Last week saw Seattle host the Specialty Coffee Expo 2018, an industry conference designed to gather the great and good in the world of coffee in one place to discuss the future of coffee (and drink just a lot of coffee).
There was a symposium where cutting edge coffee ideas were presented; an industry showcase where the newest espresso machines were on show; and coffee competitions. Lots of coffee competitions. See below for more.
Here Are Your 2018 United States Coffee Champions - via Daily Coffee News
At Expo, the best of the nation's baristas, roasters and coffee tasters went head-to-head to determine who will represent the United States at the various world championships. That's right, there are world championships for coffee preparation and analysis.
This is all taken very seriously— in fact, the World AeroPress Championship was launched at least in part to poke fun at these more official competitions—but at the same time can launch previously unknown baristas into the limelight. (And yes, the coffee industry has a limelight.)
Previous winners of the World Barista Championship, for example, have included James Hoffmann (co-founder of London's Square Mile Coffee), Tim Wendelboe (founder of Tim Wendelboe Coffee in Oslo), and Sasa Sestic (founder of Canberra's Ona Coffee).
Just like in any other field, competing in these tournaments is highly pressured and takes months of practice and intense skill, so hearty congratulations to all the winners.
Read more here.
LEAD Scholarship Promotes Diversity in Leadership - via Barista Magazine
During the Re:Co Symposium at this year's Expo, the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) announced the launch of a new scholarship, the Leadership Equity and Diversity (LEAD) program, with the goal of, according to the SCA "increasing diversity of leadership within the global coffee community by enabling access to professional development resources to people from underrepresented or marginalized communities."
The scholarship includes two years of professional advancement support, as well as event participation funding and access to a network of industry mentors.
Read more here.
Coffee chain Boston Tea Party 'first' to ban disposable cups - via BBC
After Waitrose announced it was planning to do away with disposable coffee cups in its stores, and Costa Coffee said it planned to increase its recycling of one-use cups, the English coffee chain Boston Tea Party has unveiled plans to ban all disposable cups in each of its 21 locations, starting June 1st.
After only 2.8% of people took advantage of the chain's 25p discount for bringing in a reusable cup, the company decided to just go ahead and get rid of all their monstrously wasteful paper cups. Customers will be able to bring their own cup in (the preferred option, obviously), buy one in-store, or pay a deposit and "rent" a cup from the cafe which can be returned at any of their locations.
Or, perhaps, you could just ask the barista to pour the coffee directly into your mouth.
Read more here.
China Macadamia Appetite Makes Kenya Coffee Farmers Go Nuts - via Bloomberg
Aside from the pun-tastic headline, this is an interesting look at how global food trends and agricultural practices can sometimes magically converge, although whether this is for good or ill remains to be seen.
In many parts of the world, coffee farmers grow supplemental crops that act as shade for their coffee trees but also can be used to offset a potential bad coffee harvest with another income stream. Bananas and plantains are common shade crops in coffee producing countries.
In Kenya, it seems, macadamia nuts are the crop of choice. But now, with demand for the delicious nut growing in China, farmers are seeing an opportunity. As Bloomberg puts it, "Kenyan farmers used to grow macadamia trees to shade their coffee bushes. Now they’re making so much from production of the nuts that they’re abandoning the beans."
Read more here.
Costa Coffee to spin off from Whitbread - via The Guardian
In a bid to compete globally with Starbucks, the second biggest coffee chain in the world, Britain's own Costa Coffee, is in the process of being separated from its parent company, Whitbread.
With UK sales slowing, the company is hedging its bets on global growth, and to this end is aiming to jnesfhkdsfnvklzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
I'm sorry, I fell asleep on my keyboard.
Anyway, slow sales at Starbucks have also pushed its stock price down, says Bloomberg, so hopefully this is a sign of a burgeoning specialty coffee sector finally being able to compete with the big chains—although the fact that huge investment companies keep buying up the third wave's shining lights isn't exactly heartening for small coffee shop owners.
Read more here.
Is coffee good for you?
Well, it can certainly help you get on better with your colleagues. A study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology and reported on by PsyPost found that drinking coffee makes people more willing to participate positively with co-workers.
As the lead researcher said, "For these people [those who drink coffee regularly], it looks like coffee does make them feel more alert, focuses their thinking on the topic or task at hand, and has them participate more in group tasks. So, if you are a coffee drinker, it looks like coffee helps you do better in group tasks."
How about mushroom coffee? It's a new "superfood", apparently, and is increasingly popular among the kind of people who use the term "superfood" unironically.
The theory is that the caffeine in the coffee makes you alert and focused, while the mushrooms provide something something health benefits.
As the author of the quite amusing article on the subject writes, "I suspect it will taste like Nescafé mixed with mushroom soup. And – spoiler alert – it does."
What to read
Until next week, drink good coffee (maybe not with mushrooms in it)
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