My latest for fastcompany
Starbucks gets great PR when a chain of customers pays for each others coffee. But thats not whats really going on.
When you combine coffee with a poor understanding of economics, two things can happen: You feel smug and self-congratulatory, or you demonize the wrong person. Both happened at the same Starbucks this week, when a chain of 378 people “paying it forward” was supposedly broken by “some cheap-ass” in a white Jeep.
“Cheap Bastard Ends 10 Hours of Starbucks Customers ‘Paying it Forward’” was Gawker’s headline summary of the event. The news, which began in a local paper, even made the Today show.
Everyone seems to misunderstand what’s actually happening during these “pay-it-forward” chains, which occasionally develop at this and other coffee joints. So let’s break it down, at the end of which you’ll understand this: The woman in the white Jeep is innocent. And nobody involved in these chains should be overly pleased with themselves.
As a 20-something looking for his purpose, Rohan Marley found it by going back to his roots.
Marley Coffee is still a relatively small company, having churned out $6 million in revenue in 2013. But founder Rohan Marley, one of Bob Marley’s children, has big plans for his Jamaican-born coffee business.
Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts are two very different, and successful marketers. Here, a look at how each coffee powerhouse built and evolved its brand.
Tell a caffeine addict she can’t drink a cup of coffee first thing in the morning and things could get a little ugly—or maybe not.
Coffee is more than just a fetishized drink or a daily ritual. It has the power to transform your productivity. But maybe we’ve been going about it all wrong.
Researcher Steven Miller of the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesada found that because our bodies already produce natural hormones that make us feel more alert at certain times in the day, we should curb our caffeine consumption during these times so as not to diminish its effect when we need it most.
He found that the best times to drink coffee (or any caffeinated beverage) for those who wake up between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. is from 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. and between 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., since this is when our cortisol levels usually drop off and we begin to feel sluggish.
In other words, having a cup of coffee when you first get up doesn’t actually make you feel more awake.
While the science behind this seemed pretty sound, we wanted to know if the payoff for adjusting our coffee consumption is worth the sacrifice. Some were able to pull it off and loved the results, while others weren’t even able to make a dent in the challenge.
Tell us what you want to see in coffee—and latte foam artist Michael Breach will oblige!
Including flavor-boosting brew blocks, a French press designed to last a lifetime, and more.
The South American giant is starting to enjoy the fruits of its labor. A dispatch from the increasingly lively Colombian coffee scene. Read More>
COFFEE WEEK DAY 4
Read more from Coffee Week:
A fortnight with Silicon Valley’s fuel du jour. Could it make our writer faster, smarter, and more productive?
Coffee. Butter. Oil.
Separately those ingredients don’t exactly tick all the traditional boxes for a balanced breakfast. But together they are the three components you need to make Bulletproof coffee, a frothy, energy-igniting beverage that has surged in recent years to become the toast of Silicon Valley. Its promises are multitude, at least according to its creator, cloud-computing pioneer and “Bulletproof Executive” Dave Asprey, who refined his recipe after trying a tea made with yak-butter in Nepal.
Among Bulletproof coffee’s listed benefits: It triggers weight loss by way of ketosis, a metabolic state triggered by a lack of carbs that kicks fat-burning into overdrive; it kills pesky cravings; and it boosts cognitive function, mainlining a shining dose of mental clarity into your foggy morning skull. Maybe it would even fold my laundry.
Most of all, though, Bulletproof coffee is intended to be efficient, an easy way for the biohacking crowd to slurp down fats and calories (460 of them!) without so much as sniffing a processed carbohydrate. Why eat a muffin that goes straight to your muffin top, the thinking goes, when you could drink down the metabolic equivalent of supercharged battery acid every morning?
I was curious. I wondered: Is Bulletproof coffee a hyper-efficient, power-packed breakfast taken to its logical end? Or is butter-coffee something more insidious, the latest in a long line of snake oils intended to charm overwhelmed customers looking for the next big diet shortcut?
To find out, I recently gave up breakfast for two weeks and decided to dive headfirst into the (dark, mysterious, hot) Bulletproof hoopla.
Over the past decade, categories such as yogurt, chocolate, and juice have made this leap from commodity to mass delicacy. Some consumers no longer blanch at a $9 bar of chocolate half the size of a Snickers or $11 for a cold-pressed juice. Not only have these become the fastest-growing segments in their respective categories, they’ve created multimillion-dollar markets that never before existed. Greek yogurt was an obscure 1% of U.S. yogurt sales in 2007. Then Chobani entered the scene, luring consumers away from their sugary-sweet Yoplaits. Now Greek yogurt accounts for 40% of the $7.4 billion U.S. yogurt market, while industry heavyweights like Danone and General Mills are racing to catch up.
Coffee crusaders are convinced that they are on the verge of a similar disruption, and they’ve got deep-pocketed investors cheering them on. After Starbucks’s 20-year reign as coffee’s dominant force, this once fringe group is launching a culinary, cultural, and financial battle to get a piece of the $30 billion U.S. coffee market.
These are the purists who aim to persuade us to convert our morning ritual to a $7 cup of black gold.
Attention coffee snobs, if you don’t care about climate change already, now might be a good time to start.
“If things continue like this, maybe 50 years from now, we’ll all be tea drinkers.”
Automatic coffee gets a bad rap, but Briggo aims to bring smart coffee to the masses.
It’s Lil Bub in a cup! Coffee artist Michael Breach creates special portraits just for Fast Company’s Coffee Week in this exclusive video.
And how to break the habit.
"When we make our morning coffee, we essentially operate like a computer program."