Sunday, June 24, 2007

Skin Care and Java: How Coffee Plays a Role in Skincare

Sacramento, CA (PRWEB) June 24, 2007 -- Skin care involving coffee is enough to make any java lover stick to a daily skincare routine.'s latest article, "Throw a Little Java in Your Daily Skincare Routine: The Benefits of Coffee for Skin" introduces this new concept of using coffee in skin care.

The beauty benefits of coffee has been in use for many years, according to the article:

Many cultures are already aware of the cleansing, toning, and healing properties of coffee, both when ingested and when applied topically to the skin. In Russia, people often go to the bathhouse to scrub their bodies with coffee grounds, having found that they not only cleanse and exfoliate, but also moisturize, protect the skin from sun damage, and even eliminate cellulite! What's to lose?

When it comes to antioxidants, coffee has plenty to offer:

Coffee has been found to be packed with antioxidants that fight free radicals and reverse cellular damage. One study surveyed American diets and found that most Americans receive the bulk of their daily vitamins and antioxidants from coffee.

So what is the key to coffee's other health benefits? The caffeine, of course:

The secret is in the caffeine. Caffeine, when absorbed through the skin, helps redistribute fat cells and smooth out dimply cellulite. It also shrinks and tightens blood vessels and thus helps reduce the appearance of varicose veins.

According to the Skincare News Team's sources, both coffee lovers and those who don't normally drink the hot beverage stand to gain a lot from incorporating this popular drink in a daily skincare routine that's as easy as going to the local coffee shop. covers all skincare and beauty topics from head to toe. Check out these latest articles:

"Skin Care & Beauty Basics - Part 1: Get to First Base…Foundation, That Is"

Too many women are intimidated by makeup and skin care. They say practice makes perfect so why not give it a shot? Put any makeup fears aside and check out these tips to get a flawless look every time.

"Growing Impatient With the Hands of Time"

Still battling the signs of aging? This problem may be solved more simply than imagined!

"The Aging Neck…Skincare's Forgotten Frontier!"

Ever notice how the older people get the more often they choose a scarf or turtleneck to wear? Let's be honest, no one does it to be fashion forward. From now on, let's solve the problem of that aging neck, and not by hiding it behind knit and silk. Read this article and find out a few ways other than plastic surgery to start sporting a firm, beautiful, and glowing neck. Who wants to look like a turkey, when it's possible to look like a swan?

"Skin Care & Beauty Basics - Part 3: How to Be a Powder Puff Girl!"

Powder is the finishing touch after applying makeup. Read on to see how anyone can make the most out of the powder they use and learn tips to help get it right every time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Coffee Drinking Protects Against an Eyelid Spasm That Can Lead to ‘Blindness’

Source: British Medical Journal

Released: Fri 15-Jun-2007, 21:00 ET

Libraries Medical News

Coffee Drinking, Eyelid Spasms, Blindness


People who drink coffee are less likely to develop an involuntary eye spasm called primary late onset blepharospasm, which makes them blink uncontrollably and can leave them effectively ‘blind’, according to a study published online ahead of print in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

[Influence of coffee drinking and cigarette smoking on the risk of primary late onset blepharospasm: evidence from a multicentre case control study; Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 2007; doi: 10.1136/jnnp.2007.119891]

Newswise — People who drink coffee are less likely to develop an involuntary eye spasm called primary late onset blepharospasm, which makes them blink uncontrollably and can leave them effectively ‘blind’, according to a study published online ahead of print in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

The effect was proportional to the amount of coffee drank and one to two cups per day were needed for the protective effect to be seen. The age of onset of the spasm was also found to be later in patient who drank more coffee – 1.7 years for each additional cup per day.

Previous studies have suggested that smoking protects against development of blepharospasm, but this Italian study did not show a significant protective effect.

Late onset blepharospasm is a dystonia in which the eyelid muscles contract uncontrollably; this starts as involuntary blinking but in extreme cases sufferers are rendered functionally blind despite normal vision because they are unable to prevent their eyes from clamping shut.

The study involved 166 patients with primary late onset blepharospasm, 228 patients with hemifacial spasm (a similar muscle spasm that usually begins in the eyelid muscles but then spreads to involve other muscles of the face) and 187 people who were relatives of patients. The second two groups acted as controls.

The participants were recruited through five hospitals in Italy and asked whether they had ever drank coffee or smoked and for how many years. They were also asked to estimate how many cups of coffee they drank and/or packs of cigarettes they smoked per day. The age of onset of muscle spasms was recorded for patients who experienced them and a reference age was calculated for each of the patients’ relatives based on the duration of the spasms in the other group.

Regression analysis was used to observe the relationship between coffee drinking and smoking on the development of blepharospasm.

The authors say: ‘Our findings raise doubt about the association of smoking and blepharospasm but strongly suggest coffee as a protective factor.’

‘The most obvious candidate for the protective effect is caffeine, but the low frequency of decaffeinated coffee intake in Italy prevented us from examining the effects of caffeine on blepharospasm.

They suggest that caffeine blocks adenosine receptors as has been proposed for its mechanism in protecting against Parkinson’s disease.

The authors estimate that people need to drink one to two cups of coffee per day for the protective effect to be seen.

‘Considering that the caffeine content of a cup of Italian coffee (60–120 mg) is similar to the average content of a cup of American coffee (95–125 mg), the protective effect on the development of blepharospasm might be exerted at caffeine doses greater than 120–240 mg, comparable with the caffeine doses suggested to be protective in Parkinson’s disease,’ they say.

Click here to view the paper in full: press release.pdf

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Coffee exhibition stirs seductive passions

Louis Leopold Boilly, François Delpech, Coffee lovers,
colored lithograph, circa 1827, Schmid collection

Isobel Leybold-Johnson in Zurich
June 15, 2007

Coffee has long had a sexy image in adverts –George Clooney was the subject of a recent ad campaign for a Nespresso.

But as an exhibition at Zurich's Johann Jacobs Museum - which is devoted to coffee's cultural history - shows, awareness of the drink's sensual appeal goes back several hundred years.

For many people coffee is an integral part of daily life and a good kick-start to the morning. Coffee shops and cafés now offer anything from the humble espresso to a double latte macchiato with caramel.

Monika Imboden, curator of "Coffee: a tale of irresistible temptation", is well aware that most people might struggle to see the erotic side of one of the world's most popular brews.

"The association comes first of all from the production process, for coffee to be drinkable it has to go through heat a few times, through fire, and fire is the symbol of passion and temptation," she told swissinfo.

When coffee first came to Europe around 400 years ago there were very few hot drinks. Wine, beer, mead and water were drunk lukewarm.

A hot drink, according to the thinking of the time, was supposed to get pulses racing. Although, as is demonstrated by an elegant lady in one of the exhibition's paintings, there were ways around this.

"People used to tip coffee into a saucer so it could cool down... and then they drank it out of the saucer, which today is terribly frowned upon," said Imboden.

Wide appeal

Roasting, which has to take place at more than 220 degrees Celsius, creates another distinctively tempting aspect of coffee: its smell.

Coffee's characteristic aroma actually comprises nearly 1,000 distinct elements, ranging from vanilla to earthy scents. But coffee's appeal does not stop there.

Porcelain figures from the 18th century suggest that enjoyment of coffee may have played a role in courtly gallantry.

Thus a lady neglects her cup of coffee to steal a kiss, another waits for her lover to appear, coffee in one hand, red rose in another.

Coffee services often depicted mythical or exotic scenes, featuring love gods Eros or Venus.

For coffee to be drinkable it has to go through heat a few times, through fire, and fire is the symbol of passion.

Monika Imboden, exhibition curator


Flirting was another aspect, as can been seen in some of the paintings of coffee houses on display.

In the 19th century these were often respectable establishments, mostly frequented by men. The only woman was usually the cashier. Paintings show her as young and pretty, but highly respectable – a large counter keeps any admirers at a safe distance.

In the latter part of the century, it became acceptable for women to go to coffee houses as well.

“They were places where women could go in twos and exchange glances with the other sex without it being frowned upon," Imboden told swissinfo.

Some coffee houses were, however, places for prostitution and merriment.

But a series of drawings of women by French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec shows the harsh reality behind the gaiety of café dansants in Paris.

Another set, by the German George Grosz, depicts ugly and sometimes explicit figures sitting in cafés, a critical look at society's pessimism around the First World War.

The George effect

Perhaps the most obvious association between coffee and sex came in the 1950s, when advertising started to capitalise on the drink's seductive side. A selection of adverts is shown at the exhibition.

Strangers flirt over a cup of coffee or new couples are formed. Fires roar in the background. Aromas tempt. The drink seems of secondary importance.

But not always, as George Clooney finds out in the Nespresso advert when he eavesdrops on a conversion between several women as they enjoy their coffees.

"It seems that these attributes – rich, sensual, intense, unique – are referring to him but they are actually talking about coffee," said Imboden.

A case to show that coffee really does have seductive powers.

swissinfo, Isobel Leybold-Johnson in Zurich


* The Johann Jacobs Museum, located in Zurich, opened in 1984 as part of the Johann Jacobs Foundation.

* The Jacobs family founded the Jacobs Kaffee brand in the 19th century. It is now part of Kraft.

* The exhibition "Coffee: a tale of irresistible temptation" runs until February 24, 2008.

* Museum opening hours: Friday: 14.00-19.00, Saturday: 14.00-17.00, Sunday: 10.00-17.00.


* Johann Jacobs Museum (

* About the exhibition (

* George Clooney's Nespresso advert website (

URL of this story:

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Coffee & rum tiramisu with molasses topping

photography by flickr all rights reserved by heather
this is classic tiramisu- think of it with molasses

Ingredients (serves 6)

* 150ml freshly made strong dark coffee (or 4 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 150ml boiling water), cooled

* 4 tbs (80ml) dark rum

* 5 tsp molasses sugar*

* 2 tbs golden caster sugar*

* 2 eggs, separated

* 250g mascarpone

* Few drops of vanilla extract

* 20 sponge fingers (savoiardi)

* 1 tbs dark muscovado sugar*


1. Mix the coffee and rum with 2 teaspoons of molasses sugar. When sugar has dissolved, pour into a small shallow dish.

2. Reserve 1 1/2 tablespoons of the caster sugar. Use electric beaters to beat together the egg yolks and remaining caster sugar in a bowl for 4 minutes or until thick and pale.

3. Add the mascarpone and the vanilla extract to the egg-yolk mixture and beat until smooth. Whisk the eggwhites in a separate bowl until they just begin to show signs of stiffening, then gradually whisk in reserved caster sugar to form a soft but not too stiff meringue. (The tips of the peaks should fall over, not stand upright.) Gently fold meringue into the mascarpone mixture.

4. Briefly dip half the sponge fingers, one at a time, into the coffee mixture and lay them side by side on a flat, rectangular serving plate. Spoon over half the mascarpone mixture and spread out evenly. Cover with another layer of coffee-soaked sponge fingers and the rest of the mascarpone mixture. Chill in the fridge for 1 1/2 hours.

5. Mix the remaining molasses sugar with the dark muscovado sugar, much like you would when making pastry, rubbing the grains through your fingers to remove any lumps. Then sprinkle it over the top of the dessert and chill for another 15-20 minutes to allow time for the sugar to dissolve before serving.

Notes & tips

* Molasses sugar, golden caster sugar and dark muscovado sugar are from gourmet food shops and selected delis.

Debbie Major
delicious. - June 2006 , Page 65

Morning cup of coffee may effect women differently than men: researcher

by: Noor Javad

Jun. 10, 2007

Canadian Press

TORONTO (CP) - The myriad of differences between the sexes might extend to how men and women react to a cup of joe in the morning.

Research being conducted at the University of Toronto suggests caffeine's effect on women contrasts significantly with its effect on men - a reaction based on which version of a gene binds to dopamine, a chemical in the brain known to affect mood.

"We know from animal studies that males and females respond differently to caffeine," said Ahmed El-Sohemy, a nutritional sciences professor at the University of Toronto.

"Here we are showing it in humans, and also relating it to an actual behavioural response."

The early stages of the research, being led by El-Sohemy, suggests 22 per cent of men with a particular form of the dopamine receptor gene experience an elevated mood after consuming a caffeinated beverage.

More than 60 per cent of men with a different form of this gene reported the same kind of mood elevation.

"That's a fairly big effect," said El-Sohemy.

In women, however, approximately 50 per cent reported experiencing an elevated mood after consuming caffeine, regardless of the version of the gene they had.

The research suggests the effect caffeine has on people, from inducing a headache to making them high-strung, could also be linked to genetic makeup.

"Some people avoid caffeine, some people seek it daily, and some people who don't get their daily fix suffer various withdrawal symptoms and seek caffeine to alleviate those symptoms," El-Sohemy said.

"What we're trying to understand is what the genetics behind these different responses might be."

El-Sohemy says he believes the results may also provide a genetic explanation as to why some people are more vulnerable to becoming dependent on caffeine.

"Further down the road one could predict whether or not you would be better off lowering your intake or perhaps maintaining what you consume," he said.

El-Sohemy said the caffeine project is just one among many exploring how genes can affect the kinds of food we eat, and how our bodies respond to those foods.

"What we are really interested in is being able to tailor individual dietary recommendations based on an individual's unique genetic profile," he said.

El-Sohemy, recently presented these preliminary findings at the Advanced Foods and Materials Network Scientific Conference in Quebec City. He said the final results of the caffeine study are expected to be published later this year.

Canadian Press 10 June 2007

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Coffee 'lowers liver cancer risk'

Drinking coffee appears to lower the risk of developing liver cancer, according to findings published in the medical journal Gastroenterology.

"Data on potential beneficial effects of coffee on liver function and liver diseases have accrued over the last two decades," Dr Susanna Larsson and Dr Alicja Wolk, from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, write.

Several studies have found an inverse relationship between coffee consumption and liver enzymes levels that indicate a risk of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis.

The researchers therefore conducted a large review, or "meta-analysis," of published epidemiological studies to look at the association between coffee consumption and the risk of liver cancer.

The meta-analysis included 11 studies involving 2,260 liver cancer patients and 239,146 individuals without liver cancer who served as a comparison group.

An inverse association between coffee consumption and liver cancer risk was observed in all of the studies, and this association was statistically significant in six studies.

For every two cups of coffee per day, the investigators observed a 43 per cent reduced risk of liver cancer.

"A protective effect of coffee consumption on liver cancer is biologically plausible," Dr Larsson and Dr Wolk said.

The study says coffee contains large amounts of anti-oxidants, such as chlorogenic acids, which combat oxidative stress and inhibit the formation of carcinogens.

Experimental animal studies have specifically shown that coffee and chlorogenic acids have an inhibitory effect on liver cancer.

- Reuters June 5th 2007

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Coffee catches on in a nation of tea drinkers

Quality of the crop is improving as more Chinese get the coffee-drinking habit

Niu Shuping and Nao Nakanishi

Arabica coffee from the southern Chinese province of Yunnan is now catching the eye even of specialty roasters such as Starbucks.
CREDIT: Frederic J. Brown, AFP, Getty Images
Arabica coffee from the southern Chinese province of Yunnan is now catching the eye even of specialty roasters such as Starbucks.

HONG KONG -- Du Yansheng, a farmer on the southern Chinese island of Hainan, hasn't gone without his morning cup of coffee in five decades, not even during the Cultural Revolution -- when such "mock-Western" practices could have landed him in prison.

"People here have never stopped drinking coffee," Du told Reuters in Xinglong, the cradle of coffee culture in an otherwise tea-drinking country.

Du's father was one of China's first coffee farmers, at a time when it was considered an exotic foreign beverage.

He brought robusta beans from Indonesia in the 1950s -- decades before Nestle or Starbucks Corp. arrived on China's shores.

Today, coffee is fast catching on, especially among younger urban Chinese, and the percentage increase in demand is in the double digits -- though still less than one tenth of tea consumption.

And coffee grown in China is beginning to climb the quality ladder.

Arabica from the southern province of Yunnan is now catching the eye even of specialty roasters such as Starbucks and Italy's Illy.

"Demand for Yunnan arabica is expanding," said Tomonori Hashimoto, a trader from S. Ishimitsu Co. Ltd. in Japan, one of the world's top coffee consumers, and known for being picky.

"There are clients eager to try the new and the rare. It's mild and easy to drink," he said by telephone from Tokyo.

Official data showed Chinese coffee exports jumped 40.8 per cent to 6,484 tonnes during the first quarter of this year, with more than 4,000 tonnes headed for Germany and Japan.

It imported 4,642 tonnes in the first quarter, down 5.7 per cent year-on-year.

"When we began a coffee business here in 1998, our monthly sales were about 10 kilos.

"Now our sales are calculated in tonnes," said Zhou Zhihua, a coffee trader based in Yunnan's provincial capital, Kunming.

To be sure, the industry officials say Chinese production is still too small for some roasters to pay much attention, especially as growing domestic demand is absorbing a large chunk of it.

China has no official data for coffee production. Industry officials estimate it harvests 22,000 to 28,000 tonnes of arabica per year in Yunnan, a mountainous province the size of Japan that borders Vietnam.

That is tiny compared with some 900,000 tonnes grown in Vietnam, the world's No. 2 producer, or 400,000 tonnes in Indonesia.

And there's little scope for production increases because farmers remain keener on growing rice, rubber or other higher-priced cash crops.

"The fact is that the yuan is appreciating and other commodities, like rubber and grains, are faring well," said another senior trader from an international house.

"When you look at the demand and supply globally, we're not going into a serious deficit yet in arabica.

"And therefore I don't think prices will go up much."

Data from International Coffee Organization showed that average coffee prices had risen about seven per cent in 2006 from the year before.

That's while prices for the other commodities more than doubled partly due to strong demand from China.

And Yunnan arabica has not yet reached the rank of Indonesia's Mandehling -- regarded by many as Asia's best -- though its quality has improved, officials said, with technical assistance from Nestle and others since the early 1990s.

When grown and processed properly, Chinese coffees have a light to medium body and acidity, similar to a wet-processed South American coffee, Roast Magazine quoted Stuart Eunson from Arabica Coffee Roasters (Beijing) Co. Ltd. as saying.

So far, it's best market is at home.

Industry officials estimated Chinese coffee consumption was growing at double digits, with some putting the 2006 demand at as high as 45,000 tonnes.

Starbucks or Illy are now looking at Yunnan arabica mainly for use in China, because they are expanding their outlets in the country and import tariffs stand as high as 20 to 60 per cent.

"You will find a bottle of instant coffee almost in every family nowadays. People even like to send coffee as gifts," said Zou Lei, vice chairman for the China Coffee Association.

And soluble coffee packed with sugar and powdered milk -- known as Three-in-One -- is finding its way also into rural areas as well as cities.

Roasters are eyeing the 250 million Chinese people living in cities and coastal regions as their next market, a number a bit below the U.S. population of 300 million.

While the United States imported 1.39 million tonnes of coffee in 2005, a more realistic target for Chinese per capita consumption would be neighbouring Taiwan, which with a population of 23 million imported 32,640 tonnes in 2005.

"If you calculate in per capita consumption, there is quite a big potential for China to catch up, but the growth will be in a gradual way and you can not expect everybody to be holding a cup of coffee in one or two days," said Ji Ming, manager with the China Tea Co. Ltd.'s coffee department.

Coffee still has some distance to go before supplanting tea in Chinese homes.

China consumes 700,000 tonnes of tea per year.

"Chinese are still small coffee drinkers. One cup a day is enough for most.

"Some finish only a half," said China Coffee Association's Zou.

© The Vancouver Sun 2007

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Organic coffee: Can one bad bean spoil the bag?

by Amy Westervelt - 6.1.07

Published in Sustainable Industries

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a ruling in March that would tighten organic certification requirements for group applications to such an extent that many in the organic coffee trade are concerned small farmers and co-ops will no longer be able to seek organic certification. While the ruling is not yet finalized, coffee roasters and grower advocacy groups fear the industry could be faced with significant changes in the coming year.

The bulk of organic coffee coming out of South and Central America and Africa is grown by groups of small growers certified under such group certifications. Without them, the United States wouldn’t have an organic coffee market, according to Kimberly Easson, director of strategic relationships for TransFair, the U.S. fair trade labeling organization.

Grower groups often have thousands of members, many of them small farms that could not afford certification on their own.

Because of the logistical difficulty of certifying farms individually, the National Organic Program (NOP) established group certification procedures. Grower groups appoint an internal policing board, which audits member compliance with NOP rules. The group then submits 20 percent of its farms for review by a third-party certification each year. The idea is that after five years all of the farms would be checked, but in the meantime the farms don’t all have to wait for certification.

The ruling arose out of a case involving an unnamed community grower group in Mexico whose internal audits failed to detect the use of a prohibited insecticide by one of its members or to provide evidence that the use of empty fertilizer bags for crop storage was confined to one producer.

NOP proposed changes to group grower certification in January 2007 and posted the ruling on its site in March: “Use of an internal inspection system as a proxy for mandatory on-site inspections of each production unit by the certifying agent is not permitted.”

The ruling attracted little attention in March, but by April grower co-ops and advocacy groups such as Food First and TransFair USA were criticizing the policy all over the Internet and launched a petition campaign that sent several thousands of signatures to USDA.

Now USDA has put the changes on hold. While NOP still intends to address concerns about abuse of group certifications, changes to the existing program will be discussed at the program’s fall meeting, with input from the National Organic Standards Board. While Easson says this is very good news for the growers, the changes could still eventually go through. If they do, it could affect the organic coffee trade from farm to cup.

The changes could limit the supply of certified organic coffee available to U.S. roasters, from small local roasters to Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX), many of which have paid for organic certification that will be impossible to maintain without the steady supply of organic beans needed to keep their certification. Martin Jennings, co-owner and master roaster of Washington-based Nectar of Life coffees says that for companies like his, which only roast dual certified coffees — those with both Organic and Fair Trade certifications — the new NOP policy would force a complete change in business model. The market for dual certified coffees is expected to grow dramatically in the year ahead, and the changes could impact the entire market’s expansion [see “Labels challenged to dual,” SI, October 2006].

“We would still offer only Fair Trade-certified coffee and whatever organic Fair Trade coffee was still available, but our coffee selection would be virtually crippled if we only roasted certified organic Fair Trade coffee,” Jennings says. “We would have to change everything regarding our business, including our stated goals, mission statement, packaging and literature.”

Though Jennings says his company would still purchase some organic coffees, he doubts it would able to buy strictly organic, due to a drop in supply and a corresponding increase in price. Because roasters are required to maintain strict separation of organic and non-organic beans in the roasting process, Jennings says Nectar of Life would not be able to maintain its certification, which allows it to use the term “100 percent organic” and the USDA Organic logo.

“Nectar of Life would like to remain a 100 percent organic, Fair Trade coffee roaster,” Jennings says, “but we would no longer be able to be certified as such.

orginally published 1 June 2007 at

Friday, June 01, 2007

Towards a segmented quality coffee market

by George Howell Terroir Coffee Company
and recently published in April 07's edition
of CoffeeTalk

Coffee farmers across the world have faced crisis ever since the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. Just after, the US walked away from the ICO quote agreement established during John F. Kennedy's presidency to help keep Latin America socially and politically stable. Prices collapsed and the market has never recuperated stability since. Today, a large part of the illegal immigration into the US has consisted of coffee farmers and their workers from Mexico and beyond. Throughout Latin America one can see depopulated valleys and abandoned farms. These losses have affected employment throughout their economies. Even though prices have risen in the past two years to somewhat more tenable levels, many farmers cannot find sufficient pickers to harvest their crop. Many of them remain in high debt: costly organic certification programs are a pipe dream. About three out of every five years since the elimination of the quota system have been years where the cost of production in Central America and other producing areas has been at or greater than the market price.

In addition, there is a growing economic chasm between coffee growing areas suited to relatively inexpensive high volume mass production technology - or extreme low-cost labor, as in Vietnam - and areas permanently requiring large pools of human labor in challenging topographies that urgently needs addressing. As technology improves, mass-produced fair-average-quality will improve. Mechanical harvesters are getting faster and more precise; they are able to pass more than once over coffee trees and be more selective in picking. We have already seen a huge drop in production of lower grown prime arabicas in Guatemala and elsewhere. Even higher altitude coffee regions will go the same way, something no quality roaster wishes to contemplate, unless this gap is addressed.

The argument is often brought up that green coffees purchased in the range of Fair Trade prices are unfairly resold roasted, at many multiples higher by roasters in developed countries and that producers should get a larger cut. First-time visiting growers are understandably shocked. Why does it seem no one is around to explain the basic economics of developed countries? Western labor, real estate and others costs, which also go for multiples higher than producer costs, make it impossible not to add a minimum dollar value on top of what is paid for the raw coffee. However, as the price of retail coffee rises over approximately $10 per pound, an ever greater portion should be going to the producer. This is the case with wine. The better values for consumers are to be found in the more expensive bottles, where a greater percentage of the total price goes back to the producer. Consumers are buying what fine coffees there are at bargain basement prices and don't even know it. This is a failure to communicate on our part.
It should be noted that while wine and tea cover a breathtaking range of qualities and prices, from a few dollars to hundreds per unit, forming a real pyramidal quality-price structure, specialty coffee is better represented by a very squat trapezoid. The star-performing exceptions, dollar-wise, might be called insular coffees: they are protected from typical market pressures by being very rare (mostly from small islands, in fact) and having vintage histories: Napoleon's St Helena, Jamaica, and Hawaii,, in descending order of price. No aspersions are meant to be cast on their quality here; but the higher prices which they fetch have nothing to do with qualitative superiority over fine continental origins. Then there is the ultimate insular coffee, Kopi Luac. How ironically reflective of our coffee-romance-culture-trumps-quality is the fact that the one coffee that does go for over $100 a pound comes from the back end of a civet Perhaps what comes with the beans could be served chilled as "specialty" gelato?

What, after all, are we talking about? A twelve-ounce serving at home of a $10 dollar a pound coffee costs less than a can of 12 oz Coke, THE commodity beverage. In fact, for a pound of coffee to equal a 10 dollar "inexpensive" bottle of wine, ounce for ounce, a coffee consumer would have to pay $100 per pound of coffee! Yet we hear some people in the gourmet coffee business, who should know better, grumble when, each year, a handful of tiny exemplary prize-winning micro lots are rewarded with a quarter of such prices. How many consumers have any idea that fine coffee is as difficult and costly to produce as fine wines? The SCAA should be using its powerful annual conventions to wow the media and teach these realities to a thirsty public, gratis. It is in all our interests! We need to extrovert our annual celebration of quality coffee. It cannot be repeated enough: fine coffee at today's prices, brewed at home, is a bargain-basement beverage. For farmers to benefit from the so-called specialty revolution, which most have yet to feel, we need to build above the basement!

The current trapezoid quality-price model needs to be replaced with a fully developed pyramidal structure, with the top qualities commanding world-class prices for farmer and roaster alike. This does not happen overnight. A culture that celebrates exploring exemplary coffee expressions must be created in both consuming and growing countries. Indeed, coffee is a very youthful beverage when compared to wine and tea, both of which have ancient cultures that developed and sustained these products over millennia. Not so with coffee, a newcomer to the world of grand beverages. The technology to process and brew exemplary quality coffee is a product of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Espresso and drip coffeemakers are still undergoing improvements that directly enhance the appreciation of fine coffee. It is in our hands to create a coffee culture as the Chinese and Japanese did with tea and as the Middle East and Europe did with wine.

There is a long way to go. The vast majority of coffee farmers with quality potential are still anonymous to the consumer, their coffees buried in blends which only put the roaster in the spotlight, or are lost in mere regional designations. Without real incentives to develop higher levels of quality, they aim for what is acceptable and this in turn fuels more mediocrity. Quality seekers then expend great energy trying to find needles in a haystack. From the farmer perspective the quality buying market is equally meager and tentative. Competition-auctions like Cup of Excellence and the Best of Panama are powerful search engines that put both groups in touch with each other and give unadulterated collective praise in scores, where merited, and later in price within an otherwise remorselessly grey commodity-dominated world where even rewards for miracles, producers are often told, must be "reasonable." Competition-auctions are meant to be the tip of a specialty coffee arrow aimed at encouraging the development of both fragile sides of the quality producer-roaster equation. Both, frankly, are still rare - but growing - perhaps in an accelerating manner. They are certainly inspired.

Visionary roasters, importers and a handful, so far, of exporters, who have participated in and understood the message of Cup of Excellence and Best of Panama have connected with winning farms and coops and are now working with them and others to create tiered qualities. This is the next step. Producers who successfully strive to create the highest possible quality naturally beget multi-tiered qualities in the process, each having its own market and commanding a different price. The pyramid begins.

George Howell is President of Terroir Coffee Company and founder of Cup of Excellence.
For more information on George Howell and Terroir Coffee visit them at

Building a relationship with a winning cup of coffee

June 01, 2007 Edition 1

Cape times Cape Town South Africa

The Cup of Excellence is an annual award which takes place all over world with the best coffee beans going to auction on the internet. Guatemala hosts one of the most prestigious COE events with 120 bags for sale. Two bags of Viviano Jalapa won the toss last year and were nabbed by David Donde and Joel Singer of Origin Coffee Roasting, writes ROBYN COHEN.

"What do you think, take your time …," says David Donde serving up espresso A and espresso B in little glasses with the requisite layering of crema (coffee foam).

One of the espressos is brewed from his stash of the Cup of Excellence Viviano Jalapa which clicks in at R500 a kilo. The other, I am told is Gethumbwini from Kenya and costs about R260 a kilo.

Most espressos at Origin Coffee Roasting cost R9 but, for a Viviano, you are looking at R21 a shot - its most expensive coffee.

"Both coffees are excellent. I don't have average. We are a roastery which happens to also have a coffee shop - not a coffee shop which has a roastery."

"Relationship coffee", is how Donde describes what he and Joel Singer are doing at Origin. "We know where the coffee comes from - the farm, who is responsible."

Grub includes decent-looking sandwiches (R23), salads (R25), cheesecake and muffins (R12 to R18). I munched on a crispy Origin Swirl - which I would describe as a cross between a cinnamon bun, croissant and Jewish boolkah (R13).

The coffee shop part of the business is on the ground floor but they are in the process of bringing in additional roasting apparatus, extending floor space and kitting out another coffee shop on the top floor of this heritage 1903 building, once a tobacco warehouse.

In addition to coffees, Origin Coffee Roasting stocks speciality teas - like a spectacular Chinese tea which begins as little ball and unfurls itself when immersed in hot water (R20 to drink, R12 to buy and make at home).

Some drink on the premises (open from 7am during the week); others take home freshly roasted beans (should be used within two weeks of roasting). Origin also roast for and supply the hospitality industry.

On the Monday morning I was there, the place was humming with laptops and lively chit chat as the suits did their 8am catch-up. A bit like a gentleman's club.

The laptop brigade have been clamouring for wireless internet. Donde hopes his will be up and running when the extension to Origin is complete.