Category Archives: Coffee, Tea, Drinks

Piñon Coffee, the Taste of Albuquerque

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2014

When Folgers declined to sponsor Albuquerque’s 2015 Balloon Fiesta, a family-owned roaster stepped up. Albuquerque’s own Piñon Coffee brought an estimated 200,000 cups of coffee to the hot-air balloon event that started last weekend and continues through the week. It is the fiesta’s first local company to be coffee sponsor.

“A lot of handcrafting goes into every part of our coffee from the coffee all the way up to the bags to the fill the bags to the roll down of bags,” Piñon Coffee President Allen Bassett told KRGE News 13.

Bassett has been working on several strategies for building his brand and competing with national companies. He has recommended local coffee shops collaborating in order to hold their own against national franchisees.

(Photo of The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2014 by Duncan Rawlinson)

Are K-Cups Old Hat Now?

Day 161: The Chai Latte K-Cup.Quarterly earnings for Keurig Green Mountain are “disastrously bad,” according to this week’s reports, and with consumer complaints about the price of a Keurig 2.0 and its rejection of off-brand coffee pods, analysts are wondering if the single-serve coffee craze is over.

If you haven’t heard, the latest Keurig coffee machine, released last summer, was designed with a scanner in order to detect whether you were using Keurig-brand coffee pods or off-brand pods. If you were trying to save money by using cheaper, off-brand pods, the machine would say, “Oops! This pod was made in North Korea and will probably kill you, or worse, insult your palate. Throw it out, fool! Use only Keurig Brand coffee pods with coffee as fresh as if Moses, standing on Mt. Sinai, ground it himself.” Not only did the new machine of coffee magic reject off-brand pods, it also rejected K-cups that didn’t have the special Incan runes on the label.

Coffee drinkers found this design feature unhelpful and began to complain. Some joined a resistant movement to take back their freedom of brewing.

But these may not be the only reasons for the company’s earnings report slump. In a partnership with Coca-Cola, Keurig will soon release a single serve soda-pop machine that will cost way more than even a single can from an amusement park vending machine (if that’s possible). I’ve heard New York City has already taken steps to ban it. In a world that is decreasingly buying cokes (that’s what we call them in the South), who will want a custom coke machine in their man cave when they can have a fridge-full of craft beer for less.

Or water, which is what I’d ask for.

The Most Expensive Coffee Anywhere

I found a new-to-me coffee retailer this morning while casually browsing for coffee-related sites and was surprised to notice a price category for $350.00 – $400.00. What do they offer in that price range? Ten pound bags of Jamaican Blue Mountain? No, this site, named Coffee for Less, offers one pound bags of whole Kopi Luwak beans for $350.00.

You may not think you’re the type to drop over three Franklins on a bag of coffee beans, but wait ’til you hear the reason for the price. Kopi Luwak beans are personally processed by luwaks, small mammals in Southeast Asia, who eat coffee berries off the plant and pass them neatly into a farmer’s poop-scooper, giving them a can-u-believe-it, yowza-yowza flavor!

I mean, who wouldn’t want to eat something preciously prepared by this cute, little guy? Don’t look at me like that. You know you would.

Naturally, knowing you like I do, you may have already gone out for another variety of poop coffee blend from Thailand called Black Ivory Coffee. These beans have been especially excreted by elephants, which produces a reportedly smoother flavor than the Luwak variety. There is a difference, and it may be in the animals’ diets. Luwaks are omnivores; elephants are herbivores. Theoretically, your Kopi Luwak could brush up against some squirrel carcass on its way to your Best Part of Waking Up, whereas your Black Ivory beans may be fondled by foliage. Plus, every cup of Black Ivory comes out looking like this:

Waiter, there's an elephant in my coffee...

That’s straight from the elephant’s mouth, as they say. Who wouldn’t pay $$$$ for that?

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).”