An espresso cup sits on a table next to a newspaper

It looks like the polar vortex, which caused temperatures around here to plummet to -16 (I realize that’s nothing compared with Illinois and Minnesota, but it’s still cold) is letting up. A 60+ degree swing is forecast for this weekend, taking it all the way to 45 degrees—but climate change isn’t real, right?

As we in the frigid north deal with epic cold and climate mood swings, the southern hemisphere is on fire. Australia keeps breaking heat records, and Brazil. Oh Brazil.

In Brazil Heatwave, Coffee is Literally Burning on the Trees - via Bloomberg

There was a lot of talk last year about the coming Brazilian robusta harvest being a bumper one, but that may not be the case anymore. Robusta is known for being hardier than its Arabica brethren, but even it can’t cope with temperatures which are apparently 14 degrees Fahrenheit above average in the main producing states of Bahia and Espirito Santo.

Two hands holding freshly-picked coffee cherries

Brazilian robusta farms are enormous, and planted in full sun for faster growth and ease of picking. This can backfire when there’s not enough rain, as was the case in 2016 when a drought imperiled the Brazilian harvest, or when it gets too hot as there’s no respite from the scorching sun.

The upside to all this might be a rise in the coffee C price, as one of the reasons for its drop was the glut of robusta coffee coming out of Brazil.

However, in the long term, high temperatures and sporadic rain patterns don’t bode well for consistent coffee harvests, in Brazil or anywhere else.

Read the full story here.

Italy seizes 644K of cocaine hidden in Honduran coffee - via The Washington Post

Insert joke about perking up here.

Read the full story here.

The La Marzocco KB90: Better Living Through Ergonomics - via Sprudge

The news that La Marzocco has released a new espresso machine designed specifically for ergonomics is genuinely welcome, and frankly it’s kind of amazing that it hasn’t happened sooner.

Baristas’ bodies are put under a lot of strain, from constant repetitive movement and unnatural motions. Barista Wrist is a real, documented problem—I once worked with someone who wore wrist braces on both arms because otherwise they couldn’t do their job.

A barista smooths ground coffee in a portafilter with his finger.

The main cause of Barista Wrist comes from locking the portafilter (the thing that holds the ground coffee) into the grouphead (the thing on the espresso machine that holds the portafilter). It’s an incredibly unnatural, twisty-pushy motion, and baristas do it hundreds of times a day.

It’s taken La Marzocco twenty-odd years to perfect the new technology, but now all the barista need do is push the portafilter into the grouphead, with (according to Sprudge) a satisfying “ka-chunk” noise. This should cut down on the Barista Wrist problem, while speeding up service.

The machine also features a new double-walled steam wand to reduce inadvertent scalding (and the accompanying, cafe mood-disrupting, yelp), as well as other improvements to efficiency and design.

The future is here, and it goes “ka-chunk”.

Read the full story here.

This Coffee Company Wants to Roast Beans in Space - via Food & Wine

A rocket flying through space

Yeah but why though.

Oh wait, because of gravity. Apparently gravity is the bane of coffee roasting (and here I thought it was unloading 50kg bags from a truck in sub zero temperatures).

A couple of weirdos want to shoot coffee into space, allow the beans to float about unimpeded by things like “gravity” and “common sense”, and use the heat of re-entry to roast the beans.

OK, this is a hoax, right? There’s no way this is real. The company’s name is Space Roasters, for crying out loud

Not buying it, chaps, sorry.

Read the full story here.

Starbucks Has Talking Points On How To Avoid Talking About Howard Schultz - via Sprudge

Did you hear that Howard Schultz is running for president? As an independent? On a platform of deficit reduction and bland billionaire stylings and literally nothing else?

Well, he is, and Twitter is taking it about as well as can be expected.

And, due to the fact that people are generally awful, Starbucks has had to give its baristas suggestions on how to avoid talking about their ex-CEO, or diffuse any political talk whatsoever. Because what a harried Starbucks barista needs is to be verbally besieged by a customer desperate to tell them how bad they think Schultz is, and also ask for extra whipped cream on their venti soy mocha.

Oh, and also—Schultz is incredibly, deeply unpopular on both the left and the right, and even with independents. So there’s that.

Read the full story here.

Is coffee good for you?

The real question is, are coffee products marketed as healthy actually good for you?

Men’s Health decided to find out, exploring MCT oil coffee (that’s the Bulletproof butter nonsense), collagen coffee (nope) and mushroom coffee, among others.

The result? Just drink normal coffee like a normal person, and save your money. The writer hedged his bets by saying there’s not yet enough scientific literature around MCT oil and mushroom, but really who are we kidding.

It’s all bunk.

A man sits on a park bench reading a newspaper

What to read

In Melbourne, Debunking The African Gang “Crisis” Over Coffee by Michelle Johnson

How Madagascan Deforestation Puts World Coffee At Risk by Nicole Motteux

Until next time, drink good coffee. Don’t yell at baristas in Starbucks.

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