chi – April 20

It’s coming. Evidence:



Thanks to Noah and Piers for sending this stuff out. And don’t forget! Likemind.chi is happening this Friday at 8:00 AM in the Intelligentsia on Randolph Street. It’s gonna be sweet. I guarantee it.

likemind.chi – April 20


likemind is finally in Chicago. The Second City is now a part of the global Coffee Morning phenomenon. We’ll be having coffee on the third Friday of every month, at 8:00 AM. The location (unless we can find a better one) is at the Intelligentsia Coffee at 53 E. Randolph St, and the date… hahaha …is April 20. And yes, there is a likemind Amsterdam (in addition to New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Copenhagen, Boston, LA, Dallas, London, Malmo, Minneapolis, Ancona, Orlando, Jakarta, Hamburg, Stockholm, Cape Town, New Orleans, Portland and Jesi).

Do come and be ready to chat.

Lo-Fi Blog 5


Mom, I’m just joking about the drinkr thing.

I’m not sure this is a good medium for a coffee morning roundup, but it’s worth a shot. I like the drawings, though. And take a look at Katie Chatfield’s Get Shouty blog. She’s hilarious.

Chicago! Coffee! Tomorrow!


Ohh Snap! Tomorrow is Chicago Coffee Morning 3, the last one of the year. That’s right, folks: Friday, December 15 at 8:00 AM. It snowed last time and some of y’all didn’t come. And you shoulda. Make up for your folly by showing up tomorrow and having a chat. Or not. Your call. But after this, we won’t have any more for the rest of 2006. And this is for everyone in Chicago, not just for adver-folk.

Again, it will be at the Intelligentsia at 55 E. Randolph. More information and pictures at the Chicago Coffee page.

Coffee with Johanna


Had coffee and a chat with Johanna (Cellar Door, in town for groups of focus) last night. Went to Filter at North & Milwaukee in Wicker Park. Had a great time discussing the differences between Chicago and New York, blogging ettiquite, the bliss of a good coffee shop, the corny-ness of general marketing blogs, the makeup of a “planning mind”, extraordinary origins of ordinary things, and blogger’s block.

‘Twas rainy and slightly chilly, and thus a perfect night for a big cup. Johanna had Irish Breakfast tea. We had no real idea how it differed from English Breakfast. We did, however, agree that Earl Grey was weird. I suggested that it may be the Bergamot, which is pictured above.