Coffee News Roundup: Week Ending August 9th

A cup of black coffee sits on a newspaper

Hello and welcome to another edition of the Coffee News Roundup, this week brought to you by that delicious mix of excitement, trepidation, and low-grade dread that heralds the start of another Premier League season.

There is very, very little coffee news this week, so let’s just dive in.

And don’t forget to check out the What To Read section at the end for three—yes, three—new articles written by yours truly for Daily Coffee News (they’re all essentially the same, just about different new coffee shops, but still).

The Thai coffee growers who used to farm opium, cultivating beans where poppies once bloomed - via South China Morning Post

Let’s start with an objectively good story from Thailand, where northern hill tribes that once farmed opium have switched to coffee, with some even starting their own roasting businesses.

Coffee cherries ripening on a branch

Poppy growing has been a way of life in these areas for generations, with the derivatives used medicinally and recreationally in the community.

Now though, due to a government-led campaign to counter the opium trade and incentives to switch crops, more and more farmers are growing coffee instead.

“We grow coffee where we grew opium,” one farmer, Tua Jangaroon, told South China Morning Post. “We always planted poppies in good soil, which is now perfect for coffee trees.”

Tua and his wife Mhee have even started roasting and packaging the coffee they grow, giving them another source of income. Another local, Ayu “Lee” Chuepa, has had his coffee selected for the World Cup Tasters Championship and runs three cafes in the city of Chiang Mai.

Like many producing countries, the majority of the coffee consumed in Thailand is imported, but with demand increasing—the average intake is up to 300 cups per person per year in the country—focus on local, high quality options is sure to grow.

Read the full story here.

Open City Employee Says She Was Fired for Confronting a Customer About a Trump 2020 Pin - via Washington City Paper

Oooookay.

So last time I wrote about something vaguely political, I got some… let’s just say feedback.

Apparently coffee and politics don’t mix, even though coffee is inherently political—the history of colonialism and slavery, the modern relationship between producing and consuming countries, the migrant crisis, and the nascent labor movement in the USA, to name just a few examples.

With that in mind, I encourage you to read the (very well-reported) story linked below and take what you will from it. I will just say that there is an inherent power imbalance between baristas—who, like all service industry workers, are expected to be nice, no matter what—and customers, and more non-baristas should be conscious of it.

Read the full story here.

'Coffee-Pooling': A New Way To Travel From Worcester To Montpelier (And Back) - via Vermont Public Radio

On a lighter note, some bloke in Vermont decided to build a system of hitch-hiking-car-sharing based around coffee shops, because why not.

Well, system might be too strong a word, because currently there are just two locations, in Montpelier and Worcester. But Phoenix Mitchell has grand plans to expand to other coffee shops in other towns.

Mitchell received grants from local transportation authorities to construct the ceder hitching posts, which have flags attached that the prospective coffee pooler raises to signal their need for a ride.

Then, hopefully, a passing car will take pity and drive them to the other post, and so on. It’s basically hitch-hiking, but coffee-themed.

Cafes are important to the scheme, Mitchell says. "Coffee-pooling relies upon the idea that we're connecting with each other through this café culture, which is a fun way to, like, bring people together and to share rides," he told Vermont Public Radio.

Read the full story here.

The week in corporate greenwashing

Say you’re a vegan. You avoid dairy and meat like a pro, choosing the plant-based alternative every time you go out. Coffee shops are getting better at offering alternative milks, and even Burger King is beginning to sell a vegan Whopper.

A coffee cup with “Nescafe” emblazoned on it sits next to a sink.

And everyone knows a vegan diet is better for the environment. In fact, it’s often touted as one of the best things an individual can do to lessen their carbon footprint and help stave off the climate crisis, short of moving to a cave or participating in a groundswell revolution that overthrows the current capitalist hegemony.

So what of the vegans who, for whatever reason, still crave the immediate disappointment and chemical tang of instant lattes? What are all five of them to do?

Never fear, because everyone’s favorite historically iffy Swiss multinational food company is here to quench your dairy-free thirst and help save the world.

That’s right, it’s a line of what Global Coffee Report calls “non-dairy soluble coffee lattes”, which just sound delicious.

“Our new premium Nescafé Gold frothy coffees bring the plant-based, non-dairy trend out of the coffee shop and into the home,” says Nestlé’s head of Nescafé business in the UK & Ireland.

Frothy!

Is coffee good for you?

There’s good and bad this week. On the one hand, drinking too much coffee can increase the chances of developing a migraine in those susceptible.

According to a new study by researchers at Harvard, having a third cup of coffee when you usually drink just one or two can trigger a migraine that day, although the report in NBC News doesn’t really explain why. Something something caffeine, probably.

On the other hand, drinking coffee (or tea for those in the UK) right before bed doesn’t appear to affect sleep quality. In news that will surprise absolutely nobody, alcohol and nicotine did have an effect.

Insider quotes lead researcher Dr. Christine Spadola as saying, "A night with use of nicotine and/or alcohol within four hours of bedtime demonstrated worse sleep continuity than a night without.

"We did not observe an association between ingestion of caffeine within four hours of bed with any of the sleep parameters."

So you should probably forego your nightly whisky and cigarette, but at least you can continue your midnight espresso routine.

A man sitting on a park bench reading a newspaper
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