Brazil Cup of Excellence coming to Vancouver

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Last Tuesday the top lot at the Brazil Cup of Excellence was from Fazenda Santa Inês. The auction fetched a record $49.75 a pound with the winning bid coming from Instaurator and Caffe Artigiano.

There seems to be a lot of talk about the lot being overpriced and the coffee over-hyped, but the people who have tried this coffee say they love it and the fact that the price ended up being as high as it was says a lot about how much they wanted to get a hold of it.

We are really looking forward to trying a cup and we are lucky to live a short walk away from Artigiano, where they will be offering this coffee by-the-cup, brewed with their new Clover.

Here are some links with more information and opinions:
Laughing Meme

Coca Cola Blak - Coke with Coffee

Related entries in Coffee news, Other Drinks

Coca-Cola announced a new product that combines Coca-Cola with coffee. This new product, termed "Coca-Cola Blak" seems a little crazy. We don't really need any more caffeine in Coke.

Oh well, I guess it would taste better than Red Bull, if that's what they're aiming for.

The new drink, a combination of Coca-Cola Classic and coffee extracts, will be first launched in France in January before being rolled out in the United States and other markets during 2006.

A Coke spokesperson said Coca-Cola Blak will be a mid-calorie drink, similar to Coca-Cola C2, which was launched in April 2004 and contains half the sugar, calories and carbohydrates of regular colas. The formula for the new beverage is expected to vary based on local tastes.

Analysts have said one of the keys to the company's future is capturing more consumers who have moved away from sugary soft drinks to diet versions, or to healthier low- or no-calorie beverages.

Via Strange New Products & ABC News

Starbucks doing celebrity product placement

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One of my fellow b5ers, Gayla, caught this news before I did. A new tactic by Starbucks. Now, we know that Starbucks has primarily built itself off viral marketing - stuff on the streets, word of mouth, and most nontraditional marketing efforts. So, it shouldn't come as a surprise to hear that they have co-opted the huge attention being placed on Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner ("Bennifer") by offering them a sponsorship contract.

Considering that people are absolutely obsessed with Jennifer's upcoming baby, often posting every picture out there as a "bump watch", being the favorite mom-to-be, and that their relationship is very hot in the news, a product placement comes at a good time. I'm sure it hasn't slipped the minds of the marketers behind this that placing a large Starbucks cup in Jennifer's hand while pregnant could potentially get them more to-be or nursing mothers, who might otherwise stay away. It's all about image.

A Lowdown spy reports that the caffeinated couple has snagged an exclusive “seven-figure” contract with Starbucks Coffee Co. to drink, be photographed with and generally promote the popular java around the country.

“It’s a relatively new deal,” says the insider. “And considering how often they are photographed with the stuff, I’d say they’re working pretty hard.”

Bennifer II - who married in June and are expecting a baby girl any day - are rarely seen in public without their trademark oversize cups emblazoned with the ubiquitous Starbucks logo. And with his career in the dregs and hers on hold, a hefty endorsement deal could be just their cup.
Of course, the rumors are being denied, as they would even if they were true. Guerilla marketing is guerilla for a reason.

Pic via popsugar
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New Vancouver Coffee Design

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We've redesigned Vancouver Coffee along the same theme as what we've done with Blogaholics. Some of the major changes to note are a reorganization of the columns, the addition of more navigation items, and the stripping of many graphic elements.

This should improve navigation, loading time, and basic visual appeal. It's much easier to update, and lets us also swap images in and out when we want. We hope you like it!

We have, however, kept the header photo, the postit and the pin - these are part of the brand we've created for our blogs and we decided to keep them. They've been resized a bit smaller, though.

What do you think?

Pet turtle with your coffee

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We are all used to finding some kind of toy inside a box of cereal, but a woman found an unexpected "prize" inside her bag of Folgers coffee. She'd been making coffee from the same two-pound bag of freeze-dried coffee for a month (that is just wrong!) when she found a hard clump that after cleaning turned out to be a dead baby turtle.

Folger's explanation is that the turtle could be the result of flooding from Hurricane Katrina. The coffee was already ground, I wonder how it is stored in those warehouses to allow a little turtle to get into the packing line.

She is not planning to sue the company and that things could have been much worse. Worse? How?
Buy fresh coffee from someone who can actually cares and can keep control of the product's quality.

From the Iowa City Press-Citizen

McDonalds goes Organic

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Well, perhaps as bad as the foray by Nestle into Fair Trade is the foray by McDonald's into Organic Coffee. Not to say it's bad - it's a good things. But, given that it's McDonald's, I think they have improvements needed quite direly in areas more their main focus, if you know what I mean.

McDonald's will begin selling organic coffee at its New England restaurants next month. It's an arrangement that could spark huge growth for Green Mountain Coffee, the company that will be supplying Newman's Own Organics blend coffee. The coffee will be available in more than 650 McDonald´s restaurants in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and in the Albany, N.Y., region. Green Mountain Coffee earlier entered a separate deal to purchase beans, roast them and package them for Newman´s Own.

Via Treehugger

Starbucks Fair Trade Challenge

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October is Fair Trade Month 2005, according to Transfair USA.

The goal of Fair Trade Month is to expand the Fair Trade movement in the U.S. overall, with different organizations promoting their own areas of involvement, and we encourage you to Fair Trade in every way possible! TransFair's focus will be on the promotion of Fair Trade Certified products, and, following last year's great success involving hundreds of events that garnered widespread national media coverage, we are once again collaborating with businesses, consumers, and non-profit organizations to raise consumer awareness and increase sales of Fair Trade Certified products.

According to Transfair USA, Starbucks is Fair Trade - you can read Starbucks' take on its own policy (PDF). Apparently, if you ask, they'll make you a fair trade coffee in any of its locations in any of 23 licensed countries.

Well, “GreenLAGirl” wants to test this policy with a Starbucks Fair Trade Challenge - will your local Starbucks step up to the plate and make Fair Trade coffee for anyone who walks in the door, no matter the time of day?

Join the challenge:

1) Simply visit your local Starbucks and ask: "Could I get a cup of fair trade coffee?"

2) Tell us what happened next. Was it hard or easy to get a cup? You can see our first posts here.

Simply tag your post with “starbuckschallenge” to report your findings. There's even a prize.

So far - some have lucked out and some have not. The results are apparently being followed by Starbucks - and they are apparently in contact with the blogger who has started this challenge alerting to press releases and information, and to customer service reminders they are sending to their stores.

So, see what you can find - and let people know. Coffee can taste more bitter when served badly, regardless of its perfection (obviously, not anywhere near that for Starbucks brew...)

Via Cafe Metaphoric

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Starbucks into music

Related entries in Coffee Experiences, Coffee news

Boy, I'm writing about Starbucks a lot. Sorry. But they really do get a lot of news coverage:

They're moving more than just macchiatos at Starbucks. Come Aug. 30, Dylan's "Live at the Gaslight," a previously unreleased 1962 live recording, will be available exclusively at the java joints for 18 days. And Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill Acoustic" has just ended a six-week Starbucks-only run during which it sold 170,000 copies.

The Seattle-based coffee merchant, which sold its first Blue Note Records jazz compilation in 1995, is flexing its marketing muscle by providing the very thing that the beleaguered music industry has been so desperate to find: a new outlet where music fans will eagerly spend their money on full-length, full-price CDs.

With "Genius Loves Company," the posthumous Ray Charles duets album that won eight Grammys, Starbucks made it clear it has become more powerful than a triple-shot venti cappuccino. Of the three million copies sold in the United States, a staggering 775,000 - more than a quarter - were sold in Starbucks stores.

"Genius'" success gave Starbucks "permission from our customers" to go deeper into the music business, says Ken Lombard, president of Starbucks Entertainment. He says the music industry's problems - sales are down 2.5 percent the first half of this year - make Starbucks an ideal place to reach older, disaffected music fans who don't know what to buy or where to buy it. He says the company's strategy is to move from "a niche player" into "a destination when it comes to discovering new music."

Starbucks isn't only hawking brand-name artists. By playing the artists' music in its 4,400 U.S. stores and on its XM satellite radio "lifestyle" Hear Music channel - "the Voice of Starbucks" - the coffeeshop tastemaker is breaking new ones.

Among them are Antigone Rising, the female folk-rock band that is a Starbucks-exclusive artist, and Amos Lee, the soulful Philadelphia singer-songwriter who has sold more than 26,000 copies - out of 129,000 - of his self-titled debut at Starbucks.

Starbucks has led the way when it comes to selling what corporate types call "branded premium" music CDs. That practice is so prevalent that you can pick up a customized mix disc at Stephen Starr restaurants such as Continental and Buddakan, or prolong the down-home experience at Cracker Barrel by buying its exclusive Alison Krauss album, "Home on the Highways," which has sold 125,000 copies...

And in 1999, the coffee giant bought retailer Hear Music - which targets the same over-30, upper-income consumers who frequent Starbucks and listen to adult alternative, or Triple A, radio stations.

In 2002, the company launched the Artist's Choice series of mix CDs selected by the likes of Sheryl Crow, Yo-Yo Ma and Norah Jones. Some of those, like this year's Elvis Costello collection, which features Louis Armstrong, Aretha Franklin and Rilo Kiley, are excellent.

Now the stores sell as many as 12 titles at a time. The new Coldplay and Dave Matthews albums are on the racks, plus Sly and the Family Stone tribute and greatest-hits albums. Lombard says the company is "careful to make sure our customers don't feel we've turned their coffee shop into a music store."...

The exclusive deals with Morissette and Dylan have peeved music retailers already pinched by digital downloading and by big-box stores such as Best Buy, which deeply discount CDs...

Over the last decade, consumers over 30 have become the largest segment of music buyers, accounting for nearly 58 percent of sales in 2003, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. But attracting adults "disaffected from the traditional record market," says Barros, is a tricky business, involving media exposure, word of mouth, or extraordinary circumstance, such as the movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?," whose blockbuster soundtrack sold six million copies.


W00t! Blog fuel, er coffee, is good for you!

Related entries in Coffee Education, Coffee news
I heard about this on the radio this morning and was just about to Google for it and lo and behold it was waiting for me in my feeds!  Given that I consume a litre of coffee (two big mugs) every morning, this is good news.  Sure there is the jitteriness, okay the cream might not be great for me, but I'm awake!
WASHINGTON, Aug. 28 — Coffee provides more than just a morning jolt; that steaming cup of java is also the number one source of antioxidants in the U.S. diet, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Scranton (Pa.). Their study was described today at the 230th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.
"Americans get more of their antioxidants from coffee than any other dietary source. Nothing else comes close," says study leader Joe Vinson, Ph.D., a chemistry professor at the university. Although fruits and vegetables are generally promoted as good sources of antioxidants, the new finding is surprising because it represents the first time that coffee has been shown to be the primary source from which most Americans get their antioxidants, Vinson says. Both caffeinated and decaf versions appear to provide similar antioxidant levels, he adds.
He cautions that high antioxidant levels in foods and beverages don't necessarily translate into levels found in the body. The potential health benefits of these antioxidants ultimately depends on how they are absorbed and utilized in the body, a process that is still poorly understood, says Vinson, whose study was primarily funded by the American Cocoa Research Institute.

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Coffee will help you work out better

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Apparently, coffee is great for getting that little extra juice (and results) out of your exercise routine.

Say goodbye to water and Gatorade, and say high to coffee, tea and pop as the new fashion at the gym.

Why? Here is the premise of the study:

1. Caffeine helps people work out longer
2. Caffeine leads to greater fat loss
3. Caffeine does NOT promote dehydration during workouts

Wohoo! amount considered acceptable by most health experts — only a cup or two a day — is needed to get better results at the gym.

They have shown that there are substances in caffeine which trigger the release of body fats into the bloodstream during activity. This means fat is burnt during exercise, rather than carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are stored in the muscle as glycogen but the amount that can be stored is limited. If you burn body fat first, it reserves carbohydrate for later use. The upshot? You have more energy and can exercise for longer.

Although most research into caffeine’s fitness benefits has been carried out on elite athletes for whom its boost could mean the difference between winning and losing, its effects are equally helpful to anyone looking to get more out of their gym session. Jane Griffin, a sports dietitian and author of Food For Sport (Crowood Press), believes that caffeine’s ability to help the body to “use fat efficiently” means that “when taken in conjunction with regular aerobic exercise, in theory it could help you to lose weight more quickly”.

Caffeine can also prevent workout fatigue. Feeling wired after a coffee is the result of caffeine’s stimulant effects. It works by increasing neurone activity in the brain, which then triggers the pituitary gland into secreting more adrenalin. The result? A perceived injection of energy that leaves you thinking that you aren’t suffering as much on the treadmill as you thought. A study at the University of South Carolina, published in the American Journal of Physiology (2003), revealed that one or two cups of coffee up to an hour before a gym session can delay or prevent post-exercise tiredness by up to 60 per cent: “People seem to be able to work harder without realising it when they take caffeine before a workout,” says Louise Sutton, the principal lecturer in sport and exercise nutrition at Leeds Metropolitan University...

For each of the trials, the cyclists took one of three different drinks — glucose, glucose mixed with caffeine, and plain water. Results showed that caffeine increased the amount of carbohydrates absorbed from the drink by 26 per cent.

Read more from Times Online

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Smashing coffee mugs

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King5 had the news a while back about the Vancouver, WA mayor, Royce E. Pollard, smashing coffee mugs in an aim to get some respect. But, it's a little more dramatic than that.

The mayor didn't find what he wanted at one Starbucks in Oregon, so went to another. There, he purchased 2 Portland mugs for about $20 - and smashed them together. At least he did it over a garbage bin.

What's it all about? Well, Pollard says it is all to get some more respect for Vancouver, WA - which is often overshadowed by Portland and even our own Vancouver, BC. He was offended that Portland mugs were being displayed in a city he clearly wants to differentiate from Portland.

In response, Starbucks removed the mugs from the Vancouver locations. However, they did so only after the mug smashing - Pollard had previously tried to call and email the Starbucks headquarters to get the mugs removed, to which he got unsatisfactory answers.

From Bruce Elgort's site, here is more of the news:

Starbucks was not the only stop on Mayor Pollard's quest to rid of anything Portland from the Downtown area. He also found other stores that had Portland artifacts and proceeded to purchase them and put them on notice as to what they should and shouldn't be selling.

Well, if you go look at this blog you will see that the mayor is both applauded and bashed for his actions. Although it was great for him to take a stand, I also believe that the city of Vancouver, WA is quite intertwined with Portland and no mug smashing will stop that. People live and work in both cities and the tourists visit both. They are best to support each other.

Check out the commentary there too. Big discussion.

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More Puck Coffee in a Can reviews

Related entries in Coffee news, Coffee Opinion

A consumer report came in from WFAA on Wolfgang Puck's coffee in a can - which I have explained when it was released and also with the MAKE deconstruction.

James Andrews gives the coffee a try. Here is the review:

When testers tried it at room temperature, it worked well. In about six minutes you get a hot cup of coffee.

Unfortunately, the coffee didn't taste all that great.

When the cans were stored in a 39-degree refrigerator, the testers ran into a problem. The coffee only got lukewarm.

"If you have them outside on a cold day—say you're ice skating or camping and you activated it—it wouldn't get very hot," said Consumer Reports' Megan Steintrager.

Testers found if the can is stored in a hot location, the results can be downright dangerous.

"When we put them in a car on a sunny day, the coffee inside reached almost 200 degrees when heated," Steintrager said. "That's hot enough to scald you."

Even worse, steam and hot liquid leaked from all four drinks tested as they heated up. And says there's yet another drawback to the coffee in a can: the packaging is bulky and is not recyclable.

Ok, so granted the market is open - even a small chunk of a $9 billion industry for specialty coffees alone is a big hunk of cash. But, please, do not spend it on this! One - torture! Two - it's far worse than disposing of a cardboard cup. Think of all the waste in that sucker.

Oh - and why not give a shot to a good travel mug. Even less waste.

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Good coffee habits for your health

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Caffeine is a lovely thing. Don't know how I ever did without it. But, though coffee may boost alertness and concentration for a while, it doesn't last forever. And, like anything we crave, we need to have our limits.

Fox news reports that there is a right way to drink coffee and caffeine in general:

"The right way is to know how it affects your body and your reasoning," says registered dietitian and epidemiologist Gail Frank. "The wrong way is to use it in an abusive way, and that means going without sleep and then drinking a lot of coffee to get the perk."

In fact, too much caffeine may also lead to health problems like high blood pressure, brittle bones, trouble sleeping, and just plain irritability.

So, what are good coffee habits?

- Add milk to your coffee for the calcium
- Reconsider that 2nd cup and know your own limits
- 1-3 cups of coffee is ok for most people without any negative effects
- Don't drink it when pregnant - it may not be conclusive, but is it worth it?
- Know that some brands and roasts have more caffeine than others

- Balance coffee intake with knowledge of other caffeine you are consuming: pop, tea, chocolate, some cold medications
- Withdrawal from caffeine usually only lasts 48 hours... or until the next cup
- Know if your medications interact

via Badgett's Coffee eJournal

Deconstructing the Puck self heating coffee can

Related entries in Coffee Experiences, Coffee news, Coffee Opinion

So, a while ago I wrote about Puck's self-heating coffee, and now they've been deconstructed on Make.

Inside the mug is the self heating element. And, inside that, 8 oz of minerals. White powder with little rocks. Lovely.

So there it is, an exothermic reaction (gives heat off) with water and calcium oxide. You can easily remove the liquid and use it for something else. I'm not sure what- but i think there are some uses for this. It's constructed like a tank, so I bet military and outdoors people might be using these.

One of the best uses might be to remove all the materials (before they're heated/water added) and show how chemical reactions can be used for something tangible for students. You could also likely do some neat things with the materials for experiments that require a small amount of heat.

Educational, yes. Drinkable, no.

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Torrefazione being shut down

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Starbucks has made the decision to close down the Torrefazione chain. They bought out the company a few years ago, and now it's all over and done with. The stores will cease to exist, all 17 of them, and the brand itself will be refocused to a grocery and food-service deal.

It's sad to see it die. I know of some people very sad to see it go as well. It's always sad to see the hard work of many talented people be shut down. Coffeehouses just have so much more flair than Starbucks ever will. Sigh.

From Bloggle: The Coffee Odyssey