Category Archives: Coffee, Tea, Drinks

The Hunt for Michigan’s Best Coffeeshop

I don’t know if any of these places ship their beans via civilian drone, but if you’re in Michigan, you may want to look one of these up. “For the last 5 days,” John Gonzolez writes, “I traveled to 22 shops that were nominated and voted on by the readers of MLive. Along the way we discovered some true hidden gems, and some coffee shops known for roasting incredible, award-winning coffee.”

KFC To Offer Edible Coffee Cups

KFC in the UK is running the final tests on their new Scoff-ee Cup, an edible cup to be offered with Seattle’s Best Coffee brand beverages. “The 100% edible cup is made from a special, wafer-like biscuit, then wrapped in sugar paper and lined with a layer of heat-resistant white chocolate.”

Naturally, this is a fabulous idea, but they want to make sure it works well in many circumstances before releasing it to the public. No one wants their little dessert cup to melt in their hand while chatting up a cute girl they just met. No plans for US release yet.

Third Wave Coffee, New Orleans’ Style

The coffee of New Orleans is gaining popularity. This article by Sarah Baird may provoke you to seek it out. She mingles among aromas at a Zephyr Green Coffee Importers cupping.

“Crouching like a swimmer poised on the high dive, I position my nostrils over the edge of the miniature cup, close my eyes and take a firm whiff.

“It doesn’t work quite right. I proceed to inhale a small latte’s worth of grounds and fall back into a sniffling, sneezing mess. Clearly, I am a first-timer.”

New Orleans has a history in coffee, and it’s changing as new consumer sophistication rises. She explains, “Zephyr’s foray into the specialty green coffee trade marks the latest wave in a long stream of coffee importers who have made their homes in New Orleans, which has had the premier coffee port in the U.S. for almost two centuries. The Port of New Orleans and coffee are inextricably linked, with 15 warehouses devoted solely to java, and the world’s largest coffee silo — Silocaf — located inside Orleans Parish lines.”

Now specialty coffee crafters are building their business by guiding drinkers into the wonderful realm of flavorful coffee without cream and sugar.

Starbucks Opens the Coffee Temple

“These days, Starbucks stores function more like gas stations: They’re everywhere, and frequented for fuel,” writes Margaret Rhodes for WIRED. But to compete with third wave coffee roasters for high-end coffee, Starbucks has restored a one-hundred-year-old building to host its Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle. See the article for lots of pictures.

I’m thinking they keep the golden bulls in the back.

DIY Coffee for Blue Collar Workers

When Edward Samudro started his Yellow Truck coffeeshop, affordable coffee was not available in his city Bandung, West Java, Indosesia. If students or blue collar workers had a taste for good coffee, they would have to spend half a day’s pay (if they had an income) on one cup. At Yellow Truck, customers can work the coffeemaker themselves. Samudro “wants them to know that coffee ‘actually has taste;’ it doesn’t have to be bitter.”

As a roaster who sources the beans from local farmers, he also has a social mission: to improve the welfare of the families that make their living from selling coffee. That means educating coffee drinkers to demand the flavor that comes from good beans. Mr. Samudro says it’s a long term investment that he hopes will pay off eventually. In the meantime, he’s creating a no fuss, bare bones hangout that epitomizes the Indonesian art of nongkrong – essentially sitting around and chatting for hours.

Do You Take Fascism With Your Coffee?

Swiss retailer Migros is apologizing profusely over distributing coffee creamers with images of Hitler and Mussolini on the lids. The creamers were designed to resemble cigar bands with the likenesses of many different people, including the two dictators. The company responsible for the designs doesn’t see a problem with. Why should it matter if Hitler’s face appears on a coffee creamer lid? they said. But Migros said it is an “inexcusable blunder” that should never have been delivered.

If I received one of these as a customer in a restaurant, I’d laugh it off and wonder if I was being poisoned, but if I was a businessman responsible for selling them, I think I’d fire someone.

Automatic Ordering and Payment for Coffee Drinkers

Pink metal clockwork robot maid - Naked Espresso BarHave you ever been waiting at a counter or restaurant, wondering why they haven’t taken your order or seated you for a few minutes? They look busy, so there must be other customers, but you’re the first one in line. Now the mobile-payment company, Square, is rolling out an coffee-buying app to allow more people to jump ahead of you in line without actually standing at the counter. Partnering with Blue Bottle Coffee, the Square app will allow coffee drinkers to place their order from their phone or tablet and pick it up within twenty-four hours. The store will receive the order and be warned when we approach the store so they can have your beverage ready when you walk in. No wait. No payment. No tip possibly. No personal interaction. All of that is handled online. So you could be standing at the counter for fifteen minutes while other customers walk in to pick up their orders.

Where to Buy the Best Coffee Around the World

When you’re next in Prague, you can settle into the “green velvet chairs under brass chandeliers” in the Grand Cafe Orient, “designed by Czech cubist Joseph Gocar in 1912 (and restored to its original splendour in 2005), order Czech pastries, like medovnik (layered cream and honey cake) and traditional apple strudel with your coffee, which will be brought to you by uniformed waiters.” This is where you’ll buy a Preso s mlékem, “long espresso with cold or steamed milk (usually served on the side)” or Vídenská káva, “long espresso in a tall glass with lots of whipped cream on top.”

Or you could visit a new cafe, La Bohème. “The interior is a mishmash of arty decor with patches of wallpaper depicting frothy clouds and shelves of books, with violins hanging from the ceiling. Beans are roasted upstairs and your order comes either on a silver tray or a leather coaster. Display cupboards hold collections of house coffees, moka and vacuum pots and Hario Skerton hand grinders for sale (about £27).”

Do You Drink Coffee to Avoid Naps? Try Both.

Researchers in multiple studies are finding that drinking coffee just before a short nap is better for your alertness than napping or coffee-drinking alone. The idea is that caffeine takes about 20 minutes to digest, so if you drink a cup quickly then snooze off for about 20 minutes, you will use up the sleepiness in your brain before you receive the perkiness you just consumed. For a more scientific explanation, see the article.

sleepy

Myrna Loy Serving Coffee

Due to the immediate, overwhelming response to the photo in our last post, our executives have decided to post another one. Here we see the gorgeous Myrna Loy serving Navy sailors in an canteen during WWII. This wasn’t a one time stint for her. She stopped acting to support the war effort and worked closely with The Red Cross. Learn more about her in this review of her biography, Myrna Loy: The Only Good Girl In Hollywood.

Myrna Loy serving coffee to service men

Coffee Week Selections

1. A Colorado coffee shop, located in an housing development for the homeless, is attempting to help the people around them as well as change their community’s perspective on the capabilities of homeless people.

“People don’t know who’s behind the counter when they stop here,” Kelly Kelley said. “It could be any one of us in that low-income or homeless category. We want to make a positive experience for people.”

2. 10 reason why fair-trade coffee doesn’t do what it claims, and plenty of pushback in the comments. “Fairtrade is not a one time, cure-all, it provides a framework. It’s a tool and if applied well, producers move up the value chain, negotiate better terms, and strengthen their communities.”

I remember a coffee roaster saying he saw little value in fair trade certification, because he knew a farm received certification on only half of its crop because they couldn’t afford the price. No difference in the coffee they grew. They just could not afford to pay for the fair trade label for the second half of what they produced.

3. Costa Coffee, United Kingdom’s largest coffee chain, has replaced its club card for an app.

4. Starbucks has gone to Colombia, and the Colombian national chain Juan Valdez is expanding in response. “In downtown Miami, a new Juan Valdez cafe feels like a slice of Colombia: traditional floor tiling, warm wood details, woven baskets, fresh arepas, and pictures of Colombia and its coffee. A poster of a smiling coffee farmer hangs near the entrance, greeting customers with the company’s key new message: ‘Carlos is one of the 500,000 coffee growers who owns this coffee shop.'” Leaning on their history has proven profitable so far.

5. A young Lauren Bacall with coffee. (I believe this photo would be rated PG-13 because it depicts smoking. Steel yourself.) Continue reading Coffee Week Selections

Danielle Sacks Talks about Her Coffee Research

In the last post, we linked to Fast Company’s Danielle Sacks’ piece on third wave coffee producers. Food Republic asks her about her experience researching that article, whether her drinking tastes have changed, and how she believes Starbucks will respond to this bit of competition.

As I write in the story, Starbucks doesn’t like anybody infringing on its turf. They want it both ways — they’ll do as little as possible to gain street cred in the third wave coffee community, but they still want to appeal to the masses, which is the much bigger market. On one hand Starbucks is increasingly pushing its single origin “Reserve” line (brewed on Clover single cup precision brewers), yet its investments and acquisitions of late feel like a coffee company that’s leaning more towards fast food (fizzy drinks, drive-thrus). At the end of the day, if they felt like third wave was a gnat worth swatting, they could just purchase Stumptown or Blue Bottle, both of which have investors that will want to monetize their investment at some point. It’ll be interesting to see which of these players might end up part of the big green giant.

Third Wave Coffee Crashes Over America

Stumptown

A third wave of coffee connoisseurs is washing over America. Artisan coffee producers, such as Stumptown, Intelligentsia, Counter Culture and Blue Bottle, have pored over their beans, roasts, and brews to steep the most awesomest coffee drink you will ever taste. Fast Company’s Danielle Sacks describes the reaction some coffee evangelists received somewhere in New York.

Staffers begin wandering over to taste coffees with names like Brazil Samambaia and Three Africans. A few are coffee snobs, and for them it is a moment of vindication. A thirtysomething in a chambray shirt expresses delight at the prospect that his company might ditch the pods in the office kitchen in favor of Stumptown, which he brews at home. For others, the experience is more like an awakening, when they taste the refined brew for the first time. “I’m a coffee guy,” declares a silver-haired exec in khakis. “I drink Dunkin’, Starbucks, Tim Hortons–not the deli stuff,” he says, echoing the sentiments of many of America’s 100 million coffee drinkers. The woman from Joyride hands him something he never orders: a cup of black coffee. “It’s pretty smooth,” he says, surprised by how good a naked cup of coffee can taste when it’s made with artisanal care. “This is really good,” he confesses, taking another swig, “even without milk.”

I believe I almost had a great cup of coffee like this once, but I didn’t want to spend the money on it. This article says these wonderful coffee lovers want us to spend $7/drink. It may be awesome, but they aren’t going to knock out K-cups at that price. (They probably wouldn’t approve of my home brewing anyway.)