Mid-May Links

A smattering of news from around the coffee world:

Oregon Public Broadcasting has a nice video about the USBC in Portland. In the article, the producer did forget to mention two other PDX baristas who competed, Laila Ghambari (Stumptown) and Tom Pikaart (Water Avenue), so we’ll make sure they get a mention here. If we're being picky, it's Brett Felchner, not Brett Fletcher (edits!).

Leave it to Philly – From a city that boos Santa Claus and throws batteries at its underachieving NFL team, this might not come as a surprise. A man who apparently did not want to pay for his sandwich threw his coffee at the cashier in a Philadelphia doughnut store.

At least he didn’t steal cash and cigarettes too.

It’s up, it’s down, it’s up, it’s way down. Investors holding Green Mountain Coffee Roasters stock have been on a quite a ride over the last year. The company’s stock price went from below $40 to $115 to back down to about $45 at the end of the year. This year has been more of the same. So far, the first five months of the year have brought changes of +19%, +22%, -28%, +4% and -50%, respectively. With K-Cup patents running out this fall, traders aren’t sure what to do. Then again, judging from the last two weeks, maybe they are.

Do you find it hard to carry your coffee around without spilling it? If so, you should probably slow down and keep your eye on the cup. You will be less likely to match the “sloshing frequency” of the coffee with your gait.

One of Japanese eating champion Takeru Kobayashi’s world records is eating 69 hotdogs in ten minutes, so he probably didn’t find his latest stunt too difficult. Kobayashi drinks 42 cups of coffee in about three minutes in a promotional video for Eight O’Clock Coffee.

Fresh-roasted (really fresh) coffee is coming to Detroit. Roasting Plant, the New York coffee company that roasts, grinds and brews coffee on demand is expanding out of the Big Apple and into the Motor City. I question the assertion that it is the “best coffee in Manhattan” but it would be interesting to see how the whole operation works. link

Tension is growing between people who work/study in cafés and those who go there to drink coffee or meet friends.

Friday (the 13th) Links

The lines in your favorite cafés might be a little longer next week. Portland is gearing up for the Specialty Coffee Association of America 2012 Event (annual conference) next week.  Thousands of coffee enthusiasts are expected to attend the event, which runs concurrently with the US Barista Championship. Kelly House, from The Oregonian, has a preview.

OregonLive.com (the online partner of The Oregonian) has selected the finalists for its coffee photo contest. The winner gets a $50 Starbucks gift card. I'm rooting for the Case Study picture.

One of the stranger things I’ve seen in a while: A few cafés in Tokyo let you pet rabbits while you drink your coffee. You just can’t make these things up.

Starbucks recently announced its policy favoring “marriage equality”. In response, the National Organization for Marriage, a K-Street lobbying firm based in Washington, D.C., created a “Dump Starbucks” online petition to get people to forego Starbucks until it changes its position. The petition has about 31,000 signatures so far. That’s an average of about 2 people per Starbucks store.

It appears that SBUX customers are not going anywhere, although they might if they knew how good the coffee at their local micro-roaster can be.

The New York Times has a long article about Andrew Rugasira, founder and CEO of Good African Coffee. Rugasira wants to use trade to develop the economies of Africa instead of aid. 

Truth in advertising? In Seoul, South Korea, Dunkin’ Donuts is enhancing its radio ads on commuter buses by having an atomizer spray coffee fragrance on the bus while the spots run. I have two questions. First, is DD really doing this or is it just an internet rumor? Second, would you consider this type of advertising intrusive? I would. Then again, it might be a welcome intrusion if they were spraying something that smells like Ristretto, Sterling or Extracto.

This week, the Huffington Post readers got their chance to hear about how Portland is such a fine place to visit, sharing “10 Things We Love about Portland, Oregon” (coffee was #7). HuffPo editors managed to spell Extracto and Coava correctly, unlike Fox News a couple weeks back.

Smarter Travel, a travel blog, called Spunky Monkey one of America’s Best Coffee Shops. The café certainly has a lot of PDX character.

Seattle techies have come up with a coffee machine that takes orders by text message

More cafés should do what a café in Norwich, England did. Baristas will no longer take orders from people talking on cell phones.  If you can’t put your phone down long enough to talk to the person behind the counter, you’ve got a problem.

In a blind taste test, the Huffington Post determined that Starbucks Via Colombia was the best tasting instant coffee. If you bother to click on the link, be sure to read the comments of the people who tried the coffees, especially on the lower-rated ones.

Not-so Laconic* Links

Looking for a way to keep your coffee warm? Apple’s latest iPad will keep it warm for you (do the wonders of Apple ever cease?). Some enterprising programmer, taking advantage of the fact that the new iPad runs hotter than previous models, wrote an app to turn the tablet into the world’s most multifunctional hot plate. I bet Steve Jobs never thought of that one… [update: the sfluxe.com site seems to be down as of 3/26, so here's an alternative link.]

It was time for the Starbucks annual meeting last week, so there’s lots of news about the Big Green Apron. Starbucks announced it would be bringing some manufacturing jobs back to the U.S., opening one factory in Ohio to make coffee mugs and another in Georgia to produce instant coffee (VIA). The company continues its evolution toward becoming the next big consumer food conglomerate (a la Kraft or Yum! Brands) with its recent purchase and rollout of its Evolution Fresh juice bars. The rollout was a little rough, though, at least in the spelling department. Starbucks is also trying to get into the fast-growing energy drinks industry, selling a new line of beverages with green coffee extract in them.

In other news, Andrew Revkin of the New York Times interviews Todd Carmichael on his project to make the coffee trade in Haiti better support the farmers. As always, Carmichael calls things as he sees them.

If you’ve ever tried to like coffee but just could not do it, you can probably identify with the author of this article in the Washington Post.

Another reason for Bostonians seeking alternatives to Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks to rejoice: Counter Culture is coming to Somerville as early as this summer.

Drip coffee enthusiasts, tip your hats. In 1972, two friends came up with an idea to brew better coffee at home, creating a home brewer called Mr. Coffee. One of the friends, Samuel Glazer, died this week at 89. 

Portland’s coffee scene (and this blog!) got a mention on FoxNews.com this week. Fox must have sensed the love that the New York Times has been giving Portland lately and did not want to miss out, writing an article called “10 Reasons to fly to Portland, Oregon right now.”  The news outlet, known for its ‘fair and balanced’ coverage, did not win any points for being ‘accurate,’ however. Whether intentionally or not, the author misspelled not one, but two local roasters’ names. Perhaps some editor at Fox wanted to tweak Portland because of its left-leaning politics.  

Don’t forget to sign up for Happy Cup’s Roaster for a Day contest. You can win the opportunity to learn how to roast your own coffee, plus win 52 bags of coffee to take home. To enter, “Like” Happy Cup on Facebook or enter at the company’s website. The deadline is March 27th.

*brief, short, to the point

Linking up

A technological threat to baristas’ employment security:  Coinstar is rolling out a new vending machine that freshly grinds coffee beans and brews a cup of coffee in about a minute. The $1 cup of coffee “tastes pretty close to a cup from any upscale coffee bar,” according to the New York Times. Has the article’s author been to Coava? I doubt it. link

On the other hand, Oliver Strand, who writes the Times’ Ristretto coffee blog, has been to Coava, as well as several other PDX cafés. link

For Boston-area readers: George Howell, one of the northeastern United States’ coffee pioneers, and founder of Coffee Connection, a successful chain of cafes in Boston sold out to Starbucks,  is now trying to reintroduce high-quality coffee to the Boston area. He recently opened a new café in Newton under his own name. link

Another story from the Bay State: Apparently, in Massachusetts and New York you can buy a product called an AeroShot, a portable caffeine inhaler. Instead of drinking espresso (or even one of those terrible-tasting energy drinks) to get a lift of caffeine, you can just pop the cap on the little plastic tube, press a button and breathe.  Isn’t technology wonderful? link

The Seattle Times has a nice article about the ups and downs of La Marzocco’s business, if you are into coffee technology history. link

Starbucks has given the world another place to enjoy coffee – the ski slopes. The big green snowsuit opened a ski-through café in Squaw Valley, California. Skiers can ski up to the takeaway window and order coffee without taking off their skis. How is it that Mount Hood wasn't the first to get one of these? link 


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