Coffee News Roundup: Week Ending July 19th

Two hands holding a latte on top of a newspaper, seen from above

It’s summer in Michigan, which means walking outside is like stepping into a hot shower. It’s like wading through a vat of soup. It’s humid, is what I’m trying to say.

Now, coming from Scotland, I am used to cool summers full of rain and sunny-but-not-warm trickery. But I don’t mind hot weather itself—it’s the oppressive, clammy awfulness of 99% humidity that gets to me.

So it’s going to be a quick news roundup this week, partly because there’s not a lot of news and partly because I need to go build a fridge tent like in that one episode of The Simpsons.

Colombia Launches Coffee Price Stabilization Fund - via Daily Coffee News

Reacting to the continuing travails of the international commodity coffee price, the president of Colombia this week launched a new fund to help struggling small farmers to break even.

President Iván Duque signed into law the measure which intends to subsidize and give debt relief to smallholders and prevent farmers from abandoning their farms or switching to growing coca plants. Nearly $80 million has already been pledged, although according to Daily Coffee News actual details on the plan and its funding are scant, except that “there will be a range of sources, including contributions and royalties from international organizations.”

Colombia is leading the way on progressive/ambitious/probably unrealistic solutions to the crisis, with ideas ranging from a $2 floor price for specialty coffee to decoupling the specialty coffee from the C market entirely.

Read the full story here.

Black Sheep buys Taylor St in coffee shop merger - via Yahoo! Finance

Mergers and acquisitions are all the rage in the specialty coffee world at the moment.

You’ve got your JABs and Nestlés buying up all the large brands with “coffee” somewhere in the name.

A barista pours a latte, seen from above

Then you’ve got your smaller players, like Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, cruising about the south of England in (presumably) a restored VW Bus, randomly stopping in towns like Hastings or Poole or Maidstone and throwing cash at any cafe with a La Marzocco on the counter.

(A source tells me that Winchester-based specialty chain Coffee Lab is the latest to be come under the Department of Coffee banner, although nothing has been formally announced.)

Now Black Sheep Coffee has joined in on the fun, following on from raising £13 million to expand internationally by buying up the renowned London-based mini-chain Taylor St Coffee.

The deal adds eight cafes to Black Sheep’s 22 locations, with only Taylor St’s production site being exempted (which presumably means Taylor St’s wholesale roasting business will stay independent, but the story doesn’t give much in the way of detail).

Soon there will be five coffee companies left. I hope you’re all ready for that.

Read the full story here.

Michigan’s Biggby Coffee wants to be the first coffee franchise on the Moon - via MLive

The moon!

This has to be a joke. Surely.

If it is, MLive isn’t in on it.

This is apparently a serious article about a real thing that is actually being talked about.

Biggby is a Michigan-based purveyor of enormous caramel-drizzled coffee-based beverages, and they are apparently deadly serious about becoming the first space-cafe chain.

Their reason? Well, it is really quite amazing.

MLive quotes their Vice President of something called Brand Sphere, Jamie Stepanian-Bennett as saying:

Shooting for the moon has always been in Biggby Coffe’s (sic) DNA, and now with the private and public sectors making advances in this direction, we are making it our goal. The Co-CEOs often quote Buzz Lightyear’s ‘to infinity and beyond’.

This sentiment guides our company, from our corporate culture focused on employee advancement to our bottom-line goals focused on sustainability and growth. And, we are taking preliminary steps to substantiate this slogan by being the first coffee company on the moon.

The article says that Biggby has already made initial contact with Amazon and Michigan Senator Gary Peters to explore their completely sane plans.

Come on, this must be a joke, right?



Read the full story here.

The week in corporate greenwashing

Hallmark is partnering with British paper mill and recycling company James Cropper to produce greeting cards made from recycled coffee cups. This will, uh, “help to reduce” the estimated 2.5 billion disposable cups thrown away in the UK each year.

Hands up who thinks Hallmark actually cares one iota about reducing the number of coffee cups going to landfill?

Is coffee good for you?

Maybe? This week we have two new studies, the first of which says coffee doesn’t really affect your risk of being diagnosed with or dying from cancer.

Is that good? Bad? The study of data from 300,000 people found that drinking coffee doesn’t really do anything for your cancer risks either way. According to senior author Stuart MacGregor, "The health benefits of coffee have been argued for a long time, but this research shows simply changing your coffee consumption isn't an effective way of protecting yourself from cancer.”

Good advice, Stu.

The second study found that hot coffee has more antioxidants than cold brew, 50% more to be precise, which doesn’t really add anything to the “is coffee good for you” debate but instead adds more fuel to the interminable “is hot coffee better than cold'“ debate.

Just drink coffee how you like to drink coffee—as we saw three paragraphs ago, it doesn’t matter anyway.

A man sits on a bench reading a newspaper

What to read

Will Coffee Ever Cost $20 A Cup? Yes, And Sooner Than You Think by Will Price

Opinion: An Anti-Greenwashing Checklist For Coffee Practitioners by Jan von Enden

So You Want To Unionize? Consider These Five Things First by Mark Van Streefkerk

Until next week, drink good coffee. What’s the worst that could happen?

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