"Make your morning meaningful."

An ancient tool for a modern rise and grind.


Metaté references an ancient grinding tool, redesigned for modern mornings. As technology fills and simplifies our routines, Metaté seeks to help bring a healthy balance to the mix. 


Metaté is for humans seeking something real. We crave meaning, and are currently starved for it. All around us digital interfaces mask real experiences. They make us feel good in the moment but lack actual interaction. 


Rather than immerse ourselves in social media or the news, take some time for yourself in the morning. Metaté gives us a way to work with our hands, clearing the fog of sleep and getting us ready for the day ahead. You grind your beans. You smell their fragrance and notice subtle notes listed on the bag. When you drink it, it tastes better because you’ve worked for it. 


Metaté uses the ancient grinding technique used by indigenous peoples of the Southwest. By rolling the crisp roasted coffee beans between the rough textures of a hand held stone, and the sloped base, the coffee begins to quickly break into fine pieces. Once ground to preference, the beans are poured into the coffee making device of choice.


The manual process give you a stronger and fresher taste by balancing the extraction of oils from the coffee beans.

15 min


There is not shortcut, no mechanism, no batteries, no instructions. It is you, two stones, some beans, and the best damn coffee you’ve ever tasted. You made this coffee. It's real, and your efforts endue your every sip with meaning. 


We exercise our bodies, our minds should be no different. For meaningful mornings, embrace effort.


Design Details

Staying true to the most meaningful design meant keeping everything simple, from the look to the function to the manufacturing.

03      04      05      06      09      07

03 Carved   |   04 Pressed   |   05 Scooped   |   06 Slab cut   |    09 Press mold   |   07 Slab cut


Not everything made it.

Final Design

Sturdy base, gentle slope, strong wall thicknesses. Small enough to fit in a small apartment, large enough to make one cup of coffee. Sustainable & made in the USA.

The bowl on the metaté is sized for a single serving of coffee - about 16oz. The stone is asymmetrical and encourages multiple ergonomic positions.

Metate grips the counter top surface with an adhered cork underside.


Making it

The goal was to find a method that worked best for getting a good Metaté result, over and over again. Of all the variations, the simple press mold yielded the best quality with the fewest touch points. After being in the mold a few hours, the clay body shrinks, allowing for 0 degree draft removal. The body is then finished by hand, adding chamfers and smoothing surfaces with rasps. Once the piece is 'bone dry' it is bisque fired at 1840, then high fired at cone ten, 2381. Cutting out the cork pad base is simple using a template, and placing it with industrial adhesive. Matatés are rinsed and scrubbed of dust. Click images for descriptions.

Figuring Out

Scanned spreads showing design details and decisions from kiln notes to presentation formats. Part of doing a 'simple' product design like Metaté meant having the details figured out. Keeping all these ideas in an accessible, editable, form was key to flexibility and adaptation throughout the process.

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Building 'Metaté' and assembling the pieces. Lots of testing, trying and refining to find the best shape for the grinding process. Working with clay was an enjoyable experience because it could be sculpted immediately with simple tools. For example, if you wanted to see what an edge would look like with a radius, you could use a damp sponge to smooth the corners down.

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The final rough mockup for 'Metaté'. Foam body, small enough to fit in the hand, large enough to fit a coffee cup's worth of beans. Used to grind beans, and as a reference point for the next round of even more functional ceramic mockups.  

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Form Direction

Final Concepts

Coffee grinding sketches for including as much meaning as possible into a morning routine. The iso grid helps explore families and the storyboard helps communicate the purpose, inspirations and background to the project. 

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Before  arriving at the classic metaté form, I had been exploring various ways to grind coffee by hand. Ideally the method would include some rhythm but as I found asymmetrical motions were not as enjoyable as symmetrical ones. Both hands should be equally engaged. The fire-starter motion of rubbing both hands back and forth with the grinder in  between felt really cool at first, but was too tiring overall. Exploring the different grinding flows helped refine direction.

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Grinding Tests

Round 7 Concepts

Top three final concepts around more 'meaning' at home. "Ritual", shown below, is the one that became Metaté. I was drawn to the potential of offering a low tech solution to assist people getting out of  the habit of "smashing a device in their face" first thing in the morning.

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Round 6 Concepts

6  concepts looking to add more 'meaning' at home. I really enjoyed the mix of high tech internals and low tech exteriors on some of these. 

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Round 5 Concepts

6  additional concepts for design and meaning. My favorite this round was the Roller Chair concept -  designed for people working from home who need to stretch from time to time.

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Round 4 Concepts

6  additional pages around more 'meaning' at home. This round was fun because the imagery behind really helped communicate the concepts. 

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Round 3 Concepts

6  ideas that take place in the near future. These designs all stemmed from big brainstorm sessions where trends and tech were being referenced to make concepts for hypotheticals. 

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