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.

coffee, industry news

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.

coffee, industry news

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.

coffee cherry
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?

woman drinking tea
coffee

Coffee Might Make A Good Resource For Spotting COVID-19

The year is almost over. You know the drill. One of the most common side-effects of coming down with COVID-19 is a loss of taste and smell, particularly if it lines up with a fever, breathing difficulties, and fatigue.

Coffee is beloved not just for its complex and delicious flavor notes, but its very distinctive aroma. This is exactly what’s making it such a reliable barometer compared to more subtle scents, according to this recent scholarly post by Daily Coffee News. Today’s scientists emphasize how useful coffee is, partially because of its unique scent and partially because you can find it in just about any American home. They make sure to stress that loss of taste and smell isn’t a 100% deal. If you find you can’t pick out complexity or foods taste ‘off’, you could still be experiencing this side-effect.

What an interesting coincidence: I read this report just as I got done watching Trevor Noah’s interview with Bryan Cranston, who specifically cited how much he missed being able to smell coffee brewing in the kitchen. The man went on to talk about how he is currently retraining his senses — and by extent his brain activity — by actively smelling different foods. It’s not unlike undergoing hand surgery and later attending physical therapy to restore subtle motor movements like gripping, typing and drawing. Now, don’t get too paranoid if you have a low-smell sort of day…this is also the season for clogged noses and irritated sinuses.

Coffee is not just a comforting and healthy drink (if you don’t overload it with sugar), but a commonly accessible tool to make sure your nose and tongue is working right.

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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?

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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.