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?

Can Freshly Roasted Coffee Be…Too Fresh?

Perish the thought! That was my immediate reaction at seeing the title of Sprudge‘s new article, but upon reading it, I’m having…more perishable thoughts.

Freshly roasted coffee is the de facto marketing tactic of today’s Western roasteries. It’s one of the first details mentioned before a plethora of attention grabbers, well before you learn about the unique soil climate of their origin or how the roastery is donating some of their proceeds to a local charity. Freshly roasted coffee tastes better, smells better, and that’s the end of it! …Or is it? This piece has a few thoughts on the matter and they’re all very compelling.

Several roasters have gathered around to discuss the literally delicious elements that build in coffee when it’s allowed to sit for a few days. This is a science, after all, and all that savory, tart, sweet goodness is a result of chemicals that are affected by the complex coffee process. Allowing coffee to ruminate in the bag (craftily designed to let CO2 escape, no less) gives the roasting process time to settle, grow, and change the bean. The roast profile also has a say in this, as dark roasts tend to deteriorate faster. That’s not to say you should let your bag sit in your shelf for months, though.

I usually receive my specialty coffee bags a few days after the printed date, so it’s funny reading this and seeing there might just be a benefit to not having a same-day purchase.

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.

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?

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.

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?

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.