Need Quick Coffee? The Creators Of The Instant Pot Have A New Product

I haven’t used the Keurig since I got my French Press. …Then my pourover. Then my Moka pot.

It was originally a holdover from my roommate, who wasn’t particularly attached to it in the first place (she’s not a huge coffee fan). The instant brewer was useful for a time and gave me some quick coffee in the morning. Just a pour, click, snap: you’re ready to go. Now that I’m neck-deep in homebrewing specialty beans, though, my remaining interest in instant is a jar of coffee crystals on my kitchen counter. Thanks, dalgona!

The instant pot, however, is a much-beloved staple. It can be used for soup, sauces, the works. That’s what caught my eye with the very similarly named Instant Pod, created by the same people and designed to accept both Keurig and Nespresso coffee pods. It also goes for a lower price at $119, which isn’t bad for the time-strapped, budget-conscious coffee drinker. This review dives deep into the ups and downs, with the positives being its flexibility and the downside being an apparently common manufacturing issue.

For me, the meditative nature of making coffee is part of its appeal. Then again, I also work from home and don’t have a strict schedule or commute. What do you look for when choosing a coffee brewer?

galaxy

Caffeine And Alcohol Are Wrecking Your Sleep Patterns

Caffeine is a drug (yes, a drug) that I’ve dispensed with years ago.

Back in the day I used to drink a triple-shot latte during or after work…and that was before I worked as a barista. I would still be able to sleep just fine afterwards, all hail community college exhaustion, but it was a gamble. Nowadays? Just two cups of decaf coffee without a span of time in-between will be enough to have me jittery. It’s incredible how much has changed. I think my former usual would give me a heart attack now.

Alcohol isn’t all that different. While I love a cold beer or a glass of wine at night, I have to have it early enough for it to leave my system. If I drink it too close prior to laying down my body goes into ‘nap mode’, with no more than three hours in before I’m waking up again. This short TED Talk dives into the science behind why our bodies react the way they do to caffeine and alcohol, from how our REM is affected to just how long caffeine actually stays in your system.

Caffeine and alcohol are great in moderation, but can easily wreak havoc on your health unchecked. I think I’ll skip a day or two this week.

blk & bold coffee bag

Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: BLK & Bold’s Coffee-Ish

I’ve been wanting to buy from this brand for a hot minute.

Black-owned businesses have seen a significant boost in sales these past few months, with the coffee and tea industry no different. BLK & Bold was a name that came up frequently: I knew I’d have to exercise some patience when it was among the first names to crop up in the search bar. Cue me checking back several times over the past month and a half to see their if decaf coffee was available. Good things come to those who wait, right?

(I also bought one of their decaf teas, which I’ll be reviewing in an adjacent series to this one.)

After a rather rough week, I was delighted when I finally got my package in the mail (doubly so for how large the bag is in comparison to others I’ve bought). Does BLK & Bold live up to its hype? We’re going to find out with another specialty decaf coffee review below. If you’ve missed my previous posts, check out my review of another black-owned coffee business for Boon Boona Coffee’s decaf.

Let’s take a look:

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How This Hmong Couple Eliminated The Coffee Middleman

This coffee couple takes ‘eliminating the middleman’ to a whole ‘nother level.

This is the kind of story I live for. This Catholic Hmong couple grows coffee beans in their small hillside village in Thailand, alongside a medley of fruits, vegetables and herbs. They made the decision to grow, roast, and grind their crop locally due to many buyers actively seeking out high-quality beans for very low prices (sound familiar?). The coffee supply chain may have several necessary skillsets involved in bringing your cup to life, but it also has a lot of exploitative garbage, too.

I would love to see more farming communities go this route.

So much of the exploitation of coffee farmers (and adjacent industries) come from an acute lack of education. It’s hard to argue your worth when you don’t know what that is. It’s hard to stand up for yourself when you’re poor and isolated. Giving coffee farmers the opportunity to call the shots in more areas of the industry will help immensely with weeding out exploitation, climate damage and outright theft. …If they don’t just take that opportunity themselves, that is.

Also, I love that one of the co-founders mentions she drinks coffee in moderation so she doesn’t get heart palpitations. Maybe they’ll release a decaf bag I can try in the future?

Carbon-free Roasting Is A Trend That Should Stick

It’s amazing how much damage an everyday product can create. We’re so saturated with coffee it’s very easy to overlook.

‘Going green’ sounds great on paper, but requires a dedicated overhaul of old, inefficient ways of running business. Getting just one detail wrong could cause yet another ripple effect to make up for in the future. Coffee is a titan of an industry, with the United States alone drinking an estimated 400 million cups per day. Roasting coffee beans, in particular, is a delicate process that can make or break the final cup. Not only do you have to get the right profile, you have to leave the right carbon footprint.

What fascinated me in Forbes’ recent analysis/review was this new way of reducing carbon emissions while still crafting a high-quality roast. The Bellwether Roaster reuses the same air without using gas, drastically reducing its harmful output through a new approach. Even better, this machine also comes with an app that allows customers to choose their own roasting curve. If you thought a soy decaf latte was specific, imagine being able to select a medium-dark roast on top of it all.

Today’s harmful climate change is accelerated primarily through ongoing business activity, not individuals or even communities. If the figures in this analysis are accurate, this roasting technology should become the new default.

Certified Or Not? USDA Updating Its Regulations For Coffee Brands

It’s difficult to figure out which brands are legitimately organic and which aren’t. That’s the point.

It’s hard to demand better when you don’t even know where to start, right? The coffee industry’s supply chain has long since danced on a thin line between necessary and highly convoluted, with many today calling for ‘snipping the links’ to improve transparency. This could mean farmers also operating as roasters. This could mean importers receiving less money. It’s a lot of talk with not much action…but the USDA has had about enough.

Short for the United States Department of Agriculture, the USDA is a well-known organic label on many specialty coffee brands. So well-known, in fact, it’s starting to lose meaning entirely. New standards are now being implemented to better manage a severe lack of oversight on ethical and eco-friendly farming standards in the coffee industry. Inconsistent implementation, misinterpreting the rules and a lack of consequences for those that shirk responsibility are cited as common issues with the label.

You can never ask too many questions. Do you often look into organic labels when buying a product? If so, do you go the extra mile to see if they’re legit?

The Coffee Crisis Is Worse Than You Think

It’s hard to comprehend the magnitude of an entire planet on the brink of no return.

Climate change is a powerful-yet-nebulous force that only seems to manifest in detached news reports and the occasional quip we make about the weather feeling ‘off’ this year. The plight of farmers makes our hearts ache, yes…and we can still feel entirely powerless on how to actually hold corporations responsible for the damage they do. It’s all a lot of numbers and shrinking minutes, not at all helped by a lack of awareness.

Fortunately, we still have time left.

Vox just published a video on the global coffee crisis — with a predominant focus on Colombia — and what it means for the people who work there. They explore the differences between the two major coffee varieties, how even mild changes in temperature completely overhaul the coffee growing process, and the change of coffee prices over the decades. It’s very telling how some of the rhetoric bragged about in the 1920’s is rather similar to the rhetoric used today. A lot of fluff about respecting farmers without the numbers or working conditions to match.

Give this video a watch if you need to catch up on what’s affecting one of today’s top coffee producers. While there’s still more work to do on the consumer end of things, knowledge can only make things better.

roasted coffee beans

Wrap Up Your Workweek With A Cute Coffee Bean Cookie Recipe

The news cycle is, as usual, depressing at best and maddening at worse. You have to actually remind yourself there’s good stuff out there.

Give your workweek a hearty dose of the munchies (with a side of ASMR) with this adorable coffee bean cookie recipe. They look exactly like freshly roasted beans, with a crisp and slightly crunchy texture. I can only imagine how good they smell. This is going high up on my list of ‘recipes to try’, right alongside the dalgona coffee I keep telling myself to make and forgetting.

boon boona coffee

Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Boon Boona Coffee’s Decaf

I’ve been wanting to try Ethiopian coffee for a while. I mean, it’s the birthplace of coffee and all that.

Every time I search for a decaf coffee bag I take my time reading about every little detail. The goals of the roasters bringing this bag to my shelf. The benefits for the farmers toiling away behind-the-scenes, often unseen as the backbone of the industry at large (aside from a few candid photographs). It’s a lot to think about before clicking that purchase button, but it’s important. Boon Boona Coffee ticks off several of those high points for me: it’s a local roaster, a black-owned business and an Ethiopian origin all in one.

Let’s take a look at Boon Boona Coffee‘s specialty decaf variety and how it stacks up against all the coffee reviewed so far. If you’ve missed out on my previous posts, check out my recent review of Onyx Coffee Lab’s Decaf Colombia Huila or Sightglass Coffee’s Hunky Dory.

It’s time to dip into the world of classic Ethiopian coffee:

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Coffee Or Tea? Choose Both With This Coffee Leaf Tea Drink From Wize

Coffee and tea cross over a lot.

They’re comforting drinks with roots as a community affair, easily consumed either hot or iced. They provide an easy caffeine boost to the weary and overworked, with a flavor kick for the decaf crowd. They’re both multi-billion dollar industries facing astronomically bad climate change and poor working conditions that could affect the crop forever.

So the list goes on.

Wize takes the best of both worlds with a tea drink made out of coffee leaves. It’s a trend I’ve been keeping up with for the past year and a half: several beverage industries have been skewing their products in favor of more healthy alternatives, whether low on sugar, low on alcohol or low on calories. This coffee leaf drink boasts a very healthy count, with additional incentive to the conscientiously minded: it’s also helping to bridge the economic gap between the industry and farmers.

The company’s co-founder stresses the dismal state today’s coffee farmers are in, stating as much as half of the farmers in their region leaving the business because of a lack of options. COVID-19 has made this rock and a hard place all the worse due to unsafe working environments, to boot, and is not expected to get better for many months. He insists not only will Wize’s coffee leaf tea keep farmers employed during the coffee industry’s off-season, it’ll also help them socially distance.

That’s a pretty tall order from a pretty neat drink. What do you think?