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.

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It’s Not Just The Coffee Bean You Should Drink: The Potential Of Cascara

An interesting facet of the coffee plant is just how much potential surrounds it. You’ve heard of Wize’s coffee leaf tea. You might’ve seen coffee shoes or coffee sunglasses.

Cascara is the pulp and skin discarded after coffee bean processing. Whether a producer is using the honey method or the natural method, a lot of fruit is leftover to either become a fertilizing agent or yet more waste. Olam Coffee has been diving deep into the health and sustainability properties of cascara. Turns out this common waste material has a lower caffeine content compared to the coffee bean, a high amount of antioxidants and even ingredients that can help burn fat more naturally. Dang.

I can’t help but be reminded of pomace, the worker’s wine crafted out of discarded grape skins. Olam Coffee is hoping to turn cascara into concentrates or entirely new products to discourage waste. More and more I’m seeing beverage industries favor low-sugar, low-alcohol and low-caffeine alternatives. Even decaf coffee doesn’t (quite) have the reputation it used to. I’m very curious about how cascara will look in the next few years, doubly so for how it could give farmers a little more money in the coffee pipeline.

Granted, that still means they need to be paid more for the coffee beans they’re already growing and harvesting, but I digress. Would you try a cascara product?

woman drinking tea

Coffee Might Make A Good Resource For Spotting COVID-19

The year is almost over. You know the drill. One of the most common side-effects of coming down with COVID-19 is a loss of taste and smell, particularly if it lines up with a fever, breathing difficulties, and fatigue.

Coffee is beloved not just for its complex and delicious flavor notes, but its very distinctive aroma. This is exactly what’s making it such a reliable barometer compared to more subtle scents, according to this recent scholarly post by Daily Coffee News. Today’s scientists emphasize how useful coffee is, partially because of its unique scent and partially because you can find it in just about any American home. They make sure to stress that loss of taste and smell isn’t a 100% deal. If you find you can’t pick out complexity or foods taste ‘off’, you could still be experiencing this side-effect.

What an interesting coincidence: I read this report just as I got done watching Trevor Noah’s interview with Bryan Cranston, who specifically cited how much he missed being able to smell coffee brewing in the kitchen. The man went on to talk about how he is currently retraining his senses — and by extent his brain activity — by actively smelling different foods. It’s not unlike undergoing hand surgery and later attending physical therapy to restore subtle motor movements like gripping, typing and drawing. Now, don’t get too paranoid if you have a low-smell sort of day…this is also the season for clogged noses and irritated sinuses.

Coffee is not just a comforting and healthy drink (if you don’t overload it with sugar), but a commonly accessible tool to make sure your nose and tongue is working right.

Coffee Processing Styles and Terminology (Plus Flowchart) — Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine

Led by zeitgeisty processing methods such as anaerobic fermentation or carbonic maceration, new ways of developing flavor and removing fruit from coffee seeds seem to be emerging every day. Even…

Coffee Processing Styles and Terminology (Plus Flowchart) — Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine

Need a little help with your coffee processing terminology? There’s a graph for you!

…and me, to be honest. I’m learning something new about this drink every day, up to and including the word ‘demucilaged’. Don’t ask me how that’s pronounced. Coffee remains a sensitive creation that takes no prisoners the moment it’s plucked off the branch. Check out this insightful post and increase your knowledge (and appreciation) on the hard work that goes into this product.

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Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: La Colombe’s Luna Azul

It’s kind of tough to advertise flavor notes, isn’t it? We just have so much variety in our tastebuds.

I’m sensitive to complex flavors myself. I adore being able to get several notes in one cup and can even find myself disappointed if a drink is straightforward (not even bad, just…simple). I also have a massive sweet tooth. The science behind our tongue is a fascinating subject, involving subtle taste receptors located in different areas of the muscle to sort bitter from savory and sweet from salty. That doesn’t stop some people from having overpowering or underwhelming tastebuds, granting them sometimes contradictory experiences with the same product.

Diversity is one of the many beauties of the human condition…so imagine my shock when my mother tried La Colombe’s Luna Azul without knowing its flavor notes and nailed every single one. I had to double-check my phone to make sure I was reading it right! While I’ve long since accepted I can try out a new coffee and not quite get the flavors it was promising, La Colombe has clearly narrowed down its beans’ personality to a razor edge. If you haven’t read my previous specialty decaf reviews, check out my Decaf, Decaf Everywhere series.

Let’s see what makes this coffee special:

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Help, this coffee is so bitter! — Coffee with the Queen

It’s the holiday season and, if you are anything like us, that means coffee! Lots and lots of coffee. Coffee at home, coffee at the office, coffee with friends and loved ones. Good coffee, okay coffee, and bad coffee… that, dear readers, is where we start today, with those painful-to-swallow (though sometimes vital) undesirably bitter cups of coffee.

Help, this coffee is so bitter! — Coffee with the Queen

It’s the omnipresent conundrum! How do you take out the harsh taste and leave nothing but the good stuff?

One of the most common complaints I hear is how bitter coffee can be. Even from regular drinkers. It’s not all that surprising, since the most affordable and accessible coffee is often the stale, low-quality products at the grocery store. Should one get their hands on a freshly roasted specialty bag, it can still be lessened by burning the beans with scalding water or leaving the grind on the counter for hours. While I love adding whole milk and brown sugar, it’s not needed to keep your cup balanced.

It’s only once I started drinking freshly roasted and freshly ground coffee that I started drinking black cups willingly. For me and my sweet tooth? That’s huge. If you struggle with bitter or stale cups, I can vouch for the tips listed in this post. That is, save for adding a pinch of salt. I’ve never tried that and now I’m curious…

Looking For Roasters? The 2021 Good Food Awards Are Coming Up

I’ve taken a look at several coffee roasters this year in my decaf specialty coffee review series Decaf, Decaf Everywhere. Despite this, I’ve only scratched the surface!

The United States is home to thousands of coffee roasters. Some work in wholesale and provide the selection you see while shopping for the month’s groceries. Others are small-batch microroasteries who are strictly local. The 2021 Good Food Awards is here to help you narrow things down a little while you browse for your next pick-me-up: they’re judging today’s American coffee roasters on quality, sustainability, and social impact.

I’m thrilled to see some of my personal favorites here, like Onyx Coffee Lab and PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. There are also several on the list I’ve been planning on checking out, like Mr. Espresso, Bird Rock Coffee and Peach Coffee Roasters. This year’s coffee selection has a wider range of origins compared to the past (though it really is no surprise Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, reigns supreme). The final verdict will be announced live on January 22nd, if you feel like tuning in.

While I’ll be making a holiday tier list soon to help promote my favorite decaf coffee roasters, this is a useful resource to start whittling down your gift list.

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Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. Huerta Del Rio Decaf

Do you blank out when asked about your favorite coffee origin? It’s all right. I did, too.

It’s a common enough reaction when your cheap coffee bag advertises its convenience or its smoothness more than where it comes from. Whether or not origin is worth knowing about is another source of contention depending on the kind of drinker you are. More casual drinkers might dip into a cafe once in a while. Others may brew daily for a morning caffeine boost. Yet more might use coffee as a warm and cozy pick-me-up, not unlike a mug of tea.

No matter where you land on the coffee aficionado scale, this is a topic you’ll want to brush up on. Learning about coffee origins and what, precisely, they offer each harvest has been one of the most enjoyable and illuminating parts of my journey. What makes Mexican coffee special? We’re going to get another showcase on what this origin, and region, have to offer with PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. If you haven’t read my previous reviews, check out my directory for all things specialty decaf coffee.

I’m excited to talk about this bag, so let’s go:

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bicycle coffee co. banner

Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Bicycle Coffee Co’s Water Process Decaf

Roasters are between a serious rock and a hard place right now. Just look at all the sales and discounts going on.

If I’m not seeing a small roastery offering a large discount after signing up for their newsletter, I’m seeing a medium-sized roastery offering a free shipping and special sales code combo. While all businesses will dip into sales from time-to-time to incentivize new and repeat customers alike, these past several months have veered from canny to desperate. Which sounds preferable: maintaining the same prices and approach for a dwindling audience or offering a slew of discounts on a ‘some money is better than no money’ threshold?

As such, I want to try these discounted coffees for more than one reason: save myself some money while helping keep businesses afloat. Bicycle Coffee Co. is exemplary of this pandemic marketing savvy, with several discounts stacked on top of one another, and with charming packaging design, to boot. Better yet? They offer Mexican coffee, an origin I’ve been very eager to try. If you haven’t read my previous posts in the series, check out my directory for some insight into today’s best decaf specialty coffee.

Let’s see what this roastery has to offer:

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Surviving Winter: US Coffee Shop Owner Survey Finds Financial Worry, Adaptability — Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine

More than half (57%) of coffee shop owners and managers participating in a U.S. nationwide survey expressed worry that they will not be able to maintain enough revenue to survive…

Surviving Winter: US Coffee Shop Owner Survey Finds Financial Worry, Adaptability — Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine

Cafes are much beloved for their soothing atmosphere, delicious menus, and (usually) free Wi-Fi. The behind-the-scenes, though, is often pretty hectic.

Despite coffee being one of the most economically resilient global industries, this year hasn’t been kind. Daily Coffee News has a very insightful summary of a recent survey filled out by seventy coffee shop owners and managers. They reveal their thoughts on the convenience of technology, their fears for the future, and their current handling of the pandemic, among others. Many cafes have quickly adapted to online and local delivery, though I’m not thrilled to see just 84% require customers to wear masks.

All it takes is one sick person to start an outbreak, remember? One step forward, one step backwards…