With something called a bomb cyclone dumping snow on the United States’ east coast, here in Michigan our piddling foot of snow and constant sub-zero temperatures suddenly seem less terrible. It is January, after all.

Living in Scotland for a year, I’d forgotten what winter was truly like. You don’t just have to deal with a bit more rain, maybe some sleet, perhaps a touch of frost. You have to commute during heavy snowfalls, dig your car out from under heavy snowfalls, and wear proper winter boots in order to not slide down the sidewalk and into a tree.

So when the opportunity arises to stay indoors, you take it. This really is the perfect weather to hunker down, put on something woolly, make a cup of coffee and read the news.

MPs call for 25p charge on takeaway coffee cups ahead of possible ban - via The Guardian

In an attempt to cut down on the number of takeaway cups going to landfill, MPs in the UK have called for a 25p charge for their use in coffee shops. Just one in 400 cups is recycled—mostly because of the polyethylene layer that keeps the coffee from leaking—and the success of the plastic grocery bag charge has made politicians think that a similar system could work just as well for coffee cups.

Now, obviously takeaway cups are a problem, and people should absolutely bring their own reusable mugs, but this increase will hit small independent coffee shops—many of which already use compostable or more environmentally friendly cups—far more than the big chains. And yes, there’s also a problem with compostable cups and greenwashing—it's a complicated situation all round.

But it feels like MPs should start by finding other, more effective ways to curb landfill waste—like for instance, making supermarkets stop covering every piece of fruit or vegetable in plastic.

James Hoffmann’s take on the subject is also worth reading.

Read the full story here.

SCA Seeking Input for the Direction of Future Coffee Research - via Daily Coffee News

The Specialty Coffee Association is asking for input on its future coffee research, and has devised a survey to gather suggestions and other ideas from the coffee community. You don’t have to be a member of the SCA to take part, as they’re looking for everyone in the industry to give their views on possible study subjects—ranging from the environmental toll of coffee production to consumer satisfaction in Europe.

Read more here.

Do People Even Want Pour-Over Coffee Anymore? via Eater


Read the full story here.

Cafe app that knows how you take your coffee sparks security concerns - via SBS News


Well this is terrifying. A cafe owner in Sydney wanted to remember his customers’ names, so he partnered with a software developer friend to adapt facial recognition technology to store customers’ faces and drink orders. This means that on their next visit an iPad simply scans their face and rings up their order, no personal interaction required.

They already have 1500 first names and faces in their database, which they seem worryingly willing to sell on. "It might be the sort of information that might be interesting to suppliers to the cafe market I guess," Mr MacLean (the software developer) said.

At least the baristas no longer have to deal with annoying or unfriendly customers, but aside from the ethical questions, this article raises some issues about the role of baristas and the barista-customer relationship. Also, what happens when the customer wants a different drink? Will the computer overlord allow them to change their mind?

Read more here.

Chicago’s Ipsento Coffee Goes Public with New SEC Crowdfunding Regulations - via Daily Coffee News

You can now own a stake in Chicago’s Ipsento Coffee. The company’s CEO Tim Taylor has launched an equity crowdfunding drive made possible after changes to the SEC’s crowdfunding regulations. Ipsento is seeking $27 per share, with a minimum investment of $108, although it’s not totally clear how the investment works or when/if you’ll be able to sell up and reap those sweet, sweet coffee profits.

Read more here.

Is coffee good for you?

Gwyneth Paltrow seems to think so. She’s currently advertising an at-home coffee enema, which definitely isn’t a terrible, terrible idea.

More seriously, though, researchers are studying blood caffeine levels in people with Parkinson’s, hopefully as a way to diagnose the disease earlier. In their study, lower blood caffeine levels were found in patients suffering from Parkinson’s. Early diagnosis has been shown to lead to improved health outcomes and decelerated symptoms, so if the study’s results are confirmed it could be an easy way to test for the disease.

While there's no definitive proof that coffee is the elixir of life this week, it's best to keep drinking it, just in case.


What to Read

How About Some White Nationalism With Your Morning Jolt Of Coffee by Brett Barrouquere

Sign Here for Coffee by Susan Johnston Taylor

Coffee At The Wing, A New Coworking Social Club For Women by Joanna Han

How Australian Coffee Took Over—And Why New Zealand Coffee Could Be Next by Todd Plummer

And also my latest, a look back at 2017 at The Pourover

Until next week, keep drinking good coffee.