Coffee News Roundup: Week Ending September 13th

A macchiato with latte art sits atop a newspaper

Hello and welcome to Friday the 13th, a day lucky for some (specifically Jason Voorhees) and unlucky for others (specifically everyone else in the movies).

Today’s date got me thinking this morning: what coffee would Jason drink?

My guess was literal (gas station coffee because what else is available in the middle of nowhere?). My wife’s was more imaginative (AeroPress, because it’s easy for Jason to handle, won’t break, and is perfect for camping). Other ideas were more metaphorical—someone on Twitter said Nescafé, presumably because both Nestlé and Jason are mythical, unstoppable evils manifested to do harm.

Anyway, it would be hard for him to drink coffee through his mask, which then conjures up the image of him lifting it up in order to sip his beverage, which is a slightly goofy image and therefore punctures some of the horror.

What am I talking about.

Oh yes, coffee! Here’s the news.

Ethiopia and the European Union Launch $16.5 Million Coffee Project - via Daily Coffee News

The European Union has partnered with Ethiopia to launch a multimillion dollar project to boost the country’s coffee sector.

The project, funded through the EU’s European Development Fund, will focus on “improving food security and health for vulnerable populations; increasing export volumes; improving farmer access to credit, technical assistance and inputs; marketing; strengthening premium market channels; creating and promoting geographic indications (GIs); climate change mitigation; and involving more women and youth,” according to Daily Coffee News.

In its project overview document, the EU stated, “Supporting the sector to become more productive and market-oriented will foster sustainable production system that will mitigate the impact of climate change and will enhance investment in processing and value addition, all key to creating job opportunities and enhanced system resilience.”

Yikes that’s a lot of jargony business-speak. Basically, they want to help Ethiopia’s coffee community? Maybe?

Whatever they’re saying, it seems like a positive move.

Read the full story here.

Trans Coffee Shop Worker Fired for Calling Out Right-Wing Customer - via The Advocate

Oh no look, another political news story on The Pourover.

Sorry about that.

This particular story is about an altercation between a trans barista and a customer at a coffee shop in Lincoln, Nebraska. The barista had a verbal altercation with the customer, a member of the Nebraska Family Alliance. The coffee shop owners apologized and the barista was fired.

My only comment on this (please read the story) is to again point out the power imbalance between baristas and service workers (young, less well-off, often LGBTQ+) and customers.

Once more, please read the story.

Read the full story here.

You can also read the original reporting by the Lincoln Journal-Star here.

Plane carrying 326 passengers diverted after pilot spills coffee - via CNN Travel

Welp, this gives another angle to those “Don’t drink airplane coffee” news stories.

Airplane cockpit control panel

A transatlantic flight from Frankfurt to Cancún had to be diverted to Ireland when the pilot spilled his coffee all over the aircraft’s controls. This caused the control panel to, er, melt.

It became “very hot and produced smoke and a burning smell”, according to CNN, which doesn’t sound good at all.

Apparently the pilot was given a cup of coffee without a lid, which as anyone who has ever worked at a Caffe Nero on King’s Parade in Cambridge, England, can tell you, is not allowed.

If he just had a KeepCup or something similar this could all have been avoided.

Read the full story here.

He Drank 47 Cups of Coffee a Day and What Happened Was Beyond Amazing - via Inc

Remember last week when we found the worst headline of all time? Wasn’t that fun?

Well, now I present to you the most click-baity headline of all time.

Seriously, look at it. You might see that headline floating about somewhere on the internet and think, “Oh my, I wonder what shenanigans this poor fellow got up to? Perhaps he had six heart attacks and fell into a canal? Or maybe he’s a fighter pilot and drank so much caffeine he traveled through time?”

What Happened Was Beyond Amazing

I can’t wait to find out what happened. It was beyond amazing.

Did he transform into a deer? Break the world record for speed skating? What?

Tell me!

Oh wait, it’s just Balzac.

Yeah, Balzac drank a lot of coffee.

And he wrote a lot. With a pen. That’s the whole thing.


Read the full story here.

Alicia Silverstone calls out Starbucks for extra charges: 'Why should we be penalized for making the eco choice?' - via Yahoo! Lifestyle

Alicia Silverstone is not happy with Starbucks.

The apparent “long-time vegan” was upset with Starbucks baristas who, instead of brewing directly into her “eco-friendly reusable coffee mug”, brewed into a disposable cup, poured the drink into her mug, and threw away the cup.

A disposable Starbucks cup on a bench.

So she “took to Twitter” to “decry” the experience. As well she might, because that does seem unnecessarily wasteful from a gigantic corporation that pretends to be sustainable and green and the like.

What did Starbucks say in response? Essentially, they punted, waffling about their efforts to “be mindful of waste”, whatever that means.

They also claimed they “encourage baristas to avoid using disposable cups when a customer brings in a reusable alternative”, which is basically saying “We don’t actually care about your concerns, but we’ll pretend to do so to your face.”

Silverstone was also unhappy with being charged more for alternative milk, which is a little less clear cut, as complaints go.

On the one hand, alt-milks are expensive. They just are. Passing the added costs onto the customer is pretty standard practice in the coffee industry.

On the other hand, cow-milk is massively subsidized, with the US government giving $22.2 billion to the dairy industry in 2015.

Thanks for bringing attention to the issue, Alicia.

Read the full story here.

Tom Hanks Visits Toronto's Grinder Coffee, Which Wooed Ryan Gosling Last Year - via Huffington Post

Remember that strange cafe in Toronto that gets all the media attention by trying to get film stars to visit during the Toronto International Film Festival?

We discussed them last week? They managed to get a visit from Ryan Gosling last year?

No? Nothing?

Well anyway, Tom Hanks showed up.

Honestly the whole thing is a bit sad and awkward, as it’s clearly a tired PR move. Hanks showed up after closing and had to knock on the door to be let in. It’s obvious in the photo that he doesn’t want to be there: he’s grimacing in a dimly lit room while the poor barista poses gingerly beside him.

It’s all just a bit uncomfortable.

But hey, at least the coffee shop’s ploy paid off again, and a bunch of news outlets (and ridiculous coffee websites) covered it.

Well played, coffee shop. Well played.

Read the full story here (if you like).

The week in corporate greenwashing

Here’s a tweet:

Is the sustainability of coffee important to your business? Consider joining companies like @dispatchcoffee and @ChameleonCoffee by becoming a Checkoff Member, and contributing to pre-competitive research all over the world! #futureofcoffee 13, 2019

Chameleon Coffee is owned by Nestlé.

Is coffee good for you?

No news this week, health fans.

Eat leafy greens.

A man sits on a bench reading a newspaper

What to read

Why not read this interview I did for Fresh Cup with the lovely Sam Schaefer, one of my favorite coffee people and founder of Mockingbird Coffee. I chatted with him as they were finishing the buildout for the roastery and tasting room in Ann Arbor, but unfortunately right as the magazine went to print his financial backer pulled the plug.

This online piece is an updated version with more info from Sam on what happened, and because he retains the rights to the name and brand there’s a chance Mockingbird might be reborn as something new.

Also these:

Know The Value Of A Cup Of Coffee, Or Risk Losing It by Julie Francoeur

How Climate Change Is Driving Emigration From Central America by Miranda Cady Hallett

The Complexity Of Cupping: Ensuring Accuracy And Credibility Through Alignment And Calibration by Spencer Turer

Until next week, drink good coffee. Maybe sign up for the newsletter, and get this nonsense directly into your inbox each week?

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