Coffee News Roundup: Week Ending July 26th

An espresso sits atop a newspaper, seen from above.

Alright, here we go again. Buckle yourselves in, people, it’s going to be a wild ride.

It’s not actually. Just trying to inject some urgency into proceedings.

Now that we’re suitably amped, let’s take a look at the news.

(Note: I’m not covering the Nestlé/Starbucks creamer thing they launched this week, because it’s blatant press release nonsense and I couldn’t bring myself to finish the “news” story. Suffice it to say that weird $7 billion deal they made last year is starting to show itself, and it’s as grimy as expected.)

With that out of the way, let’s get down to business.

Coffee Growers in Crisis Face a New Blow From Trump’s Tariff Threat - via Bloomberg

Just when you thought things couldn’t get much worse for beleaguered coffee farmers in Guatemala, beset on all sides by historically low prices, a decreasing workforce, and a worsening climate emergency, Bloomberg reports that the United States is considering further punitive measures against the country.

President Trump says Guatemala pulled out of a deal to become a “safe third country” in his war on undocumented migrants, and is mulling tariffs, remittance fees, and other sanctions.

According to Bernardo Solano, president of Guatemala’s coffee association Anacafé, said measures will most likely have the opposite effect on farmers in the country. Implementing tariffs, says Solano, “Would aggravate the international price crisis that we are going through, further complicating the economy of the 125,000 Guatemalan coffee-producing families, who will be in need of finding other alternatives to generate income -- among these, is migration.”

Three dimensional chess, etcetera.

Read the full story here.

Berkeley Pilots Reusable Cup Program as 25 Cent Paper Cup Fee Looms - via Daily Coffee News

Charging a fee for the use of disposable coffee cups is often touted as a way to cut down on their usage (after all, plastic bag fees did a pretty good job when they were introduced in Scotland).

A paper coffee cup being held up in front of a wall

Berkeley is introducing a 25 cent charge on all paper cups, and to try to mitigate the inevitable Purge-like unrest that is sure to follow they are also piloting a returnable reusable cup program.

Customers can pick up an insulated cup at a participating location, scan the QR code (of course), and then go about their day. They can then return it to any other participating location within five days for no charge.

If they wait longer than five days, the cost of the cup is withdrawn from their account, at which point they presumably now have another cup to lose somewhere in their car.

Read the full story here.

Jollibee buys Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf - via CNN

Mergers and acquisition season continues apace, with something called Jollibee (reliably informed that it’s a food chain from the Philippines) has bought money-losing California-based Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, apparently in order to expand in Asia and compete with Starbucks and Luckin.

Yeah, that’ll go well.

Oh, and the best part? Shares in Jollibee fell 8% on the news. A good investment, clearly.

Read the full story here.

You can now buy Central Perk coffee to celebrate the 25th anniversary of 'Friends' - via Business Insider

Yeah but why though.

Read the full story here.

Morning Coffee Results in a $1,000 Fine and Expulsion From Venice - via New York Times

A canal in Venice, seen from a bridge

Wow I didn’t know coffee in Venice was so expensive, etcetera and so on.

Ok, so this story is generally pretty silly, and good on Venice for enforcing their laws against people being bad tourists or whatever.

But more importantly, the UK newspaper Metro has lots of photos of the incident, and just look at the coffee they’re making.

It’s like cowboy coffee, only somehow worse.

From some quick googling there doesn’t seem to be a huge third wave coffee scene in Venice (I’m available to take a trip to find out, if anyone wants to pay me) but surely they could have found some half-decent espresso for less than $1,000?

Read the full story here.

The Week in Corporate Greenwashing

Ever bought one of those bamboo reusable coffee cups? They’re apparently popular in Germany. Sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? Renewable, no plastic, less waste.

Well, according to a German consumer group that tested 12 different brands, they could be full of chemicals like formaldehyde and melamine.

And they’re not really as green as they claim. Many assure buyers that they are biodegradable, but the report found differently. According to the story on German website DW.com, “None of the tested containers are really biodegradable. Warentest also criticizes producers who claim their product is recyclable, as the only form of recycling is burning it for fuel.”

That’s… not recycling.

Is coffee good for you?

It might not be for your child. A new study has found that drinking too much coffee during pregnancy could harm the baby’s liver and lead to problems later in life.

The study was done on rats, of course, so it’s not exactly conclusive, but it’s probably something to be aware of.

A man reads a newspaper while sitting on a park bench