Coffee News Roundup: Week Ending August 28th

A diner mug rests on a newspaper atop a wooden table.

A diner mug rests on a newspaper atop a wooden table.

It’s the end of another week, and the beginning of another Coffee News Roundup.

This morning, as I went to put the finishing touches to this post, I read the devastating news about Chadwick Boseman. What a huge loss for the world, and even more incredible that he made the movies he’s best known for—Black Panther, of course, but also Marshall, 21 Bridges, and Spike Lee’s new Da 5 Bloods—while undergoing treatment for colon cancer. The commitment and bravery he displayed is quite staggering.

I guess we should look at the coffee news now.

Newly Discovered Arabica Genetic Group Yemenia Enters The Global Market - via Daily Coffee News

A recently discovered, completely new Coffea arabica genetic group is finally coming to the market. Yemenia, roughly translated to “the Yemeni mother” is the result of years of work by Qima Coffee, a Yemeni coffee exporter, in collaboration with the coffee geneticist Christophe Montagnon.

Not only does Yemenia hold hope for improving the sorely lacking genetic diversity of arabica, apparently it also tastes pretty good: “In addition to the new genetic diversity this discovery will offer to the world,” Qima said in an announcement, “the cup quality of the new group was found to be exceptional.”

The first Yemenia lots will go up for auction at Cup of Excellence organizer Alliance for Coffee Excellence’s fancy-sounding Private Collection event, which focuses solely on Yemeni coffee.

The hunt for Yemenia took Montagnon and Qimi several years and involved genetic fingerprinting of 137 different samples over 25,000 kilometers.

According to Daily Coffee News, “Qima Coffee believes it is the most significant finding in arabica coffee since the centuries-old discoveries of Typica/Bourbon and the SLs, the major arabica groups that have given birth to all the world’s other arabica varieties and cultivars.”

Read the full story here.

A Cup Of Coffee At This Denver Shop Could Cost You Up To $9. But It's Helping Their Employees Earn A Living Wage - via CNN

That headline sucks. Here’s a better one, from a Denver ABC affiliate: “Denver Coffee Shop Has Started Paying Employees $50k A Year In Order To Give Them A Living Wage.

A barista pours latte art into a cup, seen from above. Via Unsplash.

A barista pours latte art into a cup, seen from above. Via Unsplash.

Amethyst Coffee’s new pricing system, put in place in May in order to pay their employees properly, features batch brew and espresso at $4.75, and a latte at $6.75. A cortado is $5.50. Those are not unreasonable prices for coffee (especially in a big city).

Oh and the part that CNN doesn’t mention in that slightly misleading headline? No tips.

Those are actually reasonable prices for coffee, when you consider the amount of work that goes into growing, processing, roasting, and brewing the stuff.

Although they announced the move on their Instagram back in May (slightly strange that this hasn’t made the news before now), Amethyst has been updating commenters on how the changes were being received. “So far the feedback has been incredible and super supportive!” they write. “It's still a bit hard to fully know because we are still doing service in the middle of a pandemic 🤷‍♀️ but it has opened the doors for lots of conversation which has been amazing.”

One Amethyst employee told the Denver Channel that, “Working for Amethyst has changed my life and I have worked in hospitality half my life now, and this is the most stable I have ever been.”

This whole thing seems like a no-brainer. Pay people more, they’re happier and more secure, they work harder, they give better service, your customers are happier. The price increase (that the company says is roughly 20-30% once tipping is accounted for) is really not that much.

You pay $15 for a cocktail or a glass of nice wine—should coffee be so different?

Read the full story here.

More Headlines

Spyhouse Coffee Workers Are About To Vote On Forming A Union

$2.6 Million FEMA Aid To Support Coffee Production In Puerto Rico

Primavera Coffee Launches Fund For Guatemalan Farmers Affected By COVID

Coffee cherries ripening on the branch

Coffee cherries ripening on the branch

The Week in Corporate Coffeewashing

In an extremely weird story that my brain doesn’t want to understand, a new coffee waste recycling project in South Korea is being run by [checks notes] Hyundai Steel?

The steel giant and part of the Hyundai Motor Group is aiming to collect and recycle 360 tons of coffee grounds this year as part of its Coffee Waste Resource Recovery Project.

But. Why? Can you add coffee to steel? Is that a thing?

Also, “it is assumed that the country is generating 150,000 tons of coffee grounds every year, which are either put in landfills or incinerated.”

Way to put a 0.24% dent in that number, Hyundai Steel.

Is Coffee Good For You?

Not if you’re pregnant, apparently.

A new review analyzing more than 1,200 studies has found “no safe level for caffeine consumption during pregnancy” according to the Guardian.

The authors instead found “persuasive confirmation of increased risk … for at least five major negative pregnancy outcomes: miscarriage, stillbirth, lower birth weight and/or small for gestational age, childhood acute leukaemia, and childhood overweight and obesity.”

The coffee industry, on the other hand, says pfffffft. Well, its trade groups anyway. The British Coffee Association responded to the research by saying that, “This new study is an observational study, so importantly does not show any direct cause-and-effect link and also is subject to confounding factors such as cigarette smoking and wider dietary issues, which may limit its ability to draw clear conclusions.”

Which is fair. But, of course, coffee trade groups would say that.

The New York Times quotes the study’s author, Professor Jack E. James of Reykjavik University in Iceland, as saying, “Even if the evidence were merely suggestive, and in reality it is much stronger than that, the case for recommending caffeine be avoided during pregnancy is thoroughly compelling.”

So there you have it. Clear as, well, a cup of coffee.

What I’m Drinking This Week

Continuing on from last week, I’m still working through the supply that Mirror Coffee Roasters so kindly sent to me. Right now it’s the turn of the Guatemala Huehuentenango Luz Audeli Villatoro. In my Instagram post on the subject I called it “balanced, subtly bright, and caramely” which is a word I’m going to continue pretending is real.

A person sits on the floor reading a book. via Unsplash

A person sits on the floor reading a book. via Unsplash

What to Read

A Dirge For Helbach’s Coffee by Zac Cadwalader

The Starbucks Traceability Tool Is Not A Transparency Report by Sprudge (worth a read in regards to last week’s Roundup)

David Lynch’s Coffee And Other Movie Brews by Jean Bentley

Until next week, drink good coffee and wear your mask.

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