Coffee News Roundup: Week Ending December 6th

An espresso sits on a wooden table next to a pastry and a newspaper

Hello and welcome to the end of yet another week, and somehow we’re already into December. Not sure how that happened.

Well there’s no going back now, so we might as well take a look at this week’s coffee news.

Synesso Acquired By The Middleby Corporation - via Sprudge

First things first: The Middleby Corporation sounds like an evil conglomerate in a gritty dystopian sci-fi movie. Possibly run by Lance Henriksen or Christopher Plummer, and probably involved in harvesting organs from the poor to help wealthy members of the fascistic elite live forever. Or something.

The point is, Synesso has followed fellow espresso machine manufacturer Slayer in selling up to a bigger company, two years after Slayer was purchased by Gruppo Cimbali.

Middleby manufactures, among other things, commercial foodservice machines and home kitchen appliances and owns more than 75 brands, according to a Daily Coffee News piece on the acquisition.

A press release by Middleby quotes CEO Tim Fitzgerald, who says, “Synesso is a highly innovative brand and further expands our coffee and beverage platform. Middleby is well-positioned within the beverage category offering some of the most advanced equipment in today’s fast-growing coffee market.”

This latest buyout expands the number of previously independent coffee companies that have taken the sweet, sweet lucre of corporate capital, and homogenizes the industry still further. Can’t wait for AeroPress to sell out to the Weyland-Yutani Corp.

Read the full story here.

SCA Estimates Total Value of US Coffee Market Up to $87-88 Billion - via Daily Coffee News

Oh hey speaking of homogeneity, this is a timely and deflating report from the Specialty Coffee Association. Apparently the total value of the US coffee market rose 9% in 2018, to $87-88 billion.

But wait. $26.3 billion of the total market was classed as retail coffeehouses, of which Starbucks made up $11.7 billion. That’s… a big market share.

And it gets better. The “Away From Home” segment (so, takeaway) accounted for $73.9 billion of the total—just picture the number of disposable cups that involves.

And frighteningly, the “Whole Bean” sliver of the “At Home” segment (so, fancy coffee you buy to grind and brew at home) made up just 1.25% of the total, or roughly $1 billion. And of that, Starbucks still accounted for half.

“Pods” was worth $5.4 billion! Pods!

No wonder all these independent companies are selling up.

Read the full story here.

Italians Celebrate Their Coffee and Want the World to Do So, Too - via New York Times

Italy is very proud of its coffee. Did you know that?

A barista levels ground coffee in a portafilter before making an espresso

Well you definitely will if they get their way, because Italy is lobbying to get its espresso added to the UNESCO list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (that’s a real thing).

Turkish coffee is already on the list, and Italy wants UNESCO to add its espresso because “It’s the only coffee in the world that has a cream,” according to Giorgio Caballini di Sassoferrato who is leading the effort.

It is weird that the NYT translates crema to “cream” and just leaves it right there.

“Other products don’t have cream,” Mr. Caballini di Sassoferrato said.

That’s not nothing. Espresso cream, as per the regulations drafted by the consortium, “must be uniform and persistent for at least 120 seconds from the time the coffee has been dispensed without stirring,” according to a news release. The cream, according to the regulations, must also be “consistent, a dark hazel color, with light streaks.”

Nespresso pods don’t count. Just thought that needed saying. “We have nothing against capsules,” Caballini di Sassoferrato lied.

Read the full story here.

Ford is turning McDonald's coffee waste into headlights - via CNN

This story could have gone into the Week in Corporate Greenwashing section further down, but I felt like it (and the next story) deserve to be highlighted.

It’s just flabbergasting to me that CNN would publish this absolutely blatant, PR-spoon-fed twaddle (maybe it shouldn’t be).

Basically, Ford announced that it would be using coffee chaff in the plastic housing around the headlights on some of its cars. Why? Something something lighter something sustainable something. It’s sourcing this chaff from McDonald’s, because McDonald’s sells coffee, see.

Screenshot of news reports about Ford and McDonald’s

This tiny little change in how they make a tiny little part of an enormously polluting and unsustainable conveyance got Ford (and McDonald’s for some reason) just a ton of press coverage

Possibly my favorite line in the CNN piece is this one: “It [Ford]'s asked McDonald's, which doesn't roast its own coffee, to connect it with suppliers.”

Why are you asking McDonald’s to help if they don’t roast their own coffee. WHAT IS THE POINT.

Oh wait, because it’s a marketing opportunity. Even Sprudge, who are usually reliable in their scorn for such puff pieces, published a relatively credulous article on the subject.

Now, it goes without saying that reusing waste from the coffee supply chain is obviously a good idea.

But this is two absolutely enormous companies crowing about how they’re “meeting their sustainable goals” by putting a tiny bit of chaff in a few headlights.

Oh, sorry, that would be “into the plastic headlamp housing used in some cars”.

Read the full story here.

Air New Zealand is Piloting Edible Coffee Cups from Twiice - via Daily Coffee News

Cool. Cool. I’m sure this blatantly stupid greenwashing rubbish won’t get tons of coverage.

Screenshot of news reports about Air New Zealand’s biscotti cups

Oh wait.

That’s right, you can now eat your coffee cup on board Air New Zealand. The cup is made from biscotti, so it’s delicious and helps to save the world.

Don’t worry that the company ranks as one of its country’s biggest polluters, or that its carbon footprint keeps growing even though it now has biscotti coffee cups.

Air New Zealand likes to see itself as a “green” airline, and offers carbon offsetting, although its passengers actually pay for it. Also, carbon offsetting doesn’t work.

Also also, drinking airplane coffee is a bad idea.

Read the full story here.

The week in Corporate Greenwashing

The previous two articles are pretty damning, I would say.

Is coffee good for you?

Not if you’re drinking Starbucks’ Christmas lineup it’s not. Apparently some of their holiday specials contain upwards of 23 teaspoons of sugar.

Wait, you mean to tell me that the pint glass-sized caramel mocha cinnamon fudge whatsit with whipped cream and cookie bits isn’t healthy?

A man sits on a park bench reading a newspaper

What to read

Forget The Tech Bubble. Craft Coffee Is The Next Boom Industry by Elizabeth Segran (this article has some problems, but it’s still worth reading)

Panther Coffee Brings A Haitian Farm Co-Op's Beans To Miami After A Decade Of Work by Zachary Fagenson

Now Roasting In Mesa, Arizona: Pair Cupworks by Me!

Until next week, drink good coffee. Out of a biscotti cup.