coffee

Check Out How This Nigerian Painter Uses Coffee To Paint Portraits

Coffee and fine art is a match made in delicious heaven. As a digital illustrator and traditional painter who drinks coffee on a daily basis? This news story made my week.

Ekene Ngige is a Nigerian traditional painter that accidentally discovered his favorite painting technique when he spilled coffee while chatting with peers. He fell in love with the color and texture, resulting in him creating a series of portraits made out of coffee. He doesn’t just mix it with water, either: he adds a gel paste to stick it together and get a more even coating.

In the wise words of Bob Ross? “There are no mistakes. Only happy accidents.”

I can relate so hard to this. Several times I’ve completed an illustration not through careful planning, but spontaneous surprises that took me by the nose. I loved browsing his portfolio and seeing how he captures the human condition through the art of java. He’s skillful at showing the beautiful mundanity of the African diaspora, crafting a playful technique that balances realism with poppy abstraction.

Check out his Instagram page to see more of his work.

a gold hand reaching out to a red cup and a pink cup
coffee

Roasters And Cafes Should Raise Their Coffee Prices…And Keep Them That Way

Cold snaps, endless shipping delays, and a global pandemic. Caring about anything these days feels like juggling plates. 

Why are coffee prices up? Well, the Brazilian cold snap compromised millions of tons of coffee bags earlier this year, setting a record for the coldest harvest in over two decades and cranking up prices to almost double what they usually are. With the pandemic causing shipping delays and the food and beverage industry struggling to retain workers, it’s small wonder coffee prices have skyrocketed. 

Roasters, cafes, and roaster-cafe hybrids are understandably concerned about customer retention. Raising prices on an already expensive daily commodity is a surefire way to drive the end consumer into the arms of the competition, right?

The question isn’t whether prices should stay raised: it’s whether or not the end consumer will be willing to pay them. 

As someone who has been on both sides of the fence as a coffee buyer and a coffee worker, now’s the best time to get used to what will be a new standard. Roasters and cafes should not just raise their coffee prices, but keep them that way.

Here’s why. 

Continue reading “Roasters And Cafes Should Raise Their Coffee Prices…And Keep Them That Way”
coffee cherry
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. 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.

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.

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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. Nice!

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.

coffee

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.