Yanone Kaffeesatz font imparts coffee house flair

Kate Godfrey
5 July, 2011
View more articles fromthe author

Novelty display faces abound in the free font universe, but for those of us looking to design more than headlines, the pickings are slim. Which is why—in this era of belt-tightening—we are happy to offer the free sans serif Yanone Kaffeesatz font.

The Bold in Yanone Kaffeesatz is slightly reminiscent of 1920s coffee house typography, but the Thin, Light and Regular weights have their feet set firmly in the age of electric espresso stations manned by web-wired baristas. Designer Yanone has an international reputation, with more than 148 individual font creations to his credit—and this is the typeface that started his career in 2004. Years spent as a student at Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany are reflected in the minimalist lines and disciplined focus of the characters. The quality is amazing, considering that Yanone admits he couldn’t properly draw a bézier curve—an essential skill for digital type design—when he created this font.

No matter. Workhorses Helvetica and Arial can take a breather. We found large blocks of text in 9-12 point Yanone Kaffeesatz Regular and Light to be clean and legible, making this an ideal choice for communications beyond the Twitterverse. Save the Thin and Bold weights for heads, subheads, and short bursts of emphasis. The thin lowercase fades and bold characters start to fill below 24 points.

Each weight includes full numeral and punctuation sets, as well as monetary symbols and ligatures. Historic characters are available for native German speakers, yet the language capabilities in this download are limited. Diacritics and accented characters are absent from the free sets, although they can be had for a price. During an internship at FontShop in Berlin, the designer received the training he needed to release an updated version of the typeface family under the name FF Kava. FF Kava includes extensive language support, small caps, extended figure sets and an oblique style in an OpenType format.

Meanwhile, the more limited Yanone Kaffeesatz carries on in the free world. Try it out in a futuristic manual, contemporary photography catalogue, or that avant garde poetry collection you’ve been saving for the perfect face. We think you’ll find Yanone’s early creation alive and ready to send your usual san serifs on a prolonged coffee break.

This program is donationware. It is free to try, but the author accepts and encourages donations towards further development.

Leave a Comment

Please keep your comments friendly on the topic.

Contact us