It’s that time of the week again—and what a week it has been. It feels like it’s been at least a couple of years since last Friday.
This is going to be a quick-ish roundup, as most of the news revolves around, what else, the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
Let’s dive in, shall we.
COVID-19 Updates - via Various
What a difference a week makes. Last Friday, coffee shops were still open, albeit doing a lot more cleaning and only offering coffee in to-go cups.
Today, whole cities have been shut down, restaurants and coffee shops have been ordered to close, and the COVID-19 outbreak has reached all fifty states (to be fair that probably happened ages ago, we only started testing properly this week).
Let’s take a look at some of the headlines from last week:
- Coffee shops all around the United States closed down, putting thousands of baristas out of work. Virtual tip jars have been set up (if you can afford it, please considering donating), and some companies (shout out to Tandem Coffee, Bovaconti in Indianapolis, and, strangely enough, Blue Bottle) are pledging to continue paying their staff. Blue Bottle, at least, can afford it, being majority-owned by Nestlé and all.
- Some larger companies such as Starbucks and Peet’s are staying open, much to the chagrin of their employees. “It’s a scary thing,” a Peet’s shift leader told the San Francisco Chronicle. “My fellow workers are working because they feel like they don’t have a choice.”
- Coffee roasters, for the most part, are still going strong, and for roaster-retailers online sales can help to support their closed cafes. Many are now offering free shipping and other incentives to entice the home-bound to continue ordering coffee.
- Big companies are stepping up in this time of crisis: McDonald’s, Pret, and others are giving free coffee to healthcare workers in the UK, and in Italy Lavazza is donating $11 million to the fight against the coronavirus.
- As coffee events are being postponed around the world, the biggest one is still going forward. The Specialty Coffee Association’s annual Expo event in Portland, Oregon, is due to take place April 21-23rd, but because the State of Oregon has only ordered events cancelled through April 14th the SCA is in a state of limbo. According to a statement by CEO Yannis Apostolopoulos, if the SCA cancelled themselves without being ordered to do so they would leave themselves open to “serious legal consequences”. However, event partners and coffee companies are beginning to pull out, which might put the event in jeopardy anyway.
- The Alliance for Coffee Excellence, which hosts the Cup of Excellence green coffee competitions around the world, is trying to figure out how to move forward with its events in light of travel bans and lockdowns. ACE Executive Director Darrin Daniel said in a statement: “We are currently working on contingency plans to ensure that we will properly vet all entries, support all of our in-country partners and assure our membership that we will present coffees for all of the 2020 auctions,”
- In the midst of all this chaos and upheaval, there have been some small glimpses of positivity. Similar to last week’s coffee-on-a-shovel, from Thailand comes a story about a cafe serving coffee on a little wheeled cart in an effort to keep to the social distancing rules. Meanwhile, in Calgary an energy company bought $10,000 worth of gift cards to help keep their neighborhood coffee shop on its feet. And a Korean drink known as dalgona coffee has gone viral on social media, and frankly it looks delicious. Consisting of “milk topped with a thick layer of coffee foam that's made by vigorously mixing instant coffee, sugar, and water” according to Vice, it has me wondering how it would taste with oat milk. There’s only one way to find out…
Probe Finds $270 Million Missing After Coffee King’s Suicide - via Yahoo! Finance
Now it’s time to move on from a global pandemic to, well, possible fraud and an untimely death.
Now an investigation into Coffee Day Enterprises Ltd. initiated by its board in reaction to Siddhartha’s death is expected to find at least 20 billion rupees ($270 million) is missing from the company’s accounts.
The reasons for the missing money aren’t known, but some theories include “whether Coffee Day was manipulating its finances to show cash and profit and whether Siddhartha was taking cash out of the listed company to pay off a large investor to whom he had guaranteed a return.”
The company employs tens of thousands of people across India, and has been severely impacted by its founder’s death, with share prices dropping 90% in the months after his body was found by fishermen two days after going missing. Company accounts at the time showed “zero cash in the bank” and severe liquidity issues resulting in difficulties paying staff, according to the report.
It’s a big fall for a company that was supposed to be India’s answer to Starbucks, and that had introduced affordable coffee to the country’s burgeoning middle class.
The week in coffee greenwashing
Nothing new to report here. Wash your hands.
Is coffee good for you?
Coffee might help mitigate the effects of a high sugar and high fat diet, according to new research. Which, considering many of us are stuck indoors with not much to do but eat snack foods and drink coffee, is pretty good news.
According to researchers at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, coffee consumption can “offset some of the negative effects of an obesogenic diet by reducing the storage of lipids in fat cells and limiting weight gain and the production of triglycerides.”
How? Well, there’s talk of lipid metabolism and percentages and other terms. I don’t know, look, it doesn’t matter, science says it so it must be true. I’m just going to assume all those fancy words like triglycerides and terms like lower synthesis means I can eat another cookie with my third cup of coffee.
What to read
Until next week, drink good coffee, support your local coffee company, and wash your hands.
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