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?

The Flipside To The Staple: Starbucks Under Fire For Lacking Caffeine

Starbucks is a coffee behemoth, unavoidable on a global level as a staple of morning commutes and casual lunches everywhere. As a Washingtonian, Starbucks is extra unavoidable. It originated here, after all.

Hearing about their lawsuits is triply unavoidable, with yet another alleging that Starbucks is falsely advertising the amount of caffeine in their drinks. More specifically, larger drinks that apparently don’t have larger amounts of caffeine: just more milk, foam or ice. While I don’t drink caffeine — I stopped several years ago for health reasons — I can see why this would be frustrating for customers. Coffee habits aren’t exactly kind on the wallet unless you exclusively brew from home, and even then, you still have to shell out extra money for the right equipment and quality beans.

To anyone who drinks coffee on-the-go: what do you think?

Is a lawsuit on a lack of caffeine valid in an industry already buckling under dishonest marketing or should this be a lesser concern?

Everyone Has A Role To Play With Sustainability Labels

Sustainability has become a pretty convoluted word. It sounds nice on paper — and looks pretty snazzy — but the moment you start to scratch the surface, you run into trouble.

Which sustainability labels are actually inciting meaningful change for farmers? How are these certifications approved and maintained, much less reinforced by outside parties? Do consumers actually have any power when it comes to encouraging fair trade? These are just a few of the questions that The Week takes a look at: their illuminating piece goes into the nitty-gritty behind sustainability certification and what it actually means for farmers, traders and consumers.

Government initiatives versus non-profits. The issue of premium demand and production. The flaws in the reporting system and which standards are used to measure in the first place. There’s some good, insightful commentary here to pierce the labyrinthine tangle of fact and fiction. While the sustainability conversation won’t be ended with just one article — indeed, the oversaturation of certification labels is the problem — this article will give you a better idea as to what you’re looking at while shopping.

Just yesterday I was looking for coffee to stock up my shelf and wondering whether or not I should buy K-cups, thanks to recent recycling issues. I’m also planning on making the switch to a French Press for home coffee so I can focus on purchasing specialty, small-batch coffee. It’s not much…

…but change has to start somewhere.

cute mug of coffee

A Dash Of Different: Five Fun Twists On Coffee And Tea

One of the genius details about coffee and tea is just how flexible they are. You can really come up with almost anything. …Almost. I really don’t want to read the news one of these days and find out liquid gold is now being called the ‘new espresso’.

I keep an eye on stories like these because I want innovation to be just as fun as it is necessary. Stories on climate change and the impact it leaves on entire livelihoods is an essential conversation, yes, but it’s also a little draining. Making the world a better place to live means embracing it all. Change as complex as coming up with new farming methods…as well as thinking about how to chill coffee quicker. Change as vital as planting millions of trees in one day, as well as a faster, cuter way of recycling.

Let’s take a look at some recent developments in coffee and tea, from low-calorie alcoholic tea varieties to caffeinated popsicles.

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