COFFEE NEWS ROUNDUP: WEEK ENDING MARCH 30TH

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Good Friday (or just regular Friday if you prefer) is upon us, which means it's time for my standard holiday ritual of Trying To Find Out Where To Buy Some Weird Non-American Food, in this case hot cross buns. It's a great game, and can be played all year round, with Burns Night (haggis) and Christmas (stollen) being just two other examples. 

Anyway, the exhilarating world of coffee news doesn't slow down even for a holiday, and today saw a court ruling in California forcing coffee companies to display cancer warnings. Yikes.

Coffee Industry Burned by California Court’s Ruling to Require Cancer Warnings - via Daily Coffee News

Note: I could have chosen any number of different publications to link to for this story (pretty much everyone reported on it, including the New York Times and the Guardian), but I chose Daily Coffee News mostly because its headline doesn't mention Starbucks and cracks a very mild pun, which is always appreciated.

In February we reported on this lawsuit, which if successful (spoiler: it was) would require all coffee shops in California to carry signs warning customers of the potentially harmful chemical acrylamide that occurs naturally in tiny amounts in the coffee roasting process (it's also in roasted potatoes, for the record, and toast). 

We also linked to this article from the American Council On Science And Health that looks at the individuals and organizations behind the lawsuit and, surprised gasp, there are a lot of lawyers involved and not a lot of scientists. 

The coffee industry, unsurprisingly, isn't taking the decision too well. “Coffee has been shown, over and over again, to be a healthy beverage,” National Coffee Association President and CEO Bill Murray (not that one) said. The Specialty Coffee Association, meanwhile, said, “This decision will have a negative effect on consumers who will be confused by cancer labels on a beverage that is known to be part of a healthy diet and on small coffee businesses who will need to navigate the legal complexities of this decision."

The whole thing is a bit ridiculous. Coffee is delicious, and has been shown time and again to be beneficial to overall health. As the National Coffee Association wrote in their statement, “Cancer warning labels on coffee would be misleading. The US government’s own Dietary Guidelines state that coffee can be part of a healthy lifestyle. The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that coffee does not cause cancer. Study after study has provided evidence of the health benefits of drinking coffee, including longevity — coffee drinkers live longer.”

Read more here

The Reason Why Detective Pikachu Loves Coffee - via Kotaku

OK this is more like it.

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Enough with the serious lawsuits and courtroom talk, let's get to the really important coffee news of the week: a video game character's love for, and endearingly snooty relationship with, our beverage of choice. 

Detective Pikachu, a Pokémon spin-off for the Nintendo 3DS, concerns a crime-solving Pikachu who happens to enjoy a cup of coffee (sometimes more than solving crimes, apparently). The creators say that they wanted to show a more grown up Pikachu, but didn't want him smoking a pipe (for obvious reasons). Hence: coffee.

And boy does he like it—some scenes have him talking about the acidity of the coffee he's drinking, and players have noted that he enjoys hanging out in cafes more than solving crimes, which, to be fair, you can't blame him for.

Read more here.

Stumptown Funds Employees’ Passion Projects - via Barista Magazine

Do you have a creative project you'd love to start but can't find funding? Well, maybe you should work at Stumptown. The Portland, Oregon-based coffee company has awarded the first round of its Stumptown Passion Project grants to eight winners from across the company, with projects to include a children's book, a Dungeons And Dragons podcast and a short horror film anthology.

A lot of the time, people working in the coffee industry don't have the funds (or the time) to concentrate on more creative outside pursuits. Therefore, this is a good example of the kind of employee perk that can go a long way to increasing worker satisfaction and long term retention, and for that Stumptown should be applauded. 

Read more here.

Customers learn to sign coffee orders to help deaf baristas' first shot at a job - via ABC News Australia

Here's another excellent story about an excellent project: a cafe in Australia has made a point of hiring deaf baristas, and is now encouraging customers to learn sign language in order to better communicate their orders. The owner, Elsa Lim, who is a part time disability support worker, has taken on six hearing impaired employees, and is also learning sign language herself. 

The story features videos of three of the staff signing various drink orders, which is worth a watch, and there's a line about how the baristas use vibration rather than sound to work on the espresso machine which is rather fascinating.

Read more here.

Houston-area coffee shop broken into, owner offers thief a job instead of legal charges - via Chron

In another feelgood story, the owner of a cafe in Houston wrote a Facebook post after his shop was broken into, but instead of complaining or ranting he offered the perpetrator a job. The post went viral, as such things are wont to do, although perhaps unsurprisingly the thief in question has yet to respond. 

Johnny Sims, the owner of Art of Coffee, made the offer after cameras caught a man making off with a cash drawer containing around $1000. In the post he wrote, "You obviously need money, so instead of stealing from hard working people, let's make you one of us that work for things we have."

Read more here.

Is coffee good for you?

Judging by the ruling in the California lawsuit up there, you'd think not. But the positive news regarding coffee continues to come in, this week featuring a study which found that three cups of coffee a day can "clear out your arteries" and could also help ward off heart disease. 

"Clear out your arteries"? Obviously, it's not quite that simple (or gross)—the study found that those who drank larger amounts of coffee had a lower Coronary Artery Calcium reading, which means they had less calcium deposits in their arteries which in turn means better blood flow. Which is good. 

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