Vietnam is experiencing a really bad drought right now, and if they don’t get rain in the next few weeks, the impact on coffee crops could be huge – maybe as much as a 30% decrease in production this year. They’re primarily growing Robusta beans, not the higher-quality Arabica beans used by all specialty coffee shops, but this would still impact everyone. Producers who typically package these Robusta beans may have to blend in some more expensive Arabica ones…raising the price on the product being sold as well as increasing demand for Arabica.
Of greater concern is that variability in supply like this is likely to become the new norm as climate change impacts these small coffee-producing regions of this planet. The future availability of this crop is uncertain, and while there will always be coffee beans produced, the supply is likely to be variable and may wreck havoc on companies that rely upon it for their business.
It may not be pretty, but you’re looking at the world’s fastest coffee powered car, clocking in at a not so astounding 65mph. It converts coffee chaff pellets into power by a complicated gasification process. While really just a technology demonstrator, it does show off an interesting alternative energy source for vehicles.
Proving that coffee truly is the solution to all of the world’s problems (ok, so not really), a team of crazy Brits has modified a VW Scirocco to be powered by coffee! Well, not entirely. You see, it uses a charcoal fire to heat the coffee grounds, splitting them into carbon monoxide and hydrogen gas. The hydrogen gas is then burned in the engine to propel the car. Hardly efficient nor eco-friendly but hey, it’s still a coffee-powered car! 🙂 (link)
After a slow rollout earlier this year of their new instant coffee, Starbucks has made a big push lately to really get this product out. Most stores are offering a free taste test, Via versus brewed, for which you’ll receive a free cup of brewed coffee for participating. I’ve tried the Via myself, and while it’s not as good as a good cup of brewed coffee, I found it better than most restaurant coffee. Despite being an obsessed coffee lover who grows and roasts his own coffee, I still see a place for Via in my life…I found that it’s perfect for camping or backpacking, if you’re trying to pack light you just can’t beat it. The packets are incredibly small, and there’s no need to bring your brewing equipment along, or to deal with coffee that had been ground days before (let’s face it, bringing coffee grinder camping is really, really wrong!). Starbucks Via is available in grocery stores as well as Starbucks of course, though I’ve also found good prices on this over at Amazon.
Speaking of camping though, if you’re not convinced that Via is the way to go, then I recommend either a plastic french press, or an AeroPress. The AeroPress is great if there’s only one coffee drinker in the group, otherwise a large french press would be better. Time has a nice write up on Via if you’d like to learn more.
While I truly expect Starbucks’ instant coffee to be worse than fresh brewed, I admit I’m willing to give it a try, especially when they’re giving away free samples! You can get your own sample here.
I don’t care that Starbucks spent twenty years developing their new instant coffee. I just don’t see the appeal. People don’t go to Starbucks to buy packs of coffee they can drink later. They want fresh brewed, aromatic, tasty coffee. This is going to be the biggest flop since New Coke. (via Bloomberg)
In today’s rough economic times, every dollar saved can mean a lot. Spending $3-4 at Starbucks can be tough on a daily basis. With this in mind, many are looking at ways to enjoy coffee at home more. Lifehacker has a nice high-level guide at how to do so, you can read it at this link.
A coffee shop in Houston, The Coffee Groundz, is using Twitter to allow customers to preorder their drinks…they show up, the drink is ready, no waiting. Read more here. (via ShinyShiny)
Pledge five volunteer hours in your community and get a free tall size brewed coffee from your neighborhood Starbucks! Read more about it here.
In the search for eco-friendly alternative fuels, scientists at the University of Nevada, Reno, discovered that you could extract the oils from spent coffee grounds and use those to power a car, in much the same manner as other forms of plant-based fuels (like using cooking oil). Yet another nice use for old coffee grounds (composting is my favorite use). Plus, you get the added bonus of coffee-scented exhaust fumes! Read more in the New York Times.