COFFEE NEWS ROUNDUP: WEEK ENDING MAY 10TH

A hand holds a latte resting atop a newspaper

A real quick one this week, as the thing that I am currently paid to do (marketing for a film festival) kicks off tonight and there is just no time for anything.

I’m actually surprised that I even wrote this, but then I also get anxiety about missing a roundup (or, god forbid, a daily Instagram photo) so what are you going to do.

Anyway, to the news!

Colombia losing coffee crop area due to low prices - via Reuters

99,000 acres. That’s how much land Colombia has lost over the past 18 months due to the coffee price crisis. The coffee C price dropped to 88 cents per pound this week, while robusta was at a nine year low.

And people are, understandably, stopping. Just leaving.

Coffee cherries on the branch

“This has already transcended an economic crisis and is becoming a humanitarian crisis,” Roberto Velez, head of the National Federation of Coffee Growers, said. “You see coffee growers starting to make decisions to get out of coffee and move on to other crops.”

25,000 families have left coffee cultivation, according to the federation, with some moving to more profitable crops such as citrus or avocado, and others leaving farming altogether and going into industries such as tourism.

And, while the government is offering aid to coffee farmers, its handling of the crisis has not gone down too well in some parts of the country. Velez, the federation head: “We are seeing social instability in the coffee zones where they start talking about stoppages, and they place a very great responsibility on the shoulders of the government, which is trying to close the gap between production costs and the international price.”

Read the full story here.

Blue Bottle Recalling ‘Revolutionary’ Whole Bean Cans Due to Injury Risk - via Daily Coffee News

Blue Bottle coffee cans are exploding. Well, sort of.

194,000 of the company’s “revolutionary” new coffee containers have been recalled due to some of them “shooting open with force” and resulting in at least one injury.

The cans, released to much fanfare back in February (not on this roundup, however—longtime readers will know how I feel about Nestlé and its subsidiaries) were pressure-sealed to ensure “that our whole bean coffee can remain at peak flavor for months, until the moment you open your can.”

Or, you know, until the lid shoots off and injures someone.

Read the full story here.

A Wee Problem: Scottish Tea Steeped in Scandal - via Fresh Cup

Okay so this one isn’t technically coffee-related, but it’s fascinating nonetheless.

In 2015, farmer Tam O’Braan, the self-styled “Mr. Tea” (?), announced that he had won the prestigious Salon de Thé award for his Scottish-grown tea. After his win, he became the talk of the tea town, hobnobbing with celebrities and selling his Wee Tea Company products for a frankly ridiculous amount of money.

Of course, it turned out that the Salon de Thé awards didn’t exist and Tam O’Braan was nothing more than a con man. Obviously. Tea in Scotland? Maybe in a couple of decades when the world has warmed by four degrees and southern England is either under water or on fire, or both.

As Fresh Cup puts it, “It seemed unbelievable that the Northern Scotland operation was capable of producing tea of such a high quality in such extreme conditions.”

Seemed unbelievable is right.

Tam O’Braan has since disappeared (because of course he has) but the sad thing about the story is that other people went into the tea-growing business in Scotland based on O’Braan’s success, and now who knows what will happen to them.

Oh Scotland—you never disappoint.

Read the full story here.

The misplaced coffee cup on 'Game of Thrones' is worth $2 billion to Starbucks in free publicity - via Business Insider

This past Sunday, an episode of Game of Thrones aired on HBO. Now, I haven’t watched GoT, mostly because I don’t have HBO (or know someone willing to lend me their password) but also partly because there are only so many hours in the day. I’m sure it’s a good show; maybe it’s even a great show. Maybe one day I’ll find out.

More free advertizing…

More free advertizing…

But this Sunday the internet went wild (and I mean wild) because a stray paper coffee cup was spotted on a table in one scene. It was only glimpsed for a second, but oh buddy you’d better believe people noticed. Thrillist dedicated a whole article (the term “article” being applied quite generously here) to the reactions on Twitter (this link contains spoilers, apparently).

It was widely assumed to be a Starbucks cup, no matter that it clearly wasn’t. At this point the word “Starbucks” has evidently become so synonymous with “coffee” that it’s just used interchangeably, like Kleenex or Zamboni or Taser.

The result for Starbucks has been a huge uptick in online mentions, with triple the usual daily number of tweets referencing the brand, and a potential overall PR value of $2.3 billion, according to Business Insider.

Two point three billion dollars.

Which seemed high to me, until I thought about how much time I’ve spent this week scrolling past story after story after story about the damn cup and what kind of latte dragons prefer (ones with gold flecks, presumably).

That’s just so much free publicity, all of it positive (or at least detached and ironic, which to a multinational corporation is as good as it’s going to get).

Read the full story here (link contains spoilers, I’m told).

Is coffee good for you?

Not if you buy one of those Blue Bottle explodey-cans it’s not.

A man sits on a park bench reading a newspaper