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 up the sans serif Yanone Kaffesatz as a free download.
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 over 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 six years ago.
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 catalog, 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.
Note: This program is donationware. It is free to try, but the author accepts and encourages donations towards further development. To use these fonts, unzip the folder and install the .ttf files in the folder C:\Windows\Fonts. The fonts will appear in your applications after you close and re-open them.