Best new coffee products announced by SCAA

Every year the Specialty Coffee Association of America recognizes the industry’s best. Awards were presented last week at the SCAA’s 24th Annual Exposition in Portland, Ore. New this year were the peoples’ choice awards, which allowed peopled to vote via SMS. Over 3,000 votes were received from the nation’s coffee aficionados and enthusiasts before honors were bestowed.

The expert panel gave the “Best New Product–Specialty Beverage” category to Monin Gourmet Flavorings for their Monin Fruit Smoothie Mix. The civilian voters disagreed, opting for Dr. Smoothie Brands’  FIT-Lyte Smoothie Pre-mix. The Monin mix is poured over ice and blended to create a delightful smoothie drink, without the inconvenience of peeling and preparing fresh fruit. Dr. Smoothie drinks are made with the calorie-free natural sweetener Stevia and a white tea- coconut water infusion for healthiness and flavor.

Cleveland Organics, LLC won the hearts of the judges and the public with their awesome new product, Caffeine Crunch. Caffeine Crunch comprises delicately roasted Guatemalan coffee beans coated with a rich blend of organic dark chocolates. The stimulant effect of caffeine in a delicious little morsel of candy!

Offero won the “Best New Product–Coffee or Tea Preparation & Serving Equipment (Consumer)” for their coffee and tea cups, which come in all sorts of lovely shapes and sizes. The peoples’ choice award went to Behmor Inc. for the Brazen Coffee Brewer.


Is coffee finally more popular than soda?

According to the 2012 National Coffee Drinking Trends from the National Coffee Association, american adults drink almost ten percent more coffee than soda.

The National Coffee Association has been studying coffee drinking trends since 1950. In this most recent study, the association polled a sample of almost 3,000 people, 18 and older. The study used a nationally representative sample to insure that their findings would reflect American consumption behaviors overall, instead of being limited to one demographic. They found that when African-Americans and Hispanics are proportionally represented in the sample, levels of coffee consumption soar.

The NCA reported that 50% of  Americans between 18 and 24 drank coffee every day in the first part of 2012, up from 40% last year. Among people 25 to 39 years old, 63% of individuals drink coffee every day, up from 54% last year.

The numbers are striking, but they are at odds with the findings that Advertising Age published in July, 2011. AdAge reported that the average american drinks 44.7 gallons of soda pop per year, and only 18.5 gallons of coffee–less than half as much. Msnbc reported in August 2011 that more than 50% of Americans drink soda on any given day, and about 5% of Americans drink more than 4 cans of soda per day.

According to the study conducted by the Center for Disease Control Prevention, which included 17,000 interviews with Americans about their diets, the average male consumes 175 calories a day from sweetened beverages, and the average woman only 94. The groups that consume the most soft drinks are boys aged 12 to 19, most of whom wouldn’t have been included in the coffee drinking study, and men 20 to 39.

The fact that children under 18 were omitted from the study by the National Coffee Association could account for the higher-than-normal levels of coffee drinking amongst its participants, since young people drink a lot of soda. The CDC also found information specific to African-American and Hispanic adults, however, which seems contradictory to the National Coffee Association’s findings.

The CDC reported that for non-Hispanic blacks and Mexican-Americans aged 20 and over, the percentage of daily calories obtained from sugar drinks rose to almost 9 percent. By the sound of it, they are drinking more soda than coffee.

AdAge says that coffee not only trails soft drinks but also beer, bottled water, and milk in average per capita consumption per year. Wistful thinking (and polling) NCA: maybe next year.

Top 5 health reasons to drink coffee


Myths abound about health effects of drinking coffee. According to mothers everywhere, it stunts growth. This story is probably perpetuated by mothers who don’t want their twelve-year-olds drinking coffee and bouncing around the house making messes. Fair enough. Warm(er) breezes are blowing, and spring is the season for sitting on porches and at sidewalk cafes sipping the black stuff. The snow is melting, and it can take the fantasy that coffee is unhealthy with it. Here are the top five reasons why coffee is actually good for you.

1. It’s good for your liver.

According to research, coffee counteracts  alcohol’s potentially devastating effects on the liver, and can increase liver function even in people who aren’t heavy drinkers.  In a study of 125,000 people, one cup of coffee per day reduced the risk of alcoholic cirrhosis by 20 percent and four cups per day cut the risk by 80 percent. It can also help liver disease, and reduce the possibility of liver cancer by as much as 50 percent.

2. It protects against Alzheimer’s. Researchers at the University of South Florida found that caffeinated coffee protected mice that had been bred to develop the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.  Also, previous observational studies revealed that coffee drinking in mid-life and old age decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s.

3. It lowers the risk of depression.(Especially in women, who are depressed more.) A study found that women who regularly drink four or more cups of coffee per day are 20 percent less likely to become depressed than women who rarely drink coffee.


4. It reduces the risk of Parkinson’s disease. A study at the Harvard School of Public Health indicated that men who drink four to five cups of coffee per day cut their risk of Parkinson’s almost in half.

5. It helps prevent diabetes. The Harvard Medical School suggests that heavy coffee drinkers are half as likely to get diabetes as people who never drink coffee. According to their website, coffee may contain chemicals that lower blood sugar and increase resting metabolism, both of which help stave off diabetes.

The news is good for coffee lovers. Armed with new knowledge about the life-sustaining effects of a rich brew, and warm weather permitting, the time to sit outside and sip has finally come.



The Champion of Coffee

The coffee industry doesn’t have many celebrities. There’s the CEO of Starbucks, whose name is kind of hard to remember, and then theres the Starbucks logo herself who is of course more famous than any Hollywood starlet, but not a real person so she doesn’t  count. Even the world’s most disgusting and bizarre foods have a champion in Andrew Zimmerman, but until recently, there hasn’t  been a face for coffee.

Todd Carmichael aims to fill that void. Carmichael is the founder of coffee roaster La Colombe Torrefaction, whose show “Coffee Hunter” will launch on The Travel Channel later this year. He is an adventurer, philanthropist, entrepreneur, and maybe the new face of fair trade, sustainable coffee. His latest project is a line of coffee called Lyon, sales of which will go to environmental issues supported by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.

Carmichael was born in Spokane, Wa. and is the first American ever to cross Antarctica and reach the South Pole alone, on foot, without assistance. He reached the South Pole on December 21, 2008 after 39 days of travel, setting the record for fastest solo journey to the South Pole.

His project in coffee is to source sustainable products from local farmers in places like South America and Haiti. The beans for his new blend Lyon come from Haiti, where Carmichael started purchasing coffee beans after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake there in 2010. In a recent interview with The New York Times, Carmichael described the challenges of trading in Haiti.

He said that one of the chief obstacles in Haiti and other coffee regions are “coyotes”; exploitive loan sharks who lend coffee farmers small amounts of cash during the dry seasons when they are desperate, in exchange for entire coffee harvests or pennies on the dollar. They then resell the coffee to specialty roasters for an exorbitant price, and the coffee farmers never see a dime.

Unwilling to do business with these profiteers, Carmichael said he went to Haiti with a backpack full of cash and hiked around in the mountains looking for farmers so that he could bypass the coyotes and do business directly with growers. He said he received three death threats, a near beating, and some stressful confrontations, but found what he was looking for. It sounds like “Coffee Hunter” has some serious potential.

Brew coffee in the car– and keep it warm with your iPad 3

The world is buzzing with the release of the iPad 3, but some reports say that the new tablet has an overheating problem. Consumer Reports found that the new iPad gets up to 13 degrees hotter than the iPad 2 while running a game, reaching a high temperature of 116 degrees Fahrenheit. Some might find this a disappointing feature of the long-anticipated gadget, but the jokesters at Primary Coffee Co. proposed an ingenious and practical idea: use the toasty surface to keep your coffee warm!

The new app, called HotPad, works by running a processor-intensive script that tasks the CPU, thus causing the iPad  to heat up. The screen will display a heating coil on which to place the cold cup of coffee. Maybe it could also be used to cook bacon and eggs.

Ok, so maybe this isn’t the best use for a brand new iPad 3. But the boys at Primary Coffee Co. should be congratulated for their ingenuity and their determination to allocate everything to the service of coffee. They aren’t the only ones. The Handpresso Auto is a brand new, totally legitimate apparatus for making espresso in the car.

The little machine fits into vehicles’ cup holders, and gets plugged into the cigarette lighter. You must simply add water and a specialized E.S.E. coffee pod and wait three beeps to enjoy smooth, creamy, piping-hot espresso on the go. This could be pretty handy while running late for work, and instead of heading over to a coffee shop in the afternoon and wasting five dollars on a mediocre latte, owners of the Handpresso Auto could just pop out to the parking lot and brew their own drinks. 15-minute waits during the 3 p.m. Starbucks rush could become a thing of the past.



Five things to do with coffee besides drink it

The routine is always the same: put the coffee grounds in the coffee filter, place it in the machine, fill with water, and push a button. Now, five novel and useful things to do with coffee (besides brew it and drink it). Who knew coffee could be such a multi-tasker?

1. Give yourself a facial. recommends mashing together equal parts espresso, honey, and olive oil into a thick paste. ( You can either make the espresso first, drink it, and use the grounds or use dry grounds.) Apply the paste to your face and leave it on for 10-15 minutes. Caffeine is an anti-irritant and coffee contains anti-oxidants that prevent damage from free radicals. says that coffee grounds tighten pores, which temporarily firms the skin.

2. Feed your plants. According to, certain plants benefit from coffee’s acidity. Depending on the plant, you can water it with leftover coffee instead of water, or use leftover coffee grounds as fertilizer around the base of the plant. It is important not to use flavored coffee or inadvertently give your plants sugar, milk, or creamer. Plants that like to drink coffee include jades, spider plants, roses, tomatoes, and hydrangeas. Plants that prefer grounds for fertilizer include squash, lettuce, and gardenias.

3. Deodorize your freezer. According to Heloise at goodhouskeeping. com, a clean sock filled with dry coffee grounds will cure a musty freezer.

4. Repel insects. says that coffee beans are an all-natural, non-toxic ant repellent. If little ant armies are swarming around your home, track them back to their entry point. When you find their tunnel into your house–or better yet, their headquarters– simply sprinkle coffee grounds around the perimeter. They won’t want to cross the pungent line.

5. Moisturize and soften your hair. recommends rubbing coffee grounds through hair while washing, and then thoroughly rinsing. The coffee will add shine and luster to your hair. Blondes should watch out for this treatment, since the coffee could stain light blonde hair. It will add natural-looking highlights to brown hair, however.

Climate Change Threatens Coffee Harvests

The coffee that we drink every morning passes through many hands before it reaches our cups. The coffee industry, like any worldwide industry, is fraught with politics, government regulation, and vast amounts of money. In agriculture, one of the most influential, uncontrollable, and potentially devastating factors can be weather. Most of us probably don’t give the weather a second thought (unless it’s minor irritation at perpetually gray skies, icy sleet, and frigid wind). In places like Columbia, however, where coffee is one of the nation’s largest exports and most valuable commodities, minor fluctuations in temperature can be devastating to not only small coffee farmers but the entire coffee market. Too much rain in Columbia can mean pricier cappuccinos at Starbucks.

According to a report published by the International Coffee Organization, Columbian coffee production is down for the fourth successive year: from 2000-2008, Columbia averaged between 10.4 and 12.5 million bags of coffee. Since 2008, the South American nation has produced only about 8.5 million bags.

The major factor contributing to Columbia’s poor coffee yield is weather. In order to thrive, coffee plants need a delicate balance of rain and sunlight, but Columbia has been experiencing above-average rainfall and above-average temperatures. Torrential rains damage coffee buds, and high temperatures allow coffee pests to thrive. A fungus called “coffee rust” can destroy entire forests of coffee plants. These climate changes are attributable to global warming, and the trend is expected to continue. The EPA predicts that earth’s surface temperature will rise between 2 and 11 degrees in the next 90 years, which will profoundly impact crop production everywhere.

Meanwhile, demand for coffee worldwide is growing. The International Coffee Organization report says that in nations like Brazil, where the economy is expanding and unemployment is declining, the emerging middle class is developing a coffee habit. Coffee bars are also proliferating in India, and coffee consumption in Russia has risen 17 percent since 2009. Worldwide coffee consumption rose from about 131 million bags in 2009 to 137 million in 2011.

Damage to crops and smaller coffee yields, coupled with growing demand for the product worldwide, could ultimately cause higher prices at the neighborhood Starbucks. So remember: if you have to surrender an extra 50 cents for your latte, it might be raining in Columbia.



New app for coffee drinkers

Caffeine is mighty. It runs in the blood of businessmen and housewives and hipsters.  It is college students’ ally in the eternal struggle against hangovers and homework at 3 a.m.. Coffee mugs grace the desks of insurance salesman and secretaries all over the world. A strategic cup of coffee can be the difference between acing a final exam and sleeping through a final exam. Enough Red Bull at the critical moment can keep a party alive.

As powerful as it is, caffeine is equally dangerous. An ill-timed dose can lead to a night of excruciating sleeplessness. Badly planned sodas can interfere with afternoon naps. Too much caffeine, and the heart starts racing uncomfortably.

Researchers Drs. Frank Ritter and Dr. Kuo-Chuan Yeh at Penn State University developed a technology that should enable humanity to maximize caffeine’s benefits without suffering its occasional disadvantages. A new smartphone app, called Caffeine Zone, tracks caffeine levels in the blood so users can strategize their intake.The researchers found that people reach peak mental capacity when they have between 200 and 400 milligrams of caffeine in their blood, but are generally unable to sleep if they have more than 100 milligrams in the bloodstream.

Coffee drinkers and caffeine addicts must simply download the handy app, enter some personal information like weight, and start recording how many caffeinated beverages they consume. Then Caffeine Zone generates a graph of projected blood caffeine levels for a 24-hour period. It produces a diagram of spikes and valleys in blood caffeine levels, so people can optimize their intake and avoid crashes or overdoses. At last, people will be able to predict whether that 4 p.m. latte will make them feel mentally alert and able to make the most of their afternoons, or if it will interfere with their sleep later.

While some seasoned coffee drinkers may have already distilled caffeine-consumption down to a science, the app could be helpful for less scrupulous sippers among us.

Caffeine Zone is available for iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad.


Battle of the Baristas

The barista wears a prim white shirt with a black tie and a black vest. A black apron is tied around his waist. He stands behind a lustrous espresso machine. A panel of three judges sits in front of him at a table draped in white linen, and on the wall to his right hangs a digital clock with glowing red numbers that tick firmly toward zero. Another judge lurks behind him taking notes with a clipboard. When the first notes of a melody trickle from speakers overhead, the barista picks up his implements and starts to make coffee.

This is the Southeast Regional Barista Competition and Brewers Cup in Atlanta, Ga. Six people from each of the United States’ six regions qualify for the 2012 United States Barista Championship in Portland, Ore. in April. One barista will win the national title and a ticket to the World Championship Barista Competition in Vienna, Austria in June. A live stream of the Southeast Regional Competition is available through Feb. 11.

The World Barista Championship is the Olympics of coffee. Sponsored by the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe and the Specialty Coffee Association of America, the World Barista Championship and its qualification circuit are the terrain of espresso royalty. National champions represent their countries on the world stage, where they compete against delegates from more than 50 countries. Baristas prepare four espressos, four cappuccinos, and four specialty drinks in a fifteen-minute performance set to music. Their brews are then rigorously evaluated according to five criteria: taste, cleanliness, creativity, technical skill, and overall presentation. After three days and three rounds of grueling competition, one barista is crowned the best coffee-maker in the world.

For the top tier of competitive baristas, coffee is more than a warm drink or a vessel for caffeine; it is a language and a lifestyle. Foaming milk is a science and grinding beans is an art. They mix flavor and milk and espresso with the precision of chemists, pour with the delicacy of surgeons, and sprinkle nutmeg like artists. Then they serve their drinks, stand back, and wring their hands while the judges sip.

Watch coffee competitor Tim Varney describe his world of coffee and his journey toward the World Barista Championships here.



Artisan coffee is a growing trend

In today’s fast-paced caffeine-powered world, demand is growing for leisurely coffee breaks. The tradition of popping into Starbucks for a giant cup of pre-brewed coffee and gulping it on the way to work or class might be on its way out.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Blue Bottle Coffee Co., which specializes in individually-brewed cups of coffee that can take up to five minutes each to make, has seen its revenues grow by 50% annually to between $15 and $20 million last year.Blue Bottle Coffee Co. was founded by James Freeman in 2002 in Oakland Calif. on the premise that coffee should be fresh and should be brewed with the utmost care to preserve flavor. Baristas grind the beans for each cup, place them in a filter suspended above the cup, and carefully pour water over the fresh grounds. A cup of Blue Bottle coffee takes  longer to make and costs about a dollar more than Starbucks coffee, but it seems like people are willing to wait and are willing to pay. Freeman started out selling his coffee at farmers’ markets in the Oakland area, and since then the company has expanded to eight locations and plans to enter Manhattan next month.

Starbucks has its own version of a slow-brewing system called the Clover, which it acquired four years ago and which can be found in about 200 Starbucks. A cup of Clover coffee costs even more than Blue Bottle Coffee: about $2.95 for 12 ounces, but people are buying it. Reuters reports that single-serve coffee machines for the home are also expected to start selling more quickly than they have in recent years. Machines like the Keurig make single cups of coffee from beans that are sold in little pods. They range from $50 to $800 for machines that make gourmet beverages complete with steamed milk. Even Wal-Mart Stores Inc said that it plans to add a single-cup brewing machine to its selection.

With so many possibilities for fresh, delicious, gourmet drinks on the horizon, taste may eclipse expediency as coffee’s most important trait. No more portions from the giant pot that was brewed at 6 a.m. and has been warming behind the counter ever since.