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News about coffee in Asheville and elsewhere

This really long page is about general coffee news and stories. A chart of the C_contract price is here. Or click on the snowy TV screen.

More good news about cold brew. There's been a lot of concern about nasty things growing in it since it's brewed at room temp and then refrigerated. This study from the Oregon State indicates we may have less to worry about than we thought.

Ever wonder how that cup of coffee is processed from a ripe cherry to a green bean? Here's a video that shows how one Colombian cafetero produces a washed coffee. Many farmers in Colombia grow coffee on this scale.

It looks like coffee won't kill you after all. A new study by Harvard School of Public Health suggests there is little downside to drinking a lot of coffee. There may even be health benefits. But you knew that.

Those of you who keep up with the geekier side of brewing know that Americans drink weak coffee while Europeans drink it a little stronger. But I never knew the Brazilians like it really strong. Check out all the Bunn literature. The Brasil chart is in the Coffee Basics Portugues brochure.

If you haven't seen the view of the Earth with the HD cameras on the International Space Station, you really should have a look.

If you want to know when you can see it from the ground, look here.

Now this is big news. Starbucks is introducing the "flat white", an espresso drink favored by those third-wave afficianados. The key is the velvety texture of the milk as well as the higher coffee-to-milk ratio.

Need a new coffee maker? Check out the ones certified by the Specialty Coffee Association. If you don't want to or have the time to make a single-cup pourover or a French press, you won't go far wrong with one of these.

Remember that coffee is a global drink, that it can connect you with people you never knew. It sounds as if they'll be drinking French --"[it is good coffee] if a small amount of oil is emitted during roasting". I probably wouldn't care for the traditional cardamom, but this coffee is freshly roasted and prepared.

Would you pay $85/mo for all the coffee and espresso you can drink? I'm not sure this could work in Asheville -- it's just now come to New York where there are many more coffee shops -- but I do think the concept could be implemented locally to get more people in local shop doors. Check out the CUPS app.

It's not an entirely new idea but I think this disloyalty program among DC coffee shops is one that should be tried in Asheville.

It can't hurt to get customers out to more coffee shops, even if they are your competitors. There seems to have been a lot of positive response.

Don't complain about the wifi, you have it pretty good in coffee shops today. It wasn't always the case. In 1675, King Charles of England proclaimed coffee houses to be illegal.

There are a couple of anniversaries this week. This one is not about coffee, but it's worth remembering.

The first earth rise photo was from an unmanned lunar orbiter in 1966. The original noisy image has been restored.

Does your coffee not taste as good as you think it should? It may the way you're brewing it.

The single cup pourover is both trendy and tasty. Have a look at the instructions from Blue Bottle and eatocracy.cnn. (This is how they do it at Waking Life.)

NPR broadcast a series of reports about coffee. The first report is here. Quality and information content varied rom story to story, but some were informative and even important.

In the meantime, click on the cup at left for a quiz about coffee.

This is really important. Ever wondered why those coffee ring stains have a dark edge? A group at the University of Pennsylvania has explained why -- it has to do with the shape of the particles. There's a video here, and more than you ever wanted to know about the mathematics involved here.

According to a Dunkin' Donuts survey, scientists and lab technicians need coffee the most to get through the day.

Thanks to Ryoko Iwata at for the graphic. She has a number of interesting articles about coffee there.

Coffea arabica originated in what is now Ethiopia and bordering countries. Researchers and "the Indiana Jones of coffee" are combing East Africa for wild coffee plants with unique genetic material. Most of the coffee plants in the rest of the world have little genetic diversity and researchers are trying to locate more wild plants in the region that have DNA different from what is already known. The WSJ story is here.

A new concept in coffee shops: using a shipping container -- that once carried green coffee -- as the building for your store. Even Starbucks is in on the idea.

More on La Boite (Austin, TX) here and here. La boite is French for the box.

Another party we like to go to is the annual Chefs Gala that supports the March of Dimes in their goal of improving the health of babies. Mountain City again teamed up with Old Europe to provide coffee and pastries for the guests at the Crowne Plaza in September.

It was a great party! The 13th annual Blue Jean Ball to benefit Manna Food Bank was as usual a fun and tasty event. Mountain City and Old Europe joined forces to serve coffee and pastry. (Special thanks to AnnaBeth.)

William channeling Otis Redding
Dancing and drinking in the dark

"Accentuate the Positive"
A recently published study shows that caffeine can improve one's ability to recognize and process words faster. But only if they're words with positive emotional association.

This is some really good news about coffee and health. Many studies have been done associating coffee consumption with lowered risk of one disease or another, but this epidemiological study is the largest of its kind -- about 400,000 people -- and its findings show decreased risk of death across almost all diseases except cancer.

From ScienceDaily:

Older adults who drank coffee -- caffeinated or decaffeinated -- had a lower risk of death overall than others who did not drink coffee, according a study by researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and AARP. Coffee drinkers were less likely to die from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and infections, although the association was not seen for cancer. These results from a large study of older adults were observed after adjustment for the effects of other risk factors on mortality, such as smoking and alcohol consumption. Researchers caution, however, that they can't be sure whether these associations mean that drinking coffee actually makes people live longer.

The original paper was published in the May 17th edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. A free preview is here, but the full article is behind a pay-wall.

So where's my coffee?!?

Delivering coffee orders in a timely manner is a balance between keeping it as fresh as possible and actually getting something out the door. We always have -- and will continue to -- roast-to-order. We like to get orders in early in the week, say, Monday through Wednesday, so we can ship and delivery them by Thursday or Friday. In the old days, when we were mostly wholesale, it was relatively easy to train our customers to observe this schedule. Now, with many more retail and individual customers, it's not so easy.

There's also the matter of efficiency and consistency. For example, if you order 5kg or more of a single coffee on Thursday, I'll try to have that for you by Friday. But if the order is for 500g, it simply isn't efficient to fire up a 12kg roaster, and it's difficult to roast 500g batches consistently or well. In that case, we just wait till there are enough orders to make up a larger roast batch.

We apologize if from time-to-time we're slow or late in getting coffee to you, but sometimes it's going to happen. We hope you'll understand. The solution, as they say about voting, is to order early and often.

Melinda & eclair

The Mountain Xpress has a great story by Mackensy Lunsford on Old Europe's Melinda Vetro and her journey through the three incarnations of Asheville's best known pastry shop.
(read more ...)


There's more confusion coming in fair trade. The USA based Fair Trade USA is breaking their tie with the global group Fairtrade International. Fair Trade USA will create their own standards that they say will be more inclusive. I think this is good news.


Don't try this at home —

Can a cup of coffee cure a kid's ADHD?

This morning a mommy blogger appeared on "ABC News" and shared that her 7-year-old son starts his day with a cup of coffee. Christie Haskell who writes for Cafe Mom's "The Stir" gives her son Rowan a second dose of caffeine later in the day. What's this mom thinking? Her son must be bouncing off the walls at school. Just the opposite. Rowan is quiet and focused in class. In fact, Haskell claims that she gives her son a cup of coffee to calm him down. She says coffee helps ease Rowan's Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). "He doesn't overreact if we ask him to pick up Legos, rather than screaming and throwing himself on the floor," Haskell told ABC. "And if we ask him to sit down and do homework, he can actually do it."

Rowan says he enjoys two things about his coffee regimen. "It tastes good," he told ABC. "And it calms me down."

(Reported in the SF Chronicle and on ABC's Good Morning America).

Long time home-roaster Neil McCollum spotted on PBS this rerun of a North Carolina Weekend show filmed last spring. Waking Life is featured along with several other well-known coffee venues in Asheville.

And in case you were worried about them, don't be, Starbucks is doing just fine. After reading that story, it's difficult to be sympathetic toward CEO Howard Schultz, though he's right about speculation in the commodities market —

From The Telegraph:

Howard Schultz, who masterminded Starbucks' growth from four stores in Seattle to more than 17,000 worldwide, said that more transparency was urgently needed to identify those responsible for pushing up raw material prices. Mr Schultz, who is also Starbucks' chief executive and chairman, said that the current spike in the cost of commodities such as coffee and other foodstuffs is "not based on supply and demand" but based on market speculation. He said that the farmers who actually produce the commodities are receiving a "de minimus" proportion of the price rises. "Right now we are experiencing a very strange and almost inexplicable phenomenon in the commodities market. Without any real supply or demand issues we are witness to the fact that most agricultural food commodities are at record highs at once, and coffee is at a 34-year high," he said. "Through financial speculation -- hedge funds, index funds and other ways to manipulate the market -- the commodities market is in a very unfortunate position. This has resulted in every coffee company having to pay extraordinarily high prices for coffee." Read more ....

From Mountain Xpress:

If you get a craving for a pumpkin latte, we recommend that you head over to Waking Life Espresso at 976 Haywood Road in West Asheville. There, you can try Jared Rutledge’s Zombie Pumpkin Latte, made with canned pumpkin pulp, fresh-ground whole spices, raw sugar and Hawaiian sea salt. Rutledge reports that he runs through about a gallon of the pumpkin flavoring a week. Why the “Zombie?”  Because it’s made with the brains of the pumpkin, says Rutledge.

There's an informative story about Waking Life Espresso in Mountain Xpress.  See why Jared has the best tasting espresso in town --

More good news about the health benefits of coffee and caffeine. Two stories from Coffee and Cocoa International --

UK -- Big caffeine consumers 'high' on happiness

The more caffeine people consume the more they see it as a positive thing, according to a new study. The report, by Dr Lorenzo Stafford of the University of Portsmouth's psychology department, says heavy caffeine users are the only known 'drug users' to see their habit in a positive light. His study investigated people's underlying feelings about caffeine. The results were published in the latest issue of Psychology of Addicted Behaviors. He said: "Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, cola and even in chocolate. It is the most widely consumed drug in the world, with all of the hallmarks of more addictive drugs, including withdrawal symptoms, tolerance and dependence. Our findings show that the more caffeine a person consumes, the more it is likely they will see caffeine as a good thing." For the purposes of the study, Dr Stafford focused on tea and coffee drinkers. The research used an implicit association task to test the underlying opinions of people who drink no caffeine, those who drink one-three cups a day, and those who drink five or more cups a day.

THE NETHERLANDS -- Coffee consumption linked to better heart hearth

Drinking several cups of coffee or tea a day appears to protect against heart disease, a 1 3-year study from The Netherlands has found, adding to a growing body of evidence suggesting health benefits from both beverages. According to the study, those who drank more than six cups of tea a day cut their risk of heart disease by a third; consuming 2-4 coffees a day was also linked to a reduced risk. Although the protective effect ceased with more than four cups of coffee a day, even those who drank this much were no more likely to die of any cause, including stroke and cancer, than those who abstained. "It's basically a good news story for those who like tea and coffee. These drinks appear to offer benefits for the heart without raising the risk of dying from anything else," said Professor Yvonne van der Schouw, the lead researcher.

Are you sure you're drinking enough coffee?  Maybe more is actually better for you.  Researchers at  Florida State University have found that 500mg of caffeine a day may help prevent Alzheimer's Disease.

The NPR story says 500mg of caffeine requires drinking five or more cups a day.  That's a lot to drink, but the trick is to make your coffee full strength, or buy it from someone who does.

Arabica coffees contain about 1.2% caffeine, so brewing at 65 grams/liter will yield a beverage with about 780mg caffeine per liter.  To get the suggested 500mg, you'd have to drink only about 640ml (22oz). -- that's four dinner cup servings or one Starbucks vente-size.  You could also get the recommended dose of caffeine from five shots of espresso.

And from Coffee & Cocoa International, a UK study reinforces Alheimer's benefit --

A review of evidence from other studies suggests that regularly drinking coffee, around two to three cups a day, reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by as much as a quarter. The latest research - published in Journal of Alzheimer's Disease - looked at 26 published studies into the link between reduced risk of developing the disease and consuming coffee regularly.

The researchers found a 25 per cent cut in the chance of developing the disease among coffee drinkers. There was also a direct link between the amount of coffee drunk and the extent of the protective effect conferred, the researchers found.

And from the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe website --

Clerics decide against banning Kopi Luwak for Muslims
INDONESIA 21st July 2010

The highest Islamic body in Indonesia in late July decided not to ban Muslims from drinking Kopi Luwak, the exotic and rare coffee harvested from civet cat droppings. The Indonesian Council of Ulemas had considered issuing a fatwa against the coffee, local reports said, on the grounds that it was unclean. However, after discussions, the Muslim clerics agreed that it was not forbidden to harvest, sell or consume Kopi Luwak as long as the beans were washed.

Indonesia's population is 90% Muslim.

Kopi Luwak, which can fetch up to $500 per kilo, originates from several Indonesian islands where the luwak civets are found, including Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi. The animals eat ripe coffee cherries and then excrete the beans, which are gathered and cleaned.

A fatwa?