Coffee News Roundup: Week Ending February 14th

An espresso cup with latte art sits atop a newspaper on a table

Today is February 14th, and a glance at my Instagram feed would seem to tell us that it’s Valentine’s Day. Lots of hearts-in-latte-art photos (guilty as charged) and promo codes like LOVE1.

Possibly my least favorite part of running social media for a coffee company was the holiday posts—they always seemed so disingenuous. Everyone’s doing it, but does anyone care? What if your audience isn’t a fan of Valentine’s Day (or Columbus Day, or Thanksgiving, or really any of them)? And if everyone’s doing it there’s a sort of shrugging acceptance that’s it’s “just the way it’s done” and then nothing changes.

But can you afford to not take part? Does your audience expect it? I suppose the best way to do it is to subtly allude to the holiday without being predictable or exclusionary, but that’s hard. Much easier to post a photo of hearts-in-latte-art and call it a day.

Does any of this matter? Probably not, I was just thinking about it. I’m glad coffee social media isn’t my day job anymore. I just do it for… fun… now?

Ecuador Explores New Specialty Markets with ‘Deforestation-Free Coffee’ - via Daily Coffee News

You wouldn’t think it was necessary, but it turns out that marketing is an important part of coffee farming. Coffee producing countries need to find buyers for their product, and the smaller countries are at a disadvantage on price as well as exposure and, ugh, brand recognition.

Brazil is an enormous country, has a long history of coffee production, and because of the type of coffee farming generally practiced can offer cheaper prices to buyers.

Coffee cherries ripening on the branch, with the sun shining through the leaves

Ecuador, on the other hand, is a far lesser known producing country. Its production has fallen from a high of over 2 million 60kg bags in the early 1990s to fewer than 500,000 bags in recent years. High costs coupled with the incessantly low price of coffee has hurt farmers and exporters alike.

Now, though, Ecuador is trying to fight back with a new marketing scheme: deforestation-free coffee. It’s a little hard to get a clear explanation from the article, but the gist of it is that coffee growers will conserve and reforest their land, providing important habitats for wildlife while also protecting their coffee trees, and can then market their coffee as such to buyers interested in sustainability.

It’s interesting to note that the project hasn’t had to rely on the munificence of a private company. This is an almost fully public venture—a consultancy has been hired to investigate the viability of the project, but otherwise government agencies and international grants are the sources of funding.

It makes a change from the usual “Behemoth Coffee Inc. has thrown $50,000 at an NGO to blah blah boost its green credentials blah blah greenwashing” that is the usual basis of these stories (and honestly what I expected when I started reading).

“Ecuador is committed to [showing] that coffee farming and healthy forests can coexist in a large scale,” said Marco Guilcapi, coffee and cocoa specialist from the PROAmazonía project. “We have worked on a joint construction, involving all the actors in the chain. We are ready to present successful experiences. Exploring how markets might react to sustainable and deforestation-free coffee will give us fresh insight into how to help our farmers and our forests at once.”

Read the full story here.

More Local Coffee Options Are Headed To An Airport Near You - via Sprudge

Airline coffee, we can all agree, is bad. There are countless stories of why you shouldn’t drink coffee on a plane (especially if you’re the pilot).

But what about airport coffee?

A person at the airport checks their phone while sitting on a chair with a glass window behind.

Until recently your choices have been Starbucks, McDonald’s, or a weird kiosk that never seems to have a queue even though there are thousands of people streaming past every minute.

Lately, however, some specialty coffee companies have expanded to their local carbon emission hub. Cartel Coffee Lab, Metropolis, Stumptown, and many others across the country (and beyond) mean that you can now get a good-ish cup of coffee before you take off.

Now, the winds of change that have blown through the rest of the coffee industry—that is, consumers are becoming more interested in words like local and quality—is coming to the airport in a big way. HMSHost, a global food service company handling airports, has announced that it is moving away from Starbucks in favor of smaller, more local companies.

Says HMSHost President & CEO Steve Johnson: “We have had great success in bringing regional chefs and popular city dining favorites to airports and we’re ready to do the same with the coffee category. While we have, and will continue, a long partnership with Starbucks, we’re continuing to innovate in this space and focus on serving consumer and airport partner needs.”

As Sprudge notes, the announcement doesn’t say whether there will be fewer Starbucks or just more new coffee shops, but there will definitely be new faces at your local airport.

Read the full story here.

Should You Tip for Drip Coffee? Baristas Weigh In - via Food & Wine



What’s wrong with people.

Until baristas are paid a proper, liveable wage across the board, and their labor is no longer exploited, then yes tip on drip coffee. Tip on a croissant.

Read the full story here.

The week in corporate greenwashing

Speaking of airports, Glasgow Airport is introducing single-use cup recycling stations, so that’s… something.

Another article posits the question: Are Biodegradable K-Cups The Solution To The Coffee Landfill Crisis?

The answer, according to the author, is yes. The answer, according to me, is no.

Do you really need a coffee pod machine to make your morning cup?

There are plenty of other ways to make coffee that don’t involve huge amounts of extra waste being generated. Use a French press, or a Mr Coffee with a reusable filter.

As a caveat, I will say that coffee pod machines may be useful for people with disabilities or those who might otherwise struggle with a manual coffee maker. Pod machines are simple, which is fine.

But, much like single-use cups, coffee pod machines should be the exception, not the rule. They should be a useful tool for people who need them, not an excuse for laziness.

Alright, enough with the holier-than-thou hectoring. Let’s move on to bones!

Is coffee good for you?

It might be good for your bones, which honestly I’m happy about but also a bit creeped out by. I don’t want to think about my bones, thank you very much.

A human skeleton

But unfortunately I must, because new research has found a positive correlation between coffee drinking and bone health. The study, from Hong Kong and publicized by the Cleveland Clinic, found specific metabolites in coffee “including three in particular that have been associated with an increase in bone density and a decreased risk of fracture” according to Daily Coffee News.

There’s also this wonderfully hedgy quote from Chad Deal, M.D. of the Cleveland Clinic (who wasn’t involved in the study): “For all those folks who drink lots of coffee and are concerned about the health effects of coffee, this is good news. It appears to show that coffee is, in general, probably good for bone health.”

Appears. Probably. Great work, Chad.

It should be cautioned that coffee has had a bad rep for bone health in the past, because as DCN puts it “caffeine is known to naturally increase the excretion of calcium through urine,” which doesn’t sound great.

But the article also quotes world-renowned bone expert (yikes) Dr. Robert Heaney who wrote back in 2002 that “there is no evidence that caffeine has any harmful effect on bone status or on the calcium economy in individuals who ingest the currently recommended daily allowances of calcium.”

So there you go. Coffee and bones.

Can I go back to not thinking about my bones now, please?

A person sits on a park bench reading a newspaper

What to read

Op Ed: Be Less Awful At The Coffee Counter Please by Zac Cadwalader

Vivic Adds A Bit of Vim And Vigor To The Canned Cold Brew Aisle by me!

Is Coffee Good For You? by Dawn MacKeen

Until next week, drink good coffee. It’s (probably) good for your bones! Ugh, that’s me thinking about bones again. Great.

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