New Zealand is well known for being home to producers of high-quality coffee, but the team over at Supreme may have taken this to all new heights. The coffee roaster has branched into a niche retail market and engineered a pro-edition pair of ‘Barista Socks’, which promise the wearer will brew ‘cups of excellence’. Idealog investigates the dubious testimonials backing up this product. Plus: Read on to win a pair of Barista Socks and some Supreme coffee.
Supreme are an independent coffee roasting brand who began brewing beans as far back as 1993. Due to being experts in their field, who wouldn’t believe them when they say, ‘Socks play an important part in the delivery of great coffee’?
When quizzed on the evidence backing up this claim, Supreme CEO Al Keating says there’s definitely a connection between good socks and a good cuppa. Forget athletes’ shoe woes, he says – it’s baristas that blow through shoes (and socks) at a phenomenal rate.
“If you take a look next time at your local cafe, they'll probably be wearing a beat-up pair of Vans or Converse. We couldn't afford to start a shoe company, so we made socks instead,” Keating says.
Supreme first rolled out its Barista Socks in a red-and-white stripe design in 2016. They proved popular enough to be re-released in all their glory just in time for Christmas this year, alongside a brand-new design of ‘pro-edition’ Barista Socks.
The pro-edition Barista Socks were specifically designed to support two of Supreme’s baristas, Woohyung Lee from Camper Coffee (2016/17 NZ AeroPress Champ), and Dove Chen from Grey St Kitchen (the 2017 NZ Barista Champ), who represented New Zealand at the World Barista Champs and World Aeropress Champs earlier this month.
“We wanted to support them as they went to compete on the world stage. They were gonna need some special help and support,” Keating says, maybe slightly exaggerating what a sock is capable of. “They were going to live and breathe world champion barista attitude and style, so what better way was there for us to step in than shod them with the world’s number one Barista Sock?”
Supreme art director Doug Johns says the Barista Socks are the aesthetically perfect solution for baristas who take a lot of pride in their appearance and need to be seen as trying to look good, while at the same time not trying too hard.
“It’s a very serious business being a barista – you’re single-handedly responsible for the delivery of one of the most important parts of a person’s day. Sometimes, hundreds of times a day,” Johns says.
The stylish, checkered socks have that carefully curated look of ‘seriously-not-taking-oneself-too-seriously’, he says, hence their slogan: ‘Take yourself more seriously’.
Caffeine connoisseurs aside, you don’t have to be a barista to purchase a pair.
Anyone capable of internet shopping can find either the regular or pro-edition pair of the socks on Supreme’s site, but the sock's powers may go to waste, considering the write up boasts that the socks are “specially engineered for cups of excellence”, while each pair is “vacuum packed for ultimate performance and freshness”.
It’s also claimed the socks are 100 percent endorsed by the ISSA (The International Specialty Sock Association), a site that offers no further information on its organisation, but suspiciously features a picture of someone’s feet sporting Supreme’s Barista Socks.
When asked whether Supreme has stumbled upon a booming niche market through its Barista Socks, Johns says that everyone needs socks, so sales are good.
“We’re the art department, so we say pretty much everything’s going good,” he explains.
“We’d have to ask Jesse down the hall in the finance department for an accurate answer to that question.”
All joking aside, Keating says the Barista Socks idea was sprung from originally being a Christmas present for their wholesale customers and friends.
He says seeing as Supreme travels often to far-flung corners of the world for work, the team likes to take a gift with them, but coffee was becoming oh-so predictable. Socks, on the other hand, have many strengths: they’re lightweight, easy to pack, and loved by all.
“You know when your second favourite Aunty gives you a semi-stink pair of socks, but somehow, you still actually love them? Well these were kind of inspired by that gift,” Keating says.
“What gift does one never tire of both giving and receiving? Socks, right?”
You can’t argue with that logic. To win a pair of socks and some Supreme coffee, email editor@Idealog.co.nz and tell us your best ‘foot in mouth’ moment where you said something humiliating, like trying to decide between saying 'Hi!' and 'Hello!' to someone and instead coming out with 'Ho!' We'll pick our favourite.