February in Michigan means snow, freezing temperatures, and more snow. Today, for example, we're being buffeted by something called Winter Storm Mateo (I feel like they're running low on names)—which means a day of staying inside, listening to Elbow, and drinking coffee. It's a hard life.

In terms of news this week, there's not a whole lot going on. The most interesting stuff is health-related, but we'll save that for the Is Coffee Good For You? segment further down. For now, though, let's take a look at this week's top stories.

Gimme Coffee Baristas Ratify First Union Contract, Boosting Wages With Management Support - via the Cornell Daily Sun

Back in June of last year, 22 employees at Gimme! Coffee, a New York coffee roaster and cafe brand, officially voted to unionize. This was big news, as it was the first instance of a successful unionization movement at a third wave coffee company—there were 31,500 specialty coffee shops in the US in 2015, according to Statista.

Now, members have voted unanimously to ratify their first union contract with their employer—a three year contract which includes wage increases and the establishment of paid sick days, as well as a "just cause" firing clause.

This is positive news for those at the lower end of the specialty coffee workforce spectrum, where low wages, volatile schedules and at-will employment abound—let's hope this is the beginning of a trend.

Read more here.


As Total Retail Coffee Sales Stagnate, Cafe Sales Increase - via Sprudge

In more positive news for the specialty coffee industry, Bloomberg is reporting that even though less people are buying coffee in grocery stores, more people are visiting cafes as the economy improves (yes, this report came out last week before the stock market started playing silly buggers).

This could be due to changing tastes, people visiting cafes for convenience (or out of laziness), but either way it's helping cafes stay in business, and that ain't not bad.

Read more here.

Astoria Launches High-Tech Espresso Machine The Storm - via Daily Coffee News

Ever longed to live in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation? Ever stood in a cafe and thought, "That espresso machine looks too simple. What if it had Bluetooth capability and maybe lasers?" Well, welcome to the future, friend, with the launch of Astoria's terrifyingly complicated and shiny Storm espresso machine.

Featuring digital touchscreens and adjustable pre-infusion profiles, advanced steam wands and probably a flux capacitor just for good measure, the Storm looks more like a spaceship than a device used to make something as humble as an espresso.

One positive is that, according to Astoria, the Storm uses 47% less power than comparable espresso machines, which, when you consider how power-hungry commercial machines can be, is extremely impressive.

Read more here.

Dunkin’ Donuts to have all paper coffee cups by 2020 - via Treehugger

It's about damn time.

Read more here.

What’s the return on investing in a reusable coffee cup? - via Financial Times

I honestly can't tell if this is supposed to be satire or not. A writer for the Financial Times has calculated how long it will take you to pay for your reusable KeepCup or whatever by taking advantage of the discounts large coffee chains are offering in their ongoing greenwashing campaigns.


Is the Financial Times actually discussing the financial return on a takeaway coffee cup? Is that a thing? Apparently, your £20 KeepCup will pay for itself after only 40 visits to the sandwich chain Pret, which is offering a 50p discount when you use your own cup.

Now, obviously you should have a reusable cup (or several, if you're anything like me and tend to leave them all over the place), but doing it to save 50p here and there seems a little insane. The issue of non-recyclable to-go coffee cups is definitely a big one, and maybe this is the only way to get people's attention.

Also, maybe eschew the big chains and visit independent coffee shops—for example, Steampunk Coffee in North Berwick also offer a 50p discount on reusable cups, and their cafe is wonderful.

The writer goes on to give tips on how to save even more money—by ordering an espresso in your reusable cup, then filling it up with hot water or milk back at the office.

Please don't do this.

Read more here.

Is coffee good for you?

It's been settled—coffee is officially good for you.

Well, mostly.

The Washington Post reports on a study of all the coffee studies, and the conclusion is that coffee is mostly healthy. Scientists at the University of Catania in Italy studied 127 meta-analyses of coffee's health benefits, and concluded that the evidence was overwhelmingly in favour of coffee being healthy.

Unless, that is, you're pregnant. Then they recommend just not drinking coffee for nine months.

Coffee is also helpful for fighting multiple sclerosis, apparently, so that's good too. Coffee!


What to read

The Only Aeropress Recipe You'll Ever Need by Michael Butterworth

Where To Drink Coffee In Copenhagen, Denmark by Monica Grue Steffensen

How Much Does Your Coffee Actually Cost to Produce? by Karla Boza

Introducing Coffee People MX: The First Spanish-Language Coffee Podcast by RJ Joseph

Also, my latest: an interview with Brooke McDonnell, co-founder of Equator Coffees & Teas.

Until next week, drink good coffee (remember your reusable cup).