Coffee News Roundup: Week Ending June 19th

An espresso cup sits atop a magazine on a table, seen from above. Via PxHere

An espresso cup sits atop a magazine on a table, seen from above. Via PxHere

Hello and welcome to another Coffee News Roundup.

Today is Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the day in 1865 when word of the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery in the United States finally reached Texas, two and a half years after the original declaration.

“Juneteenth is both a celebration and a reminder, a commemoration,” the Reverend Al Sharpton told a crowd at a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, according to the Guardian. “It reminds us that it took almost three years after the signing of the emancipation proclamation for people in Texas to even know that slavery was over.”

Purdue University Library has a great list of resources about Juneteenth, and Esquire has put together a list of places to donate. And of course, there’s this updating list of Black-owned coffee companies to support courtesy of Sprudge.

Canceled: The 2020 National And 2021 Regional US Coffee Champs Events - via Sprudge

Predictably enough, the Specialty Coffee Association has chosen to cancel the remainder of this year’s, and the beginning of next year’s, coffee competitions, citing, well, everything.

A barista pours milk into a cup, forming latte art, seen from above. Via Unsplash.

A barista pours milk into a cup, forming latte art, seen from above. Via Unsplash.

The COVID-19 outbreak put an end to the 2020 competition season, with only the US Barista Championship and US Brewers Cup reaching their conclusion in February. The final three competitions, due to take place in early April—Coffee in Good Spirits, Cup Tasters, and the Roasters Championship—were postponed.

Now those competitions, the rest of 2020, and the preliminary rounds of 2021 are cancelled. A post on the US Coffee Championship website explains why, citing “strong recommendations of medical experts and scientists” to cancel large events and competitions, alongside taking into “primary account the health and safety of the coffee workers in our community.”

The 2020 World Barista Championship and World Brewers Cup are still scheduled to take place in November in Melbourne, Australia, although the SCA says that the 2020 US Barista and Brewers Cup champions can defer until 2021.

Read the full story here.

Former Employees Of Alexandria Coffee Shop Say Owner Sexually Harassed Them And Is Skeptical Of COVID-19 - via DCist

What a wild, horrifying story.

A Chemex coffee brewer full of coffee sits on a wooden tray, ready to be served. Via Unsplash

A Chemex coffee brewer full of coffee sits on a wooden tray, ready to be served. Via Unsplash

Once social media activity from the owner of an Alexandria, VA, coffee shop called Killer E.S.P. detailing his embrace of far-right ideology and COVID-19 skepticism came to light, it caused a chain of events that led to multiple allegations of sexual harassment from former employees and ended with the shop’s entire staff quitting en masse.

It also led to said owner giving a number of unhinged interviews to local news organizations, including the Washingtonian which first reported on the events, in which he repeats many of his statements and doesn’t appear to know when to stop talking. It’s truly, truly weird.

The allegations of sexual harassment are awful, and come from numerous former employees, which the owner, Rob Shelton, denies, but then goes on to double down against one of his accusers in one of the interviews.

There’s also the standard coffee shop late-pay-no-pay-cash-pay stuff that most baristas have had to deal with at some point, which pales in comparison but is another good indicator of what kind of business owner we’re dealing with.

Amazingly, this isn’t even the only story of a coffee shop owner making awful statements on social media this week. Two separate Spokane, Washington, cafe owners “spark[ed] controversy over online posts” according to the Spokesman. What the article means by “controversial social media posts” is really just plain racist social media posts.

Read the full story in DCist here.

Coffee Giant Brazil Is Ready to Hoard Beans in Virus-Fueled Rout - via Yahoo! Finance

This story isn’t exactly new—we’ve known for a while that Brazil is planning to stockpile green coffee supplies in the hopes of waiting out the pandemic—but that headline. What a headline. So aggressive, so melodramatic, so unnecessary.

Read the full story here (although, again, it’s old hat by now).

The week in corporate greenwashing

Nothing worth reporting on this week, greenwashing fans.

However, if you’re looking for some non-coffee greenwashing news (and general excellent climate reporting), I recommend signing up for Heated, “a newsletter for people pissed off about the climate crisis.” It’s truly great.

Is coffee good for you?

According to the American Cancer Society’s updated diet guidelines, maybe.

Daily Coffee News reports the guidelines saying that “though the mechanisms by which coffee appears to reduce the incidence of certain types of cancer are not fully understood, published research over the past decade has indeed introduced or reinforced coffee’s abilities to prevent multiple types of cancer.”

So that’s… clear?

The guide goes on to state things like, “Studies have suggested that coffee consumption likely reduces the risk of liver and endometrial cancers, although confounding by smoking may explain this latter association,” and “There is some evidence that coffee reduces the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, and larynx as well as basal cell skin cancer in both men and women, and possibly malignant melanoma in women.”

There’s a lot of understandable hedging going on, but basically they’re saying that coffee is probably helpful in protecting against cancer, but they can’t say definitively.

In other good news for coffee, regular consumption has been linked to a “significantly lower risk” for arrhythmias, according to a new study. It’s all happening this week, coffee health-wise.

A person sits on the floor reading a book. via Unsplash

A person sits on the floor reading a book. via Unsplash

What to read

Child Labor: The Real Cost Of Your Morning Coffee by David Cay Johnston

Carbon-Neutral Coffee Comes To UK – Via Sail Boat From Colombia To Cornwall by Jillian Ambrose

The Minimalist’s Guide To A Perfect Cup Of Coffee by Christine Clark

Addressing Anti-Blackness in Specialty Coffee by Umeko Motoyoshi

Until next week, drink good coffee. Support Black-owned businesses. Wear a mask.

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