The Year 2000 Coffee News Review
While it may have seemed the only news items this year were the Presidential election, the Olympics, and Elian Gonzalez, there were quite several interesting news stories about coffee. In the year 2000, there were coffee stories that involved health issues, the business world, product innovation, and, of course, the occassional odd story. In no particular order, here are 12 coffee news items that really caught my eye this year.
1 - Coffee and Parkinson's Disease
There were not 1, not 2, but 3 separate medical studies released this year that suggest that drinking coffee may reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease. The most interesting was performed by the Honolulu Heart Program. They studied 8004 Japanese-American men over 30 years and the relationship between caffeine and Parkinson's Disease. They found that the more coffee the subject drank, the less likely Parkinson's developed. Those that drank greater than 28 oz. of coffee a day developed Parkinson's at a rate of 2 per 10,000, whereas the non-coffee drinkers had a rate 5 times greater at over 10 incidents per 10,000.
2 - Peet's Announces Upcoming IPO
In 1966 Alfred Peet opened the first Peet's Coffee and Tea in Berkeley, California. In early 2001, Peet's Coffee and Tea will hold their initial public offering. The three founders of Starbucks learned the art of roasting from Alfred Peet, will Peet's learn the art of cafe franchising from Starbucks?
3 - Peace treaty between Ethiopia and Eritrea
Many of the great coffee crops come from East Africa and it goes without saying that war has a way of destroying coffee plants. Anybody remember Burundi? It's nice to see that Ethiopia and Eritrea have resolved their border war with a peace treaty. The Yirgacheffe, Sidamo, and Harrar plants are safe again.
4 - Coffee Creamer Bear Killed
In Colorado there was a bear that loved the taste of coffee creamer. This bear loved the taste so much that she broke into at least 60 camper trailers in the past 4 years to get coffee creamer. In September, her crime spree ended when she was captured and shot to death by state wildlife officers.
5 - Starbucks Employees Win Lotto
In October, all 13 employees at a Los Angeles Starbucks put in a dollar to play the Super Lotto Plus. The next day the group was $87 million dollars richer.
6 - Fair Trade Coffee
Early in the year, some of the World Bank/IMF protesters brought media attention to the problem of how the coffee farm laborers were being exploited. The solution was to get more money to the farmers, by encouraging American coffee companies to purchase "Fair Trade Coffee". When a coffee is stamped with a special seal by the nonprofit group TransFair USA, it means that coffee was grown under safe working conditions and is sold directly to retailers, not through middlemen, thereby guaranteeing a fair price for the farmer. Prior to the protests, Starbucks had announced plans to buy and sell fair trade coffee.
7 - Caffeine and Miscarriage
A Swedish study published in the Dec. 21, 2000 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine shows that non-smoking women have a greater risk of miscarriage with caffeine consumption. High levels of caffeine (500mg) double the chances of miscarriage, but the study also shows an increase at low levels of caffeine (100mg). Contrary to prior thinking, the researchers discovered that caffeine may be more harmful in the first trimester than later in the pregnancy.
8 - Microwave Coffee Roasting
This is either a top news story because it's revolutionary or it is just plain ridiculous. MojoCoffee announced this year that they had developed a way to roast coffee in a microwave. They never sent me my sample after 3 requests, so I can't validate how well this roasting method works. I seriously doubt it will be as good as other methods of home coffee roasting, but I'm fairly confident it'll be better than canned coffee. Where it fits on the quality scale hasn't been determined yet. However, if does even an adequate job, this has the potential to be major innovation in coffee for the average coffee drinker. As of this writing, they are still not selling their product.
9 - Starbucks Releases Electric Vacuum Pot
In October, the Starbucks Barista Utopia was released. Although some describe vac-pot brewing as new, it's been around since the early 1800's. What is new is the fact that this is an electric vacuum system. Until now all vacuum pots required a gas or electric stove top or separate burner. The Utopia takes what was a more difficult brewing method and made it easy enough for the general coffee consumer to enjoy vacuum pot coffee.
Starbucks Utopia VacPot
10 - Coffee as a Weapon
Perhaps it's the nature of society today that some people resolve their conflicts by using coffee as a weapon. Pouring coffee, throwing coffee, or poisoning coffee. They are modern day Gladiators, if you will. This trend continued in 2000. In September, John Robert Nelson paid a $400 fine and was banned from Dodger stadium for 18 months after throwing coffee on a Mets fan. In Warren County Virginia, a school board meeting ended after Board Chairman Robert D. Kellam engaged in coffee clash with Vice Chairman Linda A. Poe that involved pouring coffee and pulling hair. In Medina County Ohio, Gillian Zuchniak, a high school senior was found guilty of putting rat poison in her teacher's coffee creamer.
11 - Reverend Billy
The history of coffee is full of colorful characters. This year the most interesting has to be Reverend Billy. Reverend Billy, the founder of The Church of Stop Shopping, is a concerned citizen that feels that the spread of Starbucks is destroying communities. Instead of grumbling under his breath, he visits the cafes to give his sermon from a bullhorn. Once he planned a 24 hour preaching campaign where he would hit all 101 Starbucks in Manhattan with his gospel. Since not all of us can visit the good Reverend in New York City, we are trying to get him to write a coffee sermon for INeedCoffee in the next year.
12 - East Timor One Year Later
Just one year after East Timor's violent break from Indonesia, the coffee exports are doing well. While the independence movement destroyed 80 percent of East Timor's infrastructure, the vast majority of the damage was confined to the cities. The rural areas with the coffee crops were mostly unaffected by the battles of 1999. Today, 25% of the East Timor population depends upon coffee as their main source of income. Next year East Timor expects to have a bumper coffee crop.
Published: December 2000, Last Modified: October 2011, Author Google+