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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Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Olympia Coffee’s Decaf Asterisk

A big reason I write these reviews is because I want to get the good word out. According to HubSpot, a solid 60% of customers find reviews to be either trustworthy or very trustworthy. What better way to show a business your appreciation aside from your dollar?

You can’t love what you don’t know about, but today’s overwhelming competition can make even that common sense a little tricky. There are so many roasters in this country that, even years working in and around coffee, I’ve only just scratched the surface of American roasters. That includes ones in my own state! This wonderful decaf coffee list on Sprudge clued me into a few local roasteries that haven’t blipped on my radar, including Olympia Coffee. The flavor notes, as well as the packaging design, captured my interest instantly.

What makes Olympia Coffee‘s Decaf Asterisk special? We’ll take a look up close at the power word-of-mouth brings. If you haven’t read other entries in my Decaf, Decaf Everywhere series, you can get your start here.

Let’s take a look:

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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.

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.

Five Fundraisers And New Businesses To Support On National Coffee Day

Coffee tastes even better when it’s paired with a good cause. In fact, it’s pretty rare I see a bag, can, or bottle without a supplementary positive.

Eco-friendly initiatives. Paper recycling. Supporting women-owned farms. It’s so common it can be a little overwhelming at times (and according to the commonly cited USDA, these promises can even be unreliable). It helps to go straight to the source by supporting a smaller business with less middleman and smokescreens. People who live close by. People you can see.

We have newly founded black-owned businesses, we have charities, we have fundraisers. Take a look at the list below and put your money toward a good cause:

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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?

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Caffeine And Alcohol Are Wrecking Your Sleep Patterns

Caffeine is a drug (yes, a drug) that I’ve dispensed with years ago.

Back in the day I used to drink a triple-shot latte during or after work…and that was before I worked as a barista. I would still be able to sleep just fine afterwards, all hail community college exhaustion, but it was a gamble. Nowadays? Just two cups of decaf coffee without a span of time in-between will be enough to have me jittery. It’s incredible how much has changed. I think my former usual would give me a heart attack now.

Alcohol isn’t all that different. While I love a cold beer or a glass of wine at night, I have to have it early enough for it to leave my system. If I drink it too close prior to laying down my body goes into ‘nap mode’, with no more than three hours in before I’m waking up again. This short TED Talk dives into the science behind why our bodies react the way they do to caffeine and alcohol, from how our REM is affected to just how long caffeine actually stays in your system.

Caffeine and alcohol are great in moderation, but can easily wreak havoc on your health unchecked. I think I’ll skip a day or two this week.

blk & bold coffee bag

Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: BLK & Bold’s Coffee-Ish

I’ve been wanting to buy from this brand for a hot minute.

Black-owned businesses have seen a significant boost in sales these past few months, with the coffee and tea industry no different. BLK & Bold was a name that came up frequently: I knew I’d have to exercise some patience when it was among the first names to crop up in the search bar. Cue me checking back several times over the past month and a half to see their if decaf coffee was available. Good things come to those who wait, right?

(I also bought one of their decaf teas, which I’ll be reviewing in an adjacent series to this one.)

After a rather rough week, I was delighted when I finally got my package in the mail (doubly so for how large the bag is in comparison to others I’ve bought). Does BLK & Bold live up to its hype? We’re going to find out with another specialty decaf coffee review below. If you’ve missed my previous posts, check out my review of another black-owned coffee business for Boon Boona Coffee’s decaf.

Let’s take a look:

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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.