Friday, January 4, 2019

The Biggest Coffee Sustainability 2019-Got Coffee?


The Forecast is Bleak: Inside the 2018 Coffee Barometer

coffee


An increasingly consolidated, profit-driven coffee industry in leading consumer markets like the United States and Europe is failing to respond to serious sustainability threats. In this failure — in which the short-term pursuit of profit is prioritized over long-term sustainable practices — the coffee industry is rapidly headed towards its own peril.

Most-Vulnerable Farmers Being Left Out of Certifications, Geographic Analysis Shows

“Certification appears to be concentrated in areas important for biodiversity conservation, but not in those areas most in need of poverty alleviation, although there were exceptions to each of these patterns,” a group of researchers from the U.K. and U.S. wrote in a recent paper in the journal “Biological Conservation” called “Where are commodity crops certified, and what does it mean for conservation and poverty alleviation?”

New Policy Report Tackles Voluntary Sustainability Standards in Coffee

The proliferation of the most popular third-party sustainability certifications in coffee has led to modest benefits to coffee producers overall, though many of the world’s poorest farmers lack the resources to participate, and supply of certified coffee may be outpacing demand.

Public Consultation is Open for Rainforest Alliance’s Sweeping New Standard

At first glance, two of the biggest differences in the new standards appear to be a mechanism by which producers can more easily work towards certification within the contexts of their given farms, and more individualized and data-driven auditing mechanisms both for producers and RA.

Coffee leaf rust swept over Latin America in 2012, and the economic reverberations continue to be felt today. Photo courtesy of World Coffee Research.

Coffee is Rapidly Losing Its Resistance to Rust, Says WCR Science Director

The coffee industry has traditionally and conveniently placed coffee varieties and cultivars into one of two simple categories when considering plants’ natural resistance to leaf rust disease: 1) resistant, or 2) susceptible. The line between the two blurred in a publicly revelatory way when the Arabica variety lempira, which was widely planted throughout Honduras, was discovered last year to have lost its resistance to leaf rust.



Starbucks Committing $20 Million to Farmer Assistance Amid Price Crisis

Starbucks has become the first major global coffee company to publicly put some big money where its mouth is, announcing today the commitment of up to $20 million in relief funds to coffee farmers being affected by the price crisis on the commodities market.

Five-Year, $36.4 Million Effort to Boost Coffee and Cocoa in Latin America

The international development nonprofit TechnoServe is leading the coffee-related efforts in a five-year, $36.4 million initiative designed to revive and bolster the coffee and cocoa sectors in six Latin American coffee-growing countries.

James Hoffmann Let's Talk Coffee
James Hoffmann speaking at the 2018 Let’s Talk Coffee Global event in Cartagena, Colombia. Photo by Bryan Clifton, courtesy of Sustainable Harvest/Let’s Talk Coffee.



A Radical New Social Contract Concept from James Hoffmann

Despite all of the best intentions and practical efforts of the specialty coffee sector’s progressive leaders, it seems little has changed in terms of the coffee trade’s fundamental dynamics of power and risk, Hoffmann contended. Hoffmann’s perspective here stems in part from his origin-focused country-by-country research for “The World Atlas of Coffee.”

New ‘Useful Plants Indicator’ Shows Conservation Lacking in Coffee

Coffee is behind in the ongoing race to protect wild plant species biodiversity as the earth faces increasing climate change, loss of habitat and other natural and man-made challenges, according to a new conservation research study.

Birds Are Good with Robusta or Arabica, As Long As There Are Trees

While the prevailing choice among discerning coffee drinkers is for arabica over robusta, birds seem equally fine with either, so long as adequate canopy cover is in place and pesticides are kept to a minimum.

coffee processing wet mill wastewater

From Coffee Wastewater to Clean Water and Electricity: Fuel Cell Gets Boost

Wastewater from coffee processing remains a persistent polluter, affecting waterways, soil health and entire coffee-growing communities. In the case of small, farm-level mills — like those found throughout Colombia and other Latin American coffee countries — coffee wastewater is often filled with with organic matter, it’s extremely acidic, and it has high biochemical oxygen demand.

Starbucks Committing $10 Million to Recyclable Cup Solutions

Paradoxically, the company is now investing in solutions to an environmental sustainability problem that it has long recognized, yet willfully perpetuates to this day. For example, Starbucks proudly trumpets the release of its annual holiday cups, mentioning neither the resources used to produce them nor the fact that the vast majority of them are to end up in landfills.

Ranking Certifications: German Rersearchers Create VSS Index for Coffee

In general, the index (called VOCSI) showed that third-party certifications, particularly those with support from NGOs, outperformed standards utilizing self-assessment. Examples of the former include UTZ, Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade USA, while examples of the latter include Starbucks’ C.A.F.E. Practices and Nespresso AAA.



Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Robot coffee barista serve at travel agency in Tokyo coffee shop

Travel agency H.I.S. Co. said Tuesday that a robot will serve coffee to customers at a cafe it plans to open next month at its flagship branch in central Tokyo.

The agency’s new Henn Na Cafe (strange cafe) in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward will feature a robotic arm and an automated coffee maker in the store.

The move will add to the company’s series of services using robots, including at the Henn Na Hotel (strange hotel) in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, where a dinosaur robot welcomes guests at the front desk.




At the Shibuya cafe, customers will be greeted by the U.S.-made robot, which has an attached screen showing facial expressions.

“Hello. Would you like some delicious coffee?” the machine asks in Japanese.

To order a drink, customers first need to buy a ticket at a vending machine. The robot then scans a QR code on the ticket to process the order.

The robotic barista grabs a paper coffee cup and moves it toward the coffee machine before pressing a start button. The robot then places the finished drink on a reception counter.






The ¥320 ($3) cups of coffee take three to four minutes to be served. The robot can also discard coffee beans and clean filters.

“Using artificial intelligence, we want to have (the robot) learn smooth movements,” an H.I.S. official said.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Brewing a perfect cup of coffee requires the right water



  • Water — the biggest ingredient in coffee by weight — can make or break the flavor of a freshly brewed cup, according to a chemist-barista research team.
  • Tap water brings out better flavor in coffee, though there are trade-offs between hard and soft water.
  • Some beans are better suited to being brewed in hard or soft water.


Making a truly great cup of coffee requires great beans, an expert roaster, the right grind, and proper technique.
But an often-overlooked element of brewing coffee at home is what constitutes perhaps 99% of the delicious drink's weight: Water.
coffeegot.com

To craft the tastiest cup o' joe, you shouldn't buy jugs of distilled or "pure" water, or spend money on expensive water-filtration devices.
In fact, in most parts of the country, the stuff out of our taps is probably the best kind of coffee-brewing H2O you could hope for.
In search of a better brew


Chemist Christopher H. Hendon (left) and barista Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood (right).
Christopher H. Hendon, a chemist at MIT, discovered the importance of water in coffee after overhearing a conversation between two frustrated baristas.
"They were having problems with coffee that tasted good one day and not another," Hendon previously told Business Insider. While that's a frustrating mystery for a coffee shop with exacting standards, but "from a chemistry point of view, that's an interesting problem," Hendon said.
Water can be "hard" (full of minerals like magnesium) or "soft" (most distilled water falls into this category).
Below is a map of the US that shows how water hardness varies from place to place. Dark-purple areas show where the softest water flows, red shows the hardest water, and white and blue are somewhere in between. Hardness can also vary over seasons, as the dissolved minerals can be diluted by a flood of spring rain or amplified by road salts and melting snow.

Hendon teamed up with baristas Lesley and Maxcell Colonna-Dashwood — who won the 2015 UK Barista Championship — and they found that different kinds of "hardness" in water bring out significantly different flavors in coffee. (Hendon ran the experiments using a computer, while the coffee shop owners actually brewed sample cups.)
Why water hardness matters so much for brewing coffee

Roasted coffee beans are packed with compounds that give coffee is distinct aroma, mouthfeel, and taste. Those include citric acid, lactic acid, and eugenol (a compound that adds a "woodsy" taste). The amounts vary from one roasted batch of beans to the next, giving you an enjoyably different sensory experience each time.
Water, meanwhile, has a complexity all its own — higher levels of ions like magnesium and calcium make it "harder."
Here's the key: Some of the compounds in hard water are "sticky" and preferentially grab certain compounds in coffee when they meet in your brewing device. The more eugenol the water hangs on to, for example, the woodsier the taste of your coffee will be.
Magnesium is particularly sticky, so water that's high in magnesium will make coffee with a stronger flavor (and higher levels of caffeine). Hard water can also have high levels of bicarbonate, which Hendon found could lead to more bitter flavors coming through.


But while hard water is a bit of a gamble, depending on which minerals are present in higher concentrations, soft water seems to have no benefits at all. Its chemical composition "results in very bad extraction power," Hendon explained.
Soft water often contains sodium, but that has no flavor stickiness (for good or bad flavors), Hendon found. That means that you'll get a much stronger flavor from the same beans if you use high-magnesium "hard water" in place of distilled or softened water.
Hendon and his barista colleagues published their research in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, and eventually wrote a book, "Water for Coffee," that explains why lovers of the drink should worry about more than just beans.
"Water can transform the character of a coffee," the team wrote. An updated second edition of the book hits shelves in early 2018, according to its website.
A chemically perfect cup

Unlike Hendon, the average coffee lover is not a chemist. You can't easily alter the composition of your water supply every time you want a delicious cup.
But you don't have to. Understanding that the kind of water you use matters will help you achieve the perfect brew — even if you're stuck with whatever comes out of your tap.
To start, you can look up the hardness of your water online (New Yorkers can call 311), and use that information to buy beans that are meant for "soft" or "hard" water. Hendon said that's the kind of thing upscale roasters will know.
Sure, you won't know the specific compounds in your water — that's the kind of rigorous coffee science Hendon and Colonna-Dashwood relied on to place fifth overall in the World Barista Championship. But you'll already be a step ahead if you buy from a local roaster.
When roasters test their beans, they do so using local water, so you can at least assume that locally-roasted coffee is optimized for the chemistry of your water. That's the opposite of a large chain like Starbucks, which, according to Hendon, uses totally pure water to ensure a completely uniform taste across the country.