Sudden Heroes: Zach Vitale

by September 19, 2017

1. First off, how do you like your coffee?

Strong, with the exact amount of almond milk it takes to achieve “dark khaki pants” color.

2. Other than the boost, what is it that you love most about drinking coffee?

I have a lot of crazy deadlines and I’m in front of a computer, thinking about how I’m going to solve a last-minute problem, most of the day. I think a lot of people’s lives are like that now… it’s hard to find a minute and catch your breath. Sometimes, the walk I take to buy or the time I take to make and drink coffee is the only chance I have during the day to let my mind drift or shut my brain off (which we all need to do a lot more often). So I’ve made coffee time “me time”. It’s something I look forward to every day.

3.You have such a cool story about how you first found out about Sudden, you were the guy that retouched our New York Times photo! You are an amazing re-toucher, what is it like working with images on that level? Do you enjoy it?

My friend Justin Kaneps ( is an amazing photographer and we work together a bunch. I think he was on location when the file order was placed and needed a hand doing a little cleanup on the NYT photo that featured Sudden Coffee, so he sent it over. I hadn’t seen anything like it before and naturally I was intrigued, so I asked him about it, did some research and ordered a few tubes. The rest is history, I’ve been a big Sudden fan ever since.

Retouching is my favorite thing in the whole world. Obsessing over a piece of lettuce on a burger, a facet of glass on a perfume bottle, or “finding the perfect red for a background” is admittedly strange and at times feels very “virtual” and detached from reality, but I like to think of myself as part of a big team (that includes assistants, prop stylists, food stylists, set designers, photographers, creatives, etc.) on a mission to make something amazing. It pushes me to work hard and invest myself in contributing to something wonderful, because I want it to be great for all the awesome folks who made it come to life.

4.We love your Tumblr, Why do you think tiny hand are so funny and where did the idea come from?

I was working in the photo studio of a large online retail website 5 or 6 years ago, and there were tons of shots of models on white backgrounds that we worked on each day. A bunch of people in the studio took smoke breaks, and I kind of hate cigarette smoke, so I’d hang out inside and spend my break messing around on the computer for the 10 or 15 minutes they stepped away. I couldn’t make both hands convincingly small in the time I had, so I focused on doing a really good job making one tiny hand. Once my coworkers got back, I’d show a few people, laugh a bit, close the window and get back to work.

After I left that job, I missed making tiny hands, so I found images of celebrities, made a hand tiny, and posted them online whenever I needed a break from freelance work. Everyone said I should make a tumblr with the images, and after some convincing and a bunch of help from my friends Bob and James, One Tiny Hand was born. 12 hours after I posted about the site launching on my personal Facebook page, a half a million people had viewed it and it was on the top page of reddit. We won a Webby Award for it a year later and I still update with new tiny hands occasionally.

We live in a celebrity-heavy culture where we focus a lot on image and consume media all day, every day; everyone knows what every inch of Kim Kardashian looks like— same thing with Barack Obama, Tom Brady or Beyonce. When something changes on these people we’re so familiar with (even if it’s subtle), it’s sort of confusing and jarring, but ultimately pretty funny (if successful). I think people like One Tiny Hand because it challenges our preconceptions and expectations in a silly and offbeat way, and it forces us to slow down and investigate things a little closer.

5. And finally, what’s your take on gourmet instant coffee?

I have some crap instant coffee hanging around the apartment that I’d use when I made chocolate cake (seriously add some Sudden Coffee to your cake or brownie recipe if you haven’t yet, it’s amazing), but never really took it seriously as a “drinkable coffee” because all my past experiences with it were pretty bad. That changed when I tried Sudden Coffee… it’s still kind of amazing to me that you can get such good coffee in such a convenient form. It also happens to make a great gift… one of my favorite things to do is throw a few in a care package, in hopes that the person I’m sending it to gets an opportunity to have a few of those quiet moments and deep breaths I mentioned earlier. I’m grateful to have this new, portable, well-crafted, great-tasting and fun way of sharing that with someone.

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