Sweet in the
february 2012 | Southern edition
Uncommon flavors to put with your cup of coffee
All’s fair in trade and coffee
Just how fair is fair trade?
The Durham, N.C. coffee roaster teaches the art of cupping.
Exploring the south’s sweet tea traditions and rich history Download Bean & Leaf for iPad from the App Store!
Early mornings. I’m lovin’ it. 25 | B E AN AN D LE AF
JUNE 2011 | 26
from the editor Meet Bean & Leaf. We’re a magazine for the coffee and tea drinker or anyone attracted to café culture and the industry. It is our mission to complement our reader’s daily cup by informing and entertaining with word and picture. Just as cafés serve as local gathering places, B&L fosters that same community, looking to bring together those in the coffee and tea industry, as well as the everyday enthusiast and all those in between. We want to celebrate our first sip with you. If your B&L copy boasts wrinkled, brown-tinted pages and faint coffee rings on the cover, then we’ve done our job. We think our magazine reads best when stained and wafting the aroma of espresso or spiced tea with every page turn. We think B&L belongs on your shelves, bookended by well-loved novels and old coffee canisters. We see its pages folded and worn, sticking out from your sketchbook. Coffee and tea are important to you. Grinding and brewing, boiling and steeping have become daily rituals. This is how you wake up and wind down, and we think that deserves our full attention. The trends in the industry are constantly changing, and stories of its growers, roasters, owners, innovators and consumers continue to surface. More than just beans and leaves, we’re a magazine that celebrates people’s stories and one of the most delicious aspects of life. In this issue, we’re focusing on coffee and tea below the MasonDixon Line. The Northwest may be the better-known café hub, but the South can hold its own with a culture rooted in a rich coffee and tea industry. This issue of B&L acquaints you with some of the region’s best cafes and companies, and you know we had to explore the South’s favorite tradition—sweet tea, y’all. Although we couldn’t find a place for fried okra or honky-tonks in this issue, other Southern icons weren’t a problem. A few ice cubes, cooled coffee leftovers from the morning and a splash of cream taste better from a Mason jar. If you’ve had enough Southern hospitality, keep reading for nationwide industry trends, topics and traditions, or go straight to our ‘In the Café’ section for some artistic inspiration. Join us, and raise your mugs. Here’s to the first sip.
editorial staff Kelsey Snell, editor Isaac Adams Lucie Shelley Molly Green Miranda Murray Bailey Holman Margaret Croom
Kelly McHugh, art director Anne Marie Gaines, asst. art director Dylan Gilroy, asst. art director for iPad Courtney Tye Lydia Harrell Rebecca Riddle Chelsea Pro
photography Lauren Vied Rebecca Yan
Special thanks to Linda Brinson, Terence Oliver, Stephanie Willen Brown and Laura Stoltz
Download Bean & Leaf for iPad from the App Store!
Kelsey Snell Editor
Burnt and Bitter is No Way for A Coffee Bean To Go Through Life.
Where the Laws of Nature Apply.
WHAT’S INSIDE FROM THE EDITOR EVENTS CALENDAR HOW TO BREW YOUR OWN SUN TEA WHICH TEA IS RIGHT FOR YOU? COFFEE CAPITAL: WASHINGTON, D.C. BY THE NUMBERS: COFFEE AND TEA UNCOMMON FLAVORS FOR YOUR CUP BEAN BREAKDOWN FAIR TRADE COFFEE SUSTAINABLE TEA? CORPORATE VS. KITSCH THE SOUTH’S SWEET TEA TRADITION SUBSTITUTING COFFEE WHERE HAVE ALL THE FRAPPUCCINOS GONE? TASTE AND SEE: THE ART OF CUPPING COFFEE ON THE SMALL SCREEN BREWING GADGETS TEA AS A NATUAL REMEMDY TEA TRADITIONS AROUND THE WORLD INDUSTRY PROFILE: OLD WILMINGTON TEA COFFEE TRUCKS HIT THE SOUTH EDITORIAL: COFFEE MONSTERS IN THE CAFE
4 8 10 13 14 17 18 21 23 30 34 38 44 48 53 58 60 62 66 68 71 74 76
Far left: Explore the Southâ€™s sweet tea fetish. See page 38 for story. Top: Tea has been a natural rememdy for centuries. See page XX for story. Left:Counter Culture Coffee in Durham, N.C. teaches the art of cupping. See page XX for story. Below: How fair is fair trade coffee? See page 22 for story.
2012 EVENTS CALENDAR SOUTH
FEB. 11-13 SOUTH EAST REGIONAL
20-29 WINTER ANTIQUES SHOW
o The most prestigious antique show in America o Features antiques through the 1960s o New York City o www.winterantiquesshow.com
o One of six regional competitions that lead up to the U.S. Barista Championship o Atlanta, GA o www.usbaristachampionship.org
MARCH 9-18 SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST MUSIC CONFERENCE AND FESTIVAL
o A music, film and interactive festival o Austin, TX o www.sxsw.com
22-24 “FULL STEAM AHEAD”
o Presented by the National Coffee Association of U.S.A, Inc. o Charleston, SC o www.ncausa.org
13-15 WORLD GRITS FESTIVAL
o A wholesome family festival with various events for people of all ages o St. George, SC o www.worldgritsfestival.com
28-29 GREAT AMERICAN PIE FESTIVAL
o Pie lovers, bakers and eaters gather together to eat and make pies o Celebration, FL o www.piecouncil.org
JUNE 7-10 BONNAROO MUSIC AND ARTS FESTIVAL
o Multi-stage camping festival. Brings together performers in rock, jazz, Americana, hip-hop, electronica, etc. o Manchester, TN o www.bonnaroo.com
25-26 COFFEE AND TEA FESTIVAL NYC
o 7th annual festival o Open to the public and the trade o Event offers classes/lectures/ demos from industry pros and pioneers o New York City o www.coffeeandteafestival.com
MARCH 9-11 COFFEE FEST NEW YORK
o Includes coffee retail education, training and workshops o Specifically for all those involved with retailing coffee o New York City o www.coffeefest.com
18-19 SPECIALTY COFFEE ASSOCIATION
OF AMERICA ANNUAL EXPOSITION o Annual gathering for specialty coffee growers, roasters, baristas o Portland, OR o www.scaaevent.org
19-22 NATIONAL BARISTA COMPETITION o The winners of the country’s 6 regional barista competitions compete to represent the U.S. in the World Barista Championship o Portland, OR o www.usbaristachampionship.org
21-23 COFFEE FEST SEATTLE o Includes coffee retail education, training and workshops o Specifically for all those involved with retailing coffee o Seattle, WA o www.coffeefest.com
6 - 7 RIVER BEND FILM FESTIVAL
o Opportunity for filmmakers to screen their shorts and features and network with others in the industry o South Bend, IN o www.riverbendfilmfest.org
JULY 2- 5 TASTE OF CHICAGO
o World’s largest outdoor food festival o Chicago, IL o www.tasteofchicago2012. eventbrite.com
JUNE 8-10 COFFEE FEST CHICAGO
o Includes coffee retail education, training and workshops o Specifically for all those involved with retailing coffee o Chicago, IL o www.coffeefest.com
SEPT. 1-2 CHICAGO JAZZ FESTIVAL
o The longest running of the city’s lakefront music festivals o Labor Day weekend tradition for the past 33 years o Chicago, IL o www.explorechicago.org
FEBRU ARY 2012 | 8
all NATURAL made with milk, cream, sugar & natural flavor
Good Food. Good Life
IF YOU CAN’T STAND THE
HEAT GET OUT
OF THE KITCHEN By Bailey Holman
ness i z o c g utchin l c g ere u h m e f b o l l i n ths w seaso n r o e h m t hose o r t e n m o r a e As an v e sto ose, w l h c t a p u o ere’s t g h t n i t r u i b F draws task, ow it. g n n k i t e n sun’s w u a e e r d o Th a f . e e x b s lik tea fi m y e l e i s a s d time y r – u g o n y i l t l hot da to ge is ca y h a c r w o r p e rew! nt b o r r f anoth a r l u o s f the and yo o g r n e i w n i o sh the p h s a e l to un
25 | B E AN AN D LE AF
Brew your own sun tea: Servings:
LOOKING FOR AN ALTERNATIVE? TRY REFRIGERATOR TEA:
Makes about 8 cups
Estimated prep time:
2 ½ hours (active time: 5 minutes) *Brew at your own risk: Tea that’s steeped in a glass container may not reach temperatures hot enough to kill off all bacteria, so there has been concern over the safety of sun brewing.
1. Put 4 to 6 tea bags into a clean 2-quart glass container.
2. Fill container with water 1. Put 4 to 6 tea bags into a
clean 2-quart glass container (Make sure container is first washed thoroughly with soap and hot water).
and cap with lid.
3. Place container in refrigerator.
4. Let it sit overnight. 5. Enjoy!
FOLLOW THESE TIPS FOR THE SAFEST SUN TEA EXPERIENCE: • Wash your tea jug thoroughly before use.
2. Fill container with water and cap with lid.
3. Place outside in direct sunlight
for 2 1/2 hours. Move the container if necessary to keep it in the sun.
• Don’t let tea steep in sun for more than 3 to 4 hours. • Make only enough tea to drink for one day. • Use caffeinated teas – they fight bacteria better than decaffeinated teas. (Note: Most herbal teas are naturally decaffeinated.) • Do not add sugar or sweeteners until after tea has been brewed.
4. Remove container from sunlight and keep refrigerated.
5. Drink tea within a day – Enjoy!*
• Don’t drink tea if it appears thick or cloudy.
FEBRU ARY 2012 | 11
Apple cinnamon tea: better than the real thing JUNE 2011 | 26
Which Tea Is Right For You? By Margaret Croom
ea can both lift you up and calm you down — whatever you need! Coffee can’t!” says Lourie Cosper, coowner of Old Wilmington Tea Company (see page 68). Cosper shares her advice on what type of tea to drink depending on the time of day.
Do you want an afternoon tea?
Do you want an after dinner tea?
Do you need a pick-me-up?
Do you want a morning tea?
Do you want it to be sweet? YES NO
English Manor Breakfast
Duchess Earl Grey
• Black Tea with no flavor • Has more caffeine than other teas • Tones of honey in the flavor
• A floral blend perfect for afternoon tea • Lots of flavor • Good with a light lunch or a sandwich
• From South Africa • Does not contain any caffeine • Has a light lemon flavor
Raspberry Chocolate Kiss
• A raspberrychocolate tea • Sweet but with fewer calories than a dessert • Drink without adding sugar
Forget-Me-Not Herbal Tea
• An herbal tea with a subtle peppermint taste • Does not contain any caffeine
FEBRU ARY 2012 | 13
Forest Glen Twinbrook
White no Flint “No corporate coffee, matching silverware.” Location: 2459 18th Street NW | Woodley Park/Zoo/ Adam’s Morgan (On the Red Line) Grosvenor Contact: (202) 232-5500 | www.trystdc.com Hours: Open daily from 6:30 a.m. until midnight Sun-Wed, until 2 a.m. on Thurs & 3 a.m. on Fri-Sat. Medical Center
Espresso and Wine Location: 1359 H Street NE | Metro Stop: Union Station (On the Red Line) Contact: (202) 397-3080 | www.sovadc.com Hours: Mon- Fri: 6:30 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., Sat: 7 a.m. until 9 p.m., Sun: 8 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Woodley Park-Zoo Farragut North
Co lu He mbi ig h a ts
nt nt ro fr ro F e vy at W Na
t ys Cr
ty Ci l a
King Street Eisenhower Ave Huntington Franconia-Springfield
t ia os c a An
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14 | BE A N A N D L E A F
M n er th st Ea ou lS to pi Ca l ra de q Fe er S nt Ce
SWING’S COFFEE “The monuments on the mall aren’t the only pieces of history.” Location: 1702 G Street N.W. | Metro Stop: L’Enfant Plaza (On Blue, Green, Orange and Yellow Line) Contact: (202) 863-7590 | www.swingscoffee.com Hours: Monday–Friday7:00am–6:00pm
Union St MARC
“We’re not just any ordinary shop – we’re Pound.” Location: 621 Pennsylvania Ave SE | Metro Stop: Eastern Market Metro (On the Orange/Blue Line) Contact: (202) 621.6765 | www.poundcoffee.com Hours: Mon-Thu: 7:00 a.m. until 9:30 p.m., Fri: 7:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., Sat: 7:30 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., Sun: 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.
G Ch alle in ry at Pl ow n
Metro Center Federal Triangle
U U se ch ch on M ur ur VM and Hou en Lo n i h h o V C C Sq st a r ur t nn ia lls Falls Ball Ci u a n i Co D t F ast rg i es V E W g r in
on rn C e tV D M q-U S
ci di Ju Sq
“Coffee with a cause.” Location: 201 F Street NE | Metro Stop: Union Station Rosslyn (On the Red Line) Contact: (202) 558-6900 | www.ebenezerscoffeehouse.com Hours: Mon-Thurs: 7 a.m. until 9 p.m., Fri: 7 a.m. until 10 p.m., Sat: 8 a.m. until 9 p.m., Sun: 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.
GW Fa U rra gu tW es t
Ho Sha Un wa w iv rd
ow yt le
WASHINGTON, D.C. Coffee Capital Glenmont
By Isaac Adams
It’s easy to find monuments and pieces of our nation’s history in Washington, D.C., but where do you find the city’s best coffee? Here are some reviews of the best coffeehouses our great capital has to offer. The city is quickly becoming home to some of the most exciting and diverse cafés for both tourists and natives to enjoy.
Union Station MARC
ci di y ar
Tryst has been on one of the liveliest streets in D.C. for more than 10 years. The coffeehouse, which is also one of the city’s best bars, features a huge lounge with comfy couches strewn about it. Every month, different artists MARC cover the walls with their work, giving the coffeehouse New Carrollton an unpredictable buzz. Tryst is proud to claim that its culture stands in contrast to common coffee chains. With mismatching Landover silverware and a rejection of the trademarked, pre-made caramel-nill-frapp-a-cinno Chevelry culture, Tryst focuses on community commitment and quality food and drink. It also has a variety of loose-leaf teas and tisanes,Dearwood which can be infused with alcohol or water. Tryst uses Counter Culture Coffee as its primary roaster because of theAve quality coffee as well as its Minnesota commitment to sustainability and fair trade.
ad Ro n so ts gh ei lH
s re g n Co
ts gh i e sH
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t ke ar M n er th st Ea ou lS to pi Ca l ra
to pi Ca
The Northeast side of Capitol Hill is undergoing a renaissance, with new businesses and homes appearing daily. The owner of SOVA looked around H Street and saw a neighborhood lacking something: a place to go for quality coffee and tea, and a good glass of wine. “What goes better with a renaissance than a shot of espresso and a glass of vino?” he asked himself. SOVA was his answer. SOVA’s mission is to serve the community with the best products possible by working with diligent and thoughtful vendors who are committed to their products. The people at SOVA are firm believers in the phrase, “you’re only as good as the company you keep.” They offer coffee from Intelligentsia, one of the country’s d mostoarespected and acclaimed coffee roasters, and their R d r tea comes from Rishi Tea, which works only with the n ylo skilled tla artisans a i most with generations of tea producing e N Su Av helps create the incredible feel of this experience. SOVA h c an D.C. community and is a great space to work, to relax Br and to enjoy high-quality coffee.
When you buy coffee at Ebenezers, you’re not just getting a delicious cup of fair trade coffee -- you’re also helping the community. This coffeehouse not only serves the
Capitol Hill community delicious coffee, but it also uses the proceeds from each cup for local outreach projects. Owned by National Community Church in D.C., Ebenezers has been open for five years. Not only does it sell fair trade coffee, but Ebenezer’s also wants to entertain you while you’re drinking it. Ebenezers uses its lower-level space in many innovative ways, from meetings to concerts, poetry readings to open mic nights. On Saturdays, the coffeehouse also hosts a church service. Located behind Union Station, arguably one of the busiest stops in the city, this is the perfect shop to go to whether you’re touring around Capitol Hill or you’re on the way to work. Ebenezers lets you help the community with a simple brew.
Pound uses only one word in reference to its coffee: serious. The people at Pound are serious about bringing you the best product, shown by its partnership with Kickapoo Coffee, the top micro-roaster in the country. Pound is also serious about the ethical issues behind the cup – it serves only coffee that is organic, sustainable, fair trade and most important, delicious. Lastly, it can seriously boast a prime location, as it is just a few blocks from the big white house where the president lives. Its goal is to connect you with the coffee you’re sipping -the people at Pound pride themselves on being able to tell you the name of the farmer who painstakingly grew the coffee in your recycled and biodegradable cup. But Pound wants to bring you more than just a good cup of coffee. Its menu includes gourmet tea from Mighty Leaf, and offers a gourmet lunch. If you’re looking for a D.C. specialty, try the Nutella latte!
Want to taste history? Swing’s Coffee has been D.C.’s prime coffee roaster for more than 100 years. When you enter Swing’s, you won’t be ordering just another delicious cup of coffee at just another specialty coffeehouse -- you’ll be standing on history. Watch the coffee grinders churn or touch pieces of mahogany wood that have been around since the 20s. The three-floor coffeehouse is practically a museum itself. The roasters here are extremely handson and know their stuff, so whether you want to learn about what you’re drinking or simply take in the history and enjoy your coffee – Swing’s is the place for you. It provides the perfect haven for both the tired employee and the curious tourist. If you smell coffee beans roasting downtown, you’ll know Swing’s is hard at work. FEBRU ARY 2012 | 15
Some like it
Coffee and tea by the numbers
consumes more coffee than any other city. Boston is second.
132 pound bags of coffee are imported into the U.S. The Unit from February to July.
States is the wor ed
Scientists and lab workers need their coffee most to make it through the day according to a survey for Dunkinâ€™ Donuts.
By Miranda Murray
In 2003, the leading revenue source for the U.S. ready-to-drink tea and coffee market was the iced tea sector, which accounted for 65 percent of sales.
The U.S. is ranked 27th in coffee consumption, with an average of 9.3 pounds of coffee consumed per capita, compared to No. 1, Finland, which averages 26 per capita..
a ee m off
of people in the U.S. consume tea every day.
The UK has the highest tea consumption world wide, with 4.85 lbs. per capita.
ldâ€™ s l ar g
of all tea consumed in the United States is taken over ice.
The South and Northeast have the greatest concentration of tea drinkers in the U.S. Miami consumes more tea than any other city in the United States.
FEBRU ARY 2012 | 17
Uniquely good flavors for your morning cup By Molly Green TRADER JOE’S PUMPKIN BREAD It’s like Christmas in your mouth. The cinnamon-spice, pumpkin flavor blends perfectly with the strong coffee tang. It tastes like a specialty blend. Truthfully, some of the staff prefers the bread as a complement to coffee, instead of dipping it. But either way, pumpkin bread is a definite hit.
EGG The incredible, edible, mixable egg. We made the traditional breakfast of eggs and coffee more of a “to-go” concept by cracking a raw egg into a cup of black coffee. Supposedly, stirring the egg would make the coffee simply creamier. It ended up being worse than the skillet cheese experiment. Eggs and coffee work better in their traditional roles at breakfast.
SKILLET CHEESE Cheese? And coffee? Together? That’s what we thought, too. According to one staff member’s research, skillet cheese, which is pre-cooked, is supposed to complement coffee pretty well. All we discovered upon opening the package was a pungent, fishy odor. Still being brave, however, a few staff members cut off a slice and dipped it in their coffee anyway. What was most appalling was hard to determine – the fishy flavor, the chewy consistency or the failure to complement coffee at all. Turns out cheese and coffee should remain separate flavors. 18 | BEA N A N D L E A F
common knowledge that cream, sugar and honey go with coffee like milk goes with cookies. Even chocolate, hazelnut and caramel blend into specialty drinks on a regular basis these days. But here’s a list of the top curious and bizarre foods – from the supremely delicious to the not-so-yummy flavors – that the Bean & Leaf staff recommends to put with your morning cup of coffee.
BANANA Strange, but true. While dipping a banana in a cup of coffee wasn’t the most popular choice at our taste test session, staff member Lucie Shelly says it wasn’t that bad. “It tastes like a soft banana biscuit,” she says. “I would consider dipping my banana in my coffee.”
OREO That tasty treat of chocolaty goodness and cream doesn’t just complement a spoonful of peanut butter. Try dipping it in a cup of straight black coffee, or with a creamer of your choice, for a well-rounded, mocha flavor. Even the self-proclaimed non-coffee drinker of the staff enjoyed his sample. “It’s like a new kind of Oreo,” says Isaac Adams. “It’s a nice complement.” Photo by Lauren Vied
FEBRU A RY 2012 | 19
Apple cinnamon tea: better than the real thing JUNE 2011 | 26
By Lucie Shelly
Some coffee secrets, like those of magicians, will forever remain with the master brewers and roasters with generations of practice behind them. There are certain mysteries, however, that we can clarify for you right now. The only thing that should come between you and your desired cup is a slow inhale of the spellbinding aroma—not the jargon we’re bombarded with these days.
BUST THE BUZZ-WORDS: sustainable coffee:
Organic, shade-grown and fair trade methods No artificial fertilizers Natural, exotic forests are not destroyed Minimized water consumption Coffee husks are reused
half + half
milk brewed coffee
frothed milk steamed milk espresso
CAFE AU LAIT
fair trade coffee:
Purchased directly from growers Higher sale price than normal – about $1.26/lb Third party certification Growers are part of a co-op Co-op determines use of profits Standard working and environmental conditions
direct trade coffee:
Similar to fair trade, but no third party certifier Trade criteria decided by buyers and growers More flexible See page 53 for a look at leading direct trade operation Counter Culture in Durham, N.C.
Grown in the shade of surrounding trees Creates nutritious soil naturally and organically Conserves forests and their inhabitants
FEBRU ARY 2012 | 21
ALL PHOTOS BY LAURA KIRCHHOFER
Cooperative leader, Andres Telfils, 25 | B E AN AN D taught Kirchhofer the in and outs of coffee trees.
All’s Tra Fair de in &C offe
By Isaac Adams
our barista hands you that delicious cup of coffee you’ve been eagerly waiting for. Your hands soak up the warmth from the mug as the fresh scent of joe wafts up to your nose. Resting on the coffeehouse’s couch, you’ve found that feeling you’ve been searching for. You’re elated. “It’s fair trade,” the manager assures you, trying to convince your conscience that, indeed, you did buy the best coffee possible for yourself and the world. But the question still lingers in your head and heart. Was there really a fair trade for this coffee? What does that even entail?
FEBRU ARY 2012 | 23
FROM THE CERTIFIERS Tradenary
Fair Trade Certified coffee [fair treyd sur-tuh-fahyd kaw-fee] noun - The goal of Fair Trade Certified coffee is to alleviate poverty in farming communities around the world in ways that are socially and environmentally sustainable. To guarantee the trade between consumers and farmers is fair, a third-party certifier must ensure fair, and sustainable standards are being met; the farmer must be in a cooperative for Fair Trade certification. fairly traded coffee [fair-lee treyd-ed-kawfee] noun - The same goals apply for fairly traded coffee. The difference is that coffee roasters have direct relationships with coffee farmers so they can purchase the coffee without traditional middlemen and certifying organizations. The coffee is said to be fairly traded if the standards of Fair Trade are being met.
24 | BE A N A N D L E A F
“Fair trade” humbly began in the 1940s, when a few small North American and European organizations reached out to povertystricken communities in Third World and developing countries to help them sell their products to markets around the world. In 2010 more than 100 million pounds of fair trade certified coffee were imported into the United States in a single year, according to Fair Trade USA, the leading third-party certifier of fair trade products in the United States. To date, more than 500 million pounds of Fair Trade certified coffee have been imported into the United States since certification organizations began. Paul Rice, CEO and president of Fair Trade USA, says fair trade is about much more than mitigating prices that are beneficial to both sides of coffee transactions. Fair trade is a comprehensive approach to sustainable development that supports farmers with quality improvement; environmental stewardship; business capacity training; access to credit; and community development, such as the development of local schools, to help improve lives, he says. If you see a Fair Trade certified label on a product, that means it meets the set standards for social, economic and environmental sustainability. For a fair trade transaction to occur, these rigorous international standards have to be met and evaluated by a third-party certifier, such as Fair Trade USA. On the producer’s side, the farmer selling the product must be a part of a cooperative. If the transaction occurred without third-party certification between the coffee roasters and producers, it would be considered direct trade. But this form of trade is considered “fairly traded”
only if the business transaction is ethical and fair to both parties – especially considering the vulnerability of disadvantaged farmers who don’t have the benefit of joining a cooperative. The Fair Trade logo has been touted by coffee producers and used in various marketing strategies in an effort to appeal to more greenminded consumers. All this sounds great, but do the roasters and companies buying the coffee truly think these trades are fair?
FROM THE AMERICAN COFFEE DRINKER & THE INTERNATIONAL FARMER
Laura Kirchhofer, a senior at the University of North CarolinaChapel Hill, comes from Dallas, Texas, and claims to be a coffee connoisseur. “I’ve always loved drinking coffee,” she says. But her passion for working with coffee farmers wasn’t ignited until she studied abroad in Cameroon during the spring semester of her junior year, in 2010. “I lived with a coffee farming family who had to abandon coffee because the international price of coffee had dropped so low,” she says. “For them, coffee wasn’t just their livelihood – it was their heritage, it was what their greatgrandfather and their grandfather did. It was dear to their hearts.” Kirchhofer says because the family couldn’t make ends meet producing coffee, they began to produce more cash crops instead. “That was hard for them and sad for me to witness.” Kirchhofer argues that there is a huge inconsistency between how expensive coffee can be in the United States and how little coffee farmers need to receive to get a fair price. She thinks a lot more could be done to reduce this inconsistency – though she recognizes that there are efforts to do that with fair trade and direct trade.
When coffee cherries on the tree turn red they are ready for harvest.
“Honestly, those efforts are just not widespread enough,” she says. After her time in Cameroon, Kirchhofer came back to the United States a changed woman. She began meeting with coffee roasters and studying fair trade. She even filmed a documentary about Counter Culture Coffee – a coffee roaster in Durham, N.C. Through her studies, experiences and relationships with coffee roasters, she has developed a passion for Haiti, which in the 1930s supplied a third of the world’s coffee. Because she was proficient in French, a relative to the Creole spoken in Haiti, she saw an opportunity to learn more about the industry. She saw a broken country that was positioned close to the United States. She withdrew from UNC and went to Haiti in September 2011. She plans to return to UNC in the spring of 2012. “I was excited,” she says. “I prayed about it, and I felt like it was what the Lord was calling me to do.”
For a month, Kirchhofer lived with Tony Jones, a missionary, and his family in the mountains of Grand Goave, Haiti. Kirchhofer worked with coffee farmers, collecting samples of their coffee and helping with development projects. Kirchhofer returned to the U.S. with 30 pounds of Haitian coffee samples. She offers them when she meets with roasters and churches in North Carolina and Texas to see if they’ll start buying Haitian coffee to support the developments there. Kirchhofer explained that Haitian farmers don’t think about fair trade and that it’s not as simple as “fair” and “unfair” to them. She says what was most interesting to her is that before Jones lived in Haiti, a lot of the coffee farmers in Grand Goave didn’t know that fair trade even existed. “It’s not something they have exposure to,” she says. “They don’t even have the belief that it’s something they should try to stand up for. They sell their coffee for
“I was excited, I prayed about it, and I felt like it was what the Lord was calling me to do.” -Laura Kirchhofer FEBRU ARY 2012 | 25
Telfils and Kirchhofer visited many coffee farms in the mountains of Jacmel, Haiti.
much less than it’s worth and for less than they deserve to be paid because they don’t even know that they deserve better.” Kirchhofer says the farmers are very eager to sell their coffee to Jones because what they don’t sell to him or other fair trade buyers will be illegally sold at a very low price of 50 U.S. cents to the Dominican Republic or elsewhere in Haiti. “They have to sell their crop so it doesn’t go bad and so they can survive,” she says. Jones pays the coffee farmers in Haiti about $2 per pound, which is four times more than the price of selling the coffee illegally or within the country. The international fair trade price ranges from $1.26 to $1.40 per pound. “A big problem with fair trade is that it’s not country specific, and there are different prices for producing coffee in different countries based on supply and demand and the cost of different fertilizers,” she says. 26 | BE A N A N D L E A F
“But because it’s an internationally monitored thing, there has to be an international flat rate.” Kirchhofer says in Haiti, fair trade doesn’t have a huge impact because the running price of coffee is higher than the fair trade demand price for coffee exported to the United States. “Direct trade pays a higher price than fair trade in general,” she says. What excites the Haitian coffee farmers most about Jones directly trading with them is that he invests in their community and gives back to it. “They’re so appreciative of what he’s doing,” Kirchhofer says. “They want to sell him as much coffee as possible.” But what Kirchhofer says she remembers most about the farmers is their hands. She says she doesn’t know why, but she always felt weak when she extended her smooth, unworked hand to theirs. “I remember meeting coffee farmers and shaking their hands,” she says. “They were strong, they were rough, and it just felt like these
men had been working in really harsh conditions. Harvesting coffee is a harsh trade and environment.”
FROM THE ROASTERS AND COFFEE SHOPS
When asked whether he believed trades were actually fair for fairly traded and Fair Trade coffee, T.J. Semanchin, owner of Kickapoo Coffee, confidently responded with one word: “Definitely.” In 2010, Kickapoo Coffee was voted No. 1 micro-roaster in the United States by Roast magazine. Kickapoo Coffee is a one-location operation in Viroqua, Wis. As a micro-roaster, Kickapoo Coffee sells less than 100,000 pounds of coffee a year. “But after the attention the national award brought, we’ll be selling a little over that this year,” Semanchin says. “I guess we’d now be considered a standard sized roaster.” Semanchin says the benefits of fairly traded coffee are essentially
endless. The trade’s fairness is immediately assured because of Kickapoo’s direct relationships with coffee farmers, he says. “The farmers are getting much bigger percentages of the proceeds.” Brent Feito, who works as a barista at wine and espresso coffeehouse SOVA in Washington, D.C., (to learn more about SOVA see page 14), says he personally prefers
to buy direct trade coffee. “It allows a more diverse group of farmers to enter the market,” he says. “Fair Trade requires too many certifications, and the wealthier farmers usually end up getting to sell their products.” Semanchin and Feito agree that there are roasters who trade poorly and others who do it well. “But a big distinction about
Kickapoo is we only work with farmers who are in small farmer cooperatives,” says Semanchin. “We help them get market access.” Semanchin says that for Fair Trade to be certified, farmers must be a part of a cooperative. A “small farmer cooperative” is made up of farmers who own fewer than 20 acres. “Three acres is the average size of land that each farmer usually
Women descending the mountain at Cap Rouge to go to market. Farmers walk up to seven hours twice a week to reach market, where they will sell their crop and buy anything they need.
These school children in the mountains near Grand Goave attend one of the schools funded by Seeds of Hope.
owns,” he says. The size of the cooperatives can vary from 100 members to a few thousand members. The average size of small farmer cooperatives is between 500 to 600 members. Semanchin says that he knows firsthand that fairly traded coffee is a win-win situation. “And the cost to the café owner is not much greater.” David Fritzler, who is the beverage manager at Tryst Coffeehouse in Washington, D.C., says that fairly traded coffee is fair for the customers and reflects their values. “People in our market generally care about this stuff and are willing to pay a little more for it, even if they aren’t aware of the intricacies or the ramifications of their purchases,” he says. Fritzler says Tryst deals with fairly traded coffee, not Fair Trade. He says the people at Tryst work hard on having a transparent, trusting 28 | BE A N A N D L E A F
relationship based on common values with the roaster who supplies their coffee – Counter Culture Coffee. “We aren’t concerned with selling coffee that is certified,” Fritzler says. “Instead we want our guests to develop a trusting relationship with us where they know that we care about the effects of what we sell on the people who produce our coffee and the land and communities where it’s grown.”
and hard work went into the coffee, then you definitely don’t want to blow it when brewing and serving it.” Tryst barista Pearce Arnold says fairly traded coffee doesn’t necessarily taste better and that the taste can greatly vary from shop to shop. “Maintaining a good consistency in brewing the coffee is what separates a good shop from a mediocre shop,” he says.
IF IT’S FAIR, IS IT GOOD?
SO IS ALL FAIR IN TRADE AND COFFEE?
Though the people at Kickapoo have the credentials to prove that the quality of the fairly traded coffee they roast is world-class, Fair Trade or fairly traded coffees don’t necessarily mean that they taste better, says Fritzler. “But it’s generally better because people who care about these issues also tend to care about quality,” he says. “Also, when you know that passion
Direct trade, fair trade and fairly traded coffee will never provide the perfect trade. There will always be inequity somewhere and something more to do. But you can be assured that from Haiti to the café down the street, fairer and more ethical efforts are being made every day, and these efforts are appreciated from every side of the transaction.
Apple cinnamon tea: better than the real thing JUNE 2011 | 26
Photo by rebecca yan
Although Lipton has taken steps toward sustainability, cracks in the tea giant’s efforts are beginning to show.
By Miranda Murray
he familiar Lipton Tea logo seems out of place in the photograph of a large white sign surrounded by knee-high dark green shrubs – until you read the second line of text directly under the logo: Kericho, Kenya. Yet this is where Lipton tea is most at home, the beginning of its long metamorphosis from a sun-drenched
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leaf to a steaming, fragrant cup. True tea, the most popular beverage in the world after water, comes from the Camellia sinensis — and Lipton buys about 12 percent of the world’s entire production of this one plant. Because of the size of the company, its actions have had a huge effect on communities across the globe. With that in mind, Lipton Tea was one of the first tea companies to commit to purchasing its tea from sustainable and ethical sources in 2007. In the same year, Lipton’s Kericho plantation in Kenya received
Rainforest Alliance Certification. The Lipton website says it began the process of certification for its own estates because it found that it was only fair to certify its own stash before asking its suppliers to do the same. Two years later, Lipton announced its commitment to sourcing all of its tea bags from Rainforest Alliance certified estates by 2015. It also now provides free housing and medical care, as well as primary school education, for its workers and their families at the Kericho estate. In 2010, Lipton Tea purchased more
than 20 percent of its tea from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. “We decided that the Rainforest Alliance Certification was the most appropriate because of its comprehensive approach towards sustainable farm management covering social, economic and environmental aspects. This is in line with the way we have been managing our own program for over a decade,” Michiel Leijnse, global marketing director for Lipton, told International Trade Forum magazine in April 2010. Lipton Tea’s initiative has put it on the crest of the sustainable tea wave, increasing pressure on other multinational tea companies around the world to also commit. In response, Tetley Tea, the United Kingdom’s best-selling tea brand, has also committed to Rainforest Alliance certification by 2016 as well.
Sustainable organizations NORWAY 2
14 The Rainforest Alliance is one 2 4 4 of many accrediting organizations that ensures farmers use sustainable 8 29 farming methods. Once the ITALY 172 organization certifies a12farm, it 6 15 for the negotiates livable profits JORDAN 5 farmers with tea leaf purchasers. Diana Ortiz, communications SENEGALassistant for Rainforest Alliance, says 3 in an email, “Farms are audited against Sustainable Agriculture Network’s CAMEROON KENYA 1 standards, and if they meet14the criteria TANZANIA 5 for responsible management, they are awarded the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal of approval.” The alliance was founded in 1986 12 disappearing after a conference on rain forests in New York City. “We became an organization whose sole ingredients included passion and commitment — details like bookkeeping, fundraising and management came later,” writes Daniel Katz, board chair and founder of the Rainforest Alliance. The Rainforest Alliance has since skyrocketed, thanks in part to the “green” trend. Coffee is one of the DENMARK
POLAND 1 CZECH REPUBLIC
best known products undergoing changes to become more sustainable and fairly traded. Now, tea, as well as more than 100 other products, can also qualify for certification. However, Mark Milstein, director of the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise at Cornell University, says he is somewhat skeptical of the popularity and usefulness of sustainability certification companies such as the Rainforest Alliance. “From a policy perspective, they don’t make a lot of sense,” he says. “You punish people who don’t meet the minimum, and the people who meet it don’t have a reward.” Milstein says that certification
“Women workers are asked for sexual favors in exchange for favors by supervisors, and refusal can lead to repercussions, such as being allocated too much work or being sent to work in lonely or dangerous plucking zones.” - Sanne van der Wal programs, such as the Rainforest Alliance program or Fairtrade International, tend to restrict innovation and flexibility in business and make companies more alike — losing the competitive advantage that they need. “Certification schemes, fundamentally, are about regressing the group to a mean,” he says. “A scheme is saying that if you hit these metrics we determined are important, you’re good for the environment.” Milstein says large companies, such as Lipton, may choose to invest in sustainability measures, both environmental and social, because of
Where is Kericho? KENYA KERICHO NAIROBI
SOURCE: THE WORLD FACTBOOK
marketing advantages, but that simply “greening” a product is not a longterm plan to keep a product selling.
Despite the trumpeting of its sustainability investments, Lipton Tea still has some kinks to work out before meeting its goal. In April 2011, the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations, a Dutch nonprofit research network, published allegations that some female workers at the Lipton Tea Kericho plant in Kenya were sexually harassed by their supervisors, and that the living conditions for some employees were deplorable. Gender discrimination is still present in many tea-producing countries. Most tea pickers are female, favored for their perceived advantage in picking as well as docility, writes Sanne van der Wal, in a comprehensive study on contemporary tea issues published by the Centre in 2008. KENYA “Women workersKERICHO are asked for NAIROBI sexual favors in exchange for favors by supervisors, and refusal can lead to repercussions, such as being allocated too much work or being sent to work in lonely or dangerous plucking zones,” he writes. Lipton and the Rainforest Alliance have denied the allegations. “In the November 2010 audit, no evidence was found to support [these claims],” wrote the Rainforest FEBRU ARY 2012 | 31
KERICHO STATS 25,000 Employees
200,000 tons of tea produced annually
4 health centers
= 5,000 TONS
BY THE NUMBERS
98% 20% 2015 12%
Energy needs met by renewable sources (hydroelectric and renewable fuelwood). Amount of tea bought by Lipton from Rainforest Alliance farms in 2010. Year by which all Lipton tea bags will be certified by the Rainforest Alliance. Portion of the world’s entire production of tea that Lipton buys each year.
Alliance to The Ecologist, an online environmentalist magazine. “What we have said is that we need evidence and specifics so that independent auditors can follow up the allegations. Without these it would be difficult to do more than the thorough research audit conducted.” Cases such as these highlight some of the social issues that face the tea industry today as producers attempt to flesh out their roles within these tea-producing communities.
Like coffee, tea is mostly grown on the equatorial line, where there is also a higher concentration of poverty. This poverty is often tied to a poorly educated population, who often have no other option besides working temporary agricultural labor positions. Ethnic minorities also make up a high percentage of the agricultural worker population because of their limited options for social mobility. In 2007, ethnic conflict in Kenya reached a peak when the local tribes drove out the mostly foreign tea pickers. At least 14 people were killed 32 | BEA N A N D L E A F
at the Unilever estate during the violence. “People here feel disadvantaged, because the foreign tribes who came here to pick tea live under better conditions than them,” said Kimutai Kigen, a local barber, to Reuters. “They don’t pay rent in company houses; they get benefits.” Milstein says that companies can reap just as many benefits from corporate social responsibility efforts as the communities they invest in, especially in countries such as Kenya where risk of social upheavals is high. “They’re going to alleviate poverty, but they also may feel that there’s risk in Kenya, and by investing, they’re creating a more stable product,” he says.
Other issues of concern, especially on African tea plantations, are workers’ health and safety. In 2006, HIV was prevalent in more than 6 percent of the Kenyan population, according to AVERT, an international HIV and AIDS charity.
Lipton’s Kericho estate has been proactive in tackling this “national disaster” since early 2002, according to a case study from the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The company provides free health care to its 75,000 employees who live on the estate, and in 2009, won an award for its HIV/AIDS education, prevention treatment and care programs, said its website. Lipton also provides free housing to workers on its Kericho plantation, but the Centre has called into question how sanitary and wellmaintained these facilities are, noting that during peak tea season, the houses tend to become overcrowded. Van der Wal writes in his study that a temporary Unilever worker said to him, “You can imagine living with someone you have (a) character clash with, you are squeezed between harsh working conditions and harsh conditions at home, this is not easy for many people.” Many of the workers’ needs and wants could be solved through negotiations with Lipton, yet unions are inefficient in Kenya, which makes
them ineffective, writes van der Wal. The Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers’ Union, he writes, has no work plan, no transportation and no direct access to funds. The union did have some success in helping organize a strike protesting the use of pruning technology in 2010, which it claimed would threaten jobs.
While coffee can boast of shadegrown varieties of beans that can flourish without affecting rainforests, there is no simple solution for tea at this time. Like all agricultural products, tea requires the clearing of land to grow, which leads to a decrease in biodiversity and higher soil erosion. Another energy problem in the tea industry is how the tea leaves are dried – a process that typically must happen 24 hours after the leaf is plucked. In Kenya, burning wood is generally the heating method used, which has led to tree-logging issues, writes van der Wal. Lipton has been taking active measures to address these concerns. It writes on its website, “Specifically in Kericho, 98 percent of our energy needs are from renewable sources through four hydroelectric power stations and renewable fuel wood for our factory boilers.”
Even though Lipton has been proactive in increasing its sustainability efforts for both the environment and its workers, these measures still have a lot of progress to make before the 2015 goal can be reached. Milstein says the sustainability trend has been on the same uptick since the 1990s and is being taken ever more seriously by businesses. Several nongovernmental organizations have sprung up in the last decade on the heels of the sustainability movement.
These third-party certification systems help businesses such as Lipton negotiate with its tea producers to identify areas where they can become more sustainable and then to find solutions and methods toward targeting those areas. Once these goals are met, the company can label its products with the proof of certification, which can raise its consumer appeal.
HOW do Products Become certified?
Through the Sustainable Trade Initiative, a Dutch fair trade initiative involving several different crops, Lipton and other large tea companies are reaching out to now help small farmers also become more sustainable. In an email to the initiative, Pauline Oyugi, a factory unit manager of a tea factory in Kenya, writes, “The Sustainable Agriculture project has trained our farmer field school members to become agricultural experts. They are now resource persons who train the other farmers on sustainable agriculture principles on field days and during farm demonstrations.” The Ethical Tea Partnership, founded in 1997, also works to establish fair trade practices on both sides of the tea supply industry Unlike other fair trade NGOs, it’s the first partnership focused solely on issues relating to the tea sector. Weaver Street Market, a cooperative commercial center with stores in Orange County, N.C., is one store capitalizing on fair trade and certified organic foods, including tea. James Watts, head merchandiser for WSM, says that meeting customer demand isn’t the only reason they stock fair trade goods. “The reason Weaver Street Market invests in fair trade is because we think it’s the right thing to do,” he says. “Anytime you can purchase product from producers that can raise their standard of living.”
The new Rainforest Alliance’s Certification Program, through which Lipton has committed to certify all of its tea by 2015, is guided by ten principles of the Sustainable Agriculture Network: • Ensure farm’s adherence to certification standards • Conserve eco-systems • Protect wildlife • Conserve water • Provide access to decent housing, potable water and healthcare for workers and their families, and access to education for their children • Ensure safe conditions for all workers • Foster positive community relations • Practice Integrated Crop Management • Conserve soil • Manage waste responsibly to safeguard health and protect the environment To find out more information about the Rainforest Alliance, their efforts with sustainability or to make a donation, go to www.rainforestalliance.org. SOURCEs: www.lipton.com www.rainforestalliance.org
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A coffee drinkerâ€™s take on the battle for balance between chain coffeehouses and independent cafĂŠs By Lucie Shelly
art by lydia harrell
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“Can I get a quadruple-venti-double-pumphazelnut-double-pump-caramel-soy latte please?”
rders like these reflect a changed coffee culture. The Starbucks way of operating has filtered down through our overall perception of the café. Some argue that both the coffee experience and the coffee itself have been diluted by corporate chains, and the smaller independent cafes are being trodden on like discarded beans. That’s an easy plot to believe, but there are multiple sides to every story. Matt Souza manages 3CUPS, a local and independent coffee, tea and wine house in Chapel Hill, N.C. He suggests that the independent coffeehouses actually owe the chains for broadening the coffeedrinking market. “Honestly, I appreciate places like Starbucks for turning people on to some idea or consciousness of quality,” Souza says. The corporate chains are the real marketing powerhouses. From cultivating a décor to branding their coffee, everything is about constructing and contriving an image that looks like a unique, homey café. The difference, Souza says, is that the independent café lets the image and atmosphere emerge organically. By highlighting elements that contribute to a high quality drink, such as direct sourcing of the beans, the feel of the café naturally develops. On the other hand, the Starbucks company philosophy is based on promoting an exceptional employee experience and diffusing that comfort to the customers. Drinkers can consistently get exactly what they want at any of the thousands of Starbucks throughout the world. With orders like the above, however, it’s a wonder these customers still think they’re drinking coffee. Just
because it doesn’t say Dairy Queen doesn’t mean it’s any better for you.
In the past two decades Starbucks has left fast food chains like Dairy Queen in the dust. The coffee company had an exponential boom in openings in the ‘90s. In 1998, Starbucks had about 10,000 stores. The Onion, a web-based satirical news source, ran the headline, “New Starbucks Opens in Rest Room of Existing Starbucks.” Currently, the chain has about 17, 000 cafés globally. Their gross revenue in the previous twelve months was $11.51 billion USD. In 2008, it introduced a card-
“Honestly, I appreciate places like Starbucks for turning people on to some idea or consciousness of quality,” -Matt Souza based loyalty program. Customers who use the cards get various freebies – “extra syrup pump, sir?” – and earn stars that eventually amount to rewards. Like some sort of extended hot-dog eating contest, the more coffee you drink, the higher you climb up the ranks, eventually earning a Gold Card and rewards such as free drinks. Starbucks says there is so much daily fluctuation in the program’s membership for its system to manage the data, thus making it impossible to keep track of a reliable statistic. So, this leaves us with the question, who are the people enrolling, or rather, investing in these programs? Furthermore,
where does this leave the independent café, the careful roaster, or even the subtle drinker? In the late ‘90s and early 2000s, the same decade when Starbucks began opening a new location every weekday, independent cafés took their biggest hit in customer traffic. Then, the cups flipped upside down.
In the early 2000s, even the super-tanker that was Starbucks struggled to stay afloat in a sudden economic downturn. The corporation had to cut employee benefits, such as personal days and hourly pay. In an ironic testament to the corporate ethos, growing employee dissatisfaction led to customer dissatisfaction. This was the moment for larger independent operators to gain back some ground. Starbucks’s premise of quality coffee no longer had the marketing boost that a powerful brandname or trademark can give lesser-quality and massproduced goods. Companies such as Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea, an independent roaster that began in Chicago, Ill., were able to capture enough of a customer base in the economic downturn to maintain actual growth. Local cafés saw slight but optimistic increase in patronage. 3CUPS was originally located less than a quarter mile from a Starbucks, and it was around the corner from McDonalds’ recent foray into the café industry, McCafé. Souza says this actually worked to the café’s advantage. “We take that awareness that Starbucks and McCafé bring to espresso coffee and try to broaden the experience, and the people come for it,” says Souza. Since the early 2000s, there has
FEBRU ARY 2012 | 35
been steady economic sustainability in the independent café industry. The growth, however, is balanced with failure. Places that were already open and established do well, but independent cafés that opened in the past five years have generally seen failure.
Profiting from the pieces
There were also other corporations waiting to freeload on the flustered, flailing frappucino drinkers lost in the woods. Beginning in the early 2000s, customers at Dunkin’ Donuts could dunk their donuts in espresso coffee as well as brewed. McDonalds, dissatisfied with the billions made by supplementing America’s obesity problem, opened McCafés in the U.S. Starbucks was once promoted as a large-scale luxury good provider. Now, it is in direct competition with these other chains. Although Starbucks and McCafé in particular go to great efforts to promote their humanitarian angle with fair trade programs, there is a definite perception of sub-par coffee riding on a brand name and a cheaper price.
“Starbucks coffee is not good,” says Eva Panjwani, who previously worked as a barista in Chapel Hill, N.C. “They just burn their beans and call it flavor; everyone knows that.” Conversely, Courtney Mihaich, a Starbucks barista, says the company takes great pride in its variety of flavors – and not just in the syrups. “The reason I like working here is because I like different cultures, and Starbucks brings coffee from all over the world and develops roasts and flavors to reflect those coffee cultures,” says Mihaich. Coffee culture has certainly been altered by powerhouses like Starbucks and new players like Dunkin’ Donuts and McCafés. While impressive efforts have been made by the chains to cultivate café cultures that feel ‘gourmet,’ the fact is the ultimate goal is marketing to the masses and thus the coffee experience itself has changed.
The reservoir versus the drinking hole
Economics and biases aside, why would someone choose a corporate coffee house over the local spot?
photo by seth werkheiser
Many people prefer the atmosphere of local coffee shops like Ultimo Coffee in Philadelphia, PA.
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“I like different cultures, and Starbucks brings coffee from all over the world and develops roasts and flavors to reflect those coffee cultures,” -Courtney Mihaich If there isn’t a significant price difference, what draws a drinker to the syrup-pumping monsters over a place that makes coffee drinks that still taste primarily of coffee? As with any gourmet or luxury good, there are different tiers of interest. There are drinkers who take pleasure in swilling over their tongues every minute flavor that has been carefully incorporated into the liquidized beans. We’ve all seen it; they inhale, they pause, they sip, they go back to moodily staring at their Mac pretending to write a novel. Then there’s the other extreme. They think they’re enjoying coffee, but will drink it regardless of the flavor or the source because the truth is, they’re addicted to the caffeine, not some velvety flavor. Kayla Bryant was once affiliated with Carrboro Coffee Co., an independent and locally operated roasting company in North Carolina. Now she is simply an enthusiastic drinker. Over a foamy cup in her favorite local café, she pondered the contradictions. Bryant, who considers herself something of a connoisseur, is no snob. She decided, quite humbly, that Starbucks and the others have a market, just not necessarily a quality-based market. “If I want a crazy, fancy drink then I go to Starbucks, but if I want actual good coffee, or real espresso, then yeah, I go to the independently owned spot that actually takes time
with their coffee,” says Bryant. By bringing any specialty to the masses, the very essence of what gives it that special appeal is lost. Remember when hummus was foreign? Remember when Adele was “indy” music? Remember when a latte was posh? Yeah, me neither. It’s not just the quality of the drink, but also the quality of the experience. “You can only really get a paper cup in Starbucks, and certainly it’s all plastic in McCafé,” says Bryant. “There is something about really sitting down – I like having my mug and my plate. I want a table.” Overcrowding in chain coffeehouses is an issue. For places that are thought of as pensive havens where people can contemplate the storms in their cups, we all know there’s nothing tranquil about the manic rush that whips through most Starbucks at 7 a.m., 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Even the experience within the independent scene is an area that has been compromised. Isn’t it confusing when you go into a café and you can’t order a Tall? There is an awkward and disappointing sub-culture emerging that appears to be part of the independent coffee movement, but is in fact a shameless masquerade. These purveyors imply high quality because they don’t bear a big, corporate name. In reality, however, their growing and roasting processes are as cheap as any of the ubermainstream companies like McCafé. “It’s a real thing and a really unfortunate thing,” says Bryant. “I’ve worked in tons of coffeehouses, and there are at least three that I’ve left on account of shoddy practices and deceptive marketing.” So, what should we tell the purists? Some say the answer is in the fancy, at-home coffee machines like Keurig, Gura and Nespresso that make gourmet, single-cup espresso drinks. They even have an edge on Starbucks’s customization ploy
photo by Jeff wilcox
Coffee chains like Starbucks have become so international that you can get your chai latte in Shanghai, China.
because if you’re making it yourself, you’re probably making it exactly as you want. “I hate actually spending money on a latte or espresso, never mind coffee,” says Terry Lohrenz, a customer in Starbucks one drizzly Thursday. Lohrenz is the proud owner of a Gura espresso machine. “At home it’s really good every time.” That settles it then – why go out at all? We go for the same reason we go out to eat even though we have grocery stores: the atmosphere, the people, the experience. “Coffeehouses are great meeting places. They’re chilled out, there’s music on, you can work and be by yourself, but you’re not totally isolated like a library,” Lohrenz says. There are still places where that special air of ritualism can accompany the coffee drinking experience. They’re usually the local spots, the hole in the wall or the neighborhood living room. It would seem that, as with most things in America, most of the time it’s simply a question of convenience. The superiors want the good coffee,
and they want it near-by. The drinkers who tend to gulp it down like water – or instead of water – just want the drink to smell like coffee, and they want it fast. The question of how these respective demographics will affect the industry is another matter. For now, there is a delicate balance. The corporations and the hipsters are both selling coffee, but they’re not selling the same product. The independent coffeehouses have a strong enough niche to survive in the wake of the chains. The chains have, for now, exhausted marketing to the masses in the sense that their brand power and razzy drinks fail to truly detriment the independent market. Specialty espresso drinks still have a reputation of luxury, but not necessarily the pull of novelty. Having said that, Starbucks hasn’t bowed its head just yet. They’re still after that big impact, that large-scale innovation – literally. Currently, the company is testing what is called the “Trenta” size , so-called because, you guessed it, the cup is more than 30 ounces. It’s certainly a bang for your buck. FEBRU ARY 2012 | 37
Photos by Rebecca Yan
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By Molly Green
eep in the heart of Dixie there are some traditions so unique to the region that they’re just plain curious from an outside perspective. Hush puppies and grits are two menu mysteries to many an out-of-towner. But sweet tea – that sweet, sultry glass of smooth deliciousness found on most tables in the South at any meal, any season – is the vital staple in the diet of any Southerner. Beyond the borders of the Mason-Dixon Line, many people remain in the dark about the South’s drink of choice. More than likely, they’ve also never tried it. The South’s unique hold over sweet tea brings up lots of questions about its origins – and why it isn’t more popular anywhere else on Earth.
It all began in South Carolina. That was the first state to grow tea leaves, brought to Charleston, S.C., by Francois Andre Michaux in the early 19th century, according to the website for the Charleston County government. Originally, green tea leaves were used in tea drinks (occasionally, but not always, served cold), and the drinks were very often heavily spiked with liquor. They were called “tea punches” and were popular in places all around the U.S. – not just in the South. Sweet tea didn’t develop just in the U.S. South, but in England as well, says John Boles at the Journal of Southern History in Houston, Texas. “It was a quick energy source,” he says. “[It] began to develop along with industrialization. People working in factories needed a break.”
For workers in industrial England, adding sugar to their midafternoon cup of tea provided a much-needed pick-me-up during the long, difficult days in the factories. Sweetening tea in the U.S. was influenced partly by the British practice.
Serving it cold
That refreshing, ice-cold glass of tea on a summer day wasn’t always around. This treat became available in different regions over time. Many cookbooks from early in the 19th century provide recipes for serving tea with ice. The oldest recorded recipe for sweet iced tea was found in the cookbook Housekeeping in Old Virginia by Marion Cabell Tyree. This recipe still used green tea, with a slice of lemon. Although such recipes are present so early in U.S. history, serving up a cold
glass in mass quantities became popular right along the time that refrigeration came into existence. The ice house, ice box and commercially refrigerated ice blocks were popular by the late 19th -- early 20th -- century and so made the creation of cold beverages easier and convenient, especially for those who lived near towns and in cities. Still, in these early days, green tea leaves were used. Boles says the iced tea beverage didn’t really become dominant in the South until the 1930s, when electric refrigeration became more popular and could help make hot summer days better and the drink more popular with farmers and other laborers. Before electric refrigeration, Southerners could make ice tea in the winter time
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A look at the history of southern sweet tea.
1811 Ca. 1799 Green tea punches, which often Francois Andre include alcohol are introduced. One Michaux brings 25 | tea BEA N A to ND LEA is Fcalled "Regent's Punch" for leaves English Prince Regent George IV. South Carolina.
1879 The first recipe for sweet iced tea appeared in the cookbook “Housekeeping in Old Virginia” by Marion Cabell Tyree.
1884 The first recipe using black tea leaves is printed in “Mrs. Lincoln’s Boston Cook Book: What to Do and What Not to Do in Cooking.”
1904 The summer heat at the Worldâ€™s Fair in St. Louis makes sales of iced tea soared.
1917 Most green tea suppliers are cut off from the United States during WWI, so, black tea leaves from India are sent in huge supply.
1930s Electric refrigeration becomes widespread, making sweet iced tea more readily available.
2003 Rep. John Noel presents legislation to the Georgia legislature requiring restaurants that offer iced tea to serve J UNE 2011 | 26 sweet tea. It is an April Foolâ€™s joke.
by carving up ice and storing it underneath saw dust, says Boles.
Mapping the influence of different regions on the South’s sweet tea.
Shades of black
The supposed first recipe using black tea leaves, which are the most popular tea leaves for iced tea today, was printed in 1884 in Mrs. Lincoln’s Boston Cook Book: What to Do and What Not to Do in Cooking. It’s thought that this recipe is the first of its kind that recommends making presweetened iced tea, the kind that most Southerners make today. The recipe is also proof that iced tea itself was not a drink popular just in the South. After 1900, black tea became much more popular to serve cold, especially after the start of World War II. When the war began, most green tea suppliers were cut off from the United States. So, black tea leaves from British-controlled India were sent in huge supply. Americans came out of the war drinking primarily black tea. All tea -- including black, green, white and oolong leaves -- comes from the Camellia sinensis bush, which grows in India, China and Sri Lanka.
While it’s almost impossible to imagine a world ignorant of the blissful flavors of ice cold sweet tea, it’s true that before 1900, the world just wasn’t ready for the drink on a large scale. Many stories suggest that it wasn’t until the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis that the drink became popular. The story goes that the sweltering summer heat made it too uncomfortable to toss back a hot beverage, so sales of iced tea and lemonade soared. Emily Wallace, who works at the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says that many sources point to this St. Louis origin theory. But, according to Beyond The Ice Cream Cone - The Whole Scoop
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graphic by Kelly mchugh
on Food at the 1904 World’s Fair by Pamela Vaccaro, the man credited in some stories with the popularization of the drink, Richard Blechynden, was also present 11 years before at the Chicago World’s Fair and, according to Vaccaro, “it would likewise be odd that, in the 11 intervening years, he would have been totally oblivious to the drink’s inclusion in cookbooks and on menus.” Regardless of conflicting theories on how the drink was popularized, after 1900 is when things really took off. By World War I, many Americans were purchasing iced tea glasses, tall spoons and lemon forks and referred to the tall goblet in crystal sets as tea glasses by the 1930s. When Prohibition hit the U.S., iced tea became even more popular as a replacement for all the lost alcohol. It was here that sweet iced tea recipes began to appear rather routinely in Southern cookbooks.
A sweet culture
In the small backyard of Beth Bullock’s home in Lucama, N.C., many a summer day growing up was spent filling jars with tea with her mom and waiting for the sun to do naturally what stove tops normally do. “I think she would put tea bags in water inside of one of those large, clear glass jars,” says Bullock, a junior
at UNC-Chapel Hill. “I actually think it was a pickle jar. Then, she would set it outside on our picnic table so that it would be in the sun for a while – I think for several hours.” After the tea had brewed for a long time, Bullock’s mom brought the tea into the house. She then sweetened the “sun tea,” while it was still warm, poured it into a pitcher and placed it in the fridge. “She would only do it this way in the summer,” says Bullock. “I think a large motive was that it wouldn’t heat up the kitchen and make it hotter inside. It is a little more mild when it is made this way because the brew strength is reduced. I guess that’s why I liked it.” Bullock’s method for brewing tea is just one of many for Southerners, and represents a large part of what many Southerners consider integral to their culture. It is perhaps the best way for explaining why the drink is so popular in the South. Travel all around the South and order tea, and it will come to the table iced and sweet. To get unsweet tea requires asking and maybe even braving a few dirty looks from people. Hot tea requires an even more specific order, especially in winter. But, when one moves out of the South, sweet tea becomes a special order in some places and
Sweet tea has been enjoyed in the South for decades, but its flavors come from across the globe. Regardless of origin, there’s nothing like a glass of sweet Southern tea on a hot summer day. The recipe on the right provides a unique twist to the tradition.
absolutely unheard of in others. Morgan Sheppard, a history major and junior at N.C. State University, had such an experience when traveling. “When I went to New England for a family vacation, we all asked for sweet tea at a restaurant and literally got the most insane looks,” says Sheppard. “I never realized how Southern it was.” Bullock believes that sweet tea is so popular in the South primarily because it’s something Southerners can take pride in. “It is something Southerners can say is just ours,” she says. “[It’s] something traditional that we hold onto as a sign of our Southern-ness.” Boles, writer for the Journal of Southern History, also attributes the love and popularity of sweet tea simply to culture. “All over the nation there are
Recipe for Southernstyle tea You will need: 6 regular tea bags 2 cups boiling water 1 ½ - 2 cups sugar 6 cups cold water 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda Directions: 1. In a large glass measuring cup, place the tea bags and add the baking soda. 2. Pour the boiling water over the tea bags. 3. Cover and steep for 15 minutes. 4. Take out the tea bags and do not squeeze them. 5. Pour the tea mixture into a 2-quart pitcher; add the sugar. 6. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. 7. Add in the cold water. 8. Let cool; chill and serve over ice.
regional kinds of food,” he says. “I think that one of the ways that people identify with being Southern is the food and things we like. I think that iced tea is a part of that mixture that we associate with being Southern.” It’s so integral to the culture of the South that in South Carolina, sweet tea is the official hospitality beverage of the state. South Carolina is also the only state to commercially produce black tea. In the state of Georgia in 2003, Rep. John Noel, along with four other members of Georgia’s Congress, presented legislation to the State House of Representatives requiring restaurants that offered iced tea to serve sweet tea. It was supposedly an April Fool’s joke. Even if it were a joke, sweet tea is just that important to Southerners. Boles couldn’t imagine a South without sweet tea. “It’s part of our culture,” he says.
“When you identify with the South, [and you travel out of the region] you miss Southern cooking, and a part of that cooking is sweet tea. … It’s part of what we think about what goes together to make a good meal.” Even though the final product is the same, Southern families make the creation of sweet tea a family tradition. Different families brew it different ways. Bullock’s mom no longer makes sweet tea the way she used to, but Bullock hopes to continue the summer tradition every now and then in her own life. The mixture of sweet iced tea into everyday Southern life has become so common place that to think of a South without it would be a sad thing indeed, even when it may not be well-known or the most popular drink with those outside Southern borders. It all brews down to preference.
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By Kelsey Snell For many, a cup of coffee perfectly starts the day or complements time with friends, but for people suffering from eating disorders, this favorite can be an agent of abuse.
arrie Arnold, fire-headed and frail, ignored her churning stomach all day at work. One cup of black coffee had turned into two pots by closing time, and she made up for the lunch hour she skipped by taking a dozen bathroom breaks. Two pots weren’t unusual for Carrie, and neither was missing breakfast and lunch. The caffeine from her coffee fueled her drive home. Usually, it was all she could do to stagger from the doorstep to her bed like a toddler taking his first steps, but today she bee-lined for the kitchen. Her shaking hand hesitantly reached for the pantry door as the duel began between her belly and her brain. Like in a classic Western film, hunger and fear squared off waiting for the other’s draw inside Carrie’s ghost town body—an abandoned stomach and dusty roads of intestines. Her growling stomach rumbled with victory as she opened the pantry. Carrie stared. One box of granola bars had more calories but less fat, and the other brand had lower calories but more sodium. Then there were the protein bars that would make up for the missed meals, but she couldn’t possibly eat that many calories at once, not to mention the sugar. Carrie stared. She stared into the pantry for 45 minutes, feeling more overwhelmed with every label she calculated. Her second pot of coffee only added
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to the anxiety, and she began to cry, too hungry and panicked to choose. She dropped to the kitchen floor, barely left with enough energy to hold her face in her skeleton hands as tears fell to the linoleum. Carrie’s case is not rare. Millions of Americans suffering from eating disorders stare into pantries, mirrors and toilets every day, gripped by the fear of weight gain. The positive and negative effects of caffeine and coffee, more specifically, are manipulated by people with eating disorders in order to control yet another aspect of their bodies. Although people with eating disorders don’t drink more caffeine than the average person, their motivation and mentality behind drinking coffee is completely different.
Eight to 11 million Americans suffer from anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association will add binge eating disorder as a new classification in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, also known as DSM-5. Including binge eating disorder, the most common disorder in America, nearly 24 million Americans suffer from eating disorders, according to a study by the Renfrew Center Foundation for Eating Disorders, which has locations nationwide but first opened in Philadelphia in 1985. Carrie is still recovering from anorexia nervosa after 10 years. Anorexia is characterized by an extreme fear of weight gain, an underweight body mass index, and a refusal to gain weight, says Antonia Hartley, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Campus Health clinical nutrition specialist. Bulimia nervosa is also characterized by an extreme fear of weight gain, but bulimics engage in
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“As bizarre as my symptoms were, I didn’t find them disgusting. I thought it was good to work out for hours each day and that it was fine to eat only apples and lettuce.” a cycle of bingeing, or eating large calorie amounts at one time, and purging, or getting rid of the food by methods such as vomiting or using laxatives. Binge eating disorder is compulsive overeating without purging. Hartley says that people with disordered eating look to control their out-of-control environment with a variety of mechanisms such as purging. Marlena Moore is a UNC-Chapel Hill junior majoring in psychology and currently researching binge eating among Latin and African American women. She says many suffering from eating disorders want to substitute inner emotional pains with the pain from starving, overexercising or other means of control. “Many think that all they have is their own body,” says Moore. “They say, ‘Why can’t I control what I have?’” Carrie, who grew up outside of Detroit, says that her perfectionist attitude and fear of failure, which are characteristics of anorexics, resulted in high stress and anxiety. She picked up extreme exercising during her junior year of college, which worked so well as a stress management technique that she began to develop an eating disorder.
“I was a workaholic, and I was chugging coffee trying to make it through the day,” says Carrie. She also used coffee to manage her stress, but soon it began to control more than that. When Carrie felt hungry, she assumed she needed more coffee. When she felt tired, she began to rely on coffee to pick her up as a calorie-free energy source. Cynthia Bulik, director of the
UNC Eating Disorders Program, says that coffee overuse among eating disorder patients is a real problem because it gives the illusion of energy to someone who doesn’t have any because he or she is starving. Coffee seems to be the Holy Grail for people with disordered eating. It’s an appetite suppressant that expands and fills the stomach, but not for long because it is also a diuretic. Coffee is also an energy booster that can be packed with artificial sweeteners to quench a sweet tooth and fuel hours of exercise despite a deficiency of natural caloric energy. Carrie used to steal her mom’s coffee-flavored yogurts as a child, and she began drinking coffee in high school, which she says became necessary with her eating disorder because it kept her warm. Two effects of an eating disorder are low body temperature and oversensitivity to the cold. While caffeine has its benefits, Hartley says that if you drink more than one to two 8-ounce cups a day, the negatives start to outweigh any positives. While Carrie spent years addicted to coffee, there was a time she was scared to drink water. She buckled with fear at the thought of anything being in her stomach. This phobia led to many trips to the emergency room due to dehydration and malnutrition, and in 2005, she began a residential treatment program. Carrie was discharged after seven months, and shortly after she relapsed into anorexic habits. “As bizarre as my symptoms were, I didn’t find them disgusting,” she
says. “I thought it was good to work out for hours each day and that it was fine to eat only apples and lettuce.”
“I just needed a cup.”
Hartley asks every nutrition patient she sees what his or her average daily caffeine intake is. One-third of these patients have eating disorders. Once you get over 500 milligrams of caffeine per day, which is the maximum that would be in two 8-ounce cups, negative effects include insomnia, nervousness, irregular heart rate and gastrointestinal issues such as bloating and diarrhea, says Hartley. Someone suffering from an eating disorder already struggles with anxiety and other physical effects, so high amounts of coffee or caffeine can make things worse. Coffee is a diuretic and a laxative, so when causing a bowel movement it can portray a false sense of security for an anorexic patient who isn’t eating. Instead of using a natural digestive such as fiber, coffee steals an opportunity for your intestine to be strengthened by working hard to digest, says Hartley. “In reality, they’re using a chemical to do something that their bodies can’t do naturally,” she says. In addition, skipping meals or using laxatives flushes out important vitamins and minerals. If coffee is being used to suppress an appetite or replace a meal, it doesn’t add to your body; it actually blocks iron absorption leading to an iron deficiency. Lastly, if someone with an eating disorder ignores hunger cues with caffeine or coffee, that could lead to binge eating once the coffee’s illusion of fullness wears off. “Your hunger rears its ugly head and can lead some to overdo things later,” says Hartley. Carrie says that vomiting from the acidity of coffee wasn’t the worst
part of her caffeine abuse. When she was hospitalized, she suffered severe withdrawal migraines from going from two coffee pots a day to zero. “I used to fight with my doctors who wanted me to go to group sessions, but I couldn’t move,” she says. “I just needed a cup.”
The person & the disorder
Marlena Moore says that the person and the eating disorder are two separate things. She says there’s a mental block, or a sickness of the mind, in which the disorder actually takes over the person. Anorexia has the highest death rate of any mental disorder. It’s a common misconception that eating disorders are a fad or trend instead of the deadly illnesses they actually are, says Cynthia Bulik. Carrie saw the same size woman in the mirror she had always seen, blind to her emaciation because of the disconnect and an inability to recognize her illness. “People think that it’s a choice,” Carrie says. “It’s like a gun to your head. You’re not in control, and it’s not as simple as choosing.” Carrie says she has relapsed multiple times since 2006, when she was discharged from the residential treatment program, but she hasn’t been hospitalized because she knows how to identify and tackle the relapse. Part of her recovery journey has been starting a blog called EDbites. The tagline of the blog is, “Recovering from anorexia, one bite at a time.” She now lives in Williamsburg, Va. and is a freelance science writer. Her book about anorexia, which mixes the science of the disorder with her personal recovery story, will be published in the summer of 2012. Carrie didn’t have to give up coffee, but two pots of anxious obsession are now replaced by two mugs of blissful enjoyment.
caffeine count Although caffeine amounts are hard to pin down from one roaster to the next, here are a few averages, in milligrams, for 16 oz. beverages. Get to know what’s behind your buzz.
Espresso (1 oz.)
black and green tea
Mcdonald’s iced mocha
dunkin donuts iced coffee
dunkin donuts coffee coolatta
dunkin donuts iced latte
Starbucks Caffè Latte
Starbucks pike place
Starbucks Caffè Americano
Starbucks Caffè Mocha
sourceS: dunkindonuts.com, mcdonalds.com, starbucks.com, the Mayo Clinic
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Where Have All the Frappuccinos Gone? By Bailey Holman
Photos by Rebecca YAN
Is the world’s supply of coffee in danger?
you’re a coffee drinker, two words hold the power to strike fear in your racing heart: coffee shortage. As you read this, visions of city streets crawling with short-tempered, caffeine-deprived zombies send chills down your spine. You know what you’re like before your morning fix; now multiply it by the millions of coffee-drinkers spread across the globe, and shudder. Even if this is the first you’ve heard of a coffee shortage, you’ve probably noticed that your daily habit has gotten more expensive this year. Whether in the aisle at the grocery store or in line at the coffee shop, you’ve seen prices go up. If you’re like most of us, you’ve grumbled but shelled out the necessary cash, not willing to go without your caffeine hit but never really understanding what was behind the rising prices. A few weeks ago, I heard it explained with those two dreaded words – coffee shortage – as they came out of a friend’s mouth in ominous slow motion. With say-it-ain’t-so resolve, I set out to prove this couldn’t possibly be true. Turns out, it is true – sort of. The issue is a complex one, with various pieces playing a part. The problem lies in an increasing
demand for coffee and a decreasing supply in some major coffeeproducing countries. Supply and demand imbalances are nothing new, according to Scott Conary, president of North Carolinabased Carrboro Coffee Roasters, a wholesale coffee roasting and consulting company. “There have always been supply and demand issues,” Conary says. “It’s what dictates the market.” In coffee-growing countries, several elements have been working hand-in-hand in recent years to produce the current imbalance, Conary says. To begin with, internal demand in these countries is rising. Developing countries, such as Brazil and China, once exported all of their best coffee but are now experiencing a greater domestic demand from their middle and upper classes. “Previously, they sold their best coffees and never drank it – they probably didn’t even know what it tasted like,” Conary says. “Now, the upwardly mobile middle class wants and can afford better coffee, which means there’s less available for the rest of the world.” As internal demand within these countries builds, so does global demand. Since the early 1980s, consumption has risen on average by about 1.2 percent every year, increasing to an annual
“While demand continues to rise, environmental issues are causing production numbers to fall in some of the world’s most important coffee-growing countries.” 50 | BEA N A N D L EA F
growth of more than 2 percent in recent years, according to the International Coffee Organization. Market growth has slowed somewhat in Europe and the United States – except in the specialty brand sector – but countries such as Japan have seen remarkable growth in coffee consumption. “Demand for coffee is continuously increasing,” Jacob Ibarra, client support for Australia’s Five Senses Coffee, says in an email. “Particularly in your Eastern markets; China is slated to become the next biggest drinker of coffee, and once that traditionally tea country moves into the coffee arena, with its millions and billions of people, it will change everything.” This is where people begin to worry. While demand continues to rise, environmental issues are causing production numbers to fall in some of the world’s most important coffee-growing countries. In the last few years, pests, diseases, tree renovation programs and poor weather have affected harvests, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Decreases in Columbian production because of bad weather have been particularly troubling. “The coffee trade had been for a few years very worried about a shortage of Colombian coffees,” says Volker Sachs of Costa Rica’s Panamerican Coffee Trading Co. in an email interview. “Colombia used to produce steadily 12 million bags of 60 kg of coffee and since 2008 only 8 million have been produced.” After Brazil, Colombia is the world’s second leading producer of Arabica coffee beans, which are used to make specialty and gourmet blends. Rising temperatures and rainfall have damaged coffee crops and brought an influx of fungal pests such as coffee rust to the area. Arabica beans are extremely
sensitive to environmental conditions, and even the slightest inconsistencies can render them unusable. It may be that the weather is not just unlucky; climate change may also be to blame. Regarding the situation in Colombia, Ibarra says, “One might attribute this to global warming, which seems to be more and more a topic of discussion in the agricultural realm.” “I’m talking to farmers constantly who tell me that they see the global warming that people laugh about and say doesn’t exist every day,” Conary says. “They can’t do the things they used to.” Despite these drops, the 2011 to 2012 world coffee crop is still forecast to outpace consumption for the second year in a row, according to the USDA’s market report. Production is forecast to fall to 2.9 million bags, which the USDA calls “moderate” when compared to declines of close to 16 million bags in previous years. “The overall harvest meets world demand,” said Alf Mildenberger, owner of Quantum Coffee Inc., a specialty coffee importing business based in Annapolis, MD. “Colombia has had bad weather, but
Each coffee bean on the map above represents a country where coffee is grown.
countries like Vietnam have seen a tremendous amount of production,” he says. “A real coffee shortage is debatable because if you compare consumption to production numbers, they are pretty close to equilibrium – 135 million consumption to 133 million production,” Sachs explains. Conary says he isn’t worried because for Carrboro Coffee Roasters, it’s about the caliber of the product, not the amount. “We’re focused on quality and not volume,” he says. “If you narrow it down to what’s available it actually helps – we never can’t get enough.” Consumers have come to expect a certain quality and consistency from their coffee, Mildenberger says. This poses some difficulties, and
coffee companies may have to look to other countries to maintain that quality standard. According to Sachs, this is already occurring. “Roasters have started to get more flexible with the use of specific origins for their blends to try to bring their price for coffees down.” Areas in Africa, such as Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda, and areas in India have great potential for coffee production, according to Tom Campbell, a senior advisor for CNFA, an international agricultural economic development organization. Africa has typically been known for the production of the Robusta bean, a variety used to make lower-quality coffee. So what does all this mean for prices? Unfortunately, the high cost
of your morning latte might be here to stay. Partly, this is because of high stock market speculation caused by falling production numbers and increasing global demand. Sachs explains that rising consumption numbers – 129 million in 2009 and 135 million in 2010 – have caused alarm and considering this, “speculation might stay for a while.” Last May, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz blamed speculation for a 34-year high in the price of coffee. Starbucks raised the price of its packaged coffee by as much as 17 percent in July. Conary adds that coffee is a commodity, meaning that its pricing is based on the market as a whole, with no connection to the quality of
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“So what does all this mean for prices? Unfortunately, the high cost of your morning latte might be here to stay.”
specific varieties across the market. Ibarra calls the current situation a “perfect storm of things combining to raise prices and cause people to talk.” “To a certain degree, you have coffee being traded on the commodity market like it never has been before. Commodities are definitely ‘in’ right now to trade and make money, much like the dot-com or real estate booms were just a few years back,” he explains. “The world economic crisis with weak currencies – European and U.S. Dollars – and investors trying to protect themselves against these uncertain times of growth in traditional markets is contributing to wild swings of commodity prices, like gold, oil, coffee, sugar, cotton, etc.,” Sachs says. According to Conary, roasters are constantly absorbing these commodity prices, which have doubled. “If you want to stay in business, you have to raise prices. The retail market for the product is inelastic.” But Conary says that prices have somewhat stabilized – they’ve just stabilized high and will likely remain high. “Prices, while they have come down a bit from their all-time high, will in my opinion remain high for the years to come,” Ibarra agrees. Conary adds that prices have been artificially low for a long time. “This is just the real cost of coffee rearing its head,” he says. “Now it’s just a matter of getting used to it.”
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Both Conary and Mildenberger indicate that the increase in price may not be as severe as many make it out to be. On a daily basis, it is actually just a matter of pennies, Conary says. “A pound of coffee makes about 60 cups of coffee. If you pay $5.00, $6.00, $7.00 a pound, the increase in price per cup is cents,” Mildenberger reiterates. Of course, if you are buying a $4 caramel macchiato from Starbucks every day, that’s a different story. However, there is some good that comes from higher prices. Price increases have had an effect on more than just consumers and roasters – the positive impact on the producers has been tremendous, Mildenberger says. Coffee-farming families, who Conary says have been paid poorly for a long time, are getting paid more for each pound of coffee they produce, which can have a direct influence on their quality of life. These families typically suffer periods of poverty due to crop cycles because it takes years for coffee plants to mature. Paying them more raises their standard of living, Mildenberger says. Increased profit can be put toward uses such as literacy programs and access to fresh water. “If they produce 50 pounds annually and get 100 or 105 cents per pound, that’s a very big impact,” Mildenberger says. “The U.S. dollar buys more, and the cost of living is lower.”
Addressing the current high price tag on coffee, Ibarra says, “I don’t necessarily believe this is such a horrible thing. Coffee farmers might now be able to lead a better life.” Keeping this in mind may ease the sting of higher prices, but the fact remains: if this keeps up, some of us may have to spend our days nursing a single cup of black coffee at the coffee shop, if we can afford it at all. “It will definitely be something that we will have to learn to deal with,” says Ibarra. Many coffee drinkers aren’t yet aware of the shortage, but an Internet search produces enough coffee-is-doomed forecasts to make you cringe – and the rumors aren’t entirely untrue. When asked if consumers really need to worry, Conary says that “worry” is not the right word. “There are always things to be concerned about,” he says. His suggestion for coffee lovers is to keep supporting quality-focused companies that use sustainable practices, and then they will get great coffee. When asked if we need to start hoarding our favorite blends, as certain fear-mongers propose, Conary says he wouldn’t suggest it. “You can’t,” he says. “Coffee doesn’t store well.” For the sake of those who never want to meet a morning without coffee, here’s to hoping that the chuckle this final question evoked is a good sign.
Taste and See:
the art of cupping Once a staff ritual, Counter Culture Coffee’s weekly coffee cuppings are open to locals. Tasting, learning and slurping are all part of one of the coffee scene’s favorite traditions. By Kelsey Snell
he short glasses lining the counter, the people milling around with spoons drawn like weapons and the wafting aroma of coffee beans rushing from the roaster are all part of the Friday tradition at Counter Culture Coffee. An industry-leading coffee roaster based in Durham, North Carolina, Counter Culture hosts public cuppings every Friday morning at its headquarters as well as its eight other training centers along the East Coast. Coffee cuppings are similar to wine tastings, but the drag of a spoon through loose grounds replaces the vortex of juice sloshed around a fragile glass. The cupper judges the aroma and taste of the coffee by pouring hot water over raw grounds. This particular cupping was offering two rare tastes. The ripeness of the coffee cherry set apart two variations of Finca Mauritania, an El Salvadorian coffee. One bright red cherry was less ripe but boasted a more fruity palate, while the other was dark and smoky. Only cupping would allow you to taste the same exact coffee and analyze the sole factor of ripeness to differentiate between the two. Cascara tea, or the steeped dried exterior of the coffee bean cherry, from four different regions was also a part of the cupping. The coffee expert encouraged guests to get their noses in the grounds so they can fully experience the fragrances of the bean. After the coffee was introduced, a symphony of slurping erupted, and coffee grounds freckled noses. Friday mornings aren’t the only times cuppings take place at Counter Culture, but Founder Brett Smith says that it’s a continuous process for the roasting team. They want to know the characteristics of the bean in its purest form and eliminate all other variables, such as roasting times or brewing methods, so they can “compare apples to apples,” Smith says. The roasters compare their notes about brightness, body or aroma to other samples in their electronic database in order to track the coffees’ changes over time. The Friday ritual started as a time for Counter Culture staff, from production to accounting, to put their work down and gather together. “It was a communal thing for us to share what we do,” says Smith. “We would start sharing and learning about coffee and build a collective knowledge.” It wasn’t long before Smith and staff wanted to share this knowledge with customers and consumers. They began advertising cuppings to the public. Many coffee roasting companies offer weekly cuppings, from Seattle’s Victrola Coffee Roasters to Blue Bottle Coffee in Brooklyn. For the same reason Counter Culture started its cuppings—it’s all about community. “When it comes down to it, we’re all good at tasting things,” said Lydia Iannetti, Counter Culture customer relations representative in Durham. Whether at a cupping or a café, the office break room or the breakfast table, coffee creates a gathering place around a few small cups.
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Above: Counter Culture Coffee’s cuppings offer anyone in the public the chance to enjoy the distinct aromas and tastes of their freshest roasts.
Left: When cupping coffees, a spoon is used to “break the crust” of the coffee grounds in order to get a full inhale of the coffee’s characteristics. Cuppers are encouraged to get their face close to the cup and focus on what they’re nose is picking up.
Photos by Rebecca Riddle
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Meet Counter Culture Coffee Counter Culture Coffee fired up its roasters in 1995 in Durham, N.C. and was deemed the first certified-organic roaster in the state by Quality Certification Services. When terms like quality and sustainability surfaced in coffee industry conversations, two other words were likely to be mentioned: Counter Culture. As the company expanded its espresso and educational programs, it planted training centers in Southern cities such as Charlotte and Atlanta, as well as cities above the MasonDixon Line such as Chicago and New York. Founder Brett Smith and his team of coffee people asked, “What are we? What do we want to make sure we’re doing?” Their answer, Counter Culture’s vision statement, now borders the wall of the Durham headquarters’ production floor: “Counter Culture Coffee is a relentless pursuit of coffee perfection, a dedication to real environmental, social, and fiscal sustainability, and a commitment to creating cutting edge coffee people.” Check out the company’s website, www. counterculturecoffee.com to buy this season’s single-origin coffee, read the story of the farmer who grew it and learn about the Direct Trade Certification that got it into your hands.
Right Counter Culture’s roasters cup coffees until they find the perfect roasting time and temperature. The beans here are shown cooling just minutes out of the roaster.
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Above: A bag of single-origin Finca Mauritania coffee beans from El Salvador sits on the production floor at Counter Cultureâ€™s headquarters in Durham. This coffee is a product of Aida Batlleâ€™s crop, a long-time farmer partner of Counter Culture.
Below: Counter Culture builds relationships with farmers through years of partnering with them to produce the best coffees. Every packaging label is unique to that farmer and origin.
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Coffee’s big break on the small screen T
By Molly Green
he American obsession with coffee and all its fancy forms doesn’t just define the morning cup of coffee or the afternoon commute anymore. Coffee, and its influential existence, has made a huge presence on the silver screen too. Many TV shows feature coffee and coffeehouses as prominent “characters,” or props that are significant to the main characters or the theme of the show. This is by no means a comprehensive, definitive or final list of the greatest shows ever, but simply a list of five shows from the many interesting ones out there that feature coffee in a prominent way.
The famous witty banter of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore isn’t the only thing that makes the dynamic mother and daughter duo from Gilmore Girls a unique set. Their great obsession with coffee affects the dialogue of every episode and is another defining characteristic for both women. Neither character, throughout the show’s existence from 2000 to 2007, can function without her coffee. The dark, strong beverage is a source of drama whenever they arrive at Luke’s Diner. It sparks numerous discussions about what Luke calls their “unhealthy habit.” Interestingly enough, Alexis Bledel, who plays Rory Gilmore, actually doesn’t like coffee and always has colas or dark soft drinks in her mug, according to the show’s website.
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Possibly the most famous of television shows featuring a coffeehouse is the beloved Friends, which aired from 1994 to 2004. Even those who only occasionally took a reprise from daily life to watch an episode or two of Friends could recognize the iconic décor of the Central Perk coffeehouse. Central Perk, which is strictly a fictitious place, contributes a lot to the plots of various episodes of Friends. Not only is the location a popular venue for the characters to meet, but it is also a good conversation starter for many humorous dialogues. Even Gunther, Central Perk’s barista, is present in most episodes. He remains an employee of Central Perk for all seasons of Friends.
One of the most recent shows to hit ABC, in 2009, is the crimefighting drama Castle. While the main characters, Kate Beckett and Richard Castle, spend most of their time taking down murderers in New York City, they always have time for a to-go cup of specialty-blended coffee, made from Castle’s specially commissioned coffee maker, which he set up himself in the department lounge. Beckett and Castle always sport their trademark to-go mugs at crime scenes. While the coffee, or its location, doesn’t greatly affect the plot of Castle episodes in any way, it is still an integral part to the characters of Castle and Beckett and their dynamic.
The same obsession with coffee that is seen in Castle could also be seen in the TV show Bones. For main characters Seeley Booth and Temperance Brennan, their favorite spot after work is the Royal Diner. It serves much more than coffee, but Booth and Brennan still order a cup every once in a while, especially after locking up their latest culprit. Over their steaming cups of hot coffee, Booth and Brennan discuss the greater mysteries of life, such as love and what makes the world go round, which usually leads to Booth sharing something profound with the more socially awkward Brennan.
It may not have made it past its fourth season, but Greek, the show all about fraternity and sorority life, features a very popular coffee cart that appears in numerous episodes. The main characters, Casey Cartwright, Cappie and Evan Chambers, all take their turns buying coffee there. Casey even uses it as a way to haze one of the pledges, Rebecca Logan, making her go back repeatedly to get the perfect cup of coffee for her. They use the coffee cart as a meeting place and point of reference in many dialogues. Beaver, a minor character with a big appetite, has the greatest relationship out of all the characters with the workers at the coffee cart, who always know his order by heart.
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Bringing the café home By Lucie Shelly We all do it. In the solitude of our kitchens, before our esteemed and steamy appliances, we become wizened connoisseurs, and acquire Houdini-like brewing tricks. Whether we’re drawn to speed and precision or slow, delicate chemistry, with the right gadget we can produce a beverage exactly the way we want it, any time we want it. Naturally such pride ignites fierce debate about which gadgets truly produce the goods. And after we’ve concocted our marvel, what is the suitable vehicle for drinking? We can all buy travel mugs — but which ones really work? Most of the selection is personal preference, so we might not be able to give you the perfect solution, but we can lay out your options.
SINGLE SERVE COFFEE
Single-serve coffee machines produce individual cups using pods that contain coffee. The pods are placed in the machine, punctured and brewed into the cup below.
THE LINSKI ESPRESSO SOLO
Pros: • More affordable than many singleserve machines. • Uses special “K-Cups,” but these are available from many brands, including Starbucks, Caribou Coffee and Dunkin’ Donuts. • Also have tea and hot chocolate K-Cups from various brands.
Pros: • Produces only high-quality espresso quickly using small pods (no brewed coffee). • Some have built-in milk frothers. • The collection of pods vary in flavor notes and intensity. • Pods ensure correct, pre-measured coffee-to-water ratio.
Pros: • A dynamic aesthetic addition to any kitchen. • Brews long and short espresso shots. • LavAzza branded coffee meaning decent quality beans. • It has an easy to empty water tank located in the rear.
Cons: • They have espresso blend pods, but the coffee produced is no different from a strong brewed coffee. • The appliances do not come with milk frother — it must be purchased separately.
Cons: •Both machines and the pods are expensive and available only through Nespresso. • Only for espresso coffee. • Some do not have built-in frothers and they must be bought seperately.
Cons: • Created by Shmuel Linksi, a graduate of the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, the machine is conceptually a cool idea, but is more about the design than brewing quality espresso.
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With loose-leaf tea, the brewing process can become as much an aesthetic experience as a tasteful one! Differently shaped brew baskets are filled with tea leaves and either plunged in or filled with boiling water.
THE HOURGLASS Two glasses twist together through a plastic joiner piece. The tea leaves and hot water are placed in the bottom, and the other glass is screwed on top. Flip the device and watch it brew!
THE FUNKY TEA INFUSER Concept: Yellow submarines, dinosaurs, hearts and many more shapes are now available as silicone tea infusers. Fill the case, place in boiling water and let the tea steep.
With loose-leaf tea, the brewing process can become as much an aesthetic experience as a tasteful one! Differently shaped brew baskets are filled with tea leaves and either plunged in or filled with boiling water.
THE DCI “I AM NOT A PAPER CUP…” A microwave-safe ceramic mug with a silicone top that looks like a paper cup from your favorite café. Enjoy looks of surprise as your “paper cup” makes a resounding clunk when you place it down.
JUNG-WOO LEE’S COFFEE LOVING UMBRELLA An umbrella with a built-in cup holder where the hook of the handle should be. Just hold your umbrella, which holds your coffee, and off you go – purse and papers in hand!
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Tea as a Natural Remedy Tea has been used for thousands of years to safely and effectively treat a wide variety of health problems. It remains the go-to drink for people feeling ill.
By Margaret Croom
here are many mysteries surrounding the origins of tea and whose lips it first crossed, but one thing we do know is that it is packed with power to keep us healthy. The tea plant calls Asia home, but the identity of the first tea discoverer, drinker or farmer is unknown. Tea steadily gained popularity, and historians have seen it in the hands of emperors and as a key part of Asian ceremonies more and more through history. The Western nations began to be traded tea, and soon, tea was a significant part of British and American history, too. Does the Boston Tea Party sound familiar? Whether it’s green, black or herbal, a cup of tea has clear benefits for our bodies, and many people rely on it for its homeopathy. If you’re allergic to certain medications, can’t seem to get to sleep no matter your exhaustion, or if those acne blemishes won’t disappear, tea might be just what the doctor ordered. Over time, tea has become a go-to drink for people feeling ill. Herbalism, a traditional medicinal practice based on using plants and plant extracts is popular with many people around the world today. Rob Seeman, owner of Whole Earth Marketing, Chicago, answered a few questions about using herbal tea as a natural remedy. Margaret Croom: Do you suggest using herbal teas as a natural remedy? Rob Seeman: Depending on the plant and the condition being treated, teas can be an excellent remedy. They have been used safely and effectively for thousands of years. MC: What are some of the illnesses herbal tea can help cure? RS: Due to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education act, manufacturers cannot make claims about natural products effects on disease conditions. Nonetheless, they have been used safely and effectively for a
Photos by Rebecca riddle
wide variety of health problems for thousands of years. Immune support, digestive aid, weight loss, internal cleansing are just a few of the applications. MC: What herbal teas are best for what illnesses? RS: Most teas have a wide range of benefits, from providing energy to supplying general nutrition. Brewing a hot water extract (decoction) is a good way to provide the health benefits of a particular plant. MC: What makes herbal tea a choice as a natural remedy? RS: The traditional method of hot water extraction has been used since the beginning of recorded history. Some plants may be better used as a whole plant (eaten) or juiced, but tea is widely regarded as a safe and effective way to deliver the active constituents of plant medicines. Plant medicines, or botanical remedies, provide a natural alternative to many drugs. In general, plant medicines work to support the body’s natural processes. Echinacea can boost white blood cell activity, which can help with infections. Pau d’Arco can be very anti-fungal, and help with those kinds of infections. The list goes on for thousands of pages. MC: Is tea better as a natural remedy, or herbal tea? (Herbal tea does not contain tea leaves and so is not considered an actual tea. Herbal tea does not contain caffeine either.) RS: Green and black teas are enjoyed as a caffeinecontaining (and therefore stimulating) beverage by many people. Many other plants that do not contain caffeine can be used as a ‘tea’ as well. I think you’re right it is an important distinction whether we are using ‘tea’ as a general term (usually called an herbal tea) or the actual Tea plant Camellia sinensis which yields green and black tea. I think Asian culture and some scientific research there shows that green and black tea, even though it contains caffeine, can be ‘healthful’. Green Tea in particular has many antioxidant properties, and contains many individual compounds, which have been research for help with weight loss, immune function, etc.
Teas to make you better • Try jujube tea for an extra vitamin C boost. • Research has shown that green tea contains polyphenolic antioxidants that contain cancer chemo preventive effects. • For dry skin make a tea with marshmallow root, fennel seed, plantain and violet leaves. Combine one part of marshmallow and fennel then add a teaspoon of dried plantain and violet leaves and simmer for 20 minutes. • Black tea for toothaches. Black tea contains tannins, which helps draw toxins out of the tooth or gums. • Green tea for hair loss. Green tea contains an enzyme that stops hair cells from shrinking and eventually dying. Drink three cups of green tea a day for results. • Pu-erh Chinese tea is a type of green tea. It is rich in antioxidants and helps you maintain a healthy metabolism. • Sage tea is helpful if you have a cough or a sore throat. It also clears toxins from the body, fights lung problems and helps with gastrointestinal problems. • Marjoram tea helps stimulate the appetite. It can also prevent influenza and is nice if you have a cold. • Licorice tea is helpful for women going through menopause. It also helps those who are affected by the changing seasons. • Lemon Balm tea helps with migraines and gives relief from indigestion nausea.
TEA TRADITIONS around the world
By Miranda Murray
ew plants can claim to affect the daily lives of people across the globe the way tea does. From its humble roots in Asia, the tea leaf and its preparation is at the heart of social gatherings in various cultures. In this monthly feature, the team at Bean & Leaf magazine will highlight how different cultures pay homage to tea in their everyday lives. This month, learn how many cups some Germans will drink at each tea time, what goes on in a Turkish tea garden and whether or not the yerba mate from Argentina really is a gift from the gods.
ARGENTINA One taste of the powerful yerba mate tea and you’ll soon be hearing the chortle of the bombilla as you attempt to drink it to the last drop! The yerba mate is a small tree that is native to South America, and its leaves are gathered and traditionally infused with boiling water in a hollowed-out, rich deep brown gourd that is small enough to fit in your palm, called a calabash gourd. Then the drinker inserts a bombilla, or straw, which is traditionally made of bamboo or silver, into the gourd and sips it until the last drop, which is described with the word chortle. The drink is deeply rooted in South American culture, but there are as many yerba mate bars in Argentina as there are coffee shops the U.S. Yerba mate is seen as a social drink that calls for its own form of ceremony. The cebador is the one who prepares a gourd of mate for his friends, testing to make sure that it sips smoothly before passing it to the next 66 | BE A N A N D L E A F
aficionado. Then it is passed to each person in the circle, who drinks all the tea out of the gourd before passing it back to the cebador to refill and give to the next person to finish. The way the cebador prepares the mate some say for each person indicates how he or she feels about that particular person. The drink originated with the native inhabitants, the Guarani , who populated regions of Paraguay, Uruguay and parts of Argentina and Brazil. The Guarani called yerba mate the “drink of the gods” and have several legends surrounding its origins. One legend says that mate was given to the Guarani people after a young woman stayed with her old, tired father after the rest of the tribe had migrated to better farmland. The girl wanted to follow the tribe, but her father could not make the journey. The pair was visited by a shaman who gave the girl the mate plant to give to her father to strengthen him. The Argentinean gauchos, or cowboys, also often relied on the plant’s invigorating abilities to get them through their day and refer to it as their “liquid vegetable.”
GERMANY Although Germany may be more famous for a different kind of beverage, the residents of a small eastern region’s entire day is structured around tea. East Frisians drink 300 liters of tea per person each year. To compare, the average U.K. citizen drinks about 230 liters of tea per year. East Frisians take Teetied, or afternoon tea, along with a breakfast and mid-evening tea. A special mix of black teas is commonly served in small cups over Kluntje, which are tiny, crystallized pieces of sugar. The sound of the sugar crackling as the hot tea splashes over it is known as Wohlklang. East Frisians then use a
TURKEY Caysiz sohbet, aysiz gok yuzu gibidir is a traditional Turkish saying in the central Sivas province, which means conversations without tea are like a night sky without the moon. One can’t go far in Turkey without running into a teahouse or tea garden, which serve as the social hubs of the town where children can play and old friends can have loud conversations. Turkish tea is famously served in clear, hourglassshaped cups without handles, which allow drinkers to see the colors of the tea being served. Cream is generally
Rohmlepel , a special spoon designated for tea time only, to put cream into their tea. There is a saying, “Dreimal is Ostfriesen recht,” which means it is polite to drink at least three cups of tea per sitting, and when done, to leave the spoon in the cup. Leaving your spoon in the cup is the polite way of saying that you’ve had enough tea, after, of course, polishing off at least three cups. Local legend says that tea drinking became a part of this region’s culture after pastors promoted the health benefits of tea as superior to schnapps or beer, which had been causing problems in the community. During World War II, East Friesland was the only region of Germany that received extra tea rations.
never taken with the tea, but two cubes of sugar often accompany the tea glass. Turkish tea, which is normally black, is traditionally prepared using a çaydanlık, or a stacked teakettle, and is offered in many stores as a sign of hospitality. There is even a specific word for the waiter who brings the tea to the merchants, a çayci. The popularity of tea is said to originate from Mehmet Izzet, the governor of Adana, a southern city in Turkey. He published a brochure touting the health benefits of tea in the late 1800s, and it prompted a slew of teahouses to open in Turkish cities, eventually becoming part of the culture. FEBRU ARY 2012 | 67
Old Wilmington Tea Company By Margaret Croom
he year was 2006. Lourie and Kit Cosper were both ready to switch career paths. Lourie had recently sold Peanut Butter and Jelly, the children’s clothing store she owned in Wilmington, N.C. Kit had just left his job with a technology startup firm and was ready for something new. “We knew we wanted to find something we could do together,” says Lourie. “We were really open to anything that presented itself to us. We just knew we wanted it to be something we both enjoyed.” The possibilities seemed endless, but there were restrictions to what they could do. Lourie was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), which made operating an actual store out of the question. They knew they wanted to put Kit’s technology background to good use. As they thought about things they were interested in, they began to talk about tea. “We’ve always enjoyed tea. We’re not really coffee drinkers, and because of the kidney thing I had done a lot of research on tea,” says Lourie. “So one day we were like, ‘why not tea?’” And so, Old Wilmington Tea Company was born. There are several ways you can run a tea company. Some involve little or no involvement from the owners of the company while others involve constant interaction with the owners throughout the entire tea buying process. “We decided that if we were going to sell tea, we wanted to know what
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Photos Courtesy of lourie cosper
Above: The owners “cupping,” or tasting and evaluating loose green tea leaves. This is what the owners do when they receive samples from gardens, before they pick which teas they actually want to sell. Right: Kit (left) and Lourie Cosper, co-owners, consider themselves very blessed to have the customers they do. “They’re pretty special to us,” says Lourie.
we were talking about,” says Lourie. “We wanted to know absolutely as much about tea as we could.” And they set about doing just that. The Cospers enrolled in courses through the Specialty Tea Institute, an organization that offers courses for people interested in tea to become more knowledgeable in that area. “So we are certified tea professionals in the United States,” says Kit. “And we have also trained and are certified in the U.K.” Old Wilmington Tea Company imports tea from gardens in China, India, Sri Lanka, Japan, Hawaii and
Indonesia. The gardens will send Lourie and Kit tea samples, which they taste and order if they like. “We taste, I don’t know how many teas before we find one that is worth bearing our label,” says Lourie. Kit says it’s about a 10 to one ratio on the number of teas they taste and the ones they actually buy. After years of tea tasting, Lourie and Kit know what good tea tastes like. “More importantly, we know the difference between bad tea and tea we don’t like,” says Kit. “There’s a lot of good tea out there that I just don’t like.”
They also know how to treat their customers. Old Wilmington Tea Company offers customers the choice of buying teas online, but the Cospers are aware they aren’t the only company to do this so they take extra steps to show their customers how special they are to them. “When we ship our packages out, I’ll throw in tea samples or a piece of paper with a thank you and tea infused chocolate,” says Lourie. “When we started working on our packaging, we wanted to include something extra.” There are different ways to create a specific type of tea. There is provincial tea, which is one tea from one specific garden, and then there is blended tea, which is tea from two gardens blended together. Finally, there is flavored tea, which is a blended tea mixed with all natural flavors for a specific taste. These flavors could be cinnamon, lavender or lemon depending on the desired flavor. Lourie and Kit are involved in all of these processes. They select the teas they want to blend and try them out. Once they have purchased the tea they want, the blending process can begin. Kit normally just does the tasting, says Lourie. If he hears the flavors his wife has blended, he’ll tell her it sounds gross. Whenever their kids, Will, 26, Elizabeth, 15, and Donald, 18, are at home, they dread teatasting time. “They run from the room because they’ve tasted so many different kinds of tea,” says Lourie. “They each have their favorites and that’s all they care about.” To find out more information on Old Wilmington Tea Company, visit their website, http://www. oldwilmingtontea.com.
steeped in history What’s behind the name “Old Wilmington Tea Company”? The name “Old Wilmington Tea Company” was penned because of the love Lourie and Kit have for their hometown. They wanted a name that had “roots” in a town with a history of tea. Wilmington was originally a shipping port on the Cape Fear River. Tea was one of the many trade goods that came in thru the Wilmington port. In December 1773, a historic event happened in Boston, MA, that involved a group of colonists, three ships of tea and Boston Harbor. The Boston Tea Party is remembered today as an important event in the growth of the American Revolution. However, little is remembered of another event that took place in Wilmington a few
months after the Boston Tea Party that was equally as noteworthy, although on a smaller scale. In spring 1774, Wilmington women who were unhappy with current British rule took to the streets to voice their opinions on the corrupt British government. This was the Wilmington Tea Party. Wilmington women burnt tea as a sign of protest against the British monarchy. Such open political protest spoke of the women’s love for their country and contributed to the growing Revolution. With all of the history behind tea in Wilmington, the Cospers decided that Old Wilmington Tea Company was the perfect name for their new company!
evaluate your tea A handy list of terms used when describing the taste of tea. ▶▶ Aroma: The scent that the steeped leaf and liquor releases, also known as the nose. ▶▶ Bite: A tea liquor character that is described as very brisk and “alive.” ▶▶ Body: Denotes the strength and viscosity of the steeped tea liquor. ▶▶ Brassy: A metallic taste that remains on the palate. ▶▶ Bright: Refers to the look of the liquor: a sparkling quality.
▶▶ Harsh: A bitter taste that remains on the palate. ▶▶ Malty: A malt taste and feel that remains on the palate. ▶▶ Muscatel: A sweet wine flavor. ▶▶ Nose: The aroma of the tea and its liquor. ▶▶ Pungent: A positive astringency without bitterness.
▶▶ Complex: Refers to the multiple dimensions of the tea flavor.
▶▶ Self-drinking: A tea that can be enjoyed without the addition of milk or sugar; also refers to an unblended tea from a single garden worthy of drinking on its own merit.
▶▶ Flat: A tea that lacks a lively character (briskness).
▶▶ Smooth: A tea that carries a well-rounded taste and feel.
▶▶ Brisk: A lively character.
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south! Itâ€™s time to rethink your morning grind: coffee trucks are heading to town. By Bailey Holman
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PHOTO COURTESY OF ERIK ANDERSON
The Kona Chameleon van, a ‘mobile coffee shop’ that runs on biodiesel and waste vegetable oil, parked at Durham Farmers’ Market.
ood trucks: The one occasion when it’s okay to accept edibles from a stranger in a van. Food trucks are not a new phenomenon; they have a history in the United States rooted in the post-Civil War cattle industry, when herders had a hard time making decent meals on the road. In 1992, Bruce Kosmala pioneered a new movement — the espresso truck. The owner of the Original Seattle Coffee Company, Kosmala aimed to “provide a simple and convenient way of distributing specialty coffee, fruit smoothies and pastries to the work place and movie industry,” according to the company’s website. The OSCC and its imitators now sell pre-built coffee trucks, which have become a visible part of the Northwest’s coffee scene.
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But Seattle isn’t the only place you can find coffee trucks these days. They are sprouting up across the country, and the states below the Mason-Dixon line have welcomed them with Southern hospitality. In Asheville, N.C., Ursa Minor Coffee is making a name for itself as one such café on wheels. Owner Eli Masem moved from Portland, Ore., to Asheville, N.C., a year and a half ago with his wife and son. A longtime lover of great coffee, Masem opened his coffee caravan soon after, hoping to bring the charm of Northwestern coffee huts to the South. “I missed the great coffee culture and rad little drive-up coffee huts that were all over the Northwest,” Masem says. “So when I moved to North Carolina I realized I could do something like that, but instead of a hut, I would make it a mobile trailer.” Sally Heyman, owner of Coffee Brake in Miami, Fla., started her
business four years ago for the same reason. “Coffee Brake was the result of wanting to open a drive-up coffee shop like they have all through the Northwest. Logistics resulted in changing the drive-up shop to a mobile concept, and I put the shop design inside the Sprinter van,” Heyman says. “I worked with a state agency to get it approved and licensed, then I had to deal with the local county, and the inspection was easy.” Both Heyman and Masem say there are many benefits to having a mobile business. “It’s proven to be very popular, and I can pick and choose my locale and hours and even join the food truck rallies that are common here in South Florida,” Heyman says. “I have my own blend and an easy menu, and I do a lot of social, charitable events like the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl at the stadium.” “The trailer allows me to go to festivals, fairs, concerts, private parties,
PHOTOS COURTESY OF ELI MASEM
Above: An iced Americano in progress in the Ursa Minor coffee cart. Right: Faryn Davis and Eli Masem, owners of Ursa Minor Coffee, in front of their coffee caravan.
etc., and still park it somewhere for more of a stationary Monday through Friday,” Masem says. “I am my own boss; I get to choose what I serve. I get to choose my own hours, and I get to turn people on to super great coffee without being a snob about it, which seems to be a real temptation for many in the coffee industry,” he says. “And I’m friends with lots of mobile food businesses so I get to do jobs with friends a lot.” Masem says he also gets to meet all sorts of different people – and when he says all sorts, he means it. “Just last month I served coffee at a movie set, a gay pride festival, a school carnival, a belly dancing/burlesque convention, a church carnival and a regional apple harvest festival.” The Kona Chameleon coffee van based in Durham, N.C., brings its organic fair trade coffee to parking lots of businesses and corporations during the workday because “20 people in an office building shouldn’t have to make 20 separate trips in the pursuit of caffeine,” owner Erik Anderson explains on his website. Anderson believes his “bean wagon” is an evolutionary leap from the traditional coffee shop because the convenience of the van makes more sense. And he’s taken the concept a step further — the Kona Chameleon van runs on biodiesel
PHOTOS COURTESY OF SALLY HEYMAN
Above Left: Sally Heyman, owner of Coffee Brake, prepares coffee in her van. Above Right: The Coffee Brake van open for business in Miami.
and waste vegetable oil, and its generator fuels are locally produced from recycled sources. In Asheville, Masem admits that it’s not always easy; there are difficulties that come with a mobile coffee business. “Since I am not a brick and mortar business sometimes it’s hard to keep regulars because unless they follow me on Facebook or Twitter they may lose me from place to place.” The cafe’s conductor also says it can be tough running a coffee business based on a small generator. “I basically run a super tiny coffee shop off a generator and my own portable water sources. The trailer itself is only 7 by 10 feet so it can be a bit of a crunch sometimes. I have to weigh out how much energy I need to run all of my machines versus how much energy my generator can
reliably produce.” Problems can also arise from permitting, which is allowed on a limited basis in Asheville, Masem says. “I can only be at one place for any 180 days per calendar year so I have to keep moving.” And finally, there is the hurdle of the “roach coach” notion that something excellent can’t come from the back of a truck. But these ain’t your mama’s food trucks — the “roast coaches” of the South are providing customers with convenience and quality coffee. “The hardest part of this business is getting people to catch on to the idea that you can have a super quality specialty coffee experience out of a trailer,” Masem says. In this case, take what the bearded man in the back of the truck gives you. FEBRU ARY 2012 | 73
Caféholics or… By Isaac Adams, a non-coffee drinker
GRAPHIC BY Hannah Chacon
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eople seem shocked when I tell them I don’t drink coffee. But quite frankly, I’m scared to. Here’s my problem. I see monsters, and these terrifying sights don’t occur at night. This isn’t a fable, and I wish the solution were as simple as my mommy looking under my bed and shooing them away. Whether I go to work, school or even my own home, they are there, lurking, but not for me. They aren’t hungry; they’re thirsty. Growling and scoffing, they bitterly admit that to return to a regular, benevolent and affable human state, they need a catalyst – a divine nectar that starts their daily evolution out of this monstrosity. I dare not call them fiends lest they try to feast on me instead. These monsters are the people who need – not want – coffee in the morning to make it through the day. Now, I beg you not to put the magazine down. This is merely a jesting poke at coffee culture from an outsider looking in. I can’t help but notice that my family and friends literally act differently, even scarily, without the joe. (Does this sound like a drug to anyone else, or is it just me?) Between you and me, they look a bit rougher without the daily kick too, but that could just be genetics. It can’t ever be the coffee, right? I don’t claim to be a morning person either. So you woke up on the wrong side of the bed? OK, no problem. But I guess every night I miss the point when beds become
operating tables, and people turn into Frankenstein at 6 a.m. or whenever their morning starts. “AH,” I scream when something, who I thought was my mother, comes down the stairs. “Oh, Uh, I mean – Good morning mother.” “Where’s the coffee?” She snaps as she creeps like a zombie from Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Apparently, preparing the coffee for addicts the night before is a tactic that ensures they’ll quickly get their fix. It immediately cures the monster in the morning. Today, this step was not taken. Yikes. Should I run? I flee the kitchen. “Oh no,” I mutter as my face falls. “Here comes Dad.” Actually, it’s the monstrous version of him that results from no morning coffee. I’ll spare you the details because this isn’t a gory thriller flick. Needless to say I sprinted out of the house. “Shoot, I’m late,” I say to myself. I head out to meet a friend for a coffee date. This is what she called the event. When did a regular “date” stop being special? Now there are even specific, caffeinated versions of these outings, but maybe it makes them less awkward. I guess liquid courage isn’t only alcoholic. “Hey!” I say to my friend as I hastily meet her in front of the shop. “Hi,” she says slowly. The awkward silence hangs between us for a few seconds. “Uh, OK. You ready?” I ask. “Yeah,” she says with her eyes drooped. Have I said something wrong? Maybe she’s upset I was late. Anyway, we get in line at the shop. I look up. I see a board, and I am terrified. To some, this board may shine like the lights of heaven or Broadway; to me it’s more daunting than a blackboard covered in quantum physics. Yes. It’s the coffee shop’s menu. “Whole Bean-Cinna-MochaFrappa-Nilla-Chocolate-Espresso-
Caramel-Spice-Latte, with cream and sugar,” I mutter to myself, growing more insecure by the minute. And I have to pick a size. At this point I haven’t even considered the ethics of my purchase. Has my coffee (or whatever I’m about to order) been fairly or directly traded? Is it Fair Trade Certified? Rain forest? Who knows? Clearly, I don’t. But we’re next in line. We walk toward the barista. I feel as if I’m walking the plank. “What would you like?” he asks. My friend fires off her favorite order faster than an Olympic track runner. “I’ll have a Grande iced coffee with sugar free vanilla and skim milk.” “Sure thing,” the barista says. He turns to me. “And you, sir?” “Oh no,” I say to myself. I’m trying to not make the rookie mistake of pronouncing “espresso” like “expresso,” though I’m not exactly sold on believing that there’s no X in the coffee – just kidding. Anyway, I have to respond. “Um, can I just have a hot chocolate please?” I say like a child who just disobeyed his parent. “A hot chocolate, sir?” The barista asks me, as if I had made a mistake. I feel that I might as well have asked for a bottle and a bib. My friend and I get our drinks and take a seat. She sips on her coffee while I’m more than content with my hot cocoa. She starts to relax, liven up and even seems to be having a good – no, a great time. She takes a break from the enthralling conversation and looks out the window. In it, I catch her reflection. I no longer see a brooding, deranged and terrifying beast. She’s getting closer to normal with every sip of her remedy. “Sorry I didn’t seem excited earlier,” she says with a faint but increasingly beautiful grin. “I just needed my coffee.”
GRAPHIC BY Dylan Gilroy
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elcome to the In the Café section of our magazine. The editors of the magazine got together and decided that we wanted this magazine to educate and entertain. We took care of the education part with our articles on tea and coffee, but we haven’t forgotten the need for entertainment. In keeping with our Southern theme, we went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a liberal arts institution that has produced some of Southern literature’s most prolific writers. Here are the selections we chose for your entertainment!
Lines as Beauty By Josh Hyzy
You so easily found the words to describe how I taste — “like a creek fresh clean rustic and masculine yet like shortbread cookies soggy with milk.” I however could not describe your taste with words let alone describe you as a whole and this I admitted shamefully but the truth wins over groups of letters and concepts that cannot combine in any combination to match your earnest and compassionate artistic being. And I know you can make no promises even though they are promising by definition and yes you may one day disappoint me but it will only be in your eyes for mine seek not perfection but the confectionary nonconformity of the living one makes so whether you draw and give color to what you say has all already been drawn for us or draw limitlessly what is green and corrupting from a limited electronic well
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I know and trust you will still honestly try cry over the deliberate harming of innocence in turtles and all other life and strive to commit yourself to seeing creeks as lines and shortbread cookies as lines and wells as lines and turtles as lines and yourself as lines and lines as beauty linearly arranged for the brush to translate into the form most appreciated by the eye.
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Shivers and silvers
isolation is like a weight upon my shoulders, tearing its talons into muscle, whispering commands like fright seizes the actor, threatening to overwhelm the mind with memories far and dear because it knows when they come I cannot escape.
The widow is out there setting a spread of red and brown warm tea and the thicker soup delicately placed just so
By Olivia Dorsey
It knows that every night prayer threatens them to vanish quietly. miracles do not exist, only tissues, catchers, and time everything that was pled to happen was going to happen, regardless of crinkled foreheads bolted eyes see nothing that was working all along patting that same shoulder. add a bit of oil to stop me from squeaking drips of past dates due nudging better better stop looking, I’ve been here before. what an issue to be lost and found at the exact same moment quaking with recollection in mind frozen alongside questions that’ve already been answered faces that have already been seen lines that have already been spoken laughter… cause in reality, it’s theirs that’ve kept me up at night
By Joel Sronce
bones as thin as ice on shallow water dry splintered skin and a spine curled like a slender cat couched in the scattered frill of the afternoon chilled scattered memory the chill scatters memory like hooves through the forest where the gray beard and broken stride come to creak the attic floor and burn the brickwork black a voice sings down where the slow river bends and she first let her garments fall she does not want to sleep in shaken sheets or to sweep the dust like wind to the snow she does not want frost on the indoor petals or the shivers and silvers to haunt the house The doorbell rings like pistol shots in the cellar where weary feet paint worn floors with pale prints and the shade of a pallid skin creeps in like a chill through the walls the last leaf falls caught in the noose she is gone and he begins to pace
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The Uninformed Jurassic Park Employee By Charlie Bergman
IDNEY MERRIL DID NOT GET THE EMAIL about what had happened at the park explaining that he would not need to show up for work next week. But since he was on the second day of his one week vacation he didn’t bother to check his email. He never checks his email while on vacation. By that time news of the incident hadn’t broken yet, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway because he didn’t watch the news, especially not when he was about to get on a plane for Daytona. While packing he discovered that he left his good Ray bands behind the counter at work. He pulled on his cargo shorts, slipped on his sandals and buttoned up his Hawaiian shirt so he could rub the fact that he was on vacation in Roger’s face. He checked his watch. Before putting his wallet in his pocket he checked to see if he had enough money for the ferry to the main island, and he didn’t, but he could just use the ATM at the dock while he was waiting for the ferry. The ferryman didn’t know enough English to ask him why the hell he was going to that disastrous island, and Sid didn’t know enough Spanish to ask him what this look of disbelief was all about, so he had to assume he didn’t understand him the first time. “To the main island, to the park.” More clearly this time. He did find it odd however that he was the only one on the ferry to the island, but the park was closed on Sunday, and he was pretty sure only a couple people like Roger and the dinosaur guys or “Zoo Crew”, as he and Jerry called them, were there to clean up for the next business day and watch after the animals. He also found it weird that the place was a wreck when he got there. Then again they had been known to throw pretty wild parties after closing because they knew Roger would have to clean it up the next day. He knew something was definitely up when he opened the door of the shop to find a dinosaur between him and the counter where he was pretty sure he left his Ray bands. After some very intense shit he leaped back into his jeep and gunned it back down the trail. I was pretty sure I left my Ray bands behind the
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counter and if I left right away I could get to the island and then get back in time. I just needed to let Jerry know not to wait up for me before they checked their bags and got to the terminal. The ferry ride wasn’t long from the island my old apartment was on over to the park, but that day it seemed to take forever because it was just me and that Costa Rican asshole who failed to mention I might have to fight a fucking dinosaur in T-minus seven minutes. He probably doesn’t speak English but he could have mimed it or something. Did I look like I had gotten dressed with fucking dinosaurs in mind? “Well I would try to stop this guy from getting eaten, but, let’s see, Hawaiian shirt, shorts; probably would have gone with closed toed shoes myself but nah this guy looks like he knows what he is doing.” When I got to the island the place was so trashed even the T-Rex skeleton was all over the floor. At first I thought I should scram before Roger saw this because he was going to be super pissed but when I remember that I wasn’t involved I stuck around waiting to see him so I could rub my vacation in his face and see the look on it when he got a load of that mess. I just hoped he didn’t try to hit me with his mop. Waited around for a while but he never showed and I figured I should get going, so I took a jeep down the path to the gift-shop where I worked, but when I got to the door I saw this big dinosaur with big teeth ripping up the Jack Link’s Beef Jerky in the Safari Snacks isle. The dinosaur saw me and it was too late to run so I ripped one of the shelves off and started smacking him in the head with it. The dinosaur would snap at me but then I’d smack him again, after a few of those the shelf broke, so I punched him in the head and he fell down. He tried to crawl away but I drug him over to the Ice Age freezer isle and shut his noggin in the freezer door and knocked him out. I crunched my way over the shattered freezer door glass to the check-out counter. I pulled out my Ray Bands, slipped them on with one hand and gave that dinosaur the bird with the other. Then I said something with the word extinction, like “How’s it feel to be extinct, again?” or something. That was probably it actually. It doesn’t sound that great now but— Alright you can stop there. You did not fight the dinosaur; you know that, everyone reading knows that. The sad thing is, if you weren’t so thick, you would
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realize what you actually did was one of the smartest things you’ve ever done. But instead you had to tell that ridiculous version and I had to make that cheese-ball of a transition and now I have to break my part of the story to apologize for it. First let’s clear a few things up. You knew you should have enough time to go to the ATM machine, take the ferry to the park, get your sunglasses and get back in time to meet Jerry and his wife and kids at the airport terminal. You put on that sad Hawaiian shirt to show you were on vacation like nobody does, which made this all look that much stupider. Next was the ferryman. He knows you as the guy who tries to feed the seagulls everyday while you are on the ferry even though it clearly says not to do that. As it turns out, since the dinosaurs got out at the park, the ferry guy hadn’t had any business because no one will go there except a few brave Zoo Crew people. So if some jerk in a Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops might have to get eaten so he could feed his kids that night, that was ok with him. He even had a change of heart at one point and tried to warn you, but you were too busy feeding the seagulls. So you and the dinosaur. You know that the extent of you experience with dinosaurs doesn’t go any further than cleaning pterodactyl crap off the top of the giftshop. Your first idea was to fake to the left and then into a spin move. Next you look around the shop to see if you can match any of the toy dinosaurs with what this one looks like. Then you might be able to identify it and whether or not it is about to kill you. Luckily, despite your minimal knowledge of the subject, you recognize it as the dinosaur that squirts out poison or something in your eyes because that’s what the toy version does. You know that because one day a kid squirted your shirt with the toy and you shoved him in front of his parents. You could just jump back in the running jeep and leave you sunglasses, but instead you come up with another idea. You dive over the counter put on your Ray Bands. You grab the half-empty bottle of tequila you had back there and stand up. The dinosaur blasts you in the face with black poison, but your eyes are safely behind your sunglasses. You tear off the sunglasses so you can see, jump over the counter narrowly missing the dinosaur, and sprint out to the jeep and speed off, clutching your sunglasses and tequila. All while wearing flip-flops and that stupid Hawaiian shirt.
By Katie Jansen
’M SIMPLY LOOKING AT YOU. I’M FEELING A bit dizzy, completely at a loss with the feeling of how senseless this whole thing is. The wind is blowing over us softly now. Just a few minutes before, that same wind made your shirt billow behind you as you ran through the backyard barefoot, reminding me of how we used to hide behind the sheets that Mama hung on the clothesline in the summertime. Then you collapsed suddenly on the grass. Before, I wouldn’t have thought anything of the motion, but this time, my heart raced as I sprinted to you. You opened those pale eyelids with veins of blue and looked up at me. You laughed at the worried lines around my eyes. (You’re only nineteen, and you already have worry wrinkles, you always like to say. Yes, I do, I want to say. Isn’t it obvious that I worry about you? Instead, I always just laugh along.) Anyway, this time you laughed at me again. You had collapsed from sheer giddiness and excitement, not from exhaustion and the cells overwhelming your tiny little body. I threw myself down next to you, and we’ve been laying in comfortable silence for the past few minutes now. Well, you seem comfortable, content. Me? I don’t know about me. I’ve been uncomfortable in my own skin for a while now. I feel like ripping apart this smiling mask I put on every day and grabbing you. I want to shake you, yell at you, How can you be so comfortable with this? You’re not supposed to be content yet. You haven’t had a full life; you don’t have enough to be content with! Wipe that smile off your face and fight this thing! Of course, I can’t actually do any of that. I don’t have the heart, so I keep pretending that everything is okay. That everything is normal. Which is why I now have the pervasive feeling that this whole façade, this whole day of normalcy that I have planned out so meticulously, is senseless. Besides, I know it’s not your fault. I just need a scapegoat, and you’re the closest thing in reach. It’s unfair, but so is life, as we’re all finding out. “Penny for your thoughts,” you quip suddenly. I let a slow smile play across my lips as I turn over to look at you. You’re really into trite phrases and idioms lately, and I know you don’t even have a penny to give me. You
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[...continued] tilt your chin to give me a mock serious face with a little downturned mouth, but I know you well enough to see the grin in your clear blue eyes. I’ve missed that grin; too many times lately, I’ve seen you with blue bruises and blue veins, and blue eyes that seem way too large for your face. I’ve seen you in blue gowns, all ironed with starch and creased in awkward places so that it looks as if you’re wearing a box. You’ve always complained about the lack of fashion in those gowns, trying to lighten the tangibly heavy and somber air of the whitewashed room. Mama always half smiles, but you can tell her thoughts are somewhere else. I realize then that my thoughts are also somewhere else. I’ve got to shake all those sickly images, I’ve got to focus on being with you in the here and now. I’ve got to breathe it all in, desperately running against the ticking time bomb that we all feel. You don’t want me to remember you as the sick girl, and I don’t want to remember you as that either. Oh God, I don’t want to have to remember you at all. The act of remembering implies an absence. I don’t want to be forced to remember; I want you to always be there. I look at you again, and your beauty makes the senseless and helpless feelings fade. You wait patiently for my answer. You’ve become accustomed to long pauses during your conversations with people; you know that too often they are experiencing a lifetime of memories in one single instant. I want to grab every single instant, every single lifetime. I reach up to shield my eyes from the sun, and I lie to you again. “Nothing,” I drawl. “Just thinking about how this here grass feels funny on my arms.” To complete the lazy Southern image, I pluck a piece and stick it in the corner of my mouth. You giggle, then say, “I know. Imagine how funny it feels when you’re bald.” I smile and tousle the downy fuzz that covers your scalp. Most people would find your disposition and your jokes unsettling; I’ve seen them tiptoe around you as if they’re walking on eggshells. I know that it’s you, though. It’s not your way of dealing with it so much as it is your way of helping us deal with it. That’s always been your way, humor and bravery in the face of adversity. I watch as you sit up, pluck your
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own piece of grass, fold it between your hands, and blow on it. It takes pretty much your entire lung capacity, but eventually the satisfying low humming sound ensues. You flop back onto your back with another contented sigh. I’m glad you went along with today. When I was asking you about it after all my overthinking and meticulous planning, I was worried you would laugh at me, tell me how incredibly lame the whole thing sounded. You’re fourteen; you don’t want to spend the day flying kites with your sentimental older sister. But I should have known that wouldn’t be your reaction. You’re too loving, too good. You simply widened your eyes and some color came back into those cheeks that have been so pale lately. You touched my hand and you said, “That sounds nice. Really nice.” Your voice echoed with your sincerity, and you let your hand linger a moment longer than you normally would have. I think we both sensed how hard it was for me to plan this. How I couldn’t accept that I needed to squeeze everything into such a small block of time. How I needed to revert back to our shared childhood to fool myself into thinking that I would be allotted more time. You sit up again and lean back on your palms, head tilted upward. The blue of your eyes are set against the blue of the sky, and it makes my heart hurt. You’re watching the kite we tied to a fencepost, and I follow your gaze. The kite flutters peacefully and proudly, its neon colors explosive even from such a distance. It seems as if it could stay up there forever, constant and permanent. Suddenly, however, it takes a nose dive; you draw in a short little breath. Old habits never die. I remember how we used to gasp when we saw even a subtle fluctuation; every movement seemed to be the one that would send our proud kite plummeting back to the earth. After a little struggling, the kite rights itself and resumes sailing. You exhale, look over at me and smile, and take my hand. “That’s me, you know,” you say quietly. Now, I’m your sister; I have been for fourteen years, and I know you’re a walking enigma. Even I couldn’t puzzle this one out, though. I study your suddenly serious expression. “What?” I ask, although I am
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somewhat afraid of the answer. “I’m like the kite,” you begin. You pause to collect your thoughts, then say, “You know when we start to fly the kite?” I nod. When we were little, that was the only fun part. The running footsteps, the string snapping from our hands at a mile a minute, the kite climbing higher and higher at the end of the string, which seemed as long as eternity. “Yeah, when you start to fly the kite, it’s all dramatic. It’s fun, filled with adrenalin. You start with something on the ground, and you run and run and run with it until you help it get up so high. If you think about it, that’s what you’ve done with me. I’ve had a great life, rapid and full of experiences. You and Mama loved me ever since I was born, and you made me soar.” You stop, squeeze my hand, and search my face with those blue eyes. “Am I upsetting you?” you ask. You’ve always been like that, putting others before yourself. You’re talking about your own life and worrying about upsetting me. Completely selfless. I shake my head, but I don’t say anything to avoid letting you know that there is a giant lump in my throat. It seems to be there now permanently anyway, so I’ve become pretty talented at hiding it. You look at me once more, then drop your gaze, which is completely unlike you. You always face everything head on, grab the bull by the horns, to use one of your beloved idioms. But now those blue eyes are avoiding contact with mine. Instead, they’re scrutinizing patterns that you’re tracing through the grass with the fingers of your free hand. “But sometimes,” you say softly, “You have to let the kite go.” I shake my head to clear my peripherals, which have begun to blur. I can’t cry yet Oh God I don’t want you to see me cry. “Think about it,” you continue, and your voice has become logical and exact. “Our kite is fine tied to the fence post. We don’t have to hold the kite strings all the time. Even when we think the kite’s going to dive bomb, it ends up knowing which way is up. It ends up doing okay for itself. Sometimes you have to trust the kite because it knows what’s going to happen already.” Softly, I interject. “But kites are so fragile. How do you
know when you’re supposed to let go?” You dig your fingernails into the top of my hand, and you say slowly, so that every word has its own little impact, “Listen to me. Even when the kite falls down, it’s not permanently down. With a little help, it can just go right back up again. It can keep flying forever if it wants to.” I try to smile but it feels more like I’m gritting my teeth. You hug me then, fiercely. I hold you, feeling every part of you: your fuzzy hair, your shoulder blades that feel as if they’re about to snap, your bumpy spine. I can’t say anything, but I don’t need to. The day has come. I have to let go. When we were little, we thought that the kite string was as long as eternity, but I have discovered that it’s not even close to that long. When we were little, we thought that it was so cool that the string snapped out from beneath our fingers so rapidly, but now I am desperately trying to catch it all and roll it back up, just so I can have an enormous spool of it to carry around with me at all times. I can’t fight the wind, though. It takes kite strings, billows sheets and shirts made too baggy after rounds of body-wasting chemicals. I refuse to talk about you in the past tense, however; I know that you’re still flying around up there, and you will be forever. When I get up in front of that crowd today, that crowd assembled to honor the walking enigma with the blue eyes that I know and love, I’m going to begin like this: “My sister and I love to play with this enigma called a kite. It’s so scary and fragile, yet so independent and beautiful…”
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PHOTO BY: LANIE GILBERT
visual art & extras
PHOTO BY: LANIE GILBERT
ART BY: MARY MUDD
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New York Times crossword 2
The Wild Hunt
ACROSS 1 Medicine holder 5 Walk ungracefully 11 Nick, say 14 Rights advocacy grp. 15 This point forward 16 Bon ___ 17 *Area in front of a coop 19 Grand Canyon part 20 Cornfield call 21 Sea eagle 22 Some Saturns 23 *Modern school memento 28 Beatle lover 29 More clever 30 Wee, informally 31 Baseball’s Blue Moon 33 O.R. figures 34 One working with checks and balances, for short 35 *Braided floor covering 37 *More than enough 41 “___ the season” 42 Play about Capote 43 Bosnian, e.g. 44 Larklike bird 47 Ore-Ida parent company
Bon Iver Laura Marling Tallest Man on Earth
Foolish Games I’m on Fire
49 Language suffix 50 *Elemental parts of human nature 53 Posh 54 Letter from Homer? 55 ___ v. Wade 56 Former White House press secretary Fleischer 57 *Discover to be fibbing 62 Bee follower 63 Opposed (to) 64 Hobbling, say 65 Actors Burns and Wynn 66 Guardian Angels’ toppers 67 Event with booths DOWN 1 Hoover or Oreck, for short 2 German “I” 3 Noted 1964 convert to Islam 4 Susan of soaps 5 Character in a Beatles song 6 Wine: Prefix 7 They may be hard to find at a tearjerker
NOVEMBER 8, 2011 | PETER A. COLLINS, WILL SHORTZ
Jewel Bruce Springsteen
We are Gonna Be Friends Love Me Tender
Jack Johnson Norah Jones
Dancing in the Moonlight
Million Miles Hoppipola
Josh Garels Sigur Ros
Good Time Green Eyed Love
Brazilian Girls Classix Remix
Odessa Coffee Shop
Caribou Landon Pigg
I Love the Rain the Most Volcano
Joe Purdy Damien Rice
8 More loved 9 “___ Doone” 10 Knock off 11 Strand 12 Some acids 13Composer ___-Korsakov 18 Kit ___ (chocolate bars) 22 Metal supports in skyscrapers 23 Opportunity, metaphorically 24 ___-European 25 Sticky stuff 26 When repeated, a noted panda 27 Takeback, briefly 32 Break from responsibilities, informally 34 Sovereign lands...or what are hidden in the answers to the six starred clues 36 “Lovely” Beatles girl 37 Baseball Hall-of-Famer Speaker 38 Actor Baldwin 39 Creator of the G.O.P . elephant
40 The “Y” in Y.S.L. 42 Like a small farm, perhaps 44 France’s Élysée, for one 45 Hardened 46 Fairies 47 One getting lots of doubles and home runs, say 48 The Jewish people 51 It might be taken by a sailor 52 Author Zora ___ Hurston 57 Request inside (or outside?) a wine bar 58 Pres. when NATO was formed 59 Loosey-goosey 60 Mischief-maker 61 Fair-hiring inits.
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