What’s happening in the world of coffee this week? Glad you asked.
An Open Letter To Specialty Coffee Association Members & Anyone Who Cares About The Specialty Coffee Industry - via Medium
This is an open letter published on Medium by Vava Angwenyi, Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) board member and founder of the Kenyan social enterprise Vava Coffee.
In it, Angwenyi details her experiences with the SCA—the specialty coffee industry’s foremost trade association—that include allegations of bullying, misogyny, and discrimination from those she worked with.
Among other things, Angwenyi recounts being told to “Watch my level of ambition given Africa does not have good numbers in membership” and that “Europe and America’s interests would not be served well with my presence on the [Presidents Council].”
The workings of the upper echelons of professional organizations can be opaque at best and downright inexplicable at worst, so it is important to pay attention when people speak up.
McDonald's Is Testing Reusable Coffee Mugs In The UK - via CNN
That’s right, everyone’s favorite Amazon-destroying conglomerate and provider of extremely average coffee products is trialing the reusable cups “in an effort to address the environmental toll of disposable cups and appeal to customers who are increasingly concerned with wasteful single-use packaging,” according to CNN.
The scheme is one of those “pay a deposit, return your cup” type deals that have been launched on smaller scales around the world. However, because it has the backing of McDonald’s, this version has received a lot more press.
And, again, as always, of course it’s a good thing that a company like McDonald’s is doing this. They’re an enormous corporation with huge sway among consumers and lawmakers; they can make change happen if they want to.
The problem is that, this is barely anything. McDonald’s is the world’s second-largest private employer and had revenue of $21 billion in 2018. They were also investigated for $1 billion of tax avoidance in the EU in 2015. This is, literally, the absolute least they could and should be doing, and they’re getting praise for it.
This probably sounds a little repetitive by now. I talk about this stuff a lot. But it needs to be pointed out—huge companies doing the absolute minimum and receiving fawning coverage from the media is a constant issue, and one that coffee is not immune from.
The world is burning! Not just the US, either—Greece, Bulgaria, Brazil, Indonesia, and other countries are all experiencing unprecedented wildfire seasons. And those last two are, notably, big coffee-producing regions.
The Virtual Global Coffee Festival Is Coming To Your Home In October - via Sprudge
Okay, let’s have some slightly better news shall we?
If you’re in any way connected to the specialty coffee industry, or read this newsletter, you’re probably aware that all the coffee conferences, symposia, festivals, and competitions have been cancelled this year.
Gathering thousands of people from all around the world into an enclosed space for speeches and classes and social events is, obviously, not a good idea right now. And probably for a long time to come.
Allegra Events, the company that runs the New York Coffee Festival, the London Coffee Festival, and several other festivals, has come up with a novel solution: a virtual coffee festival!
Allegra’s Global Coffee Festival will take place on October 30th and will feature talks from luminaries like James Hoffmann, home coffee lessons from multiple UK Cup Tasters champion Freda Yuan, and a bunch of virtual coffee tours of Sydney, São Paulo, Toronto, Amsterdam, London, and others.
Oh and it’s free! You just need to register. So if you’re missing the buzz of the coffee festival, want to feel part of a global community again, or just feel the need to expand your knowledge, it’s worth a look.
The Week In Corporate Coffeewashing
Well that McDonald’s story from further up definitely counts, as (somehow) does this story about Lavazza partnering with WeWork to supply coffee for the infamous office sharing startup’s locations in the US and Canada.
On the one hand this is weird because WeWork’s disastrous attempted IPO almost bankrupted the company. Also, there’s the fact that we’re in the midst of a global pandemic that has prevented people from using offices, so who’s going to be drinking the coffee?
But then at the same time, Lavazza is pitching this deal as some sort of sustainability initiative: “Lavazza is proud to partner with WeWork to provide a more sustainable offering for their workforce and beyond,” gushed President of Lavazza Americas Davide Riboni. “While Lavazza has a proven history of supporting environmental initiatives, we feel that now more than ever, investing in the future of our earth is not just the 'new normal' – it is essential.”
. . . What? How is this connected to office workers?
Apparently the reason for this sustainability talk is that Lavazza will be using its “eco-friendly” ¡Tierra! range of coffees, which is part of its ¡Tierra! Project. This project, which is all Rainforest Alliance certified etc, Lavazza bills as having “empowered thousands of farmers to grow quality coffee utilizing sustainable agricultural practices.”
I’m sure the five remaining WeWork subscribers heading in to their 28 Days Later-esque downtown workdays will appreciate that their coffee is making a difference.
Is Coffee Good For You?
No news this week, so let’s assume it is.
What I’m Drinking This Week
Trying out some biodynamic coffee from Holistic Roasters this week, because an ordering snafu while purchasing some for my brother-in-law left me with an extra bag. It’s darker-roasted than I would normally drink, and I can’t taste any specific difference from the type of farming in the cup, but it’s still interesting that such practices are being applied to coffee.
What To Read
Until next week, drink good coffee. And please, wear your mask.
Apr 9, 2017 Coffee At The Movies Episode 6: A History Of Violence Apr 9, 2017 Apr 9, 2017
Dec 15, 2016 Coffee At The Movies Episode 5: Pulp Fiction Dec 15, 2016 Dec 15, 2016
Dec 8, 2016 Coffee At The Movies Episode 4: Ghost World Dec 8, 2016 Dec 8, 2016
Dec 1, 2016 Coffee At The Movies Episode 3: Looper Dec 1, 2016 Dec 1, 2016
Nov 24, 2016 Coffee At The Movies Episode 2: The Big Lebowski Nov 24, 2016 Nov 24, 2016
Nov 17, 2016 Coffee At The Movies Episode 1: Scott Pilgrim Vs The World Nov 17, 2016 Nov 17, 2016