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?

Now Roasting, Sip & Sonder Builds Community Through Coffee in Inglewood — Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine

A two-woman team of attorneys is now arguing on behalf of community, Black culture and fresh, high-quality coffee in Inglewood, California, through their coffee business, Sip & Sonder. After COVID-19…

Now Roasting, Sip & Sonder Builds Community Through Coffee in Inglewood — Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine

It’s inspiring reading about small businesses still chugging forward in this economic climate. Sometimes you forget the world doesn’t actually stop turning, you know?

This is a great review from Roast Magazine on a new black woman-owned coffee shop and roastery, one I hope to buy from if they release a decaf bag in the future. They come from a legal background and have a very zesty website filled to the brim with all their goals and inspirations. Check this piece out if you want a little dash of hope to go with your daily doomscrolling. …Seriously. Take a break from social media and get some fresh air.

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?

Starbucks Customer Demands Recompense For Harassing An Employee

I don’t particularly feel like buttering up what’s happening here. This news story is a common bad memory for anyone who works, or has worked, as a barista.

Being a barista means being the verbal punching bag for middle-aged women who get a kick out of being waited on hand and foot. Take more than five minutes during rush hour making their order? They need a manager. Don’t have their usual on hand due to low supplies? They would like to speak to someone ‘higher up’. Get them the right sized order because that’s what they asked for? You actually gave them a size too big, they need recompense for their suffering. It’s not funny. It’s annoying, stressful and pathologically maddening.

So we have yet another tale of someone who clearly hasn’t been told no enough in their life wanting justice for…being a prick.

I’ve had women like this try to get me fired over nothing, and it was only the fact my co-workers and supervisors didn’t like her either that had me keeping my job. I’ve heard (and watched) stories about workers being spat on, coughed on, screamed at with no consequences for the aggressive party. I’ll never forget the video taken of a cafe customer who, quite literally, shat on the floor of the lobby to get a point across. I’d link to it, but it’s gross. Look it up on YouTube if you’re curious.

The details of this story are like trying to debate astrophysics with someone drunk. A chiropractor (who won’t even comment on the issue) is the authority on a breathing problem? A past issue of an ovarian cyst is enough reason not to wear a mask in a public space and protect others with immunodisorders or asthma? I mean…you’d think someone with a life-threatening breathing problem would be more wary of going into public spaces, but what would I know? I’m just glad the employee got some financial stability out of this mess.

Wear a mask. Social distance. Care about your neighbor, unless it’s this woman.

Coffee On Wheels: Innovative Ideas For Hard Times

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Coffee on wheels has been a trend in Europe for a while. Thanks to this former real estate manager, it’s a trend starting to catch on elsewhere. This entrepreneur turned his coffee business into an on-the-go deal, inspired by mobile coffee shops in Europe. He went through the painstaking process of converting his car to house coffee equipment and now goes around neighborhoods making fresh lattes and mochas, practically at people’s doorstep. It’s a flexible and convenient approach to coffee I would love to see myself one day.

Like the ice cream truck, but for adults! (Though I do love ice cream)

The pandemic has driven an unforgiving heel into the already flimsy global coffee industry. Indeed, I can’t entirely blame this curveball for much of what we’re seeing now. The weak foundation of underpaid farmers, convoluted supply chains and rapidly developing climate change couldn’t do anything but further buckle under a dangerous virus. Neat ideas like mobile cafes could be a great way to change how we engage with our daily staple. A way to reduce space. Improve accessibility. Stay flexible.

Even if we’re lucky to return back to normal…normal wasn’t exactly good to begin with.

Level Up Your Summer With A Catchy Coffee Tune

One of the easiest ways to get me in a good mood? Send me music!

There’s just so much beautiful work out there in need of more love. Heck, one of my daily habits is just letting Soundcloud autoplay go crazy. I was recently sent this song by one of the folks at El Parche Coffee, who write and record music alongside releasing quality Colombian beans. It’s a catchy little acoustic song that hearkens to the summery bops of Bomba Estéreo and the upbeat tempos of Don Omar. If you’re also practicing Spanish fluency (like myself), consider that another plus.

El Parche Coffee is currently focused on helping Colombians who were hit particularly hard by the coronavirus, with the goal of providing them with reliable food delivery. Their Together For Colombia products will see 100% of the proceeds donated to the cause. If you’ve got a few spare minutes or some spare change, check them out. In the meantime, grab yourself a mug, hit play and be swept away to a sunkissed beach with white sands…that ideally doesn’t require masks.

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.

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From Part-Time Barista To Making Coffee At Home: My Homebrewing Coffee Journey (Part Two)

The coffee journey never ends. Anyone who pretends to know all there is about this ancient bean is a liar…and an unsuccessful one, at that.

At-home coffee. Homebrew coffee. Making coffee at home. Whatever you happen to call it, this method has taken a front seat for many in the wake of the coronavirus. Myself included! After many a year deprioritizing this beloved fascination in favor of more immediate concerns, I’ve since purchased a manual coffee grinder, a French press and some decaf beans to start my homebrewing coffee journey. Not content with just a few options on the table, I’ve decided to try out the pourover, as well. You can find the first part of the series here.

How are all these different brew methods faring? Let me count the ways.

I recently got my Hario pourover and Malita filters from Seattle Coffee Gear (as you can likely see, they’re my go-to for online coffee supplies). I bought my French Press off of Amazon, however…and let me say, I do not generally recommend this. It’s best to buy your coffee supplies from either a specialty supplier or the original business, as the site is loaded with fake sellers that either sell knock-offs or used versions that slipped quality control. Fortunately for me, my French Press arrived in mint condition.

My very first personal French Press coffee, though…wasn’t great.

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Not Quite A Latte, Not Quite A Cappuccino: What Is A Macchiato, Exactly?

Being a barista meant a lot of explaining.

“Oh, a frappuccino is an iced drink!”

“A mocha frappuccino just means it has chocolate in it.”

“Do you want a dry or a wet cappuccino? …Oh, you wanted a latte?”

Again and again I found myself spending more time hashing out terminology than making the actual drink (and this was essential, as a dissatisfied coffee customer can take up even more time). It was part of the job, and the coffee industry is rather notorious for its mile-long list of exclusive terminology. For those of you out there wanting to brush up on your coffee vocabulary, take a look at the Perfect Daily Grind’s rundown of the macchiato.

A quick overview: the macchiato is a predominantly espresso based drink, with just a little milk to add texture without overwhelming the subtle flavor notes of the coffee. This differentiates it from the milk-dominant latte and the foam-dominant cappuccino. This won’t stop you from seeing unique takes on the drink, however, as each cafe will still have different techniques (and misnomers) to its name. For those that are counting calories, this is also considered a superior drink to add to your diet. A win-win.

Easy And No Longer Cheap: Why Specialty Instant Coffee Is On The Rise

Coffee is as varied as the people who drink it. Some prefer to take their time on a lazy Sunday crafting delicate home lattes. Others barely have enough time to toss a packet in a mug before rushing to work. I regularly look forward to my home coffee set-up, choosing between decaf beans and brewing methods alike.

That’s what makes coffee so wonderful: it adapts to fit us, in every shape and size.

That doesn’t stop instant coffee from being somewhat of a dirty phrase in the coffee industry, however, conjuring up comparisons to caffeinated dirt and being brushed to the side as only fit for the tasteless among us. Several businesses today are challenging that notion, offering specialty instant with gentler brewing methods and more subtle tasting notes. This piece on Vinepair looks at the history of instant coffee over the decades and how it’s starting to break through its stained reputation. Dalgona, the online coffee craze often made with instant coffee crystals, is just the tip of this iceberg.

I’m definitely going to check some of these out soon. I’ve never had specialty instant before (one step at a time!) and am very curious about some of these flavor notes. Cashew, red wine or toffee with just a stir of the spoon? Sign me up.