COFFEE NEWS ROUNDUP: WEEK ENDING APRIL 5TH

An espresso cup sits on a tablecloth next to a newspaper

Spring has finally sprung here in southeast Michigan, which means this weekend coffee shops around the region will be inundated with smug people wearing shorts and sandles even though it’s only 55 degrees outside.

As a conscientious former barista, I will not be adding to the throng, and will instead drink coffee on my porch before realizing that it’s only 55 degrees outside and I’m cold and should go inside. You know, like a normal person.

Anyway, coffee. What’s been happening?

Maine’s Tandem Coffee Roasters Drops Prices, Adds 25 Cent Cup Fee - via Daily Coffee News

Inspired by the recent ordinance in Portland, Maine, that charges shoppers 5 cents per plastic bag, coffee company Tandem Coffee Roasters has decided to start charging 25 cents if a customer opts for a to-go disposable cup. This is a bold move, as other companies have not had a lot of success with similar measures (see below), but to off-set the potential customer grumpiness Tandem is also lowering drink prices by 25 cents.

A takeaway coffee cup sits on a wooden table

So you pay the same as you would previously if you want to pollute the world, or else save 25 cents and drink your coffee in-house (or remember to bring your own cup).

It’s a pretty clever solution to the problem of takeaway coffee cups, rewarding those who bring their own but also reminding those who don’t every time they buy a coffee how wasteful they’re being. Whether shame is the correct tactic remains to be seen, but as Tandem co-owner Will Pratt says, it worked for plastic bags: “I found the ordinance to be extremely effective. It obviously isn’t about saving 5 cents,” he said, “but having to answer ‘yes’ to whether or not you need a bag is kind of demoralizing and lead me to fill the back seat of my car with [tote] bags.”

Daily Coffee News points out (quite rightly) that takeaway cups, straws, and plastic bags are merely a drop in the (heavily polluted) ocean when it comes to the coffee industry—”there’s also deforestation, climate change, fossil fuel consumption in shipping, local water contamination, roasters’ and retailers’ total energy consumption, and much more”—but it’s a start.

I feel like I say that a lot.

Read the full story here.

Coffee cup ban: Boston Tea Party's sales fall by £250k - via BBC News

As it turns out, people love their disposable takeaway cups. And they will punish those who seek to deny them. English coffee chain Boston Tea Party saw sales fall by £250,000 (that’s what, like $60? It’s hard to know with Brexit) since they stopped all use of disposable cups across their 22 stores last June.

A takeaway coffee cup is held in front of a painted wall

Under the move, which was widely supported by environmental groups (and coffee writers in Michigan), customers must either drink the coffee in-house, bring their own reusable mug, or pay a deposit on one of Boston Tea Party’s cups which they can then return to any location. Which all seems perfectly reasonable, but still resulted in a drop in takeaway sales of 25% since the summer.

Sam Roberts, owner of the chain, said that despite the drop in sales his company was committed to the move: "There's too many operators not dealing with the problem and putting their profits before the planet. At the moment bigger businesses are deploying a smoke and mirrors strategy and not resolving problems while seeming like they are doing something about it. We are 100% committed and there's no going back."

You go, Sam. You go.

Read the full story here.

Cold brew: Inside the NHL’s coffee obsession - via the Washington Post

When you think of hockey players, you probably picture enormous, bearded, toothless Canadians walloping the life out of each other. Or maybe that’s the movie Goon. Either way, you probably wouldn’t guess that NHL players would be coffee snobs, but it’s true.

This story is really worth reading in full, because it’s great, but here are some highlights:

A hockey player wearing a helmet
  • Professional hockey players drink a lot of coffee, viewing it as not only delicious but a legal stimulant that improves their game (Carolina Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho credited a hat trick he scored against the Nashville Predators in January to the five cups of coffee he had consumed beforehand).

  • Some of them are really into it. New Jersey Devils defenseman Connor Carrick is such a connoisseur of gourmet java (ew, “gourmet java”? Get it together, the Washington Post) that he now uses a Chemex to make his coffee at home, and keeps track of the best coffee shops in NHL cities on his phone.

  • When the Washington Capitals switched from a drip coffee machine to a Keurig (boo), ostensibly because it was easier to maintain, winger Jason Chimera was… not happy. “Jason Chimera was like, ‘I’m not drinking this s---,’” teammate Tom Wilson said. “When it went from the fine grounds to K-Cups, he was [ticked].”

The article is full of other excellent examples (like the Canadians in DC who were delighted to find Tim Hortons K-cups in a local Bed Bath & Beyond, thinking the chain was exclusive to Canada) so I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

Read the full story here.

This doctor says if you sleep in this position you are probably addicted to coffee - via The Ladders

Quite apart from the click-baity headline (it’s your right side) this article is a trove of weird and wacky information about sleep. Dr. Michael J. Breus, apparently also known as the Sleep Doctor (definitely not a serial killer nickname), thinks that if you sleep on your right side, you might have a caffeine addiction. What evidence is provided to back up this claim? Exactly none.

The article doesn’t even link to any studies, or really provide scientific research or evidence of any kind aside from “this bloke’s a sleep doctor”, which does seem a bit odd. Then again, the doctor also claims that sleeping on your back means you aren’t addicted to caffeine “as Breus says these sleepers tend to be quite confident when they are awake.”

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Read the full story here.

Is coffee good for you?

Well not if you sleep on your side, clearly. That’s just science.

However, there might also be a link between coffee and lung cancer, and not a good link. New research presented last week at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, claims that drinking two or more cups of coffee a day may increase a person’s risk of lung cancer, and this was even true of non-smokers. According to Live Science, “the researchers found that nonsmokers who drank two or more cups of coffee a day had a 41 percent higher risk of lung cancer than those who didn't drink coffee.”

Which, yikes.

The researchers noted that this was an observational study, and so didn’t prove cause-and-effect; also the study itself had several limitations, including that data on coffee intake and smoking was only measured once at the beginning of the trial, so subsequent habit change wasn’t included in the results. And then there’s, you know, second-hand smoke and air pollution.

At the same meeting, coffee was cleared of involvement in several other cancers, such as bladder cancer and colorectal cancer, and shown to be associated with a lower risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women. So there’s that.

And just as a kicker, after I’ve written all this, at the bottom of the Live Science article it says: “The findings have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.”

Brilliant.

What to read

Being Black In Specialty Coffee by Sierra Burgess-Yeo

How Are Coffee Chains In The UK Tackling Plastic Waste? by Olivia Petter

Does Dark Roast Coffee Really Have More Caffeine? by Nick Cho

Until next week, drink good coffee. And don’t sleep on your side, lest you become addicted to caffeine for some reason.