Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Caffeine Discussion in Specialty Coffee Retailer

Sept. 2011
This month's issue of Specialty Coffee Retailer offers a summary of a common discussion I have. "How bad is caffeine for you anyhow?" And if you drink decaf, "how bad are the "chemicals" in decaf"? Jack Groot, owner of JP's Coffee in Holland, Michigan, is a friend and I appreciate his comments in this column. Read it here.

At the beginning, he rightly muses that the caffeine in coffee is much purer than the caffeine in soft drinks because with coffee you don't automatically get the sugar with it. You control the sugar content.

He also explains a little known fact -- the caffeine used as an artificial additive in many products, including soft drinks, comes from coffee. Typically, it's pulled during the decaffeination process. Question -- which is the by-product? The raw caffeine (for sale to CPG cos) or the decaffeinated coffee?

In the middle of the article, Jack somewhat mysteriously jumps to the topic of decaf coffee and the misperception that some of it contains dangerous chemicals. THANK YOU JACK for clearly laying out with facts and reputable sources that coffee decaffeinated with methylene chloride is not dangerous by any stretch of the imagination.

So just the last paragraph is confusing -- Jack states that studies indicate moderate caffeine consumption is beneficial so keep drinking regular coffee (with all it's associated headaches, migraines and bad hangovers). Don't those same studies indicate that moderation to the tune of only 3% (i.e. the caffeine content of decaf compared to regular) is therefore ideal?!

Maybe in your next column, Jack!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

QGrader Re-Takes Coming Up

Sept. 18, 2011
Got the word today that the QGrader class I've been waiting for has been confirmed! Rob Stephen, Coffee Solutions, Boston, MASS, has enough participants to hold a QGrader class Oct. 10-14. So several "almost-Q-Graders" like myself will have the opportunity to do our re-take tests.

I need to pass the Indonesian cupping, matching pairs and the "aroma-therapy" series called "dry distillation". I also have to pass roasted grading -- which is basically the test where you identify quakers.

So the studying begins -- and repeated cuppings of Indonesians. Please comment here if you'd like to suggest some for me to try!

Ruth Ann Church, President, Artisan Coffee Imports

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Coffee on the Hill

Sept. 13 - 15, 2011
I was in Washington D.C. on other-than-coffee business these 3 days -- too bad! As I learned from NCA member Tom Isaia, of Coffee Express, a bi-annual event called "Coffee on the Hill" was happening 8 - 10am on 10/13 at the Rayburn House, one of the buildings next to the capitol that houses dozens of congressional offices. Then 10/14 -1 5 was the NCA's fall educational program - including presentation of the results of the lastest consumption survey: "National Coffee Drinking Trends" (NCDT) report.

Once I heard about it, I made plans to catch an earlier flight than originally planned on Tue., 9/13. Everything looked like I was destined to be at Coffee on the Hill until the flight was cancelled AFTER the plane had taxied to the runway. Disappointing! Coffee on the Hill is put on by the NCA to raise awareness among lawmakers about the importance of the coffee industry. USAID is brought into the fold -- they bring in top quality coffees from around the world. (USAID sponsors many-coffee related projects in coffee-growing countries.)

I was able to peek into the ballroom on 10/14 as the NCDT was being presented -- but had to then rush on to other meetings.

Note to self: September 2012, plan to go to NCA's fall educational conference. In Sept. 2013 -- plan to be in DC for Coffee on the Hill - and fly in a day early!