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#51 — On Language ✍️

Friends! I couldn't start this newsletter without giving a huge and heartfelt shoutout to a few new P
Coffee Table Typography
#51 — On Language ✍️
By Coffee Table Typography • Issue #51 • View online
Friends! I couldn’t start this newsletter without giving a huge and heartfelt shoutout to a few new Patreon supporters: Jacqueline Jensen and Clay Gardner, you’re beautiful souls. Expect to get some pretty stickers soon 🙌 thank you for your support.
So many exciting updates in the type world; very recently, we’ve seen an incredible demo of how Variable Fonts’ axis work under the hood — super fun to play with. It’s also open source, which makes it an interesting app to learn from.
The Type Playbook also made its way into my favourite things this week, which I can’t recommend enough! The digital version is free and it’s a beautiful guide on how to use, and think about, typography. Quite likely to become the first reference I’ll hand out to anyone who asks how to learn more about type.
Just as exciting is Wakamai Fondue (a genius play on What Can My Font Do), which as you can see in this demo, is a fantastic way to peek into your font files and learn about every single character they have: character sets, kerning pairs, glyph details, OpenType… check it out online.
Somewhere on a train between Toronto and Montreal, I’m waving at you, signing off gently. 👋 Until next time,
— Ricardo

The Value of Multi-Typeface Design
We went in search of the world’s hardest language
I’ve stumbled upon this article by Andreas Larsen a while ago, after realising I knew nothing about Ethiopian language (and alphabet). Needless to say, you’re in for a treat.
The official language of Ethiopia is Amharic አማርኛ, at around 22 million native speakers. However, only about 0.0007% of the internet is in Amharic, which has just a few thousand articles on Wikipedia, for instance.
Andreas was raised in Ethiopia, so he wanted to build his own typeface in order to play a part. In fact, at the time he wrote this article in 2016, not even iOS supported Amharic out of the box:
If you don’t see an extra space or maybe some ��� above then it’s because no Amharic font is installed on your system. I’m especially disappointed in the fact that iOS9 still doesn’t support the language of the worlds 13th biggest country)
The characters are called fidäls, and here’s a snippet:
Amharic's glyphs
Amharic's glyphs
It looks like nothing I’ve seen, I’m ashamed to admit. All fidäls are consonant + vowel pairs and depending on how you count there are around 250 of them. Take a full moment to appreciate what it would have been like to grow up with Coca-Cola looking like this:
But let’s get back to fonts. According to Andreas,
The only latinised/modern version of the Amharic script I have found is Noto. I can’t say that much positive about it but note that some of the odd letters can be explained by the font being inspired by handwriting with a pencil and not a brush.
The two prettiest Amharic fonts are fairly calligraphic with high contrast and lots of detail. This is why e.g. Nyala is 444kb which is a lot for a font with 912 characters. In comparison, Gidole is currently 83kb and has 888 characters.
For more details, keep reading Andreas’ details on his font-making process. If you’re curious about the whole character set, you can view it here, too. I can’t resist leaving you with a snippet of what the numerals just like—just absolutely fascinating.
Numerals in Amharic
Numerals in Amharic
Numerals in A
Numerals in A
Numerals in Amharic
Numerals in Amharic
Numerals in Amharic
Numerals in Amharic
Typeface Du Jour ✍️
Geograph Design Information · Klim Type Foundry
Alternate characters for Geography
Alternate characters for Geography
On the Coffee Scene ☕️
3 Cheeky Coffee Cocktails from the London Coffee Festival
Did you enjoy this issue?
Coffee Table Typography

A love for words, letters, language—and coffee.
A digest of curated resources, articles and knowledge sharing about the beauty of typography; in design, on the web, or books.
You will read these over your morning cup of coffee, while the aromas of freshly ground beans are still in the air, quickly realising that words are beautiful and that you might need that second cup after all.

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With 💙 from Montreal, Canada