Coffee News Roundup: Week Ending August 23rd

An espresso sits atop a newspaper, seen from above

Hello and welcome to another Coffee News Roundup, in which each week we gaze quizzically at coffee companies as they pull weird marketing stunts, release new and vaguely gross products, and unashamedly union-bust, and then go to brunch or whatever.

So who are we mad at this week?

Spot Coffee workers vote to form a union; campaign called 'groundbreaking' - via Buffalo News

Oh hey look the union-busting didn’t work this time!

Readers of previous editions of the CNR (as I’ve just decided to start calling it) will remember the story I wrote for Daily Coffee News about employees at SPoT Coffee in Buffalo discussing possible unionization and then getting fired for it. You know, this article here.

Well those employees are still fired, but now their former colleagues have voted overwhelmingly in favor of a union and plan to push for their reinstatement.

The vote will make the 90 SPoT employees among only a small group of baristas across the country who have successfully unionized, including workers at Gimme! Coffee in New York who formed a union in 2017.

Read the full story here.

James Hoffmann is Trying to Organize the World’s Largest Coffee Tasting - via Daily Coffee News

James Hoffmann, World Barista Champion, co-founder of Square Mile, author, and now Youtuber, is organizing a coffee tasting. But not just any coffee tasting—this one will include as many people as possible, even you if you’re interested.

Two hands skimming grounds off cupping cups

Why? Unclear. Possibly marketing, as Square Mile is selling tasting kits on their website for those who want to be involved. Probably, the main goal is education, as that seems to be Hoffmann’s jam of late.

If you want to get involved, all the info is on Square Mile’s website (£6 a pop), and the video wherein Hoffmann talks about his plan can be seen here.

Read the full story here.

Costa Coffee franchise workers 'not treated like humans' - via BBC News

I don’t even have the strength to write anything very in-depth about this. It’s just bad all over.

I’ve worked in these chain cafes before, and it’s hard work for very little money and very little if any dignity. Costa’s rote "We take any allegations of this nature very seriously” and “We will not tolerate illegal and unethical behaviour” platitudes at the end of the story just adds to the feeling of ennui.

Treat your employees properly, what is wrong with you.

Read the full story here.

Snuggle a Raccoon While You Sip Your Coffee at Ukraine’s Raccoon Cafe - via Mental Floss

That’s right, you too can drink coffee while an adorable tiny bandit climbs all over your head.

Also, the two raccoons are named Bart and Liza.

Read the full story here.

The week in corporate greenwashing

This isn’t exactly greenwashing, but it is unabashed corporate marketing rubbish that is just shamelessly begging for attention.

Cold brew in a mason jar

That’s right, Stōk Cold Brew, owned by the Canadian arm of multinational conglomerate Danone, is offering three people $30,000 to quit their jobs for a year and take what the company is calling a “Stōk-bbatical”. Which is an almost-self-consciously terrible name.

(Danone, for what it’s worth, has had its share of Nestlé-like baby formula controversies. Isn’t capitalism great?)

Anyway, the idea is that you get paid to take a sabbatical and spend a year figuring out what you want to do with your life, or something.

So what’s the downside? Well, as Daily Coffee News puts it:

The big catch is, it’s not really that personal at all. Apart from having a dream and having a valid passport (if required), the main qualifications for the Stōk-bbatical package are: a “love” for taking selfies and capturing photos for content; an enjoyment of “scrolling and posting on social media;” and an “impeccable use of the hashtag game.”

Seems… not worth it somehow?

Is coffee good for you?

If you suffer from Parkinson disease then maybe!

A new study published in something called BMC Neurology found that drinking coffee lessened tremors related to Parkinson, and while the effects were noted in all coffee drinkers in the study, “tremor scores were inversely related to the number of cups of coffee per day only in the male subgroup.”

The authors were careful to downplay the significance of the findings, hedging that “Further investigations are needed to reveal the exact causal relationship between coffee consumption and tremor in PD patients.”

A man sits on a bench reading a newspaper

What to read

My Neverending Search For The Perfect Cup Of Coffee by Rachel Cooke

There’s A Decaf-Only Micro-Roaster Boom Happening Right Now by Karina Hof

Until next week, drink good coffee. Try not to let the raccoon steal it.

Read more