We caught up with Mario Kristian and asked him some questions to learn more about No Free Coffee whilst making some hats together.
First things first, can you share what coffee drink you had to start off the day?
When you began envisioning No Free Coffee back in 2019, how did you come up with the name? Is there a meaning behind it?
The name No Free Coffee came from joking about how taking "pick your brain meetings" for free coffee from strangers can become draining and how you'd rather just pay for the coffee instead lol. Also anything of pure value is worth paying for.
I did a little digging through the IG archives, and I love how No Free Coffee’s first IG post was Nigo making a pour-over. Was there any influence from Nigo, such as his work with Curry Up, on how you and your team approached No Free Coffee?
Nigo San is the goat, and we appreciate what he did with Curry Up! After visiting Tokyo a few times and falling in love with it, and already being a disciple of Nigo's work it was just pure inspiration to approach NFC the same way. The importance of apparel to something so simple as a curry shop and putting that same love in not only the curry, but the clothes too was eye opening to see.
What was the design process like for the pink typeface and double heart logo?
It was pretty fast and fun. We had a vision of working around 1950's coffee aesthetic and tried to make that feel modern. The hearts are just a reminder to lead with love first. :-)
What sets No Free Coffee’s apparel and accessories apart from your local coffee shop merch?
We don't think of it as merch, we don't even call it that internally, and we approach it like we're competing against Stussy, Human Made, Carrots, The Hundreds, Joe Freshgoods, and anyone else we admire and look up to in the streetwear space. We want to make our friends and peers proud with the product we put out.
No Free Coffee has worked with various brands and stores, ranging from Counter Culture Coffee to Carrots and even Krool Toys for a Gameboy game cartridge! Collaboration seems to be infused in the brand’s DNA. What is your dream collaboration?
We love collabs especially ones with friends that you don't have to think about too much! Our dream collab would be Human Made or Blue Bottle. We'd change the name to Pink Bottle for the day. lol
With No Free Coffee working on opening a Nashville location, is this a full circle moment for you to come back to Tennessee where you attended college?
This is definitely a full circle moment and feels surreal! I also think it adds so much value to the city that helped shape my outlook on life. I hope to make Nashville a destination for our shop and people to see the city in a different light that hasn't been seen before.