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coffee

A New Coffee Certification Is In Town

Keeping track of coffee certifications isn’t easy. The brew already has a thousand and one details swirling around every purchase, from origin to bean variety to altitude.

The complex web of certifications have already come under fire a few times lately, such as the USDA admitting they might have to completely rehaul their organic certification due to a lack of compliance and oversight. That isn’t to say these labels are completely untrustworthy, but rather, it’s our duty as customers to be extra diligent about what we buy. Just because something says it’s sustainable doesn’t mean it actually is. As such, this detailed article on a new coffee certification had me feeling a glimmer of hope.

Not only is the Jaguar Friendly program a mutually beneficial partnership between farmer and animal, they go into great detail in how the certification actually works. Coffee farms under this certification have to dedicate certain areas of land to the jaguar’s territory, including planting trees in certain locations and focusing on shade-grown coffee to reduce the need for expensive methods of cultivation. The goal is to reduce dangerous encounters and the worst-case scenario of killing an already threatened species.

Consider looking for this label on your next bag of coffee beans. What goes around comes around, as the saying goes, and this is a very forward-thinking initiative, indeed.

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.

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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.

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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.

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coffee

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?

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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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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…

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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.

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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?