No coffee for Portland today

There will be no coffee today in Portland. The weekend heat wave created an exceptionally high turnout at the city’s cafés on both Saturday and Sunday. Several café owners claimed they had never seen anything like the waves of people coming in their cafés. While this was great for business, the higher-than-usual number of customers ordering cold brew coffee, which requires a high coffee to water ratio, created a shortage of roasted coffee for other drinks. Every decent café in the city was drunk completely dry by 6pm Sunday evening.

With roasters working around the clock to get caught up, the shortage is expected to last only one day. The more fortunate cafés should have coffee by late afternoon Monday. Until the cafés are restocked, grumpy Portlandians have been urged to drink tea.  

All that's left

In other news, the European Union figured out its banking crisis and has a credible plan for dealing with the trade imbalances within the Eurozone. 



Since Starbucks released its Veranda blend, light-roast coffee has been seen in the news a lot more. That’s a good thing for people who care about coffee quality. The Wall Street Journal gives an in-depth look at the trend of light-roast coffees, even among large companies such as Peet’s, Tully’s and Starbucks. The author of the article should take a trip to the Northwest, where light roast is becoming the norm. link

Convenience, convenience, convenience. Latest consumer research shows that 17% of US coffee drinkers prefer to get their coffee from a single-serve brewer. link

In related news, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters stock jumped more than 23% one day this week as the company’s beat Wall Street’s expectations (for earnings, not taste). One big question looming over the company’s future is, what happens when the patent on the K-Cups expires later this year? link

Leonardo DiCaprio is getting into the coffee business, partnering with La Colombe Torrefaction to sell LYON coffee  to raise money for environmental causes. La Colombe co-founder Todd Carmichael is featured in a video on the page cataloguing his trip to Haiti, where the coffee will be sourced. link

Coffee is well on its way to being considered a “superfood” (er, superdrink) as long as it is consumed in moderation, according to this piece in Fox News. link

Is this for real? I mentioned David Lynch’s coffee brand a few weeks back. To promote it, Lynch produced one of the strangest (and kind of disturbing) commercials I have ever seen. It’s what you would probably expect from the producer of Twin Peaks.  link


People who know me well know that I less than enthusiastic about the holidays, including Christmas. The Grinch and I have quite a bit in common. My take on the season is more Humbug than Merry Christmas.

The thing I dislike the most about this time of year is the orgy of commercialism that the holidays have become. In the news this week there was a report of how there is no one “it” gift this year. Retailers were disappointed that there was not one product that created such irrational demand that customers would line up before stores opened for a shot at the toy or gadget. I suppose that the iPad is the closest thing to a “must have” this year, but it’s too expensive to be a gift for the masses. That’s not good for retailers, but most of the stuff people buy for the season ends up cluttering up a drawer or a closet somewhere anyway. 

Even without the “one thing that everyone must have,” the retailers are still trying. I saw Christmas stuff in the stores before Halloween this year.  That’s crazy. Pretty soon they’re going to start having Christmas sales in July (oh, wait, they already do). It’s nearly as bad as the continual election cycle our politicians have fallen into.

I’m not completely hopeless when it comes to the holidays. There are a few things I enjoy about the holidays, like seeing friends and family.

Sara McLachlan’s Wintersong is another thing I like about the season. The album is my favorite Christmas album of all time. It came out in 2006 when I was working at Starbucks in Boston. We had to listen to nothing but Christmas music for a month. Most of the music the company played nearly drove me nuts, but McLachlan’s music was refreshing. With her breathy, mournful voice, McLachlan gives the music a haunting, dreamlike quality. You can almost feel the snow and the cold coming through the speakers.


Naturally tasty

On a different note, I have had a couple of  natural-processed coffees recently that were quite interesting, at least as espressos. Case Study is currently offering a natural Bourbon (variety) from Finca El Manzano in El Salvador. Actually, they have a suite of the same coffee processed in three different ways—washed, pulp natural, natural—that you can compare side-by-side if you choose. I took the “flight” and tried all three, which set my heart racing. The natural was the most interesting, with flavors of fermented peaches and plums.

The second natural I had was from Extracto, from the Ethiopia Yirgacheffe region. The crema was sweet and smelled like strawberry jam. There was a lot of wine notes in the coffee, as well as some aggressive, tongue-smacking tannins.

In addition to the two single-origin naturals, Public Domain currently has some natural-processed Ethiopia Harrar coffee in its Prometheus espresso blend. The natural adds a lot of sweetness to the blend. Jackson, one of the baristas there, told me that the blend changes pretty regularly and that they are only offering the current blend for  a few more days. If you are interested in trying a natural that is not too wild, getting a taste of it in the Prometheus blend is a good way to go.

It is hard for me to resist ordering naturals when I find them on a café’s menu. The flavors are bold, complex and somewhat unpredictable. While they might not be something that most people could drink every day, naturals are just the thing if you are in the mood for experimenting. If you’ve had any great naturals out there somewhere, let us know!

If not, well…Humbug. Or…Happy Holidays, if you prefer.