Pinching Pennies, Counting (Coffee) Beans

The economic downturn is beginning to get to folks’ bottom line — their coffee money. Java junkies looking to pinch pennies are sipping less expensive coffee drinks, brewing at home or going cold turkey altogether. The shift is hurting both small-time coffee shops and giants of joe such as Starbucks, which said Wednesday that it expected lower second-quarter profit and full-year earnings than it originally projected because in-store sales and traffic had declined. Historically, coffee is one of the last things to go from consumer budgets… but that history of spending doesn’t necessarily account for a more modern affectation: the five-buck-a-cup über café latte. Those who haven’t given up the coffee-shop routine are buying less expensive drinks: drip coffee rather than a caramel macchiato, or an iced coffee instead of a frappuccino. “Fancy coffee has had its run,” said Dean Trucco, owner of Stir Crazy, a boutique coffee shop on Melrose Avenue. While brewed coffee — both at home and in the coffee house — should be poised to make a come-back, what might that mean for the five-buck-a-cup Clover-brewed single origin? We’ll...
The Coffee Scene, Pittsburgh Edition

The Coffee Scene, Pittsburgh Edition

In the wake of the Starbucks’ public makeover, and with the SCAA show rapidly approaching, there’s a bevy of coffee-centric ink (‘lectronic and otherwise) flowing at the moment. Lots of publications are taking a look at their local coffee scene, trying to figure out who the players are — and discovering that the coffee shop just ain’t what it used to be. (Hoorah.) Here’s a take on the Pittsburgh coffee scene (featuring the fine folks at Aldo Coffee, among others.) “Our goal,” offers Rich Westerfield, genial co-owner with wife Melanie Westerfield, of Aldo Coffee on Mt. Lebanon’s Washington Road, “is to raise the level of conversation and appreciation of what coffee can be.” You go, Rich! Locally, upper-end coffee shops “have become a central place,” Westerfield says, for many the magical Third Place – after home and work. Priming the French press, Aldo, for example, brings in ska bands and steel drums. One church actually meets there monthly. “Coffee houses bring people together,” he says. “They’re oases of community in a city.” Ska, steel drums and church groups....

Coffee Notes from All Over

America’s Best Boutique Coffees. Forbes offers a glimpse at some of the best indy coffee shops around. Even though Starbucks, in its fight to retain customers, today unveiled a new brewing strategy and an inaugural blend called Pike Place Roast, most coffee snobs argue that the best java is found at small cafes where each cup is painstakingly crafted. Often tucked away in neighborhoods outside of a city’s financial district, these shops can be difficult to get to for a business traveler, but aficionados say it’s a worthwhile trip. So where are these boutiques? Well, the article is rather sketchy in that department but if you dig enough you’ll find a link to a spiffy photo gallery of a number of the usual suspects, and some you may not be familiar with. The SCAA gets its green on. The 20th Specialty Coffee Association of America Conference, this year in be-skywayed downtown Minneapolis, Minn, is making its 2008 conference its greenest ever. Sure, it’s easy enough to collect carbon-offset fees in the conference pricing… but the list of earth-friendly efforts with a more immediate impact is pretty impressive, and includes: The elimination of paper hand-outs for more than 100 lectures and labs. Food and beverages served with re-useable dishware and cutlery, as well as recyclable cups, whenever possible. Metal scraps and light bulbs recycled and 100 percent “green” cleaning products utilized. Food and beverages locally grown, in-season and organic, whenever possible. Food waste sent from the convention center to a hog farm for use as animal feed, and nonperishable, unopened food products donated to a local homeless shelter. That‘s leading...

March 28, 2008

Transporting Coffee by Bike Cold Weather Coffee Roasting Why I Love Writing in Coffee Shops The...

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