Coffee News Roundup: Week Ending May 1st

A hand holds a coffee cup with latte art, resting on a folded newspaper. Via Pixabay.

A hand holds a coffee cup with latte art, resting on a folded newspaper. Via Pixabay.

It’s another weekend (according to the calendar anyway) which means it’s time for another Coffee News Roundup. Let’s see what’s been going on, shall we?

COVID-19 Updates - via Various

A temporary construction road sign that says STAY HOME. Via Unsplash.

A temporary construction road sign that says STAY HOME. Via Unsplash.

Yes, we’re restarting this section, due to a few new bits and pieces that didn’t quite warrant their own headlines.

  • Melitta USA, makers of coffee-related accoutrements, have announced that they will be donating all profits from sales of their pour-over brewers to baristas hard-hit by the pandemic, in collaboration with Go Fund Bean. While they could just, you know, donate money themselves, it’s better than nothing. 100 percent of profits from said brewers via Melitta’s own website will be donated through June—Melitta USA is also “encouraging consumers to contribute directly” which, again, huge company… Anyway, if you’re on the hunt for a new brewer, maybe check it out.

Caribou Coffee baristas staged a rally in Minnesota on Monday protesting a lack of protective equipment and hazard pay for those working during the coronavirus outbreak. The chain, which has 450 locations across the US—only 65 are closed according to the company—is owned by JAB Holdings, because of course. The company had estimated revenue of over $500 million in 2017.

“We’re seeing ‘essential workers’ in the coffee industry and fast food who are being paid the same low wages that they always have, and being asked to risk their health, especially when companies don’t provide adequate personal protective equipment or contactless service,” said Eli Edleson-Stein, lead organizer with the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Minnesota, a nonprofit organization advocating for restaurant workers.

  • Due to cramped buildings and the ensuing social distancing difficulties, Vilnius, capital city of Lithuania, has decided to turn its outdoor spaces into coffee shops and restaurants as it begins the slow task of re-opening. “Plazas, squares, streets – nearby cafes will be allowed to set up outdoor tables free of charge this season and thus conduct their activities during quarantine,” said mayor Remigijus Šimašius.

Daily Coffee News has published a survey of coffee producers in South America to get their take on the COVID-19 pandemic. Conducted by Caravela Coffee’s PECA program, the survey asked farmers about the issues they face and envision facing during the coffee harvest.

“It’s interesting to observe that the pandemic, more than showing the impact of COVID-19 in coffee-growing communities, is highlighting the structural issues that each country faces,” the authors write. “For instance, lack of labor seems to be a bigger issue in Colombia and Peru than in Ecuador, as farms in the first two countries are generally bigger and more productive, thus more reliant on outside labor to be able to pick all their coffee.”

Luckin Coffee: Scandal-hit chain raided by regulators in China - via BBC News

After news of massive fraud at purported Starbucks challenger Luckin Coffee broke in early April, shares in the company sank more than 90%. Now, the “scandal-hit chain” is under increased scrutiny after China’s State Administration for Market Regulation raided its offices.

According to Reuters, the raid came after a request from the Securities and Exchange Commission in the United States, which is conducting its own investigation.

Is any of this interesting? It’s all a bit cloak-and-dagger, which is certainly intriguing, and it’s given rise to some cross-party calls for regulation among US politicians, which is ironic.

The blaming of one executive and some of his staff for the fraud is also a bit fishy, especially when many of the news reports just say things like “some of its employees cooked its books”. A person who has spent most of the past two months at home with nothing to do but watch detective shows might think something bigger is afoot.

Read the full story here.

You can now buy the most concentrated coffee in the world - via Yahoo!

I don’t think I want to buy the most concentrated coffee in the world. I can barely handle regular coffee.

A glass cup of black coffee sits on a table in the sunshine. Via Unsplash.

A glass cup of black coffee sits on a table in the sunshine. Via Unsplash.

Jot, the maker of this weirdness, uses something called “reverse gravitational extraction process” to brew its concoction, which it says is 20 times more concentrated than regular coffee. Again, not sure why.

“Heat and oxygen are the two biggest enemies of fresh coffee,” said co-founder Palo Hawken, “and we have found a way to extract efficiently while managing those ‘enemies’ to the degree needed to maintain rich, nuanced clarity of flavor over many weeks of storage and use.”

I suppose the point is that you can take a tablespoon (that’s one serving, apparently) and mix it into a glass of ice water and boom—iced coffee. Or something approximating iced coffee.

They claim it’s less wasteful, because apparently “the coffee engineers at Jot figured out how to increase the yield of each Fair Trade bean by 30 percent” and its long storage life means it won’t go bad.

Or, I don’t know, you could just make a cup of coffee when you need it.

Read the full story here.

The week in corporate greenwashing

Does Jot count? I feel like Jot counts.

Is coffee good for you?

It is! Well, it’s good for your heart. And filter coffee is better for your heart than the other kinds.

A new study by researchers in Norway—as Sprudge says, “because of course the Scandinavians would be the ones to scientifically prove filter’s superiority”—found that, of the participants in the study, those who drank filter coffee had a 15% decreased risk of dying prematurely from “cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart disease, or stroke.”

French press drinkers shouldn’t be too worried, because the study found that the decreased risk in those who drank non-filter coffee was 4% in men and 9% in women. So, drinking coffee is still a good idea.

The reason for this decrease? According to the study (via Sprudge) it may have something to do with diterpenes, a phytochemical that have been shown to raise cholesterol levels. Diterpenes can be present in coffee oils, but they find it difficult to pass through the thicker paper filters of the Chemex or Kalita Wave.

But wait, there’s more! Coffee could also lower the risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD), according to a new systematic review and meta-analysis reported in the European Journal of Internal Medicine. In the pooled data of over 25,000 participants in four studies, “coffee drinkers had a significant 13% decreased risk of incident CKD compared with nondrinkers.”

On the downside, the authors note that “the exact mechanisms that could lead to the reno-protective effect of coffee are not known with certainty and further investigations are required.” But isn’t that the case with most of these studies?

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

Trade Winds by me!

How COVID-19 May Affect The Chain As Brazil Heads Into Harvest by Jonas Ferraresso

In 1950, Americans Had Aspic. Now We Have Dalgona Coffee by Shirley Li

Until next week, drink good coffee. Filtered, if possible. And then, please, wash your hands.

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