Coffee News Roundup: Week Ending July 1st

A white coffee cup with latte art and spoon sits atop a newspaper. Via Pixabay.

Oh hi there. I didn’t see you come in.

Here Are The Five New Coffee Champions From World Of Coffee Milan - via Sprudge

After last week’s incident with Schrödinger’s Coffee Festival, we can now confirm that World of Coffee did in fact take place in Milan. 11,000 people from some 140 countries (very, very few of them wearing masks) gathered for talks, showcases, and competitions.

While there were lots of new products and the like on display—Sprudge also has a rundown of some of the award winners—most people’s focus was probably on the finals of the World Coffee in Good Spirits, Cup Tasters, Latte Art, Roasting, and Cezve/Ibrik competitions.

The World Coffee Championships have had a convoluted couple of years, with pandemic-related delays meaning only Cup Tasters has managed to crown a winner since 2019. In fact, World Barista Champion and World Brewers Cup Champion won’t be sorted out until Melbourne in September.

Sprudge also makes special mention of Agnieszka Rojewska, previously the World Barista and Coffee Masters champion, who this year won World Coffee in Good Spirits as well as reaching the final of the World Cezve/Ibrik Championship. Congratulations to all the winners!

Read the full story here.

Union Workers Claim Starbucks Is Using Abortion Access as a Bargaining Chip - via Bon Appétit

Last week’s Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v Wade brought focus back to the many big US companies that promised to cover travel costs for employees needing to travel out of state to receive an abortion.

Starbucks was one of them, but since then the company has also floated the possibility of unionized employees not being eligible for new benefits. “Starbucks cannot make promises or guarantees about any benefits” while collective bargaining is in process, according to the statement announcing the reimbursement policy.

“It makes me feel disgusted that they’d dangle abortion over people’s heads as if it’s a cat toy, when women are literally losing their rights to bodily autonomy,” one unionized barista told Bon Appétit. “It just feels dystopian.”

Plus, as many have pointed out, there’s a lack of clarity about how reimbursements for healthcare travel are supposed to work. What about confidentiality? Do employees have to go to HR, or an outside insurance company? Not to mention that it further ties workers to their employers, and puts more onus on the private sector to provide essential services.

In regards to Starbucks, according to Rutgers professor Rebecca Givan, “I think they’re trying to burnish their progressive reputation, while scaring their employees away from unionizing by suggesting that none of their benefits are secure.”

Read the full story here.

Keurig Dr Pepper Introduces Intelligentsia Coffee K-Cups - via Vending Times

An interesting development here, as Keurig Dr Pepper (majority-owned by JAB Holdings) launches K-Cups featuring coffee from Intelligentsia (also owned by JAB Holdings).

Intelligentsia, of course, was once at the very forefront of the third wave of coffee in the United States, along with Stumptown (also now owned by JAB) and Blue Bottle (now owned by Nestlé), among others.

It’s a bit of a change to now be available in coffee capsule form alongside offerings such as Cinnabon’s Classic Cinnamon Roll flavour and McCafe Premium Roast.

Read the full story here.

More Headlines

Natural-Process Coffees Take Top Three Spots at 2022 Nicaragua Cup of Excellence

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani is Bringing Pret A Manger Stores to India

New Android App Uses AI To Determine Coffee’s Roast Level

Sustainable Harvest Launches E-Commerce Site with 36-Pound Boxes

The Week in Coffee Unionizing

  • An interesting article in NPR looks at two union drives in Milwaukee, one that failed and one that ended in success, featuring interviews with the baristas who organized both campaigns.
  • Two days later, NPR runs a very similar article about the two drives, by the same writer, but this time centering and flattering the owners of the companies that were being unionized. It’s honestly quite a weird combo.
  • Heine Brothers’ shut down a Louisville, Kentucky, location in a move organizers are calling “highly suspicious” due to the union support at the store. Workers at the chain announced their intent to unionize in April.
  • Workers at Great Lakes Coffee in Detroit are still on strike, in the wake of the company closing its Midtown location at the end of May.
  • A second Boss Barista appearance in as many weeks, this time with an extremely useful Ask Me Anything Q&A with experienced union organizers. Featuring such questions as “How do you bridge the gap between production folks and baristas/front-of-house workers in smaller companies?” and “How do you choose which union to affiliate with when there are so many?”, it’s a very good place to start if you’re thinking of trying to unionize your workplace.

The Week in Corporate Coffeewashing

More positive news articles for Atomo Coffee, the “beanless coffee company”, as it closed another multi-million-dollar funding round, the vast majority of which tout its professed highly ethical and environmentally-friendly approach to coffee.

And, sure, it might use less water, and less energy, and do “great things for the planet” as the company says. But, as Sprudge has noted in the past, there are huge issues with the claims Atomo makes, not to mention the fact that its success will put coffee producers out of business. Atomo wants you to drink its date-juice instead of coffee, which will therefore lead to less real coffee being bought, which… you get the idea.

Also, and this is a slight tangent, but how is it legal for Atomo to call its “Upcycled Date Seeds … soaked with a proprietary blend of ingredients” coffee, when plant-based meat or non-dairy products have to deal with all sorts of legislative hurdles in their labelling?

Is Coffee Good For You?

No real health news this week, but apparently hot coffee does a better job of cooling you down than cold coffee. Does that count?

What To Read

I Got Fired for Unionizing at Starbucks. And I’d Do It Again. An interview with Emma Chambers by Will Shattuc

A Brief History of Coffee In Revolution by Valorie Clark

Until next week, drink good coffee.

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