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

Know A Barista Who Needs Help? Go Fund Bean Has A New Fundraiser

If you’re a barista, or know someone who is, this is a post you’ll want to share.

The role of the barista is an often romanticized, and deeply unappreciated, position. It’s an average day when I’m seeing a viral video of yet another customer harassing a part-time worker over something or another. Hope is not all lost, thankfully: there’s a new grant going around called Go Fund Bean designed to help hourly barista workers. It’s going until November 15th in batches of $500 per person. That’s enough to pay off shared rent or put a dent in food bills.

(also, I absolutely adore their name)

Originally starting out as a humble tip jar, Go Fund Bean has since set their aspirations higher. Crowdfunding has been filling in the gaps left by federal aid nicely: these grants have come to fruition through the combined efforts of several businesses you may already know about, such as Seattle Coffee Gear, Torani and JNP Coffee. Priority is going to coffee workers who are in danger of losing housing, too. Good stuff, all in all.

If you know any hourly coffee workers, or are one yourself, please share! You could be giving someone a much-needed breather.

coffee

Americans Still Love Their Coffee…Just Not In The Same Way

America is still a nation that runs on coffee. It’s just mostly at home.

This report from Daily Coffee News pretty much confirms what I’ve been seeing left and right these past several months. Homebrewing has become the cream of the crop, deemed both safer and cheaper in the long run. While cafes aren’t completely out of the picture, they estimated as much as 20% fewer Americans are visiting in-person. Larger roasters with e-commerce or wholesale grocery delivery on their side are also doing much better compared to their smaller peers.

There’s another important detail here, too, that anticipates how things may still change this year. Many Americans still crave sitting at a cafe, which could be good news…and bad news. This pandemic is still in full swing, with some states reporting record highs of hospitalized patients and schools still struggling to stay open for any period of time. How can coffee remain a source of comfort without being a hazard?

I miss cafes, too, but my homebrewing station has filled the gap quite nicely. In some ways? I like it even better. I can craft my drink to personal perfection, save money and enjoy the process at my own pace.

How about you? Have your coffee drinking habits changed in 2020?

coffee

Millennials Want Decaf Coffee More Than Previously Thought

You ever think about how the stigma toward decaf coffee is a self-fulfilling prophecy?

“People don’t want decaf because we don’t offer decaf options and it’s hard to buy what isn’t there hence why they don’t want decaf.”

This mountain of stigma is less a natural side-effect and more built brick-by-brick by people who really need to get their priorities straight. Decaf tastes bad…because many in the past didn’t give it the same care and attention as caffeinated coffee. Decaf is only for puerile, shallow coffee drinkers…because snobbery is more important than personal preferences. One way or another, decaf coffee gets bumped to the bottom of the pile, resulting in few options and a lot of rolled eyes.

The Perfect Daily Grind takes a look at how decaf coffee has seen a rise in interest among Millennials, actively preferred for its lower caffeine content with statistics that only continue to grow. The article takes a look at several fairly recent studies ranging from 2013 to 2017, noting that decaf hits many high notes for the demographic. Reduced caffeine addiction is one. Fewer jitters, crashes and, yes, drowsiness are more. Cafes are being called upon to meet this significant percentage halfway, and, of course, I’m all for it.

I mean…decaf’s my default. Has been for several years now. It keeps heart palpitations and nausea at bay without sacrificing delicious flavor. I’ll sing its praises all day long and, with any luck, more voices will be added to this choir.

coffee, industry news

How to support local cafés and businesses during quarantine — Coffee with the Queen

“A small business is an amazing way to serve and leave an impact on the world you live in.” -Nicole Snow This statement by Nicole Snow is true — but, as a small business owner, I think she only captured half of what it means to be a small business. Small businesses contribute to their […]

How to support local cafés and businesses during quarantine — Coffee with the Queen

A quick little guide on how to support your love of coffee beyond the (increasingly) rare trip to the grocery store.

I recently bought some decaf beans from local roasters (which I’ll be reviewing within the next month), as well as some much needed coffee equipment for my kitchen. With the American economy already showing similar statistics to the Great Depression, though, I’ll also emphasize you don’t need money to show your support. An email or supportive comment on social media will go a long way to show these cafes and roasters you’re thinking of them.

coffee, industry news

A Coffee A Day Won’t Keep The Doctor Away: Social Distancing And Coffee Shops

I had a dream about a delicious latte earlier this week.

In the fields of my subconscious I visited a latte event beneath the overhang of a highway (dreams are funny like that) and rubbed shoulders with local roasters and farmers alike. Later I would sit down with a monster of a mug, filled with a predominantly arabica blend and topped off with a thick, creamy foam that clung to my upper lip. The dream would end up taking another odd turn as I went behind the counter and started making my own espresso shots to judge them on their crema. Seems my barista roots are as strong as ever.

I’m not going to be able to make my dream come true any time soon, as coffee stores left and right are shutting down…or considering it. Blue Bottle Coffee, for starters, has temporarily shut down its stores around the nation. The chain made an exception for South Korea and Japan, however, due to their more rigorous response to the coronavirus and much more accessible healthcare system. Starbucks, on the other hand, is currently debating whether or not to close.

They’ve gone at length to stress rigorous cleaning protocols to manage the coronavirus spread, which still might not put a dent in viral rates in the West. I may love a fresh, hot latte as much as the next person, but this stubborn response is just hazardous.

Makes me wonder just how popular home brewing will become in the coming months of social distancing and health awareness. There are a lot of benefits to be had: saving money (especially for those who have a morning commute), having more control over the coffee itself and reducing the chance of getting sick. I myself have been squirreling away spare change in order to buy a hybrid coffeemaker for my kitchen. What about you?

Do you miss cafes or do you prefer making coffee at home?

coffee, industry news

Behind the Big Bang of Barista Wage Transparency — Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine

At least 18 cities or regions in the United States now have living, breathing wage transparency documents for baristas, detailing metrics such barista pay, types and levels of benefits, demographic…

Behind the Big Bang of Barista Wage Transparency — Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine

coffee, industry news

Growing Confidence From The Ground Up: Building Trust In The Coffee Industry

Trust doesn’t happen overnight. It can, however, be lost overnight.

The coffee industry has been coming face-to-face with trust issues in the past few months alone. Green Mountain Keurigs, an easily recognizable grocery store coffee brand, has been hit with a customer lawsuit citing dishonest marketing practices. News reports having been honing in on how farmers are left out of coffee buying and distribution conversations. Studies have cropped up finding consumers disillusioned with green labels, despite environmental certifications coming in many varieties and requiring a lot of work to obtain. Starbucks, the titular coffee behemoth, has been cagey concerning details on how much the corporation has been paying farmers.

All this information is overwhelming…and rightfully so. Whether you are a distributor, roaster or cafe owner, you literally cannot afford not to build trust.

Buyers can sniff dishonesty a mile away. Keeping tight lips may seem wise in the short-term, but in the long-term can and will affect everyone up and down the coffee line. There is no quick answer when it comes to building trust, either. Not when you have to cultivate the individuality of the people you work with and the people you hope to buy from your business. There are, however, obvious pitfalls that should be avoided moving forward.

Let’s take a look.

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cafe sign
coffee, industry news, tea

Great Lattes, Great Interiors: Three Fun Spins On Classic Cafe Design

The quintessential coffee shop has grown, for lack of a better term, quite organically in the minds of Americans over the decades.

With over 30,000 cafes to the United States’ name, there comes an inevitable commonality between them all. They’re viewed as highly modern settings with convenience at your fingertips. Free Wi-Fi, accessible charging stations, quality lighting, you name it. Then there’s the rustic furniture or impeccable modernism, beautiful to witness even through the haze of the morning rush. It’s all topped off with, what else, delicious coffee and tea paired with pastries, soups and treats. Whether you visit cafes regularly or only swing by as a reward to yourself, it’s easy to think these places blur together after a while.

Here are three small, yet significant spins on the classic coffee shop I’ve seen recently. Some things never change, but these are more than happy to bump up the novelty:

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