Coffee News Roundup: Week Ending October 30th

A fake eyeball floats in a cup of coffee held above a brewing station

A fake eyeball floats in a cup of coffee held above a brewing station

Welcome to another edition of the Coffee News Roundup, which this week combines the creepiness of Halloween with the rather greater and more existential dread of the upcoming election on Tuesday.

⚠Political statement alert⚠

This time next week, everything will have changed, or nothing will. If you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time, you’ll have gleaned where I stand politically—even if I’m told to “stick to coffee” on a regular basis (which, what? Do these people know how political coffee is?).

So before we get into the news, let me just say this: if you’re eligible, and you haven’t yet, please vote for Joe Biden on Tuesday.

⚠End political statement⚠

Okay, let’s take a look at what’s been going on.

Go Fund Bean Leading $12K Grant Round For Hourly Coffee Workers - via Daily Coffee News

This might shock you, but there has been a distinct lack of support for hourly coffee workers in the United States in response to the ongoing, ever-worsening COVID-19 pandemic.

The expanded unemployment insurance helped some, at least those who qualified. Many didn’t, and many had to keep working because their places of employment never closed. And then of course the expanded benefits expired and were never renewed.

Not much support was forthcoming from big companies or the various governing bodies, either (surprise surprise).

This has left small organizations, companies, and individuals to plug the gaps. Go Fund Bean, originally founded in March by Adam JacksonBey as a way to collect and promote virtual tip jars for baristas, has expanded to offering cash grants to struggling hourly coffee workers.

This current round of grants, $12,000, will go to 24 individuals, following on from a similar $9,000 round earlier in the summer. Funds have come from various small-to-medium coffee companies, such as Seattle Coffee Gear and Torani.

The point here is that, on the one hand, it’s great to see local-level community support from organizations like Go Fund Bean and Getchu Some Gear. If there is to be a fourth wave of coffee, then this is hopefully what it will be: community, inclusivity, and solidarity.

On the other, it’s an indictment of what passes for our government and the industry’s big players that have offered so little to help those struggling to get by. Where is the $10 million fund from Starbucks, Blue Bottle, Nespresso et al to ensure no barista goes homeless? Where was the pressure put on these companies or the government from the National Coffee Association and Specialty Coffee Association?

As the next story will show, the wider coffee industry is less concerned with worker wellbeing than with enormous buyouts of enormous companies by enormous hedge funds.

Read the full story here.

Dunkin' Brands To Go Private In $8.76 billion Deal By Arby's Owner - via Reuters

Is this news? I suppose it’s news.

Dunkin’ has been bought by some giant restaurant-focused holding company for a lot of money—$11.3 billion, including debt.

This comes in the same week as reports that both Dunkin’ and Starbucks will close hundreds of stores this year, citing cost-cutting needs driven by the pandemic. This will also, presumably, come with sizeable job losses.

Read the full story here.

Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop Is Now Selling Specialty Coffee For $28 Per Bag - via Delish

If Go Fund Bean and Getchu Some Gear represent the fourth wave of coffee, then Gwyneth Paltrow’s $28 Goop Fair Trade Specialty Coffee should probably be the final nail in the coffin of the third wave.

It’s the pinnacle of branding over substance, marketing over details; it’s literally called “Fair Trade Specialty Coffee”, as if splashing those buzzwords on the packaging is enough.

The coffee itself is probably good—it’s grown by Colombian Cup of Excellence winner Astrid Medina, and roasted by California’s Common Room Roasters.

But is it $28-a-bag good? How much of that goes to Medina, and how much is merely profit for Paltrow’s massively profitable (and massively controversial) lifestyle brand?

Read the full story here.

Coffee cherries ripening on the tree

Coffee cherries ripening on the tree

More Headlines

NCA Speaks Out As Battle Over Decaf Labeling Brews

Austin Coffee-Robot Startup Scooped Up By Coca-Cola For Undisclosed Amount

Typhoon Molave Kills 23 In Vietnam And Delays Coffee Harvest

Surviving Winter: US Coffee Shop Owner Survey Finds Financial Worry, Adaptability

The Week In Coffee Unionizing

Augie’s Union, the nascent coffee union that has been challenging the workplace practices of Augie’s Coffee in California since June, is transitioning to a worker-owned coffee roasting cooperative called Slow Bloom Coffee Roasters.

And you can help! The new company is fundraising via Kickstarter, and although they have already hit their $20,000 goal, you can still support their cause.

According to Sprudge, “The 100% worker-owned coffee cooperative plans to use the money to help defray costs associated with buying a roaster of their own, leasing a space, and finishing the build-out.”

The Week In Corporate Coffeewashing

Nothing to report this week (that’s probably a good thing, right?).

Is Coffee Good For You?

The BBC seems to think so, and has written a rather comprehensive article detailing coffee’s benefits—as well as some of the possible negative effects.

Longtime readers of this blog (hi mum!) will know most of the pertinent information already, but it’s a good primer to show anyone who happens to ask you the question, “Wait, so is coffee good for you?”

What I’m Drinking

An eyeball? But also, a bag of Wash Park blend from the folks over at Rainbow City Coffee.

What To Read

Halloween Week On Sprudge

From Plant To Paper Cup: The Economics Of Coffee In One Chart by Omri Wallach

Until next week, drink good coffee. Wear your mask. And please, please, please VOTE (for Joe Biden).

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