Coffee News Club: Week of April 10th

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Breaking news: coffee remains America’s favorite beverage. Plus, lawmakers introduce legislation to expand coffee disease research, and Starbucks fires the organizer responsible for “igniting the Starbucks Workers United union campaign.” 

‘2023 US Coffee Consumer Trends: Inside the NCA’s Latest Report’ – via Daily Coffee News

The latest report from the National Coffee Association (NCA) shows that coffee remains the most popular beverage in the United States, and more people than ever are enjoying specialty coffee.

More than 1,500 coffee drinkers aged 18 and older participated in the National Coffee Data Trends research, answering questions about preparation methods, drink types, place of consumption, and more.

Sixty-five percent of participants reported drinking coffee within the past day, more than any other beverage—that number is down slightly from last year at 66% but up from 58% in 2021 and 62% in early 2020.

The type of coffee consumed is worth noting. Within the past week, 61% of respondents said they had enjoyed a traditional coffee, which the NCA defines as “not brewed from premium whole beans or ground varieties,” while 52% reported drinking specialty coffee. That latter number reflects another significant increase in consumption over previous years: in 2022, the number of reported specialty drinkers was 43%, and in 2021 it stood at 36%.

“Coffee’s continuing reign as America’s favorite beverage is great news for coffee drinkers and our economy,” NCA President and CEO William “Bill” Murray said in the press release. “Coffee remains a mainstay in Americans’ daily routines, supports businesses and workers in every state, and is associated with multiple unique health benefits.”

Other interesting takeaways from the report:

  • People still enjoy coffee at home: 83% of drinkers who had coffee in the last day reported having it at home, up 4% from January 2020. Just 35% said they’d had a coffee while out and about, down 6% from 2020.
  • Nearly a third of past-week coffee drinkers consumed flavored coffee, with vanilla as the most popular flavor.
  • Latte, espresso, and cappuccino are tied for “most popular specialty beverage,” according to the press release.
  • Drip coffee makers remain the most popular home brewing method, used by 41% of respondents who had coffee in the last day, with single-cup brewers following at 28%.

Read the full story here.

‘U.S. Proposal Would Boost Coffee Disease Research’ – via STiR Coffee & Tea

Members of Congress proposed a bill to expand research spending to help protect coffee crops from pests and diseases. For decades, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has conducted research into the coffee borer beetle, but this new legislation would expand the program’s scope to cover additional threats such as coffee leaf rust.

The Coffee Plant Health Initiative Amendments Act was introduced by representatives members from two leading US coffee origins—Jill Tokuda and Ed Case of Hawaii and Jenniffer González-Colón of Puerto Rico. The representatives received additional support from Garret Graves of Louisiana, and the bill also is backed by Senators Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz of Hawaii.

Hawaii faces a rapid influx of coffee leaf rust that threatens to devastate the state’s coffee production. Combined with drought and the ongoing threat from the borer beetle, coffee yields have dropped by up to 50% in some cases. 

“From Kona to Maui to Mayaguez, coffee is a fundamental part of our island cultures and drives over US$500 million in benefits to our communities,” said Suzanne Shriner, administrator of the Synergistic Hawaii Agricultural Council. “This bill focuses needed research attention on our biggest problems, while helping our small farmers stay in business.”

This bill is one of many approaches officials have taken to tackle threats facing Hawaiian coffee, from the straightforward—a specially-approved fungicide specific to coffee leaf rust—to the inventive—a tiny parasitic wasp whose larvae like to eat coffee borer beetles.

The bill has support from several coffee organizations, such as World Coffee Research, the Hawaii Coffee Association, and the NCA. “As agricultural research and development plays a crucial role in the future of America’s favorite beverage, NCA urges Congress to advance legislation that prioritizes coffee as a key contributor to Americans’ daily lives, farmers’ livelihoods, and the United States economy,” said the NCA’s William “Bill” Murray.

Read the full story here.

More News

‘Cafe Imports’ Legendary Coffee Exchange Coming to SCA Expo’ – via Daily Coffee News

‘Coffee Fellows Scraps Plant-based Surcharge Across its German Stores’ – via World Coffee Portal

‘ACE Announces Best of Yemen 2023’ – via Global Coffee Report

‘High Density, A Coffee Conference For All, Returns For Its Third Year’ – via Fresh Cup Magazine

‘2024 World Brewers Cup and Cup Tasters Championships Coming to Chicago’ – via Daily Coffee News

‘Arabica Moderately Higher on Expectations for a Bigger Global Coffee Deficit’ – via Barchart

‘Researchers Begin to Demystify Fermented Coffee Aroma and Flavor’ – via Daily Coffee News

‘V60 Wins The 2023 Sprudge Ultimate Coffee Bracket Challenge’ – via Sprudge

‘Three Quarters of European Branded Coffee Shop Markets Grew Over the Last 12 Months’ – via World Coffee Portal

‘City of Everett Approves $500K Settlement in ‘Bikini Barista’ Case’ – via Daily Coffee News

The Week in Coffee Unionizing

Just two days after former CEO Howard Schultz testified before Congress about the company’s alleged union-busting, Starbucks fired one of the union campaign’s original organizers. 

Lexi Rizzo was a shift supervisor in Buffalo for over seven years and is credited with “igniting the Starbucks Workers United union campaign,” according to CNBC. Rizzo was fired alongside two other union organizers, while another received disciplinary action.

Rizzo was terminated due to ongoing lateness, which she characterized as excessively punitive—she clocked in one minute late on two occasions. Starbucks said Rizzo “had been on a progressive disciplinary track,” including multiple write-ups.

Rizzo said she will fight “tooth and nail” to get her job back. “I’m absolutely heartbroken. It wasn’t just a job for me. It was like my family,” she said in an interview with CNBC. “It was like losing everything. I’ve been there since I was 17 years old. It’s like my entire support system, and I think that they knew that.”

“I kind of knew something was going to happen before I ever clocked in,” said Gianna Reeve, Rizzo’s coworker who was disciplined. “I woke up to get ready for my shift and I looked to see a text and a group chat from Lexi Rizzo, saying they just fired me and feeling my heart sink into my stomach, because Lexi was the first of us. She’s the whole reason why Starbucks Workers United exists.”

Is Coffee Good For You?

The launch of Starbucks’ new Oleato line of drinks in the US was much-publicized., But according to initial reviews, the experience of drinking coffee with olive oil has been a bit underwhelming—and in some cases, downright nauseating.

Gear Patrol used words like “soft,” “earthy,” and “bonus chapstick” to describe the act of drinking olive oil-infused coffees and summed it up as “having one’s lips and mouth coated in olive oil after sipping a latte is too unappealing.”

TikTokers were similarly unimpressed, with one describing it as like “an oil spill on your iced coffee” and others wondering if it was an April Fool’s joke. One commenter bluntly wrote that “Y’all intestines gonna be slip and slide.”

This brings us to why the Oleato is under the ‘Is Coffee Good For You?’ heading: some drinkers report, er, explicit intestinal reactions after trying the drinks.

Twitter users have posted their bad reactions, and there’s a lengthy Reddit thread dedicated to discussing the finer points of oil and coffee’s impact on the digestive system. None of these experiences can be verified, but that didn’t stop a slew of websites from dedicating articles to the various issues the drinks have allegedly caused.

“Olive oil can have a slight laxative effect for some people,” a registered dietician told Eat This Not That. “And when olive oil is combined with caffeine, another factor that may promote a bowel movement, people may feel the effects.”

Beyond the Headlines

‘The Undercover Organizers Behind America’s Union Wins’ by Josh Eidelson
‘Will A Robot Barista Make Your Next Latte?’ by Ashley Rodriguez

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Fionn Pooler

Fionn Pooler is a coffee roaster and freelance writer currently based in the Scottish Highlands who has worked in the specialty coffee industry for over a decade. Since 2016 he has written the Pourover, a newsletter and blog that uses interviews and critical analysis to explore coffee’s place in the wider, changing world (and also yell at corporations).

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