Snow has finally come to southeast Michigan, with the first flurries descending as I left for work yesterday morning. After a disturbingly mild autumn—seriously, are 60 degree days in December normal? My existential-dread-o-meter is off the charts right now—it looks like winter has at last decided to make an appearance.
This is all to say that, with the weather turning and the temperature plummeting, coffee’s heat and comfort is even more appreciated. That first cup at 6am, that mid-morning Chemex, that post-lunch espresso pick-me-up, that tea-time V60—all taste extra good when it’s blustery and cold outside.
This week in the world of coffee, news is dominated by the big chains: Starbucks opened its newest—and biggest—location in Shanghai, and Costa was named ‘most ethical brand’ at the Allegra Coffee Symposium (whatever that means). Also this week, the Sicilian mob is brewing up trouble (get it?), the German city of Freiburg is tackling coffee cup waste with a novel idea, and the automotive industry is doing its best to have you never leave your car with a new way to order coffee. The future is here, and it’s lazy as hell.
'Coffee is the new racket': Sicilian mafia brews up trouble - via The Guardian
The daughter of a notorious Sicilian mob boss launched a coffee brand to capitalize on her father’s name after his death, selling pre-orders for espresso pods through an online store named after a man nicknamed The Beast because of his cruelty.
Another interesting story brought up in this article is how the Italian mafia has moved into the coffee industry, extorting money from cafes by forcing them to use their coffee at a ridiculous markup. It's a truly insane story.
Read more here.
Costa named 'most ethical brand' at the Allegra Coffee Symposium - via FDF World
Costa Coffee has been named Europe’s most ethical coffee brand at the Allegra Coffee Symposium in Warsaw, in part down to its focus on takeaway cup recycling, its ‘sustainable’ roastery in Basildon, Essex, and the Costa Foundation, which helps coffee-growing communities with education schemes.
Now, if only they could figure out how to make their coffee taste good...
Read more here.
Shanghai's Reserve Roastery: What's it like in world's biggest Starbucks? - via CNN Travel
Pretty overwhelming, I assume: at 30,000 square feet, this is a truly mammoth place. Spread over two enormous floors, CNN calls it “something of a caffeine-fueled Disneyland”, which sounds awful. On the upside, though, it apparently looks like a giant coffee bean from the sky.
It also includes an “augmented reality experience”, which sounds fancy but is really just a bunch of info about cold brew and a some badges which can be collected and shared on social media, if you like that sort of thing.
The most interesting part is a throwaway line at the end which mentions that a new Reserve Roastery is planned for Chicago which will be 45,000 square feet. So there’s that to look forward to.
Read more here.
City of Freiburg has a brilliant alternative to disposable coffee cups - via Treehugger
Leaving home without your trusty reusable to-go coffee mug is a deflating experience. "Of course I don’t want to use yet another disposable paper cup, but I also want coffee." The guilt and shame weigh heavily on the introspective and the environmentally-conscious alike.
Now, though, the city of Freiburg in Germany has come up with a novel idea—a plastic cup which you pay a 1 euro deposit for and which can be returned to over 100 different locations across the city. Like one of those rent-a-bike schemes, but more delicious.
Of course the debate over the environmental impact of disposableversus reusable cups is endless, but it’s nice to see a city be realistic about the realities of modern life and proactive in dealing with the waste. Read more here.
Order Coffee Directly From Your Car. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? - via Sprudge
Not content with letting you deposit money, get lunch and pick up groceries without stepping foot outside your car, America is now going to let you order coffee (as well as doughnuts and pancakes) from the comfort of your hurtling death cube.
Infotainment screens ('Infotainment' being possibly one of the worst portmanteaus ever) are now ubiquitous in new cars, and apparently their capacity for distraction has not overly troubled the regulatory bodies. (Do we even have those any more?)
Read more here.
Is coffee good or bad for you?
Hard to tell this week, but at the very least it’s apparently really good for your skin. Winter is here, so to help with the cold and dry air, just grind up some coffee and mash it into your face. Perfect.
We'll see whether the puzzle over whether coffee is good or bad for you is finally solved next week. (Hint: it won't be.)
Articles worth your time this week
Until next week, drink good coffee