Coffee News Club: Week of April 15th


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Ninety-nine cents for a gesha coffee?! Plus, industry acquisitions reach coffee cup makers and researchers answer some coffee health FAQs.

‘Sweden’s Duni Group Acquires Australian Reusable Coffee Cup Company Huskee’ – via World Coffee Portal

We’ve seen many mergers and acquisitions in coffee, encompassing nearly every corner of the industry. Nestlé purchased Blue Bottle in 2017, Chobani acquired La Colombe in 2023, and JAB Holdings bought almost every other major coffee company

Large conglomerates have also purchased green coffee importers like Sustainable Harvest and Nordic Approach, equipment manufacturers like AeroPress, and online retailers like Seattle Coffee Gear.

Now, a Swedish catering firm, Duni Group, through their subsidiary BioPak, is acquiring the reusable cup company Huskee. 

Huskee launched in 2017. Its cups are manufactured from an “eco-composite polymer” made from coffee husk waste and polypropylene. Huskee cups quickly became popular with coffee shops for their durability, sleek design, and sustainable credentials.

In 2019, the company launched a cup-swap scheme where coffee shops could buy several Huskee cups; patrons could order a drink, take the cup, and bring it back during their next visit. The brand extended its initiatives outside of coffee with the HuskeeLoop recycling program, which turns old cups into other products like dog bowls. 

“This acquisition really frees us up to achieve the things we always set out to do, so for me personally, this is hugely exciting to be able to leverage the scale and resources of BioPak knowing that they are so keen to see reuse become mainstream,” Huskee co-founder and CEO Saxon Wright told SmartCompany. “Growing organically is great, however leveraged partnerships, rapid growth and international scale are really needed to catch vast opportunities that are in the market right now.”

BioPak recently acquired the New Zealand-based to-go cup and coffee bag manufacturer Decent Packaging. The World Coffee Portal article notes that Decent and Huskee’s combined annual sales are around $18.9 million. In a press release announcing the Huskee acquisition, Duni Group said the purpose of the purchase is “to further strengthen Duni Group’s food packaging business and to enable circular food & beverage habits for consumers and societies around the world.”

Read the full story here.

‘China’s Luckin Coffee Launches New SOE Black Cup Gesha Series’ – via Verdict Food Service

Luckin Coffee is selling Ethiopian gesha—a prized coffee variety that often sells for hundreds of dollars per pound—for less than a dollar per shot.

With over 10,000 locations worldwide, the mega-chain has started selling what it’s calling the “single origin espresso (SOE) Black Cup Gesha series” in its stores in Singapore. Cups of gesha coffee are usually very expensive, sometimes costing upwards of $30.

Not at Luckin. New customers can download the Luckin app and try their first gesha espresso for $0.99. It’s all part of Luckin’s Black Cup series, an initiative launched to push more single-origin-branded coffees sourced through the brand’s “Global Bean Hunting Initiative.”

This project, led by “a team of World Barista Champions,” including 2022 winner Anthony Douglas, looks to source “premium coffee beans from renowned regions and estates worldwide, engaging in every aspect of cultivation, harvesting, processing, and quality assurance.” Offerings include more Ethiopian coffees—from Hambella and Yirgacheffe—as well as an upcoming Sumatra Gayo.

Read the full story here.

More News

US Daily Coffee Consumption Highest in More Than 20 Years‘ – via Bloomberg

Italian Firm Completes 50% Acquisition of Massimo Zanetti Beverage Group’ – via Daily Coffee News

Costa Rica’s Aquiares Estate Ships First EUDR-compliant Coffee to Europe’ – via World Coffee Portal

‘China’s Cotti Coffee Is Running Normally, Staff Say After Founder Told to Repay USD260 Million Debt‘ – via Yicai Global

La Marzocco Launches The Swan Commercial Espresso Grinder‘ – via Daily Coffee News

Costa Rica’s UCR Pioneers Coffee Waste Reuse for Sustainability‘ – via Tico Times

Is The Hyundai DAL-e Coffee Delivery Robot A Nearsighted Scrap Heap Or Galaxy Hero?‘ – via Sprudge

Startup Sprout Offers Tech-Backed Climate Insurance for Smallholder Farmers’ – via Daily Coffee News

The Week in Coffee Unionizing

Workers at a Philz Coffee location in Berkeley, California, have unionized. All 16 store employees voted to join the independent union Philz Coffee United, deciding to organize after an incident in December 2023 where management sent half the staff home for wearing pro-Palestinian pins. 

“In that moment there was a decision that we had … we can put some efforts towards pursuing legal action … because a lot of money was stolen from us as a result of being at home for rules that were never written down, or we can take that energy and organize,” one barista told the Daily Californian.

Before the vote, workers allege that Philz upper management engaged in union-busting, including sending a “courtesy notice” that ongoing lease negotiations made the location’s future “uncertain.” Philz did not respond to the Daily Californian’s request for comment. 

Philz, founded in 2003 by father-and-son team Phil and Jacob Jaber, is considered among the forerunners of third-wave coffee in the United StatesSince securing its first round of venture capital funding in 2013, the San Francisco-based chain has expanded nationwide and now has 70 locations nationwide. The Daily Californian says the Jabers no longer own Philz.

The company said it would work with the new union. “We are dedicated to continuing an open dialogue between Philz Coffee and Philz Coffee United in order to foster a workplace atmosphere of mutual respect and kindness that is in line with our Philz Mission & Core Values,” said CEO Mahesh Sadarangani.

Is Coffee Good For You?

As you probably know, researchers have been trying to answer the eternal question posed above—is coffee good for you—for years. 

Today, we’re not publishing the findings from the latest study saying coffee is/isn’t good for you. Instead, we’re talking about a team of sports science researchers who evaluated existing scientific literature to answer more than a dozen frequently asked questions about caffeine’s effect on the body.

The study, published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, answers such questions such as:

  • Can too much caffeine kill you? Yes, but generally not if you ingest it via tea or coffee (you’d have to consume a lot of caffeine for it to kill you).
  • Does caffeine dehydrate you during exercise? Not really. “Any issues vis a vis dehydration is likely not the result of caffeine consumption but rather fluid replacement during exercise.”
  • Does caffeine help with weight loss? Nope. “The current body of evidence does not support the use of caffeine as a fat loss aid.”
  • Is the afternoon caffeine crash real, and should you wait a few hours after waking up for your first cup? Not according to the researchers. “There is no evidence that caffeine ingestion upon waking is somehow responsible for an afternoon ‘crash’ or that delaying consumption would somehow prevent this if it did occur.”

Beyond the Headlines

‘When Community Is Taken Advantage Of’ by Jenn Chen

‘The Cost of Competing’ by Fionn Pooler

‘Welcome to Parallel Play, A New Series from Portrait Coffee’s Aaron Fender’ by Aaron Fender

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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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