Another week of a statewide lockdown in Michigan to fight the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus draws to a close, although it’s becoming genuinely become difficult to differentiate the days.
Has it been a week? Is today Friday? Does the weekend hold any meaning anymore, if it’s exactly the same as the two days that preceded it?
I don’t suppose it matters, it’s just odd.
The past week in the world of coffee has been less turbulent than the one before, mostly because everything is already shut down.
Once again, we’ll begin by taking a look at the latest COVID-19 news.
COVID-19 Updates - Via Various
Coffee shops around the world are now closed, or at the very least restricted to serving take-out, as countries try desperately to stop the spread of the coronavirus (if they were open, people would definitely visit them, even in a lockdown).
Roasters are, in general, considered “essential businesses” which is true but somewhat surprising, although last year Switzerland did decide that coffee was essential to life so perhaps that set a precedent.
So what happened last week?
The Specialty Coffee Association finally cancelled this year’s Expo coffee exhibition, after weeks of indecision and a fair amount of outcry. The event had been scheduled to take place in Portland, Oregon, at the end of next month, but because Oregon’s statewide ban on large gatherings only runs through April 14, the SCA was left in limbo.
According to a statement by the SCA, there was no alternative date to host Expo this year. So instead of postponing as they had done with other similar events elsewhere, they decided to simply cancel and try again next year. Said the statement: “We will be working with the SCA USA Chapter to explore options to hold the final US Coffee Championships of the year at a later date as appropriate. Re:co and Expo will return in April 2021 in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana.”
- Starbucks, unlike many other chains, has stayed open during the outbreak, getting lots of positive news coverage for giving free coffee to healthcare workers but also receiving criticism from employees for lack of safety precautions. Now they’ve decided to close their cafes but keep drive-thru service going. At least they’ve also announced that they will keep paying employees who decide not to risk coming to work (for 30 days that is) and give those that do a pay bump. Meanwhile in the UK, Costa Coffee became the latest chain to announce temporary closure.
- Distilleries around the world have stepped up to help provide their locales with much needed hand sanitizer. But it’s not just alcohol producers—Washington, D.C. roaster Compass Coffee has been tasked with producing hand sanitizer for first responders and healthcare workers alongside a local distillery. The story talks about the distillery’s role, but doesn’t really mention Compass except to note that the company laid off most of its employees recently. Hopefully there’s an update, because as an ex-coffee roaster I’d be intrigued to learn how they’re going about making hand sanitizer in a roastery.
- Although the coffee industry is being rattled by the coronavirus outbreak, there’s one area that has reacted somewhat positively: the price of green coffee. Supply chain disruptions (finance reporting-speak for a massive unprecedented global pandemic) has pushed the price of coffee up. A slowdown in international trade and countrywide lockdowns are seen as culprits. Says the report: “In recent years, Venezuelan migrants have become an important part of the Colombian workforce. Now that border has closed.”
- For baristas, the current pandemic is particularly hard. Not only were they on the front lines at the start of the crisis, serving customers and potentially being exposed to the virus, but now they have to deal with layoffs and uncertain futures. Sprudge has put together a page for everyone to keep up to date on the latest news and find help, with not only virtual tip jars (if you can, please contribute) but also mental health resources and some ways to organize.
2020 Coffee and Beverage Trends: Inside the NCA’s Annual Report - via Daily Coffee News
If you’re interested in some slightly different news, the National Coffee Association’s annual report was released recently, and Daily Coffee News has been looking into it (so has the New York Times, but with much less gusto).
Here are some highlights:
Seven in ten Americans drink coffee at least once a week, which frankly seems low. However, 62% drink coffee daily. Coffee consumption has risen 5% since 2015, but specialty coffee consumption is up 25% over the same period.
Only 20% of Americans take their coffee black. This is frankly astonishing. Big Creamer must be laughing all the way to the cream factory or wherever.
Ownership of a single-cup brewer (presumably that means a pour-over device like a Hario V60) is up 50% over the past five years. 50%! You love to see it.
La Marzocco Visionary Piero Bambi, 1934–2020 - via Barista Magazine
Piero Bambi, honorary president of Italian espresso machine maker La Marzocco, passed away last week at the age of 86 after a long battle with cancer.
Bambi was the son and nephew of La Marzocco’s co-founders, and ran the company for most of his adult life, while also being a principle designer—he designed the iconic Linea espresso machine, for one thing.
While there are worthwhile articles in Sprudge and Daily Coffee News about Bambi, Barista Magazine’s co-founder and editor-in-chief Sarah Allen has written a heartfelt and moving paean to somebody she knew personally.
The week in corporate greenwashing
Funnily enough there’s been a distinct lack of stupid greenwashy coffee stories of late—presumably that’s because companies think it might seem a little, I don’t know, gauche to be pushing their $10,000 investment in water reclamation or whatever when people are dying.
However, I will just leave this headline here: Three Nespresso suppliers used children on their coffee farms, company says.
Is coffee good for you?
Nothing new this week, but with the lack of exercise I’ve been getting of late I’m still clinging to the hopes that coffee might help mitigate a high fat and high sugar diet.
What to read
Until next week, drink good coffee, support your local roasters and cafes, and STAY HOME.
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