sparrows coffee
coffee, review

Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Sparrows Coffee Decaf La Serrania

I just love good packaging design. Some believe it to be a secondary detail to the coffee, but to me, they’re two sides of the same coin.

You eat with your eyes first, as the saying goes. Packaging design has a tall order standing out from the rest of the competition while ticking off the basics of communication design: the who, what and why. Coffee packaging, whether ground or whole, has a common list of must-have details to get customers involved at a glance. Origin, decaffeination method, roast level, roast date, flavor notes…just to name a few. Some go the extra mile and list off altitude, processing method and the coffee bean variety.

Sparrows Coffee‘s splashy design is a great starting point, but how does the coffee itself stack up? If you want to start trying out specialty decaf coffee (and the occasional wholesale variety) yourself, check out my directory to get started with today’s best American coffee roasters. I recently reviewed the sweet and fruity Ruby Coffee Roasters’ Decaf Cauca, as well as the earthy Kuma Coffee’s Peru San Ignacio Decaf.

Let’s dive in:

Continue reading “Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Sparrows Coffee Decaf La Serrania”
disgusted woman
coffee

This Cafe Wants You To Try A Charcoal Latte. Don’t.

Do I even need to get any more specific?

Food Insider recently posted a video on a London cafe offering an innovative ‘charcoal latte’ designed for people who don’t want to drink decaf. Because, you know…decaf coffee doesn’t exist. They proceed to compare it with their recent matcha and turmeric latte offerings, two vastly superior and safer options that don’t involve you consuming ashy remains. To put things in perspective, I won’t even eat toast that’s too burnt. …Yeah. Now imagine a cup full of the stuff.

This is more than just a gross idea. Did you know charcoal can alter your hormone levels and affect the validity of hormonal birth control? How about the fact it can block up your intestinal tract if you consume too much? I thought cafes shunning COVID-19 safety protocol were dangerous, but this might just take the cake. The prettiest latte art in the world doesn’t hide the fact that you’re drinking the burnt detritus of what was actually food, once upon a time.

(and if you want to detoxify your body, take solace in the fact your liver is already doing that)

Now, yes, activated charcoal pills are recommended by doctors in rare cases for overdoses. This, though, is just too much to be chugging weekly. Pretty latte art and twee glass mason jars won’t hide the fact this is an actual health hazard being marketed as a hip new idea to unsuspecting customers. My favorite part of this whole mess has to be the relief that a charcoal latte didn’t taste like charcoal.

When the tagline of your product could be confused for an Onion headline, you’ve messed up.

coffee, industry news

The Classic Coffee Cup Gets A Clever Makeover

The coffee cup is an iconic staple of day-to-day life. It’s also loaded with unsustainable bells and whistles that create a lot of waste every year.

Just how much waste? According to a study by The Guardian, the UK alone tosses over 2.5 billion paper coffee cups every year. Even worse, a mere one out of every four hundred cups is actually recycled. That means towering landfills, worsening air quality, and, of course, the omnipresent threat of irreversible climate change. Being presented with yearly figures like these makes sustainability conversations feel like a useless loop. It’s all a lot of positive fluff with little to actually show for it.

This redesign to the classic coffee cup has a few thoughts on the matter. Fast Company shared an interview with the creators of this Kickstarter-backed coffee cup, hearkening to Chinese takeout and origami in its lid-free and sleeve-free design. It’s easy to fold and unfold, without fear of spilling, and cuts into the dismal statistics left by wasteful coffee culture. One of my favorite details are the lovely animal-focused prints by Alexis Kandra, chosen specifically to keep buyers mindful of the very environment they’re supporting. Now that’s mindful packaging design.

alcohol, beer, industry news

No More Mystery! Craft Beer Explained

Craft beer isn’t the easiest to jump into for newcomers. Not when you can go for what’s familiar and just grab a Budweiser on your way to the checkout.

Never fear! This brief breakdown by CStore Decisions explains craft beer at its most simple, stressing its focus on small batches and unique flavors. Now, these breweries don’t exactly have to be tiny. A craft brewery can still create up to six million barrels and still qualify as craft beer, with the best known examples being Blue Moon and Samuel Adams. I’m a fan of both brands myself (and I can’t recommend the Samuel Adams Brick Red hard enough).

If you’re feeling a little adventurous, check out local craft breweries in your state. You might be surprised at some of the neat flavors you find.

American craft beer is at an interesting crossroads lately. There’s a spike in interest, and subsequently a spike in sales, but also pervasive problems in marketing and shipping that could see individual businesses struggling. I’ve got a lengthy guide coming up soon, tackling these issues one-by-one from my perspective as both a copywriter and a longtime beer lover. Until then, I’m going to go browse the Schilling Hard Cider catalog and get myself a treat for April. Their Grapefruit And Chill is just splendid.

What are you drinking lately?

coffee, industry news

Like Hawaiian Coffee? You’ve Probably Been Ripped Off

The coffee origin topic is a seed that sprouts a thousand branches. Fair pay. Quality beans. Environmentally sustainable farming techniques.

Kona coffee, a rare and famed Hawaiian origin, has been struggling with an image problem for years. Every time I’ve searched for it I would see countless advertisements insisting just how much more authentic they are than the competition. Little bit of a red flag, right? This ‘hidden in plain sight’ issue has finally reached a head: Daily Coffee News has posted a report on the staggering $13 million lawsuit targeting several roasters and wholesalers for false advertising.

A lot of Hawaiian coffee on the market barely has any Kona beans. Some have none at all. Today’s coffee businesses are well aware, using sly marketing campaigns that actively bank on consumers having little to no clue what goes into coffee sourcing, much less why it’s even important. Several cash settlements have already been made, though the issue is ongoing and is including such industry titans like Safeway and Wal-Mart. Expect to hear more about this.

Coffee origins aren’t just a series of trendy buzzwords to be recited at a party. They give us a bigger picture on what we’re buying, as well as who we’re supporting…or rather, not supporting. I want to support the delicious and unique coffee that comes from Hawaii, not exploitative tactics that bolster big business at the expense of local farmers.

ruby coffee roasters
coffee, review

Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Ruby Coffee Roasters’ Decaf Cauca

Here’s to Colombia! I return to this origin again and again, because it always gives me complex cups with unique personalities depending on the brewing method.

Colombia is one of today’s leading producers, hovering at number two in sheer production and adding up to a whopping 10% of global coffee exports. It’s far from a quality over quantity situation, though, and this origin has been my favorite for a while now. Onyx Coffee Lab, Counter Culture Coffee and Methodical Coffee are just a few of the incredible specialty decaf coffee bags I’ve tried from this country. Colombian coffee is often sweet and nuanced, boasting a wide medley of flavors and often creamy, heavy mouthfeels. I can’t get enough.

What does Ruby Coffee Roasters add to Colombia’s reputation? Does it hold up among today’s best specialty coffee? Let’s take a look at this leading origin and why it remains a powerhouse. If you want to see more on quality decaf coffee, check out my recent review on Methodical Coffee’s Decaf Cauca.

Without further ado:

Continue reading “Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Ruby Coffee Roasters’ Decaf Cauca”
kuma coffee peru san ignacio decaf
coffee, review

Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Kuma Coffee’s Peru San Ignacio Decaf

This bag nearly drove me mad…but not in a bad way.

To start off, the first few attempts at brewing this coffee went sour due to my accidentally buying the wrong filter from Melitta. Take it from me…just because it looks like a pourover filter doesn’t mean it’s a pourover filter. Secondly, I could’ve sworn I’d already written a review on it! It was just so good it didn’t click to me I hadn’t crowed about it to all and sundry. Well. Coffee is nothing if not an event and Kuma Coffee sticks out in my mind for nearly every reason in the book.

So…was it worth all the trouble? Let’s find out! If you haven’t read my past specialty decaf coffee reviews, check out my Decaf, Decaf Everywhere series in the directory. I recently reviewed Methodical Coffee’s Decaf Cauca, a tart and fruity delight that I (surprisingly!) preferred drinking black.

Without further ado:

Continue reading “Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Kuma Coffee’s Peru San Ignacio Decaf”
coffee, industry news

How Many Calories Are in Black Coffee, Answered — Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine

How many calories are in a cup of black coffee? The short answers are: either about 5 or about negative 100, depending on how you drink down the science. You may…

How Many Calories Are in Black Coffee, Answered — Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine

Coffee and health is a regular conversation, particularly if you’re like me and drink nearly every cup with milk and sugar.

As it stands? Black coffee, on its own, is pretty darn low on the calorie count. According to this brief piece by Daily Coffee News, the calories come more from the caffeine than anything else. That’s right alongside caffeine helping you burn calories due to the increase in your metabolism and heart rate. Confusing? Give this a read if you’re curious about the chemical breakdown of your morning cup.

methodical coffee banner
coffee, review

Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Methodical Coffee’s Decaf Cauca

I am living proof that coffee newsletters are a very effective marketing tool in the long-term.

Several months ago, near the beginning of the year, I signed up for Methodical Coffee‘s newsletter as a reminder to try out their decaf. In-between other specialty coffee bag purchases they would crop up in my email’s promotions tab with new coffee bags or behind-the-scenes peeks. I wouldn’t end up buying it until several months later. While ‘now’ is a more preferred word than ‘later’ in the rapidfire world of business, it stands to reason a good business encourages customers of every single stripe. The ready-to-buys. The not-quite-sures. The ‘I totally want to buy this, it just keeps slipping my mind in a sea of marketing competition’s.

I’m eager to get down and dirty with this lovely specialty decaf coffee bag and all the interesting journeys it took me on. If you haven’t read my previous entries in my decaf coffee series Decaf, Decaf Everywhere, check out my directory. In the meantime, let’s take a look at Methodical Coffee and see if their bag lives up to its build-up:

Continue reading “Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Methodical Coffee’s Decaf Cauca”
coffee

Why The Next Three Decades Are Worrisome For Coffee

A year I see a lot in the coffee industry is 2050.

Occasionally it takes the form of 2040. Sometimes a little more of a ballpark 2045. However it’s sliced, the next three decades are going to be brutal on the environment and climate needed to craft our favorite drink, as global warming and the ever-greedy tendrils of capitalism only continue to get worse. This brief news report on Kenyan coffee producers discusses this issue and what it means for the country’s production. While not boasting the sheer volume of Colombia or Brazil, coffee remains a huge source of income for many Kenyans.

What really got me is how they’re having to plant entirely new coffee trees to adjust to the environment. Older trees that have seen several harvests simply aren’t used to the increased rainfall or dramatic temperature changes, leading to lackluster or even outright unsellable beans. I think it’s easy for many to downplay just how alive plants are. They adapt, thrive and struggle like any other living creature, with underwhelming conditions having long-term consequences not just for them, but plants to follow. When a single tree can take years to mature properly, that’s a lot of time wasted in the eyes of a fast-paced industry.

I’m not of the belief that climate change can no longer be reversed. We still have time to make things better…we just have to want it on a bigger scale than mere sentiment.