COFFEE NEWS ROUNDUP: WEEK ENDING JULY 13TH

An espresso sits on top of a newspaper

Welcome to another edition of the Coffee News Roundup. Fair warning: this week's update may devolve into facetiousness and snark by the end, when the subject of banning plastic straws comes up. I'll do my best to keep it sensible, but no promises.

So with that in mind, let's start with the actual news and work our way down.

Breaking: Ozone Coffee Roasters Acquires Has Bean Coffee - via Sprudge

Coffee company mergers and acquisitions have become more and more normal over the past few years. We've always been used to enormous conglomerates swallowing smaller businesses whole, but it's been happening with more frequency in the world of coffee of late. Take, for example, the news reported here last year that JAB Holdings—the shadowy German investment firm—had acquired Peet's Coffee And Tea, and by extension Stumptown and Intelligentsia. Then Starbucks and Nestlé brokered a multi-billion dollar deal to something something sell more coffee.

A coffee roaster tests the beans during a roast

This story is more interesting, however, as it concerns two smaller companies who are merging to form an international specialty coffee alliance. Ozone Coffee Roasters, founded in New Zealand in 1998, has agreed a deal to merge with Has Bean, one of the originators of the UK's now enormous third wave scene. 

This isn't some enormous corporation hoovering up the competition, or two multinationals combining into one monopolizing behemoth, but rather two coffee companies with different areas of expertise forming a partnership to take advantage of that fact. According to the Sprudge exclusive report, the two will operate as separate entities, sourcing and selling as they did before. 

Read the full story here—it's interesting stuff.

Costa Rican Gesha Shatters Cup of Excellence Record at $300 Per Pound - via Daily Coffee News

The Cup of Excellence, a competition held annually in several countries to identify (and then auction) the best possible coffee available, has been going since 1999. For coffee buyers the goal is to find the highest quality coffee from that harvest, and for producers having a lot go to auction can mean earning much more than through a traditional sale. For those interested, it's worth reading this breakdown of the competition from Has Bean's blog.

This year in Costa Rica, one particular gesha sold for $300.09 per pound, more than double the last record price according to Daily Coffee News. The average price across the whole auction was $21.69 per pound, the highest average since the CoE began. 

Read the full story here.

The Coffee Industry Wants You to Put Turmeric in Your Espresso - via Gear Patrol

No it doesn't. 

An espresso on a table 

Seriously. Sprudge even did a survey (on Twitter, it should be said) in which 87% of respondents gave it the big thumbs down. 

These kinds of stories—like the mushroom coffee one a few months back—aren't really about coffee, but are fads designed to get clicks and retweets and for idiots like me to write about them and link to them.

Which always works. 

Read the full Gear Patrol story here, for what it's worth.

 

Fully Blockchained Coffee Brand Token Invites Consumers Into the Matrix - via Daily Coffee News

Oh god I don't even know what any of this means. 

But let's try to figure it out, shall we?

It seems as though Token is a brand, a collaboration between a tech startup, a blockchain foundation (?) and a coffee roaster. The idea is to keep the roasting and packaging part of coffee at origin, with the goal of keeping more of the profits from coffee production at home. 

Consumers can get involved in the form of blockchain traceability, whatever that is, and with a "token" worth €0.50 from each bag of coffee bought, which can either be given back to the foundation, directly to the farmer, or taken off the price of the coffee and then it becomes a cryptocurrency? Or something?

My head hurts.

Or how about maybe just paying more for the coffee at origin in the first place?

Read the full story here.

Starbucks Will Eliminate Plastic Straws Globally by 2020 - via Fortune

OK here we go. 

In a move to cut down on waste, Starbucks has announced that it will eliminate 100% of plastic straws from its stores globally by 2020. They will be replaced with strawless lids, apparently, or a paper straw if you're into that sort of thing. 

Starbucks iced drinks on a bench

Now, of course plastic straws are bad. They don't get recycled, they never break down, and they find their way into the sea and into the noses of sea turtles. This is awful. 

But.

The plastic cup with its fancy strawless lid is still going to get discarded, never break down, and find its way into the sea and into the belly of a whale. We still, as a society, treat plastic and other single-use items as magic objects that disappear as soon as we dispose of them, not giving a second thought to the thousand-year afterlife of that stupid cup once the momentary enjoyment it brings is over.

Companies banning straws are, at the very least, misguided, and at worst blatantly greenwashing in an attempt to get us to shift focus onto how great they are for their environmental efforts. 

Plus there's the issue of ableism, because plastic straws are essential for people with certain disabilities. Removing straws can effectively mean removing a segment of the population from public spaces. 

There's a lot of nuance to this story, in other words.

Read the full story here. And Eater has an excellent article explaining everything here.

Is coffee good for you?

Well it won't sober you up, that's for sure. A study conducted on college students (who else) showed that coffee didn't help the motor skills or coordination of intoxicated individuals. It'll help you feel more awake, but that's about it. 

man reads newspaper on bench