Arizona State Univeristy’s International Institute for Species Exploration released their 2009 top 10 new species, including a new strain of the coffee plant that is naturally caffeine-free.
Dubbed Coffea charrieriana, this wild species was found in the diverse growing region of Cameroon and will likely be experimented with to determine if a palatable, naturally-caffeine free brew can be made from its cherries.
Given that caffeine is considered to be the primary pest-repellent in coffee plants the world over, it’s quite impressive that this little guy has developed in the wild. Caffeine is also responsible for much of the bitter flavor in coffee, and species such as Robusta, which have significantly higher caffeine quantities than Arabica species, are known to be less palatable and more harsh to the taste. Perhaps this new species will produce a coffee that is smoother and better suited to tasting the full spectrum of flavor inherent to this little bean.
In this episode of our hot action, we’re going to talk about something a little different: The video log.
A newly launched effort featuring UK roaster Steve Leighton and Dublin barista Colin Harmon, TamperTantrum is targeted towards home espresso enthusiasts that might consider themselves in the ‘prosumer’ arena — folks interested in bridging the gap between professional espresso skill and home espresso experience. The first episode is a little long, but worth the watch and we’re definitely looking forward to future videos!
Tamper Tantrum from Stephen Leighton on Vimeo.
Bringing new meaning to the phrase ‘silver-tongued,’ professional coffee taster Gennaro Pelliccia recently made headlines because Costa Coffee took out an insurance policy on his talented tastebuds worth nearly $14 million.
Backed by Lloyd’s of London, the policy is similar to those taken out on Betty Grable’s legs, Jimmy Durante’s nose and ballerina Vera Zorina’s toes — basically, if one of your appendages is making you and/or someone else a lot of money, they want to make sure that if anything happens to said appendage, they won’t be up a creek. This policy, however, is one of the single biggest policies ever taken out on an individual, which goes to show just how essential Pelliccia’s tongue is to how Costa does business.
We’re assuming Gene Simmons is making an appointment with Lloyd’s as we type.
If you’re in the Pacific Northwest this weekend and looking for some highly caffeinated entertainment, check out the Northwest Regional Barista Competition, being held at the Temple Theater in Tacoma. This is the first round competition to see who will qualify for the US championships and then, possibly, move on to the World Barista Championship. 2008’s World Barista winner, Irishman Stephen Morrissey, will be in attendance.
23 competitors will be making three drinks for the judges over the two day event — and you can also check out a separate latte art competition. The event is free and open to the public.
A thousand feet up in the hills behind Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii, Jim and Sharon Skibby grow top-notch coffee. Theirs is a small-scale operation, a labor of love. From 75 trees they harvest about 700 pounds of cherries (coffee fruits) — enough to make 100 pounds of finished coffee.
Read all about how this pair of boutique coffee farmers harvest and process their beans each year — quite interesting!
If the inability to enjoy a hot cup of coffee in space has kept you from pursuing your cosmonaut dreams, last week’s invention of the zero-G coffee cup by NASA astronaut Dave Pettit is sure to make you tingle.
Pettit is known for funky space inventions, but when he arrived at the International Space Station, he had one goal in mind: Find a way to enjoy his beloved joe from a cup, rather than a bag & straw. Liquids in space can be a messy proposition, and hot coffee introduces an element of risk as well, but that wasn’t going to stop Pettit from devising a method of enjoying his java from a cup.
Using a piece of his mission book, he formed a vessel with a tear-drop shape that is closed at one end. The surface tension within the cup keeps the coffee inside instead of floating about the station. He suggested that his invention could apply to more than just coffee — future space colonists could utilize this kind of cup for celebratory toasts.
So now that the coffee cup question has been answered and you’re back on track to becoming an astronaut, you’d better hit the books — time to learn Russian.
“…all for the price of a cup of coffee.” The Christian Children’s Fund might have to change their pitch-line in the coming months, as India reports their Robusta coffee crops are down due to the excessive rain they’ve been experiencing — a drop which may result in an increase in coffee prices around the world.
India’s highest producing region, Karnataka, experienced intense rains during coffee’s blossom season, which will likely impact the amount of beans they are able to harvest. While this news story focuses on the fact that Robusta is primarily used in instant coffees, it is also very often used in high-end gourmet brands (such as Lavazza or Illy) in their espresso blends to create a thicker crema and a bolder body. Robusta is bitter due to it’s higher caffeine content, so it’s not used in high quantities, but the increase in prices could have an impact on the cost of your favorite coffee beans — whether or not you’ll see this passed on to you remains to be seen.
However, coffee’s global commodities pricing has dropped significantly over the past several months, due to the economic issues seen in Europe and the US, so perhaps these environmental and economic issues will balance each other out.
We’re having our first tasting event at our Lynnwood location on Sunday, 12/7/08, from 10am – 12pm. This event will feature local roaster Velton’s coffee and you’ll have the opportunity to taste four single origin beans plus the blend Velton created with them (the Bonsai Blend) in a traditional, plantation-style cupping.
At this free event, you’ll:
- Learn about regional flavor trends
- Have the chance to determine which kinds of beans taste best to you and why
- Get information on coffee roasting & blending theory
- Pitch all of your coffee and espresso machine questions at Velton & Gail
- Be entered in a drawing for an awesome door prize!
Please join us as we taste and learn more about coffee in a fun, interactive and casual environment. Space is limited to 20 participants, so if you’re interested, please sign up here.
Hope to see you on the 7th!
Have you ever thought about taking a volunteer vacation? You know the kind, where you give a little while you get a little? Earthwatch has some of the most amazing working vacations available, all concentrated on working with scientists and researchers to measure, examine, explore and understand nature and our place within it.
If you’re a coffee connoisseur, planning a trip to learn about how you can help in the development of sustainable coffee agriculture could bring more meaning — and adventure! — to your daily mug. Earthwatch offers a 15-day expedition in Costa Rica where you assist in field experiments to improve the ecological sustainability of shade-grown coffee. The research station is located in one of our favorite spots on earth — the breathtaking Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve — and involves hiking to different coffee plantations and collecting data for the experiment. They currently have stints planned for the first half of this December, or a few next year in March, July and November.
Please let us know if you choose to go — we’d love to hear all about your experience!
A new joint study out of Harvard and Tokyo indicates that caffeine consumption may not be a strict carcinogen. It found no statistically reliable evidence that drinking coffee increases overall breast cancer risk, but it did find data regarding how it effects pre-existing breast tissue conditions, requiring further study.
The researchers reviewed the medical and dietary records of nearly 40,000 women since a baseline taken between 1992 – 1995, and examined the commonalities between their dietary intake and the development of breast cancer. They were unable to find any statistical proof that caffeine did in fact increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer, but they did notice that those with higher caffeine intake (more than 4 cups per day) did experience adverse effects in the state of pre-existing benign breast disease and tumors.
While it appears that minimal intake my not increase your risk — if you’re a coffee lover with a history of breast cancer in your family, it might be a good idea to switch to decaf (just to be on the safe side!).