Coffee News Roundup: Week Ending September 6th

Two hands cupping a latte atop a newspaper, seen from above

Hello and welcome to Autumn. Fall. Pumpkin Spice Latte season.

Whatever you want to call it, it’s certainly preferable to I’m-too-hot-to-move-or-go-outside-but-why-do-I-also-feel-guilty-about-not-enjoying-the-weather, or “summer” as it’s also known.

So let’s celebrate the changing of the seasons by wrapping up in a blanket, sipping a PSL, and taking a look at the week’s news.

International Coffee Organization Asks Consumers to Take the #Coffeepledge - via Daily Coffee News

International Coffee Day (that would be October 1st) is nearly upon us, which will unleash a massive wave of themed advertising from coffee companies big and small, one so strong and nauseating that the Coffee News Roundup for that week will just be a series of meaningless gibberish—“ashafhjkfhlasgdjhasd” and “qwueihsdjfbhdsjfhvab” and the like—caused by my head hitting the keyboard over and over. I do hope you’re ready.

Two hands holding ripe coffee cherries

This year, however, the International Coffee Organization (ICO) is trying something different: the London-based NGO has created a petition on using the hashtag #coffeepledge to encourage consumers to think about the effects low coffee prices are having on producers.

According to their website, “Coffee has never been more popular, but the livelihoods of coffee farmers who grow and produce the coffee we enjoy are under threat. This year we are bringing the coffee community together to sign a #coffeepledge that calls for a living wage for coffee farmers.”

How will that call be answered, you might ask?

On the petition page, the ICO states that, “By signing this petition you’ll give consumers a voice and help us to influence those who can effect positive change for coffee farmers around the world: the international community, governments, development banks, the United Nations and the wider coffee industry.”

That’s… vague.

How about putting this marketing budget into pressuring the big coffee buyers to just pay more for the coffee they buy?

But sure, petitions are good too I guess. What else are we to do?

Read the full story here.

Former Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz announces he will not run for president - via Washington Post

Oh no.

I guess we were too mean to him.

Read the full story here.

Foxconn’s first announced product for its Wisconsin factory is an airport coffee robot - via The Verge

So it seems a good way to reassure people that your robot baristas aren’t going to turn evil and take over the world is to *checks notes* have them be built by a company that had to install suicide nets to stop workers jumping off its factories.

A robot hand reaching out towards the camera

But hey, at least they’re being built in America! Yeah!

Oh wait, isn’t this the company that got billions and billions in incentives to locate its factory in Wisconsin with the promise of 13,000 jobs, only to lower that number to 1,500?


From the Verge piece: “It’s not clear when Briggo will start to see its automated coffee houses rolling off the nonexistent assembly lines at Foxconn.”

This is the future of coffee, people. I hope you’re ready.

Read the full story here.

Tesla Backer Bets on Craft-Coffee Trend Luring Hipster Consumers - via Bloomberg

Okay stop the presses. Shut it down. It’s finished.

Here it is: the worst headline of all time.

In the words of Lisa Simpson, “I know those words, but that sign makes no sense.”

So what is this meaningless jumble of trendy SEO-tinged semi-clickbait even about? Basically, Bellwether Coffee, the “fastest growing company in coffee” according to Techcrunch, has raised another $40 million in venture capital, some of it presumably from a “Tesla backer”.

Bellwether sells an electric, zero-emission coffee roaster that apparently anyone can use and that’s roughly the size of a fridge. Their goal is to “positively transform the coffee industry, making it more accessible and sustainable for our planet and our communities.”

Which, you know, fine.

I’m still angry at that headline, though.

Read the full story here.

Toronto coffee shop lures Tom Hanks with hilarious TIFF campaign - via CBC

Another misleading headline, because said Toronto coffee shop has decidedly not lured Tom Hanks, hilarious TIFF campaign or not. They’re trying to lure him. Hilariously, apparently.

The same coffee shop did this last year with Ryan Gosling (successfully) and the year before that with Idris Elba (extremely unsuccessfully).

Will it work? Who knows.

Should you care? Probably not.

Is it hilarious? Um.

Read the full story here, I suppose.

Sleepy Frat Dudes Rejoice! Jäegermeister Cold Brew Coffee Is A Thing Now - via Sprudge

Look, Jäegermeister cold brew is clearly a disgusting and pointless publicity stunt, but Sprudge’s reporting on it is very funny so that’s why it’s included.

As the article points out, these coffee + alcohol concoctions are nothing new. PBR did one; Bailey’s did one but made it non-alcoholic for no discernible reason; Jameson had a go too.

You see, millennials love coffee. They also love alcohol (they’re young, don’t you know). Therefore, they must want a vaguely vomit-inducing combination of the two.

It’s just common sense.

Read the full story here (it’s very good).

The week in corporate greenwashing

Apparently synthetic molecular coffee (whatever that is) can save the world. How? Well, according to this article in New Food Magazine, coffee growing is a major cause of deforestation. Rainforest Alliance agrees, although its solutions are decidedly non-synthetic.

A pipette dipping into test tubes in close-up

Anyway, the New Food Magazine claims that synthetic coffee, the stuff made by Atomo and talked about a bunch last month, is the answer.

Is it, though? Is cutting the farmer out of the equation (and blaming them for the problem in the first place) really the solution? Will tech save us?

I would wager that no, no it absolutely will not. The world is dying, we’re accelerating its demise, and the solution isn’t “let’s make poor people poorer while we get rich selling something nobody wants or needs”. It’s something along the lines of, “pay more for coffee, plant more trees, encourage farmers to plant more trees, and, oh yes, once again, pay more for coffee.”

Is there a petition I can sign?

Is coffee good for you?

This week it is! For one thing, it may protect against gallstones, which is good. You do need to drink quite a bit, however: “Among 104,493 individuals, those who drank more than six cups of coffee per day had a 23% lower risk of developing symptomatic gallstones compared with individuals who did not drink coffee.”

Once again, what “six cups” actually means isn’t specified, but hey it’s good news. Nobody wants gallstones.

Additionally, according to a new study I don’t quite understand and which apparently hasn’t been reported on yet, a moderate coffee intake (1-4 cups daily) can lower suicide risk in women. It’s hard to get exact details because the full study isn’t available (at least to me), but the abstract does provide some insight.

According to the conclusion, “Regardless of psychiatric problems such as depression or sleep problems, regular and moderate caffeine intake likely reduces suicide risk as well as depression in women.”

This tallies with earlier studies, which also found an inverse relationship between caffeine intake and risk of suicide.

However, someone really needs to work out exactly what a “cup” means in these studies, because otherwise the two mentioned here kinda contradict each other.

A man sits on a bench reading a newspaper

What to read

Where Does My Empty Milk Jug Go? by Will Hebert

How East Bay Specialty Coffee Importer Royal Coffee Is Bringing Transparency To The Industry by Jessica Yadegaran

Better For The Planet by Caitlin Peterkin

Bouncing Back: Resiliency In Specialty Coffee by Erika Koss

Until next week, drink good coffee.

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