July 28, 2011

Coffee Stock Market News

There is a ton of news about the coffee business and the stock market. "Dunkin' Brands" -- see if you can guess which coffee and donut company they own -- went public yesterday and their stock went up 46% from the opening price. (FYI this means the investment bank cheated the company by mispricing their stock.)

Next, Green Mountain Coffee jumped 20% to go over $100 a share after a great earnings report. Share prices have more than tripled in a year. This is about deals with Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts for coffee in K-Cup portion packs that are used in Keurig single cup coffee makers for home and office. This is the latest tulip that Wall Street is bubbling up.

Peet's stock has been soaring. Motley Fool has an earnings report preview.

And Starbucks reports later today. The Street says,

Analysts are calling for Starbucks to have earned $258.8 million, or 34 cents per share, on revenue of $2.85 billion in its fiscal third quarter. In the year-earlier period , Starbucks earned $207.9 million, or an adjusted 29 cents per share, on revenue of $2.61 billion. If Starbucks meets expectations it would be a 24.5% profit increase year over year.

None of which has anything to do with the taste of the coffee.

March 18, 2009

Aftermath Of Menlo Park Peet's Fire

Almanac : Fire: Peet's and Calla may be shut for months,

There were coffee and scones this morning at Peet's Coffee & Tea at the corner of University Drive and Santa Cruz Avenue in Menlo Park, but money did not change hands. The refreshments were free, following a devastating fire yesterday, but while the empty tables and chairs inside beckoned, you had to find a seat outside.

. . . As to when the building comes back on line for regular use, it depends largely on when the owner obtains building permits to do the necessary repairs and how quickly the repairs are done...

... It's possible that Peet's could be up and running before the other activities, he said, because the water damage was slight compared with what happened to the boutique next door.

Photos here.

March 17, 2009

Menlo Park CA Peets Fire

I JUST heard that the Menlo Park Peet's is on fire. This was the second Peet's to open. I found this: 3-Alarm Fire Burns In Downtown Menlo Park -,

A fire burning in downtown Menlo Park Tuesday morning went to three alarms, a fire dispatcher said.

The blaze was reported at 7:04 a.m. at 1050 University Drive.

The building where the fire was burning contains several businesses, including a Peet's Coffee & Tea and the Calla boutique.

There is video at the news website so click the link.

July 1, 2008

Starbucks Closing 600 Stores

Starbucks closing 600 stores in the US: Financial News

Starbucks Corp. has announced it's closing 600 underperforming stores in the United States.

The Seattle-based premium coffee company also announced Tuesday it expects to open fewer than 200 new company-operated stores in the United States in fiscal 2009.

The company says it will try to place workers from closed stores in remaining Starbucks.

March 27, 2008

Thoughts on tipping

I'm interviewed today in the Lincoln Journal Star about tipping in coffee shops, and STC gets a mention as well.

Previous tip blogging here and here.

January 28, 2008

Does Caffeine Boost Blood Sugar?

A new study raises question about caffeine's effect on blood sugar levels.

Caffeine ups blood sugar level in diabetics: study - Yahoo! News,

Giving caffeine to a small group of people with type 2 diabetes caused their levels of the blood sugar glucose to rise through the day, especially after meals, researchers at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, found.

"Caffeine appears to disrupt glucose metabolism in a way that could be harmful to people with type-2 diabetes," James Lane, a Duke medical psychologist who led the study, said in a telephone interview.

However, this is only one study, and it has dirrerent results from previous studies. So don't take this as the final answer.
The new findings seem to run counter to previous research regarding diabetes and caffeine. Earlier studies indicated that people who drank coffee had a reduced risk of type-2 diabetes, and those who drank the most coffee had the lowest risk.

The researchers used new technology -- a tiny glucose monitor embedded under the abdominal skin -- to monitor the glucose levels continuously in 10 people, average age 63.

On days when the participants were given four tablets containing caffeine equivalent to four cups of coffee, their average daily sugar levels rose 8 percent compared to days when the same people were given four placebo tablets, the researchers reported in the journal Diabetes Care.

"What we are really showing here is that when people with type-2 diabetes who are regular coffee drinkers drink coffee, it produces an elevation in their glucose throughout the day above what it is if they don't have caffeine," Lane said.

"This suggests that people with diabetes might want to avoid coffee and other caffeinated beverages so that this exaggeration doesn't occur. They may find that it's easier for them to keep their glucose down if they avoid caffeine."

So it could mean that it helps keep you from getting diabetes but after you get diabetes it elevates the sugar level...

November 28, 2007

Assorted coffee links

The Economist takes a peek at the Clover coffee brewer

Sova Espresso and Wine opens in Washington, DC

Starbucks anti-trust suit moving forward

Starbucks opens farmer support center in Ethiopia

September 1, 2007

R. I. P. Alfred Peet

"I came to the richest country in the world, so why are they drinking the lousiest coffee?"

Alfred Peet, founder of Peet's Coffee & Tea, died Wednesday at 87.

Peet's: Alfred H. Peet, 1920-2007 (with comments and pictures),

When Alfred Peet opened his shop in Berkeley in April, 1966 he started a coffee revolution. Nobody had ever seen top-quality coffee like this roasted in this unique style in America.
Washington Post, Alfred Peet; Put Buzz In Gourmet Coffee,
Alfred Peet, 87, a Dutch tea trader who started the gourmet coffee craze in the United States with his rich, darkly roasted, high-altitude beans and taught the trade to the founders of Starbucks and sold them their first year's supply, died Aug. 29 at his home in Ashland, Ore.

His company, Peet's Coffee & Tea, from which he retired in 1983, announced his death. The cause was not reported.

... Coffee aficionados swear by Peet's, asserting that it is superior to mass-merchandised products. In 1971, when the three founders of Starbucks decided to open a gourmet coffee store in Seattle's Pike Place Market, they sought Mr. Peet. He insisted that they go to his store to learn about coffee before he would sell them a single bean...

... Peet's is bean-sized compared to Starbucks, but it has played a significant role in the development of the U.S. coffee culture.

San Francisco Chronicle: Coffee pioneer Alfred Peet dies,
With his emphasis on specialty coffees and unique brewing techniques, Peet, the son of a Dutch roaster, put specialty coffee on the map - and in the process influenced the founders of Starbucks.

"Up until the time he started, in 1966, basic American coffee was swill," said Jim Reynolds, roastmaster emeritus at Peet's. "His father had been a small coffee roaster in Holland before World War II, he was aware of good quality coffee, but nobody in the States was buying it," Reynolds said. "He realized Berkeley was a place where good food and good quality coffee would work."

... "I like to think that he taught America how to drink dark-roasted coffee," said Narsai David, the food and wine editor of KCBS in San Francisco, who, when he opened his Narsai's Restaurant on Colusa Circle in 1972, was Peet's first commercial account.

... In 1971, the first Starbucks store opened in Seattle's Pike Place Market, with coffee roasted by Peet's. The company's co-founders, Jerry Baldwin and Gordon Bowker, learned about roasting from Peet.

Peet sold his business in 1979 but stayed on as a coffee buyer until 1983. In 1984, Starbucks co-owner Baldwin and Reynolds, the roastmaster, with a group of investors bought Peet's four Bay Area locations. In 1987, Baldwin and Peet's owners sold the Starbucks chain to focus on Peet's, and Baldwin and Howard Schultz, Starbucks' new owner, entered into a no-compete agreement in the Bay Area. In 2001, Peet's became a public company.

Alfred Peet was born in Alkmaar, Holland, on March 10, 1920. He helped his father by cleaning his coffee-roasting machinery and doing other odd jobs. When Germany invaded the Netherlands, he was pressed into working for the Third Reich in Frankfurt. When the war ended, Peet joined Lipton, the tea company, and for a time worked in the tea business in the then-Dutch colony of Indonesia.

He immigrated to San Francisco in 1955 and took a job with coffee importer E.A. Johnson & Co. He favored high-altitude coffee from Costa Rica, Guatemala and East Africa that his father used to buy, and although there was no market for it in the area, he decided to create one.

Seattle Times, Coffee master Alfred Peet, 87, inspired Starbucks,

Continue reading "R. I. P. Alfred Peet" »

July 19, 2007

Livin' on a lawsuit

As if the ubiquity of his music in DC bars wasn't enough reason to be annoyed with Bon Jovi, his lawsuit against coffee energy drink maker Mijovi surely seals the deal.

June 4, 2007

The coming caffeine ban

Our children are being taken in by a new drug. A drug that's fattening, high in calories, and addictive. It's carried openly in schools, considered a sign of fashion. Even teen celebrities promote its glamorous image: doesn’t help when trendsetters like Mary-Kate Olsen regale interviewers with tales like this: “When I was younger, on weekends, my mom would make us pancakes with our initials on them and then a tiny cup of coffee,” she told W magazine. “I remember at 10 sneaking my own coffee and pouring a ton of sugar in and going up to the playroom and drinking it.”

Oh no, coffee! I'd like to think that when an op-ed appears in the Boston Globe lamenting kids' coffee consumption, it's just a call for parents to be aware and responsible. I think we've learned by now that that's not the case. Can calls for school districts to ban coffee from students' hands be too far behind?

Remember, coffee also serves as a dangerous and deadly weapon!

Previous Boston Globe hand-wringing about kids and coffee noted by Rogier van Bakel here.

[Cross-posted at ER.]

May 11, 2007

Cups and councils

City councillors in Toronto are proposing a tax on paper coffee cups. Of course I recommend ceramic whenever possible, but this is ridiculous:

Hundreds of millions of paper cups are tossed into trash bins across Ontario every year, and they all wind up in landfills. That's why the city's Works Committee wants to put a stop to the endless waste and is proposing a 25 to 30 cent tax on every cup of coffee that comes in either a cardboard, styrofoam or wax-lined cup.

That would be more money per cup going to the city for doing virtually nothing than goes to the farmers who grow the beans. Whatever the marginal cost is of collecting and disposing of a paper coffee cup, I'm sure it's less than 30 cents. Such a tax would also place downward pressure on the prices shops are willing to pay for coffee. Increasing the price of cups is only going to make it harder to sell high quality, sustainably grown coffee, an unintended consequence with it's own negative environmental impact.

None of which is to say that the paper cups that get thrown out every day aren't a problem. A better way of addressing it might be to turn heaps of office waste paper into the cups people drink from. The story behind why this isn't happening much is actually pretty interesting.

If you frequent Starbucks, you might have noticed that the cups there advertise being made from 10% recycled paper. For that you can thank the company's eco-marketing. For the fact that their cups can't be higher than 10% recycled, you can thank the federal government:

Starbucks asked its suppliers to take up a new crusade: Get the FDA's approval for a beverage cup that contained recycled paper, not just on the outside, but the inside as well.

Says one of the company's executive VPs:

The new regulations that the FDA had come out with required testing to be done to really infinitesimal limits. So we not only had to test to those limits but in many cases had to develop the test protocol itself, because it hadn't been done before.

Whether or not increasing the percentage of recycled paper will prove to be cost-effective remains to be seen. What is clear is that the coffee industry is getting greener all the time quite independently of meddling city councils.

[Cross-posted on Eternal Recurrence.]

May 4, 2007

Flaws in Fair Trade

A few months ago I visited Padgett Station, a coffee shop in Carrboro, NC. Offering a wide selection of coffee, wine, beer, cigars, meats, and cheeses, it seems like the kind of place I'd love. And I did enjoy it, but the experience was marred by the store's self-righteous attitude about using Fair Trade products. One sign behind the counter, for example, says something like, "Fair or Unfair? It's that simple." No, it's not that simple.

A new paper by Jeremy Weber in the Cato Journal does a good job explaining why, presenting an interesting economic analysis of the system's flaws. For instance, how requirements that grower groups operate self-sufficiently force them to lose out on gains from trade:

Continue reading "Flaws in Fair Trade" »

May 3, 2007

Organic coffee update

In response to the thousands of signatures received in protest of the ruling that would have made jeopardized the certification of organic coffee and other crops, the USDA is holding off on making any changes. The rules will be up for a more thorough review in the fall.

[Hat tip to one of my new favorite blogs, Coffee and Conservation. Cross-posted on Eternal Recurrence.]

April 25, 2007

It's true I like burritos

I used to get paid to do what?

A recent online survey conducted by Krups, the coffee experts and sponsors of the upcoming 2007 United States Barista Championship, revealed some interesting results. A national sample of 2,000 Americans* were asked, "What is a Barista?" Out of the five possible responses they were provided, approximately 1/3 of the coffee crazed Americans did indeed know that it is a barista who prepares and serves that cup of joe every morning.

As for the rest of the country, the results to the question "what is a barista?" were a bit more colorful:

-- 11% reported it was a lawyer from England
-- 7% thought it was someone who prepares alcoholic beverages
-- 6% said it was a fashionable garment
-- 1% reported that it was a person who loves burritos
-- 41% said they did not know

The first response is more impressive than my old job and there have been times when I could have gotten away with claiming it. The second is technically correct in Italian. I am not, nor have I ever been, a fashionable garment.

[Cross-posted on Eternal Recurrence.]

April 19, 2007

The point of tipping

A couple of weeks ago Helena Echlin, a writer for the food website CHOW, interviewed me for an advice column about the etiquette of tipping baristas. I get the opening quote:

Jacob Grier, a barista at Baked and Wired in Washington, DC, and cowriter of the blog Smelling the Coffee, says he tries to tip a dollar per drink. “You tip a bartender if he creates a good rapport, so why not tip a barista for the same?”

I actually said quite a bit more than that, but it beats my WSJ lead of "make sure it coats your tongue." Not surprisingly, I do advocate tipping baristas, but not necessarily for the obvious reasons. And since I'm no longer actively working in a coffee shop I can't be accused of letting self-interest bias my opinion.

Continue reading "The point of tipping" »

April 18, 2007

Organic coffee in jeopardy

I just learned of this story via the Counter Culture Coffee weblog. A recent ruling by the USDA threatens organic certification for co-ops of coffee growers and farmers of other crops. Organic certification of a farm requires expensive inspection each year. This isn't practical for the numerous small farmers in developing counties, so a regime of partial inspection has been allowed in place of inspection of every individual farm. Salon sums it up:

Until now, however, there has been a special provision for "grower groups" that made certification practical for farmer cooperatives in the Third World, whose memberships can reach into the thousands. Because of the immense logistical demands of inspecting every farm in a large co-op, a compromise was reached: An organic inspector would randomly visit only a portion of the group's farms each year, usually 20 percent. The grower groups would then self-police the remainder through a manager who made sure they followed the rules. The following year, an inspector would return and visit another 20 percent of the farms. After five years, all farms would be inspected.

Continue reading "Organic coffee in jeopardy" »

February 24, 2007

Fiber From Drinking Coffee?

Well here is some interesting news! Need More Fiber? Try Coffee, Coffee May Be Higher In Soluble Fiber Than Wine Or Orange Juice, Researchers Say,

They say coffee has more soluble dietary fiber (the type of fiber that dissolves in water and helps prevent cholesterol from being absorbed by the
intestines) than wine or orange juice.

... Instant coffee contained the most — about 1.8 grams of soluble dietary fiber per cup. Espresso had 1.5 grams of soluble dietary fiber per cup, and filtered coffee contained 1.1 grams, the study shows.

... Looking for other sources of dietary fiber? Beans, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are leading sources.

Those foods also contain insoluble fiber, which doesn't dissolve in water, rather than the soluble dietary fiber found in coffee.

Insoluble fiber (roughage) may help keep bowel movements regular and reduce the risk of colon problems. It also makes you feel full.

January 22, 2007

It's easier than moving to Australia

I'm glad you're all concerned about my income and flattered (I guess) if you believe I could get more tips dressing like this for work. Nonetheless, you can stop sending me this article.


[Hat tip: Everybody. Cross-posted at Eternal Recurrence.]

January 15, 2007

The best part of waking up

This invention -- an alarm clock that releases a synthetic coffee smell when the alarm goes off -- is sort of neat, in a tacky sort of way. I'm sure it doesn't smell as good as real coffee. And more importantly, there is no real coffee, so if you use the thing you're starting your day off with disappointment from the very first minute.

Better idea? An actual bedside coffee grinder/alarm clock. The whir of the burrs wakes you up while releasing the sirenous aroma of real fresh ground coffee. Say, Guatemala Huehuetenango. The coffee dispenses into the state of the art automatic bedside Clover, which brews a perfect cup before you even have time to remember the name of the alluring woman lying next to you. All for just three easy payments of $19.95.

(Pop quiz: Which aspect of my above fantasy is most unrealistic? Hint: It's not the $60 Clover.)

Continue reading "The best part of waking up" »

December 18, 2006

What's a barista really worth?

I once befriended an Australian who offered me a place to stay and a job in his country if I ever decided to come and work there for a while. Perhaps I should have taken him up on it? Link:

It's the mark of a successful barista in a profession that has come of age. A first-rate barista knows customers by name and coffee of choice and juggles hundreds of hand-crafted beverages each day.

In Italy, the average age of a barista is 48. It's not a job for an eager student who will disappear at the earliest opportunity but an exalted career. In Sydney, a top barista can earn about $100,000 and in Melbourne, well, rates aren't necessarily that generous but we love them anyway.

That comes to about $78,000 in US dollars. Even assuming that particular figure is an extreme outlier, baristi are pulling in more money in Australia than they are here. Why? (Seriously, for my own benefit, why?)

Continue reading "What's a barista really worth?" »

October 20, 2006

Decaf / Not Decaf?

Decaf coffee may still pack a mini-caffeine punch,

Decaf coffee is often not totally caffeine-free, a new study shows. In fact, while these beverages have far less caffeine than a cup of regular coffee, they still may have enough of the stimulant to cause physical dependence on them.
Further down in the report,

Continue reading "Decaf / Not Decaf?" »

September 20, 2006


Skillet Doux has the lowdown on "espesso," a new coffee creation being test marketed in Chicago. The product is a mixture of espresso, sugar, a secret thickening agent, and, in some flavors, milk. The stuff that results is thick enough to cling to the cup when turned upside down, a quality control demonstration reminiscent of the Dairy Queen Blizzard.

The fact that Espesso is sold by Lavazza and seems kind of gimmicky probably turns off a lot of purists. But if a competitor in the World Barista Championships came up with it, my guess is aficionados would be applauding his ingenuity (though at twelve hours prep time, it couldn't actually be used in competition). The espresso flavor sounds especially promising:

Then, I moved on to the espresso which, conversely, was in no danger whatsoever of being mistaken for any traditional foodstuff. Though the process was exactly the same, the absence of milk made for a significant mental disconnect between flavor and texture. It felt like a wet yet light and firm mousse, but the flavor was full-on unadulterated espresso. And it was potent. We're talking pure, intense coffee flavor in cold, fluffy form. I dug it. My only complaint was that I thought it far too sweet, but as mentioned they've only been serving it for a couple of days, and I get the impression they're still working the kinks out.

And as for foodie cred, Espesso was created by Ferran Adriá, a pioneer of molecular gastronomy.

Whenever I go to Chicago, I already know where my first coffee stop is. But for shot number two, this sounds interesting enough to try.

[Via Slashfood.]

September 3, 2006

Cokoffee In Pods -- Should Peet's Be Worried?

Coca-Cola set to brew up tea and coffee business,

Faced with slumping demand for its flagship soft drinks, Coca-Cola Co. is stepping out of the cooler and into the hot beverage market, launching a new line of brewed lattes, teas and coffees set for a worldwide debut in Toronto next week.

Canada will serve as a global test market for Coke's foray into the premium coffee category with a brand that will be called "Far Coast."

Coca-Cola adds coffee, tea "pods" to soda lineup

Continue reading "Cokoffee In Pods -- Should Peet's Be Worried?" »

August 5, 2006

Caffeine warning labels

Reuters reports that many coffee shops in Taiwan are now including caffeine warning labels on their coffee beverages:

Coffee chains are putting red marks next to coffee drinks with more than 200 mg of caffeine, yellow marks beside caffeine levels of 100-200 mg and green marks next to drinks with less than 100 mg.

The labels are voluntary so far, but I do wonder if they're truly necessary. They are not a response to potential long-term health effects, but to short-term ones like anxiety and upset stomach. Can't consumers figure that out for themselves?

On the other hand, I have noticed a surprising degree of ignorance among coffee drinkers about how much caffeine is in their drinks. There's a common misperception that a cup of coffee provides a mild pick-me-up while a shot of espresso sends one into the stratosphere. Thus I sometimes get customers ordering a 16 oz. coffee instead of their usual one or two shot espresso drink because they "need to go easy on the caffeine." They're usually surprised to find out that while espresso has more caffeine per ounce than a cup of coffee, one or two shots will usually be less than a full cup. Perhaps these coded labels will set people straight about this.

Then again, it seems that the effects of caffeine are largely dependent on what a person believes them to be. Epsresso sends them into the stratosphere because that's what they expect the beverage to do. Will customers seeking out the red label drinks -- now scientifically confirmed as being super charged -- reach whole new hieghts of caffeination? It's possible that the existence of warning labels could exacerbate the very jitters they were meant to defend against.

[Via Slashfood.]

June 18, 2006

Worst. Union. Ever.

I've never joined a barista union. If I did join one, the list of things I'd want my union leaders to do would not include complaining about getting free food and drinks from my employer. But in article describing a threatened lawsuit against Starbucks by the extreme healthists at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, that's exactly what they're doing:

The union contends that Starbucks staff gain weight when they work at the chain. They are offered unlimited beverages and leftover pastries for free during their shifts.

The article also mentions the secret "short" size, an 8 oz. cup available at Starbucks that doesn't get listed on the menu. My friend Tim Harford had an interesting column on the economics behind this in Slate a few months ago. Check it out here.

June 13, 2006

Sometimes low prices

An article in the Washington Post describes how Wal-Mart, hoping to polish its image and appeal to socially conscious consumers, is revamping its sales of Fair Trade coffee. P&G-owned Millstone's Fair Trade coffees may be on the chopping block as Wal-Mart starts dealing with Brazilian company Bom Dia. The article provides an interesting look at the coffee market, from the mega-retailer to an individual farmer whose life will be dramatically improved if the deal succeeds.

Overall, I think it is a positive development. It will certainly be good for the farmers who gain access to a Fair Trade buyer. And it might be good for specialty coffee, too, if it introduces consumers to the idea of paying a premium for coffee that tastes better and is labeled by origin. But there are some criticisms to keep in mind.

Continue reading "Sometimes low prices" »

May 26, 2006

For the children

Noted without comment:

LOWER BURRELL, Pa. -- A Lower Burrell school student is facing a three-day suspension for sharing gum with a classmate.

Jolt chewing gum has caffeine and ginseng.

The Lower Burrell school superintendent said consuming and passing out the gum violates the school's drug awareness policy. That's because caffeine is considered a stimulant.

Parents told Channel 11 they did not understand the suspension.

Resident Elizabeth Grombacher said, "I think it's stupid. Everything's getting too politically correct it's so wrong."

"It's probably just like Mountain Dew or something like that. If it's got a lot of caffeine in it and they probably sell the pop at school,” parent Nita Serene said.

Jolt chewing gum is sold over the counter at drug stores and vitamin distributors.

[Via Nobody's Business.]

May 25, 2006

Cigarettes drive French from cafes

Is French cafe culture in trouble? An article from Agence France-Presse says so:

The French have been deserting their country's trademark cafes in droves in the past decade, preferring more sophisticated bars or other smoke-free venues, a study showed.

Only 41 percent of French people said they regularly visited cafes -- compared to 81 percent in 1997 -- although a majority still said they saw them as an important part of French culture.

Asked why they had change habits, consumers cited high prices and a lack of real non-smoking areas, good music or entertainment, according to the study on consumption patterns, carried out for the drinks group France Boissons.

Fast-food outlets, restaurants and leisure centres all saw their customer base grow over the period, apparently benefiting from the behaviour change

Regular readers know that smoking bans are one of my hot button political issues. And while I normally keep political posts to my other weblog, every once in a while coffee and politics overlap.

Continue reading "Cigarettes drive French from cafes" »

May 23, 2006

A barista more bitter than his coffee

I recently wrote here about what makes being a barista such a great job. In contrast, The Roanoke Times ran an op-ed by a barista named Bruce Henry the other day entitled "10 things baristas hate about you." The author, trying to be funny, comes off as a bit of an ass, but he's right about some of it. Let's take it point by point.

Continue reading "A barista more bitter than his coffee" »

May 12, 2006

Llama blood lattes

Don't be put off by the fact that the antibodies are derived from llama blood. If you're trying to avoid caffeine, this new invention could be a great way to test your drinks for its presence. (Or if you're like me, to make sure the barista didn't sneak you the decaf.):

Chemists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are developing a quick, "dipstick" test that they say could represent the first home testing kit to detect the common stimulant...

"We envisioned that a simple method to measure caffeine, even in hot beverages, such as coffee, would be of value to individuals and institutions wanting to verify the absence of caffeine," said study leader Jack Ladenson, a chemist at the university. "This will greatly assist individuals who wish to avoid caffeine."

Ladenson said he is developing test strips treated with a specific antibody that react by changing colour in the presence of caffeine.

This seems like a simple idea, but coming up with an antibody that would remain stable even under high temperatures was apperently a difficult feat.

[Via Slashfood.]

March 22, 2006

I want one

Oh man, do I want one of these! The Clover is a revolutionary, $8,000 single-cup coffee maker designed to brew the best coffee possible in a high-volume, retail environment. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports:

Dubbed the Clover, it's claimed to be the first commercial-grade machine to give baristas consistent, independent control over the four variables of drip coffee: water temperature, coffee grind, coffee-to-water ratio and brew time.

Investors -- mainly family and friends, but also some Seattle-area venture capitalists -- have pumped just more than $1 million into the company since mid-2004.

I wrote an earlier entry about the Clover's potential impact on specialty coffee on Eternal Recurrence. A nifty video of the machine in action is here.

March 16, 2006

Coffee shop growth still going strong

The market research group MINTEL finds that the trend of rapid growth in US coffee shops will continue:

America's unquenchable thirst for premium coffee continues to drive US coffee shop sales, with the market showing no signs of cooling down. Latest research from MINTEL* finds coffee shops across the pond will have seen close to a five fold increase in sales between 2000 and 2010.

The market experienced 157% growth between 2000 ($3,258m) and 2005 to reach some $8,372m and despite being a maturing market coffee shops are set to continue full steam ahead. Over the next five years sales are expected to grow by a further 125% to reach an impressive $18,839m by 2010. This is phenomenal growth for such an established market and is well over twice the growth rate seen in the much younger British coffee shops market.

"Driven by the enormous appetite Americans have shown for more inventive, upmarket and premium-priced coffee, coffee shop chains have expanded at breakneck speed. The rise in popularity of this kind of coffee has been driven mainly by the expansion of coffee shops themselves. Every new opening increases demand by pulling in customers who pass by while going about their daily routines and this self feeding cycle of growth has shown no signs of slowing or market saturation," comments Billy Hulkower, Market Analyst at MINTEL.

The total number of coffee shops in the US increased by 70% between 2000 and 2005, bringing the total to a staggering 21, 400 or one coffee house for every 14,000 Americans. MINTEL believes that the number of shops could well continue to rise until there is a coffee shop for every 10,000 Americans.

[Via Bread Coffee Chocolate Yoga.]

March 12, 2006

Top 10 Coffee Spots

Top 10 Coffee Spots, at Eternal Recurrence.

Intelligentsia is one of the first high-end roasters I came across when I started exploring coffee seriously. I’ve had a few occassions to try their famous Black Cat espresso blend and enjoyed visiting one of their Chicago stores last spring. Portland’s Stumptown and Seattle’s Zoka are two I’ve tried in tastings but not visited personally, though I tried quite a bit of the latter a few weekends ago at Washington, DC’s Coffee Fest trade show.
Go read.

March 7, 2006

Coffee-Related Heart Attacks and Genes

Genes determine coffee-related heart attack risk,

A genetic mutation that slows the rate that the body metabolizes caffeine increases individuals' risk of having a heart attack if they drink much coffee, investigators report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

[. . .] The team's results showed that only carriers of the gene mutation for slow caffeine metabolism were at increased risk of heart attack associated with drinking coffee.

For these patients, the increased risk was 64 percent for four or more cups per day over the previous year compared with patients who drank less than one cup per day.

March 2, 2006

McDonald's going gourmet?

Critics have been known to say that Starbucks is becoming more like McDonald's. Is McDonald's going to become more like Starbucks? The company is launching a new premium coffee to go along with its breakfast offerings. Though no one expects McD's to become the coffee destination that Starbucks or even Dunkin Donuts is, it could be enough to persuade people to buy coffee there instead of making a second stop somewhere else.

Also, this related story reporting a poll on Americans' retail coffee habits makes for interesting reading.

Thanks to Baylen of To The People for the link.

January 25, 2006

Canada Elections and Coffee

CoffeeCrew Blog: On a day like today... writes about Canada's election yesterday.

For our American friends just joining us – We had a Federal election yesterday. The Liberals (your Democrats) were booted out and the Conservatives (your Bush-Republicans) got in, albeit with a sqeaky victory.

Please tell me what's going on up there. Does this mean Canada will get rid of their national health care? Pull out of the global warming treaty?

January 24, 2006

JetBlue Be Dunkin'

JetBlue to serve Dunkin' Donuts coffee,

JetBlue Airways Corp., parent of the low-cost airline, said Tuesday it will begin serving 10-ounce cups of Dunkin' Donuts coffee on all its flights by the end of the month.

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