COFFEE NEWS ROUNDUP: WEEK ENDING MAY 4TH

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Another busy week of coffee news, a lot of which consists of updates on previously reported stories.

And, it being May, cold brew is beginning to come to the fore again. Watch out for a short rant at the end of this article.

Now, to the news.

Black men arrested in Starbucks settle for $1 each and $200,000 program for young people - via The Guardian

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The story that broke a couple of weeks ago about two black men who had the audacity to wait in a Philadelphia Starbucks for an acquaintance to show up before ordering, and were promptly arrested for doing so, was a horrendous PR debacle for the coffee chain. 

And now, in an act of class that really drives home how badly the situation was handled by both the authorities and Starbucks itself, the two men have settled with the city of Philadelphia for a symbolic $1 each, plus the promise of $200,000 to set up a program for young entrepreneurs in the city. 

Read more here.

Coffee Company From Bestseller ‘Monk of Mokha’ Sued for Alleged Racketeering - via Eater SF

The subject of Dave Eggers' recent literary non-fiction bestseller, The Monk of Mokha, is being sued by former colleagues for alleged racketeering. Mokhtar Alkhanshali, founder of the celebrated Yemeni coffee company Port of Mokha, is accused by colleagues at his original coffee company of using fraud, extortion and money laundering in order to replace their (also Yemeni-focused) company with his own. 

It's a rather incredible turn of events, as Alkhanshali's story is truly remarkable and has led to his coffee being sold for upwards of $16 a cup at Blue Bottle, not to mention the adulation of basically the entire specialty coffee industry

It will certainly be interesting to see what revelations this lawsuit brings. 

Read more here.

New York’s Joe Coffee Launches ‘Specialty Instant’ Line - via Daily Coffee News

We started off with bad coffee. It was cheap, and it was plentiful, but it was bad. Then came instant, which was also bad, but much cheaper and, most importantly, quicker to brew. Boil some water, pour it over brown crystals, give it a stir, and you're away.

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Eventually, over years and decades, coffee producing, sourcing, roasting and brewing all improved to the point where the final product actually tasted good.

But it's now expensive, especially relative to the old days. And it can take upwards of five minutes to brew. Five minutes! Who has that kind of time? 

So we've gone full circle. Specialty instant coffee is a thing now. There are multiple companies pushing the stuff. But is it good? That's the real question (and the subject of a future blog post, methinks). 

Specialty instant coffee. That's where we are now.

Read more here.

10 Iced Coffee Ordering Hacks That Will Help You Save $$$ - via Refinery29

This isn't news, but it's an example of the terrible advice given to coffee drinkers in a feigned attempt to "save them money" or "game the system". And it's stupid and it should stop.

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OK so here's the thing. The "hacks" in this article are ridiculous, and basically just saying "be a cheapskate". It's an awful way to view coffee shops, as places to be duped, as if cafes are making huge profits off your 16 oz. cup of cold brew. And yes, the article seems aimed at chain coffee shops but the principle is the same—and that behaviour becomes habit and then starts to take place at independent businesses.

For example, one—ugh—"hack" tells you to order a smaller size iced coffee in a larger cup, then fill up the remainder with the free milk/cream. Another says you can always order a hot coffee (it's cheaper, see) and then ice it yourself later

Don't do this. Don't be this person. Either suck it up and pay, or make your cold brew at home like every other money-conscious coffee lover

The only vaguely respectable tip is to bring your own cup in order to get a discount from the cafe. Yes, do this—it saves a disposable cup from landfill, it saves you money and, most importantly, it won't make your barista hate you.

Read more here.

Is coffee good for you?

Coffee health news is lacking this week, at least in regards to the drink's effect on physical health. Mental health, on the other hand, is being tackled by a new cafe in Chicago, Sip of Hope. Run by the charity Hope for the Day, the coffee shop's goal is to raise awareness of mental health issues and encourage conversations between baristas and customers. 

As the article in the Chicago Tribune states, "The hope for the new shop is that it will draw in passers-by who simply want a cup of coffee or a pastry but also those who want to have a conversation about a troubling time or even a planned suicide attempt, Hope for the Day founder Jonny Boucher said. When customers come in, the entryway is laced with pamphlets and information cards about mental health services and other outlets for help."

What to read (and listen to)

Black Coffee: The Live Podcast Is Now Available by Sprudge

Dark Hall Coffee Faces Scrutiny After Standing Up for Community Needs by Ashley Rodriguez

In Los Angeles, Cuties Coffee Serves The Queer Community by RJ Joseph

Until next week, keep drinking good coffee (and don't try and con your coffee shop)