Coffee News Club: Week of July 8th

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Forever chemicals in your coffee? Plus, more coffee acquisitions in Korea and trade organizations unite! 

‘COE, ACE and SCA Form Partnership’ – via Tea & Coffee Trade Journal

The coffee industry can often feel fragmented, with many trade bodies, associations, and non-profit organizations all primarily working independently of one another.

Now, the Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE) and the green coffee competition it puts on, Cup of Excellence (CoE), have announced a strategic partnership with the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA). Although they have collaborated in the past, the organizations have decided to cooperate more formally, signing a Memorandum of Understanding at the recent World of Coffee trade show in Copenhagen.

The partnership “aims to unify the approach to defining and appreciating top-quality specialty coffees, ushering in a new era for the industry,” according to a press release from the SCA. The initial focus will be integrating the SCA’s new Coffee Value Assessment tool (CVA) into the Cup of Excellence competition. The CVA is an attempt by the SCA to revamp its coffee evaluation tools, such as its cupping protocol and cupping form, to bring a more rounded, holistic approach to assessing coffee’s value.

“For too many years our organizations have walked separate paths,” said Erwin Mierisch, executive director of Cup of Excellence and Alliance for Coffee Excellence. “This long-awaited partnership is just the beginning of the positive impact that is expected for farmers, producing countries and roasters searching for high quality. From education to quality analysis to outreach and information—sharing huge opportunities abound to drive specialty coffee in the right direction.”

Read the full story here.

‘Jollibee Food Corp to acquire 70% stake in South Korea’s Compose Coffee for $238m’ – via World Coffee Portal

Korea’s coffee sector is growing fast, and outside investment is beginning to pour in. Starbucks has been in the country for years, but other US brands like Dunkin’ and Peet’s and China’s Cotti Coffee are looking to get in on the action.

New entrants in the Korean coffee scene have to compete with home-grown chains like Mega Coffee and Ediya Coffee, which are all battling for a share in one of the world’s most competitive coffee markets. Meanwhile, as in other countries, acquisitions are increasing as the sector heats up. This week, news broke that Compose Coffee, Korea’s fourth-largest chain with 2,600 stores, has been acquired by Philippine fried chicken giant Jollibee.

Jollibee, the Philippines’ largest restaurant operator, has taken a 70% stake in Compose and will add the coffee chain to a beverage portfolio that includes US-based The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and Vietnam’s Highlands Coffee. “We believe that Compose Coffee is a compelling strategic fit for [Jollibee Food Corporation] and is on track to becoming the largest, fastest growing and leading value coffee player in South Korea,” said Jollibee Chairman Tony Tan Caktiong in a statement.

Founded in 2014, Compose Coffee grew quickly and focused on affordability. This strategy has served the chain well in a coffee market that has become increasingly competitive and price-focused. Recently, Korea’s coffee market grew to include 100,000 coffee shops nationwide, nearly double the number of cafes it had in 2016.

Read the full story here.

‘Four New World Coffee Champions from World of Coffee Copenhagen’ – via Daily Coffee News

The 2024 coffee competition season closed in Copenhagen with the crowning of four new world champions. Eighty-six competitors vied for the titles of World Latte Art, World Coffee in Good Spirits, World Coffee Roasting, and Cezve/Ibrik Champion.

Yi-Chen Xie of Taiwan took home the World Latte Art champion title, while Seung Chan Wi of South Korea won World Coffee in Good Spirits. China’s 刘太阳 TaiYang Liu won the World Coffee Roasting Championship, and Jordan Tachnakian of France took first prize in the 2024 Cezve/Ibrik Championship.

Sprudge has a complete list of all this year’s world champion finalists and winners. Next year, the world championships will be split across several locations, with competitions in Houston, Jakarta, Geneva, and Milan. Competitors should start saving now.

Read the full story here.

More News

Just Look At This New Mobile Coffee Bike By La Marzocco & Specialized‘ – via Sprudge

New Project to Address Child Labour in the Coffee Industry Launched by UN Agencies and EU‘ – via International Labor Organization

Starbucks Hosts Asia Pacific Regional Barista Championships 2024‘ – via Global Coffee Report

Costa Rican Coffees Win Big at International Cup of Excellence‘ – via Tico Times

Tanzania Coffee Report: Production Rising as Old Farms Get New Life‘ – via Daily Coffee News

Good Form & Royal Coffee Team Up To Offer Two Scholarships For The Q Exam‘ – via Sprudge

The Week in Coffee Unionizing

  • Workers at The Green Line Cafe in Philadelphia have signed a letter announcing their intent to unionize and asked company owners for voluntary recognition. Twenty-two employees at the company’s five cafes and two kiosks are looking to join Local 80, the Philadelphia cafe workers union affiliated with the Philadelphia Joint Board Workers United. “Because we, the workers, are the lifeblood of this beloved local chain, we need to occupy a safe and well-maintained workspace, be properly compensated for our labor, and be recognized for our contribution to The Green Line Cafe,” the workers wrote.
  • According to an Instagram post, Compass Coffee management is offering its staff the chance to join the annual company trip in Bali—which just so happens to be scheduled during a union vote. Compass Coffee higher-ups take a trip to a different country each year. While usually reserved for management, union workers say the company has decided to open the trip to all workers. The trip takes place July 13-21; the union election is scheduled for July 16.
  • Workers at 20 Blank Street Coffee locations in New York City have ratified a union contract. The contract includes annual raises, paid time off, and a grievance procedure, and the company says it will extend these benefits to all stores. Workers hope this provides a baseline for other unionizing workers across the Northeast. “Seeing Blank Street win their contract is a huge motivating force within the [Partners Coffee Union] to bargain for the contract we deserve,” barista Alex Thompson at fellow NYC company Partners Coffee told the Chief Leader, a worker-focused publication.

Is Coffee Good For You?

Forever chemicals are a serious problem. As their name suggests, these compounds—called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)—don’t naturally break down. PFAS are found in everything from drinking water to food containers and can accumulate in the human body. As they build up, they can potentially cause cancer, congenital disabilities, and other severe health problems.

New research has found a link between people who consume certain foods—white rice, eggs, seafood, and coffee—and higher concentrations of PFAS in their bodies. The study, published in Science of The Total Environment, examined maternal plasma and breast milk samples from 3,000 participants in the New Hampshire Birth Cohort Study and compared them to information from diet and food frequency questionnaires.

A higher intake of specific foods and beverages during pregnancy was associated with higher concentrations of PFAS in plasma or breast milk. 

It’s unclear where the PFAS are coming from in coffee. The Guardian reports, “Researchers suspect that the beans, water used for brewing, or soil could be contaminated. Previous research has also found coffee filters to be treated with PFAS, and paper cups or other food packaging also commonly contain the chemicals.”

According to the study’s authors, these findings indicate a need for better regulation and protection of the world’s food supply. “The results definitely point toward the need for environmental stewardship and keeping PFAS out of the environment and food chain,” lead author Megan Romano from the University of Dartmouth told the Guardian.

Beyond the Headlines

‘How Do You Solve a Problem Like Disposable Coffee Cups?’ by Fionn Pooler

‘Battling Drought: How Climate Change and Dry Conditions Threaten Coffee Production’ by Bhavi Patel

‘Sabrina Carpenter’s ‘Barista’ Shift at Blank Street Was Weird’ 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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