Coffee News Roundup: Week Ending November 1st

An espresso sits on top of a newspaper, seen from above.

Hello and welcome to the Coffee News Roundup, this week brought to you by too much Halloween candy and the first snow of the season.

Not sure how I feel about that.

Let’s see what’s happened this week, shall we?

With Traceable Colombian Microlots, FNC and USAID Launch Coffee For Peace - via Daily Coffee News

There are many attempts being launched to help coffee farmers affected by the twin C price and climate crises, but the myriad struggles facing producers don’t stop there.

A new collaboration between Colombia’s National Federation of Coffee Growers (FNC) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is focusing on areas in Colombia that have been impacted by the drug trade and gang violence, as well as the aforementioned situations.

Coffee for Peace aims to involve 12,000 coffee farming families across Colombia, and says it has already helped sell almost 400 tons of green coffee, for a total of $1.4 million.

“Any initiative that helps us improve the income of Colombian coffee growers, which includes providing direct access to buyers willing to recognize their work, will always be welcome and will have the strong support of the FNC,” said FNC General Manager Roberto Vélez Vallejo at the launch two weeks ago.

Read the full story here.

Tamper And Trophy Maker Reg Barber Enterprises Announces Closure - via Sprudge

As a direct result of the US steel tariffs, famed espresso tamper manufacturer Reg Barber has had to close down his Canadian coffee tools business.

According to a GoFundMe set up by his daughter:

My dad has dedicated 30 years to the coffee industry, locally, nationally, and globally.

He’s fallen into a tough time. The U.S. tariffs on steel amongst other obstacles have made running his little company impossible. After 30 plus years of creating custom coffee tools, he is being forced to close his doors.

Reg Barber tampers were known for their balanced, two-piece design that became industry standard in the years after his innovations.

This is a Reg Barber tamper. Before @tamperman tampers were one piece, usually made of wood or plastic, sometimes metal. This two-piece design that is so typical for espresso tampers was Reg’s innovation. Every other two-piece tamper you see is a Reg Barber knockoff. 30, 2019

In addition to innovating and producing tampers that have drawn praise from across the specialty coffee industry, Barber also created and manufactured trophies for the World Barista Championships.

Says Sprudge, “From June 1, 2018 to May 17, 2019 the United States imposed tariffs of 25% on imports of Canadian steel and 10% on imports of Canadian aluminum.”

Read the full story here.

White Starbucks manager claims racial bias in her firing after arrests of 2 black men - via NBC News


You might remember the incident last year when two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks for, uh, literally no reason.

A Starbucks to-go cup sits on a wooden table.

Now, a regional manager is suing the company for what she alleges is a racially motivated termination.

It’s all very odd.

I recommend reading the story linked below and checking out the original reporting from CBS3 for a full picture, and of course Starbucks is denying the lawsuit’s claim. The plaintiff apparently wants to go to a jury trial.

Read the full story here.

Seattle area coffee chain barred former baristas from working at nearby cafes - via My Northwest

Seems totally fine that a coffee chain would make its employees sign non-compete agreements before hiring them, right?

That’s just a normal thing?

A barista brews a Chemex at a coffee bar.

Mercurys Coffee, a Seattle-area mini-chain with eight locations across the city, had new hires sign a contract that prohibited them from working for any other coffee shop within ten miles of the location they were based at for 18 months after leaving the company.

Not content with making roughly 700 employees over the past five years sign this extremely weird agreement, Mercurys (no apostrophe) even tried to sue several employees who left to work at other cafes.

Just. What.

Anyway, the whole thing was investigated by the local Attorney General, who (obviously) made them stop this silliness and also pay $50,000 in legal fees.

The idea that baristas—whose jobs are low-paid, stressful, and precarious in the first place—shouldn’t be allowed to work for another coffee company in gorram SEATTLE is just the height of late-stage capitalism.

Read the full story here.

The week in corporate greenwashing

A Nescafe mug sits next to a sink.

Nothing really new this week, so I thought you might like a list of coffee and coffee-related companies that Nestlé owns:

  • Nescafé and Nespresso (obviously)
  • Blue Bottle
  • Chameleon Cold Brew
  • San Pellegrino
  • Perrier
  • Oh and they have that $7 billion licensing agreement with Starbucks.

Nestlé, it should come as no surprise to learn, is one of the top three plastic polluters in the world, alongside Coca Cola and Pepsi. For the second year in a row.

Is coffee good for you?

You know what they say about coffee’s impact on your gut health, don’t you?

It’s *checks notes* good, apparently.

That’s right, people who drink coffee have healthier gut microbiatas, according to new research. No, I’m not sure what a microbiata is either, but let’s not let rank ignorance stop us from learning about gut health.

The authors say that

Higher caffeine consumption was associated with increased richness and evenness of the mucosa-associated gut microbiota, and higher relative abundance of anti-inflammatory bacteria, such as Faecalibacterium and Roseburia and lower levels of potentially harmful Erysipelatoclostridium.

Although, and these clarifications right at the end of articles are always fun, the study’s lead author Dr. Li Jiao did mention that "the study was conducted in 34 adult men who had [a] normal colon in a single hospital. It is unknown whether these preliminary results can be applied to women or other populations."

But don’t worry if you aren’t in that 34-strong group of adult men, coffee can also help with “sports performance”, or as it’s otherwise known “cycling”.

Another study, again with a weirdly small number of participants (19 men and 19 women) showed that coffee consumption before a 5 kilometer time trial improved performance by nine and six seconds, respectively.

So that’s good.

A man sits on a bench reading a newspaper

What to read

The Gesha Of Gourds: A History of Pumpkin Spice In Coffee by Craig Batory

Coffee Needs A Mechanism To Stabilise Prices by Vivek Verma

You’re Cleaning Your Coffee Maker The Wrong Way by Will Price

The Flat White Is Basically Meaningless by Meister

Until next week, drink good coffee. It’s good for your gut and your sports performance!

And as always, if you’re looking for someone to bring this level of clarity and rapier-sharp wit to your company’s content writing, I am available for hire.

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