COFFEE NEWS ROUNDUP: WEEK ENDING JUNE 7TH

An espresso cup sits on a table next to a folded newspaper

Hello and welcome to another edition of the Coffee News Roundup, your weekly reminder that the world is a strange and petty place. From lawsuits to bad business decisions to thinking that coffee and Coca-Cola go together, the coffee industry is a non-stop soap opera of eccentricity and capriciousness.

Although to be fair, if this was called the the Weekly Cheese Roundup, it probably wouldn’t look a whole lot different, just with “new sparkling latte is Instagram favorite” replaced with “Wisconsin cheese dynasty taken to court by cow” or something.

Come to think of it, a Weekly Cheese Roundup sounds intriguing…

California Agency Finally Exempts Coffee From Cancer Warning Law - via Daily Coffee News

Well this had been coming.

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA)—the body dedicated to ensuring that all Californians have access to the most useful scientific alerts and which is in no way vulnerable to money-grubbing lawsuits by shady groups—has finally announced that coffee does not need to be advertised alongside a cancer warning.

Two hands each holding a cup of coffee, seen from above

This news comes a year after OEHHA announced its intention to remove coffee from the list of foods requiring the Proposition 65 warning that it could potentially be high in acrylamide, a cancer-causing substance that also occurs naturally in the browning of foods such as potato chips and toast.

In 2010, a lawsuit was filed by what Daily Coffee News calls “a sham environmentalist nonprofit” claiming that multiple coffee companies were in violation of Prop 65, which caused much pushback from the coffee industry and eventually to several of those companies settling out of court.

Of course, as we all know, coffee is in fact a miracle juice that pretty much ensures immortality, and independent studies have found only trace levels of acrylamide in coffee anyway, so after “an extensive literature review on coffee, acrylamide and cancer” by the OEHHA, as well as public consultation, they’ve decided that the whole thing is stupid and can we all just move on with our lives, please?

Oh wait, no. No we can’t. According to Daily Coffee News, “Metzger Law Group’s Raphael Metzger plans to challenge the validity of the ruling, extending a case that has sucked up millions in taxpayer dollars for nearly a decade”.

Brilliant.

Read the full story here.

Cat and Cloud Rallies Support to Defend Ground Against Caterpillar - via Barista Magazine

A few weeks ago, news spread of the weird battle between Cat & Cloud, small California-based roaster-retailer and sometime apparel seller, and Caterpillar, multi-billion-dollar construction equipment conglomerate and for some reason apparel seller. At the heart of the matter was a Class 25 trademark that Cat & Cloud received in 2015 in relation to its clothing, and Caterpillar did not like that one bit.

So they sued. But instead of folding and giving up, Cat & Cloud decided to fight back, going public with the news and launching a GoFundMe page to raise funds for lawyers fees.

A gavel resting on its block

According to Cat & Cloud, Caterpillar is only targeting small businesses: co-founder Jared Truby told Barista Magazine that “They’re only going after smaller brands. They haven’t gone after anyone of mid to large level.” Adds co-founder Chris Baca: “They’re involved in multiple other cases against businesses that have ‘Cat’ in their name. “They’re systematically collecting usage of the word ‘Cat’ to own it all.”

Caterpillar, of course, claims different: “We are not suing Cat & Cloud, not targeting a small business and not focused on Cat & Cloud’s primary interest: coffee. We’ve simply asked the U.S. Trademark Office to remove Cat & Cloud’s trademark registration on footwear and apparel only, products for which Caterpillar has longstanding trademarks and a considerable business.”

Who to believe: the enormous conglomerate or the small coffee business? Tricky.

Read the full story here.

Tim Hortons reportedly closing in Brainerd: Coffee-doughnut eatery shutters amid statewide rollback, corporate infighting - via the Brainerd Dispatch

Lawsuits are apparently the theme of this week’s roundup: after the Prop 65 ruling, and the Cat & Cloud vs Caterpillar brouhaha, there comes word from Minnesota of infighting and litigation between Tim Hortons and its franchisee in the state.

The irony of course being that this dispute is happening between a Canadian company—Canada being one of the most stereotypically nice countries in the world—and the state of Minnesota which, according to my multiple viewings of the movie and TV versions of Fargo, is an incredibly polite place (if you ignore all the murder).

Anyway, Tim Hortons is pulling out of Minnesota, with all its stores in the Twin Cities closing a few months ago, and then the Bemidji, International Falls and now Brainerd locations also shuttering. The reason? A dispute between Tim Hortons and its Minnesota franchisee, called Tim-Minn Inc. because apparently Minn Hortons was too on-the-nose, alleging lies and misleading information on the part of the parent company.

According to Buffalo Business First, quoting lawyers for Tim-Minn Inc, “This matter is about broken promises, unfulfilled contractual expectations and false and misleading statements and omissions.”

The complaint goes on to say that “Tim-Minn invested millions of dollars in bringing the Tim Hortons brand to Minnesota, only to learn too late that (Tim Hortons USA Inc.) had employed misleading, unlawful financial representations to induce its efforts in this (s)tate.”

The twist to this story is that Tim Hortons says they didn’t even know the stores were closing. "We are disappointed the franchisee made the decision to close these restaurants without our approval," a spokesperson told the Brainerd Dispatch.

What is going on in Minnesota?!

Read the full story here.

Science Gives Up, Says 25 Cups Of Coffee A Day Is Fine - via Sprudge

That’s right, 25 cups of coffee a day.

25 cups.

Of coffee.

A day.

Forget hardened arteries or whatever the study was looking at, if you’re drinking 25 cups of coffee a day you have other things to worry about. Who even has time to drink that much coffee?

You know that episode of Futurama where Fry decides to spend his $300 government rebate on 100 cups of coffee and ends up drinking so much he can slow down time? That’ll be you, except less hyperspeed and more insomnia, anxiety, and heart palpitations.

Read the full story here.

Is coffee good for you?

Not if you drink 25 cups a day, obviously.

Here’s a good article from Huff Post that pours cold water on the idea that drinking that much coffee every day is OK (cold water, incidentally, is what you should probably be drinking instead of the 25th cup of coffee).

Basically, 25 cups per day (how much is that anyway? What’s a cup? Nobody knows) might be safe, but only in this exact context: “There is much more reason to be concerned about a host of other dose-related effects, from blood pressure elevation, to heart rate elevation, to cardiac dysrhythmias,” says Dr. David Katz, a director at the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research center.

But really it doesn’t matter, because next week some new research will come out that says drinking coffee causes boneitis and we’ll start the whole grim cycle all over again.

What to read

Jacu Bird Coffee by Rohini Chaki

The Launch of the Coffee Science Foundation by Nick Brown

I Found Out Nazi Money Is Behind My Favorite Coffee. Should I Keep Drinking It? by Devra First

Cold Brew Coffee Sucks. Here’s Why by Will Price

Until next week, drink good coffee. Maybe stay under 25 cups, just in case.