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FRESH CUP MAGAZINE [ 7
Contents J U N E 2 0 1 9 | VO L . 2 8 . N O. 6 | F R E S H C U P M AG A Z I N E
GREEN QUEEN HEMP
HIDDEN HOUSE COFFEE ROASTERS
THE GROTTO Café Crossroads
Drink of the Month
Behind the Bar
By Kayla Desroches
The Last Plastic Straw
By Steap Tea Bar
By Caitlin Peterkin
By Kristine Hansen
By Robin Roenker
Taiwan’s Influence on Tea Trends Taiwan has pioneered several specialty tea trends now popular across North America. But why does Taiwan have such an influence on beverage trends? And what’s the next one?
By Susan Johnston Taylor
Handcrafted Teaware Today, a growing number of ceramicists and tea houses, tea shops, cafés, and restaurants are pushing the boundaries by adding a curated dimension to tea service: handcrafted custom-made teaware.
By Anna Mariani
38 Third-Wave Tea with Liquid Gold Tea purveyor Corinne Trang pours mindfulness with each cup.
By Lindsey Danis
EDITOR’S LETTER, PAGE 9 | CONTRIBUTORS, PAGE 10 | SHOW SHOTS, PAGE 42 COUNTER INTELLIGENCE, PAGE 44 | CALENDAR, PAGE 46 | AD INDEX, PAGE 50
On the Cover: Jenny Zheng, Founder of Little Fluffy Head Café, photo by Senya Studio 8 ] JUNE 2019 » freshcup.com
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e’re halfway through 2019, and I feel as if we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s been happening in our industry over the last six months. Perhaps one of the most important topics that has emerged is that of identity, and how the coffee and tea community treats and responds to those who may be “othered”; while many are stepping up and taking action, there are still some out there who perpetuate the cycle, whether by not using someone’s chosen pronouns, refusing promotions or raises due to an employee’s race, or ignoring requests from nonable-bodied customers to create a more accessible space. I recently attended an event at Portland’s Nossa Familia Coffee, which was opened by reading the above Maya Angelou quote, that focused on body size diversity, equity, and inclusivity. Hearing from the panelists their experiences of discrimination because of how they look—because, heaven forbid, they take up space—made me think about just how much power we assume others have in defining us. For many of us, we are defined by our job. But for Corinne Trang, owner of Liquid Gold Tea (p. 38), nutrition counselor, chef, author, yogi, and meditation instructor, her identity is made up of the seamless blending of her passions. “It’s always funny to me how people perceive what I do as separate interests,” she says. “It is all related.” Meanwhile, some businesses are shaped directly by their surroundings, like Orange County’s Hidden House Coffee Roasters (p. 14), which takes its name from a historic house tucked away under a canopy of trees. Under owner Ben Briggs’ leadership, Hidden House has maintained its identity of a unique, welcoming oasis to all customers. And it is unsurprising that Nossa Familia hosted the aforementioned event. From accessibility to sustainability (p. 48), the company takes a holistic approach, recognizing that to be a welcoming, successful, and forward-thinking space in this day and age, every single element of your business must come together in demonstrating your mission and values. So many things shape our identities, but, as Trang says, they’re all related. I’m a daughter, a sister, a friend, a fiancée, a colleague who never fails to sing along to Cher or the Dixie Chicks in the office, and, as of nine months ago, a member of the coffee and tea community. I am proud to take up space in this world as an individual made up of many interconnected elements. And I encourage you not only to do so, but allow for others to do the same.
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CAITLIN PETERKIN, EDITOR
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Lindsey Danis is a Hudson Valley-based freelance writer who covers food, culture, LGBTQ, and travel. In this issue, she shares her first gong fu tea ceremony experience with Corinne Trang of Liquid Gold in New York (p. 38).
Based in Milwaukee, Kristine Hansen has covered coffee for the past 15 years for Fresh Cup as well as national lifestyle magazines. On every trip to Honolulu she makes sure to scout the best cafés and coffee roasters—turn to p. 22 to see her picks from her latest trip. This year, she published Wisconsin Cheese Cookbook: Creamy, Cheesy, Sweet, and Savory Recipes from the State’s Best Creameries (Globe Pequot Press), and, in 2006, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Coffee & Tea.
Kayla Desroches reports for Yellowstone Public Radio in Billings, Montana. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and stayed in the city for college. She interned at WNYC in New York City and KTOO in Juneau, Alaska, then spent a few years on the island of Kodiak, Alaska, where she transitioned from reporter to news director before moving to Montana. Read her profile of Billings’ newest hotspot, kombucha taproom The Grotto, on p. 18.
Full-time freelance writer Susan Johnston Taylor covers personal finance, entrepreneurship, and lifestyle topics for The Wall Street Journal, Daily Candy, Parade, Entrepreneur, Boston Globe, Fast Company, and The Atlantic. Learn about the rise of Taiwanese tea trends, and what’s next in specialty tea, on p. 26.
Anna Mariani is a tea blogger, content creator, recipe developer, writer, and photographer based in Los Angeles, California. In this issue, she covers the rising trend of handcrafted teaware (p. 32). She’s on a mission to transform tea into an approachable and fun experience. She loves tea and food pairings, and she’s fascinated by the great potential tea has in bringing people together and bridging cultures. Follow her blog “The Tea Squirrel” at www.teasquirrel.com.
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Lexington, Kentucky-based freelance writer Robin Roenker has extensive experience reporting on business trends, from cybersecurity to real estate, personal finance, and green living. For Fresh Cup, she covers sustainable and eco-friendly trends in cafés and the coffee industry in her regular column, The Last Plastic Straw, on p. 48.
Drink of the Month
Green Queen Hemp Created by Steap Tea Bar in San Francisco, California
ith the legalization of medicinal marijuana in California, we wanted to be the first tea bar to offer hemp as readily as we offer boba. Our Green Queen Hemp is the perfect example of our efforts to bridge Asian tea culture with cocktail culture. We paired the revitalizing and medicinal effects of CBD with the unadulterated caffeine from of our ceremonial grade matcha. If that isn’t enough, we incorporated the trendy Taiwanese cheese tea topping by making it with imported Italian mascarpone, local organic cream, and Sicilian sea salt for a delightfully decadent finish that incorporates sweet, salty, fatty, and acidic flavors into one sip. A hand-muddled matcha-mint lemonade that energizes the body, yet relaxes the mind. The iconic hemp leaf stencil on top will surely spice up your Insta-feed!
Ingredients 2 lemon slices 10 mint leaves 1 heaping tsp. of high-grade matcha 1.5 oz. honey simple syrup (equal parts water and honey)
In a 16-oz. cocktail shaker, add lemon and mint and muddle. Add hot water, matcha, and honey syrup. Fill to the
2 oz. of hot water
top with ice and top off with water.
Shake and strain into a glass filled with
Water CBD drops (15mg)
ice. Top with cream top and CBD drops (matcha powder hemp stencil optional). Enjoy and relax!
Cream Topping Whip cream mixed with mascarpone (1:1), sugar, and salt (to taste); thin out with milk.
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ILLUSTRATION BY JORDAN JOHNSON @DRAWNHUNGRY
Behind the Bar
THE CENTER BAR DESIGN was to create an atmosphere that enables conversation between the baristas and customers, and the customers with other customers. MAHLKONIG K30 grinders for espresso, and MAHLKONIG EK43 for batch brew.
PASTRIES are made fresh daily in-house.
CURRENTLY ON TAP: Fermensch Kombucha and house-made cold brew.
A CURTIS SERAPHIM for pour-over brewing.
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Coffee Roasters SANTA ANA, CALIFORNIA By Caitlin Peterkin
Hidden House roasts on a U.S. ROASTER CORP 18-kilo roaster.
A CURTIS G4 TWIN 1 GALLON BREWER for batch brewing.
Shots are pulled on a custom SYNESSO espresso machine.
CENTER BAR PHOTO BY STEFAN JUNIR, PASTRY PHOTO: INSTAGRAM @HIDDENHOUSECOFFEE
pening in March of 2017, Hidden House Coffee Roasters’ Santa Ana location builds upon owner Ben Briggs’ dreams of having a momand-pop café that caters to its community. Hidden House opened in its namesake location, a 120-year-old house tucked under a canopy of trees in the historic district of San Juan Capistrano, in 2010. Briggs has since seen many changes to his business, including the opening and closing of other locations, and the addition of “Roasters” to its name in 2013 with the installation of said equipment. But one thing that’s always been there is the owner’s commitment to a high-quality customer experience. “I have always wanted to create a space that people want to hang out in. Something warm, something that feels like our customers can belong too,” says Briggs. “With this store, we kept that in mind: creating a space [where] we can provide great coffee with a great experience.” The 2,400-square-foot APPLE CINNAMON SCONES warehouse space, which dates back to 1914, in downtown Santa Ana welcomes customers with its industrial-yet-warm aesthetics, which include brick walls, cheery greenery, and a roll-up garage door that leads out to a spacious back patio, while the center bar enables easy conversation between baristas and customers. An 18-kilo roaster and full-size kitchen ensure freshly roasted coffee and homemade pastries are ready to entice patrons at any given moment. “We picked this space for a couple reasons, but the main reasons were to find a space that we could incorporate all of the aspects that make Hidden House: roasting, coffee bar, and bakery,” says Briggs. “We also wanted a space that was unique and different than most retail places you see in Orange County.”
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Behind the Bar
Hidden House sources its coffee from companies including Caravela Coffee, Collaborative Coffee Source, and Bodhi Leaf Coffee Traders, as well as directly with producers. Along with coffee and espresso offerings, the café serves matcha lattes, tea, and kombucha and cold brew on tap. Soon, customers will even be able to take home growlers filled with Hidden House’s cold brew.
Fresh pastries are baked in-house daily; the extensive offerings include croissants, biscuits, muffins, bagel bombs, banana bread, cinnamon rolls, and more. Jack-o-lantern cupcakes, pumpkin pie, gingerbread men cookies, and other festive items make an appearance throughout the year as well.
AN AMERICAN FLAG proudly hangs over the door in homage to Briggs’ status as a Marine Corps veteran.
“We want to be able to provide excellent products,” says Briggs, “but overall provide an experience that makes our customers want to be here versus us needing them to be here.” FC HIDDEN HOUSE COFFEE ROASTERS 511 E Santa Ana Blvd. Santa Ana, CA 92701 714-972-4997
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www.hiddenhousecoffee.com Mon.–Fri., 6:30 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sat.–Sun., 7:30 a.m.–6 p.m.
PHOTOS: INSTAGRAM @HIDDENHOUSECOFFEE
This new Montana hotspot offers kombucha tea, clean ingredients, and vegan dining. By Kayla Desroches SPRING ROLLS
“grotto,” by definition, is a small cave, and there is indeed something about downtown Billings, Montana’s vegan, gluten-free kombucha bar that seems like a striking alcove from the outside world. The spacious, highceilinged, and modern interior features a long, purple-lit bar, gold metal seats and chairs, and a white couch. It’s a sleek, metropolitan space in a city full of breweries and bustling bars. The Grotto is a haven for diners with dietary restrictions or preferences in the meat-and-beer country of Central Montana.
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Montana is split into the trendier western half and the more rural eastern half, with Billings as the mid-point in more than just geography. The Grotto, which opened in December 2018, is one of many businesses that hope to see the city grow into more of a hotspot that attracts tourists. As Billings’ only kombucha bar, The Grotto offers a surprisingly diverse selection of flavors on tap, including combinations like lemongrass mint basil, ginger turmeric, and passion orange guava. The taproom provides bottles of its kombucha to go, as well as a monthly
subscription of 64-oz. growlers for the hardcore fans. While the business doesn’t serve alcohol, customers are just steps away from a boozy beverage. The Grotto is nestled in a large corner building directly across the hall from the also recently opened Asylum Distillery, which sells locally made moonshine. Grotto patrons can look through the glass at people drinking at the bar in Asylum, and vice versa. It’s not unheard of for some diners to pick up a tall glass of kombucha at The Grotto and bring it over for an intoxicating twist.
GOLDEN MILK LATTE + KOMBUCHA
While kombucha makes an excellent mixer, the taproom also caters to those with strong faith in kombucha’s healing properties. The Grotto’s most expensive offering is a $26 probiotic beverage, containing one trillion CFUs (colony-forming units), which the menu claims will “restore the microbiome you were born with, aid digestive health and rebalance gut flora.” The beverage menu comes from a place of passion. Twenty-eight-year-old co-owner Ashley Klaus, who shares the title with her younger sister, Katie, says she’s been drinking kombucha for years.
PHOTOS BY KAYLA DESROCHES
“Where most people have a coffee habit, I had a kombucha habit,” she says. “That was kind of where The Grotto started, is really that root of an obsession with kombucha.” The Grotto boasts a total of 15 rotating flavors on tap, all sourced from Valley Isle Kombucha in Hawaii. That’s where Klaus says she developed a fondness for this particular strain of kombucha, which she says is the best she’s ever tasted. She says the next step was getting her sister Katie to sample it too. “She was instantly sold after being very unconvinced...for quite a long time, but it was with that first taste,
that’s really kind of what solidified it for us,” says Klaus. “[We decided] that was not only something that we were going to carry, but that was actually all we were going to carry, because it was head and shoulders above everything else.” The Grotto is now the first and only location in the continental U.S. to offer Valley Isle Kombucha. Klaus’ kombucha habit is for more than just taste. She has celiac disease and various food allergies; when she was first introduced to kombucha, she noticed it helped her symptoms before she had even diagnosed her health issues.
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Kombucha tea is a fermented drink made up of yeast and bacteria. The resulting brew is probiotic, and some drink it for its antioxidant and antimicrobial features. Others use it to substitute sugary sodas or alcoholic beverages. However, as a cure-all for health issues, the scientific evidence has been inconclusive thus far.
KOMBUCHA FLOAT: cherry cola kombucha topped with Frozen Coconut’s non-dairy frozen dessert.
A South Korean academic study released last year indicates that kombucha could have been helpful in fighting non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in mice. A 2017 British report linked kombucha consumption to a 54-year-old asthmatic woman’s onset of lactic acidosis, which is overproduction of acid on a metabolic level. Human trials are limited, so it’s difficult to come to any conclusions. On the business side of things, kombucha tea is far from a sure bet—at least in certain parts of the country. Klaus says that while both kombucha and veganism are big in Western Montana cities like Missoula and Bozeman, some people in the Billings area were skeptical. “It’s in that vein of things, that people hear ‘healthy, vinegar, fermented tea’ and they also hear ‘vegan’ and they also think kale with a side of kale,” she says. The Grotto is not that. Billings diners may be accustomed to getting more food for their dollar, but food at The Grotto is thoughtful and well-presented. A fresh-made margherita pizza with a cashew-based ricotta substitute runs $24 and can either be an individual entrée or group appetizer. A Vietnamese spring roll plate features four squat rolls served with sprigs of fresh herbs and slices of pink watermelon radish. Other satisfying items on the menu are ceviche, caprese, and tartare—all with a vegan twist.
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GROTTO GOODIES: flight of kombucha, nitro cold brew coffee, cacao and hazelnut spread toast, and arugula and Thai basil salad.
The Klaus sisters are thinking about the next step. Ashley Klaus says people from other parts of Montana, and even outside of the state, have expressed interest in seeing The Grotto expand.
I’M YOUR HUCKLEBERRY: vegan huckleberry tart served with huckleberry kombucha.
“When we started this, we had no idea how impactful it was going to be. It was just something we really loved, and we wanted to share it,” says Klaus. “The outreach we’ve had has been incredible, so we feel really humbled and honored.” FC The Grotto 2223 Montana Avenue Billings, MT 406-969-2232
www.thegrottomt.com Sunday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; Mon.–Thur., 12–8 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
PHOTOS: INSTAGRAM @THEGROTTOMT
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Honolulu, Hawaii By Kristine Hansen
ocated within spitting distance of the U.S.’s most well-renowned and largestproducing coffee origin, Honolulu’s cafés have a unique edge in that they can easily source Kona or other Hawaii-harvested beans. Whether it’s a café within a glam Waikiki Beach resort or a casual locals’ spot in Diamond Head, the focus isn’t just on coffee. Decadent pastries and drinks folding in tropical ingredients, immersive programs for home brewers, and art galleries are all part of the cafés’ programming. Riffing off of the city’s Asian influences, with a nod to its Tiki-inspired mid-century past, a visit to one of these cafés aims to be immersed in Honolulu’s culture. From Olive & Oliver’s hipster café inside a popular hotel to an Aussie import’s Hawaii locale, here’s where to go for not only a great cup of coffee— or maybe a flat white—but also some design, travel, and art inspiration next time you’re in Honolulu.
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OLIVE & OLIVER 412 Lewers Street 808-921-2233 www.oliveandoliverhawaii.com Open daily 6 a.m.–7:30 p.m.
Tucked into an eclectic surf-wear store in Waikiki Beach’s ‘60s-inspired Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club is Olive & Oliver. Pineapple- and monsterapatterned to-go cups and a petal-pink La Marzocco espresso machine are popular Instagram shots. Located just off the hotel lobby, the café’s menu features classic drinks like lattes, as well as matcha and add-ins such as lavender and macadamia nut. That the pool is literally steps away also means cold-brew coffee is a popular order.
OLIVE & OLIVER PHOTOS: TOP TWO BY PSALMS THIRTY FOUR, BOTTOM PHOTO BY LEAH FLORES; ARS CAFE PHOTOS: INSTAGRAM @ARS.CAFE
ARS CAFE 3116 Monsarrat Avenue 808-734-7897 www.ars-cafe.com Monday–Saturday, 6:30 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.–6 p.m.
Ars Café at Diamond Head is a stroll back into the 1970s, with dangling greenery, wood paneling, and vinyl on constant play. Coffee that’s brewed falls into two camps: “local roast” (Kona or Maui) and “world coffee” (Kenya or Ethiopia). In addition to coffee, espresso drinks, and tea (including Royal Milk Tea), the handwritten menu features house-made gelato, sandwiches, and salads, plus four signature toasts (from avocado to chicken) and locally inspired pastries (like the avocado bread). Monthly art shows cater to Honolulu’s inspiring arts scene.
THE HIDEOUT 2299 Kuhio Avenue 808-628-3060 www.hideoutwaikiki.com Open daily 7 a.m.–2 p.m., 5 p.m.–10 p.m.
The Hideout, a rooftop bar and café that embraces mid-century modern design, is located in The Laylow, a Marriott Autograph Collection property, on Waikiki Beach. Stumptown Coffee Roasters beans are crafted into coffee and espresso drinks, while more-thanmuffins breakfast options include eggs benedict with Kauai prawns. Bright décor includes patterned floor tile, orange and white metal chairs on the sunny patio, and plenty of greenery.
THE HIDEOUT PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE HIDEOUT; BILLS HAWAII PHOTOS: INSTAGRAM @BILLSHAWAII; KONA COFFEE PURVEYORS PHOTOS COURTESY OF KONA COFFEE PURVEYORS
BILLS HAWAII 280 Beachwalk Avenue 808-922-1500 www.billshawaii.com Open daily 7 a.m.–9 p.m.
An offshoot of this Aussie restaurant brand, Bills Hawaii, owned by cookbook author Bill Granger, occupies a second-story perch in Waikiki Beach, surrounded by retail, which makes it a nice oasis. The space, which opened in 2014, is decorated with knotty pine vertical slats of wood, cane back chairs, and seafoam-green paint trim. Bills Hawaii offers all-day dining options and coffee harvested from the Big Island’s Ka’u region. Flat whites, naturally, are on the beverage menu, as are frappes, homemade sodas, and fresh-squeezed juices.
KONA COFFEE PURVEYORS 2330 Kalakaua Avenue 808-450-2364 www.konacoffeepurveyors.com Open daily 6 a.m.–10 p.m.
As the name suggests, this café in Waikiki Beach—open since 2016 on the street level of International Marketplace, with outdoor seating, marble countertops, pretty blue mugs, and funky floor tiles—brews Kona-grown beans. Co-owner Raymond Suiter, who sold Honolulu Coffee Company in 2008, roasts them at Kona Coffee Purveyors’ roastery. The café is also a haven for pastry fiends given that the goods—from kouign-amann (a Breton cake with flaky, buttery qualities) to French canelés and Kona coffee tarts are from James Beard Award-winning b. Patisserie, out of San Francisco, with Belinda Leong at the helm.
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ISLAND VINTAGE COFFEE Royal Hawaiian Center 2301 Kalakaua Avenue 808-926-5662 Open daily 6 a.m.–11 p.m. Ala Moana Center 1450 Ala Moana Boulevard 808-941-9300 Monday–Saturday, 8 a.m.–9 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.–7 p.m. www.islandvintagecoffee.com
KAI COFFEE HAWAII Downtown 207 S. King Street 808-537-3415 Monday–Friday, 6 a.m.–4 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.–12 p.m. Hyatt Regency Waikiki 2424 Kalakaua Avenue 808-923-1700 Open daily 5:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m. www.kaicoffeehawaii.com
Located inside Royal Hawaiian Center, as well as Ala Moana Center, both of which are in Waikiki Beach’s busy Kalakaua Avenue, Island Vintage also has locations on Maui, other areas of Oahu, and throughout Japan. Having a café on Kalakaua Avenue, which is heavily foot-trafficked, means catering to wandering travelers and ensuring that Kona coffee is always brewing (cue enticing aromas). The menu skews beyond coffee, featuring island favorites like poke bowls, sandwiches with Kalua pork or Kauai shrimp, and acai bowls for breakfast. One of Honolulu’s oldest coffee roasters, Island Vintage Coffee has been roasting Kona beans since 1996. FC
This family-run roaster owned by Natalie and Sam Suiter straddles café locations in downtown Honolulu on King Street and the resort area of Waikiki Beach (inside Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa), with a third location opened this past spring inside the Alohilani Resort. In Hawaiian, Kai translates to “sea” or “ocean;” dreamy blue walls, sky-blue coffee cups, and minimalist, modern décor drive the café’s design. Beans are sourced from Maui and Kona and roasted by Kai Coffee Hawaii. Sam Suiter got his start in the coffee world through Honolulu Coffee Co., a specialty coffee company and Kona coffee roaster with cafés in not only Hawaii but also Canada, Guam, and Japan, as its director of retail operations. Now, with his own boutique-oriented brand, he’s able to truly shape its success. KAI COFFEE HAWAII PHOTOS: INSTAGRAM @KAICOFFEEHAWAII; ISLAND VINTAGE COFFEE PHOTOS COURTESY OF ISLAND VINTAGE COFFEE
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MILK+T’S Feelin’ Salty: Caramel milk tea with a hint of sea salt, shaken to perfection with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
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irst, it was boba tea, a milk tea served with tapioca pearls. Then came cheese tea, a tea drink topped with a fluffy concoction of condensed milk and cheese foam or cheese cream. Similar to Australiaâ€™s influence on specialty coffee trends, Taiwan has pioneered several specialty tea trends now popular across North America. But why does Taiwan have such an influence on beverage trends? And whatâ€™s the next big one? We talked to several boba and cheese tea shop operators to find out.
PHOTO BY TOMMY TRINH
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Taiwanese Influence on Tea Trends
TERRY HUNG Co-owner, Tapio Charleston, South Carolina A child of Taiwanese immigrants, Hung used to visit Taiwan each year, and first tried boba at age 12 at his aunt’s boba tea stand. When he moved from New Jersey to South Carolina, he noticed that while boba tea was pretty popular in larger cities, Charleston didn’t have a boba shop. Hung and his wife decided to open Charleston’s first authentic boba shop in 2014, but at the time, they struggled to find a landlord who understood the boba tea concept. The couple eventually subleased a 400-square-foot space. “We used to sell about $50 in a whole day but now we’re not doing too badly,” says Hung. Their business has grown as the concept has taken off, and several other boba shops have opened in the area. “Every month we try to come up with new flavors based on my wife’s recipes,” says Hung. These have included butterbeer, spicy mango, and lychee rose milkshake. They’ve also added cheese tea, as well as Thai and Taiwanese street food such as popcorn chicken and Thai dumplings, the latter of which is available on weekends. Earlier this year, they introduced two new cheese tea drinks: boba brûlée, which uses a torch to crystalize the sugar, and Oreo cheesecake, which tastes like its namesake, according to Hung. “Once people try [cheese tea], they’re coming back for it, and we’re creating these other unique drinks,” he says. Hung adds that after they try several versions of a new drink concept in Taiwan, they’ll put their own spin on it. Hung’s prediction for the next tea trend hails not from Taiwan but Thailand. Galaxy tea uses the flower nam dok anchan (also called clitoria ternatea or butterfly pea) from Thailand to change colors when it reacts with lemonade or lemon juice. “When you look in a clear bottle it looks like a kaleidoscope made out of tea,” says Hung. “That’s something we will be doing soon.”
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PHOTO COURTESY OF TAPIO
Taiwanese Influence on Tea Trends
STACEY KWONG Co-founder, MILK+T Beaverton, OR, Las Vegas & Los Angeles Kwong grew up in San Gabriel, which she calls the boba capital of California, thanks in part to a large community of Asian Americans. “There are teahouses on every single corner; it’s almost like Starbucks,” she says. “I was always surrounded by that, and I wanted to build my own teahouse someday.” That day came in 2015, when she opened a selfserve boba truck. Now, MILK+T has brick-and-mortar locations in three states. However, boba tea wasn’t always as trendy as it is now. “When boba was first introduced to the States in the 1990s, a lot of people thought it was a phase,” says Kwong. “Eventually it grew past that and turned into almost like the coffee industry. Ever since Crazy Rich Asians came out, there’s more of a focus on minority groups. Maybe that’s why the boba industry is blooming.” Kwong points out that Asian countries not only influence tea, but also desserts. For instance, mochi, the Japanese sticky rice cake, and mochi ice cream are now available in many American supermarkets. Social media may have played a role in these trends. “Instagram definitely has a huge impact because people take photos and word of mouth spreads to everyone they know,” adds Kwong. Kwong predicts that galaxy tea or soft serve mixed with boba could be the next big thing. “I’ve seen it in Canada, and there are photos of it in Taiwan,” she says. “I think it’s only a matter of time before someone [in the U.S.] gets soft serve and puts boba on it.”
PIGLET: Ice-cold coconut milk blended with handcrafted strawberry syrup at MILK+T.
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FLUFFY MILK TEA: A rainbow of flavor topped with cheese cream.
JENNY ZHENG Founder, Little Fluffy Head Café Los Angeles, California Zheng points out that while cheese tea may have originated in Taiwan, it attracted attention after becoming popular in mainland China around 2015. “I think China and Taiwan are so similar, they are influencing each other in a way,” she explains. After trying cheese tea while visiting Shenzhen, China, Zheng became one of the first to open a cheese tea shop in the U.S. in 2017. Zheng says the novelty and surprise factor of cheese tea has contributed to its popularity. “It’s not what you think it is,” she says. “It looks like a regular tea latte.” When you drink it, though, you discover that it has a richer, creamier texture than a regular tea latte and a subtle saltiness. Immigration has a lot to do with the import of Asian drink trends, according to Zheng. “A huge group of Taiwanese immigrants migrated to the United States and they bring with them this drink culture,” she says. “I think that plays a big part in influencing the beverage culture in the United States.” Her pick for the next beverage trend? Brown sugar iced milk. The Taiwanese drink is popular with the Asian community in San Gabriel Valley, but because it uses whole milk, Zheng admits that the recipe would need to be adapted to appeal to mainstream American consumers. “The current trend is being healthy and drinking almond milk or oat milk, so this goes against that trend,” she says.
MILK+T DRINK PHOTO BY TOMMY TRINH; LITTLE FLUFFY HEAD TEA PHOTO: INSTAGRAM @LITTLEFLUFFYHEAD
VINCE SHI Co-owner, Atulea Seattle, Washington After trying cheese tea in his homeland of China, Shi opened Atulea in Seattle last fall. He says cheese tea’s unusual texture gives it an appeal similar to boba. “It’s [a] very complex taste because you have two layers: one tea layer and one cheese layer,” he says. “The cheese kind of melts in your mouth. It tastes a little bit sour, a little bit sweet, a little bit salty, which really makes a good drink.”
ATULEA: Enjoy a cheese tea at this bright and welcoming café (above, right) in Seattle.
Once customers try cheese tea, many return for more. “I have some regulars [who] drink cheese tea every single day,” says Shi. He sees matcha as the next big beverage trend thanks to its purported health benefits. The green tea powder originated in China, but is also popular in Japan. Atulea serves a dirty matcha with espresso, as well as matcha lattes with ingredients such as pineapple puree, white chocolate, or turmeric. With many concerned, healthconscious Americans, he believes a lower-calorie bubble tea could also prove popular stateside. FC
PHOTOS COURTESY OF ATULEA
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MATCH STONEWARE’S crackle teacup and serving pitcher at Destroyer in Culver City, California.
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A rising trend to watch Story and photos by Anna Mariani
ny discerning tea lover will put as much careful thought into the choice of teaware their tea is prepared and served in as they do into the tea itself. Historically, handmade pottery and tea have always gone hand in hand, regardless of the geographical area or culture, so much so that many tea lovers are also pottery collectors. Today, a growing number of ceramicists and tea houses, tea shops, cafĂŠs, and restaurants are pushing the boundaries by adding a curated dimension to tea service: handcrafted custom-made teaware. Specialty tea, similar to craft coffee, is all about the experience. Would you drink a small-batch, high-quality tea that shows craftsmanship and a complex flavor profile out of a paper cup? Neither would I.
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Elevating the Tea Experience Stonemill Matcha in San Francisco focuses on premium matcha. Stonemill Matcha has two separate counters, one for matcha-based drinks, like tea lattes, and a second one, which is dubbed “the slow bar,” for hand-whisked ceremonial-style matcha served in handcrafted chawans (matcha bowls). “We visually and conceptually separated the two ways of serving tea. We wanted to make the tea ceremony more accessible without it being intimidating,” says Keiichiro Yoshikawa, Stonemill Matcha tea master. “For hand-whisked tea we use bowls handcrafted by local artists, which we have to hand wash. A handcrafted bowl is more fragile than a mass-produced one, but when you actually touch it, you can feel how precious and how important it is. It’s part of the experience. STONEMILL MATCHA TEA MASTER Keiichiro Yoshikawa prepares a bowl of matcha.
“In Japanese we say, ‘Ichi-go Ichi-e,’” he adds. “Enjoy the present moment because there’s not going to be another one like it ever again. The artists are making this one bowl and the next one will be different and our customers, our guests feel that. The uniqueness of the experience is what matters the most, especially for hand-whisked matcha.”
Form & Function One of the artists who custom-made tea bowls for Stonemill Matcha is Mitsuko Siegrist, owner of Bay Area-based Tsuchikara Pottery.
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“I grew up in Japan and my hometown is close to the pottery village of Bizen, famous for its unglazed, high-fired pottery. Naturally, I grew up surrounded by a lot of pottery,” says Siegrist. “Our culture is like that and tea is a daily staple.” But it wasn’t until she moved to California that she had the opportunity to pursue her passion: creating pottery. “I started my Japanese tea ceremony practice at the same time as pottery,” she says. “I learned a lot from tea ceremony and not only about creating teaware. Tea is not just a drink, it really connects people. In tea ceremony we do traditional Japanese kaiseki cooking and that opened my ceramics to dinnerware too.” Her teaware, coffeeware, and tableware grace the tables of acclaimed restaurants in the Bay Area, including SingleThread in Healdsburg, 3rd Cousin in San Francisco, and Bartavelle Coffee & Wine Bar in Berkeley. Making teaware for a café or a restaurant is different than for retail or a private customer, and it requires finding a compromise between form and function. “I like thinner teaware but if it’s for a restaurant or a café, especially in a self-service environment, it would break very easily, so I have to compromise and make it thicker,” says Siegrist. “I can’t just make a teacup with thicker walls, though, I also have to make the design work, and that’s a challenge.” That was the case at Pinhole Coffee, a craft coffee shop in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood. They serve a selection of Red Blossom Tea Company teas in sleek glass teapots and Siegrist’s handcrafted cups on rectangular bamboo trays. More insight on achieving balance between form and function comes from Match Stoneware in Culver City, California. Their handcrafted teaware, as well as their coffeeware and tableware, can be found at Destroyer, a café and daytime spot in Culver City. Destroyer serves high-quality loose-leaf tea by San Francisco-based Song Tea & Ceramics, brewed by the barista in a glass teapot behind the counter and served in Match Stoneware’s crackle teacup and serving pitcher. “We’re daring. If we think it’s crazy, we’re going to do it anyway. That’s our philosophy, that’s what pushes us every day. But that’s the challenge: How do we still make it functional? Because at the end of the day, it’s a drinking vessel,” says a Match Stoneware ceramicist. “The other thing is, every tea is different. How do you find a shape that’s universal for all the types of tea at Destroyer? It had to be simple.” Unexpectedly, more handcrafted matcha bowls were waiting to be discovered at the Match Stoneware studio. They had a dedicated installation called “99 Matcha Bowls” and recurring matcha whisking workshops held by Alissa White of Matcha Source.
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“The participants picked a matcha bowl and learned to use it in their tea practice. They are all unique and one-off because every tea drinker is different, everyone has their preferences and gravitates towards something different,” the ceramicist continues. “That’s why we made the matcha bowls all different. We put our own untraditional flare on some of them but with still some of the aesthetics like the high feet, the rounded lip, the squatty feel to it so that you can get the whisk in there, but we try to push it. It’s not a traditional matcha bowl but it has the functions that are necessary to whisking and drinking tea.”
Working with Ceramicists
MATCHA BOWLS at the Match Stoneware Studio in Culver City, California.
Peter Luong, owner of Song Tea & Ceramics in San Francisco, curates the company’s teaware collection by collaborating directly with artists from Taiwan, China, and the United States. “We usually begin with understanding a ceramicist’s work, looking at any available pieces to get a feel for their style and their aesthetic,” he says. “If that aesthetic matches, we begin looking at whether the artist has a sense for the peculiar technical challenges of ceramics of tea service. We then proceed to either select pieces that the ceramicist already has in their repertoire or—more often the case—work with the ceramicist to develop pieces that are unique to Song. We also try not to skew too far away from their innate ability and style, but do offer inspirational suggestions.” The importance of giving the artists as much freedom of creativity as possible is further highlighted by Mikiko Yui, pastry chef at Stonemill Matcha. “We usually go to their studio and pick what we like,” says Yui. “We don’t want to tell artists specifically what we want. As an artist, it’s nice to have freedom of creativity. We give them a vague idea in terms of style and a color palette and we let them create whatever they want to do.”
Private Commissions Drawing from her fashion design background, Tina Huang of Los Angeles-
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TEACUP by ceramicist Mitsuko Siegrist at Pinhole Coffee in San Francisco.
based Ren Vois Ceramic Design Studio, creates unique ceramics in captivating pastel colors. “I do something different—I actually hand-mix colors into the porcelain clay myself before I throw it on the pottery wheel,” she explains. “Then I use a clear glaze, so the color still shines through. When you use regular glaze, it covers up the color.” Two high-end restaurant experiences in Europe, Noma (Denmark) and The Clove Club (England), inspired Huang to become a ceramicist. “Those were the first time I noticed the ceramics the food was coming on,” she says. “I had a moment where I thought to myself, ‘This is so amazing, it’s elevating my experience and it’s making my food look so beautiful!’ That’s how I got interested in ceramics in the first place.” While her main focus is tableware, she has been commissioned by professionals in the tea industry (this writer included) for designs such as custom-made spouted matcha bowls. Could the rising popularity of handcrafted teaware be a reflection of what, for the past few years, has become an essential part of the restaurant experience: the now ubiquitous custom-made tableware? Maybe. Ceramicists and tea industry professionals have been rediscovering handmade teaware and re-inventing it in tune with more current aesthetic principles by pushing the creative boundaries—without losing functionality. Certainly, preparing and serving premium tea in handcrafted teaware, whether at home or in food service, shows respect and appreciation for the artisans who produce tea leaves and teaware, while delivering a unique experience. FC
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AN OOLONG, Wenshan Baozhong, steeping in a kyusu teapot made by Qi Pottery.
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t goes from water to tea, then back to water,” says chef and tea purveyor Corinne Trang as she pours the first infusion of a Nepalese white tea from Liquid Gold, her new tea company. The flavor is subtle, and I have to concentrate to pick out floral notes in this Bai Mu Dan, or “white peony,” style tea. Trang brews tea using the gong fu method, a Chinese tea ceremony in which the leaves are subject to a series of brief steeps. “The steeps are seconds long,” notes Trang, “[which] results in a number of delicate and robust flavor characteristics.” On a second infusion, which is darker in color, the tea’s flavor starts to shine through. The Nepalese Bai Mu Dan is sweet and floral, with a layer of tannic notes underneath. The third steep, says Trang, is where you PHOTO: INSTAGRAM @LIQUIDGOLDTEA
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Third-Wave Tea with Liquid Gold
really start to appreciate the tea’s flavor and color. Each steep brings a new note to consider, and each cup of tea connects me to the present moment.
BAI MU DAN “white peony” style tea.
After three steeps of the white peony tea, Trang selects a white tea called Jade Earrings, which is from Simao in China’s Yunnan Province. Trang works through the gong fu brewing ritual— “precise choreographed movements to maximize both flavor and enjoyment of each sip”— rinsing our cups, heating the water to the exact temperature, measuring out the tea, and steeping it. Before serving, the tea is decanted into a fairness pitcher, which ensures every guest gets the same concentration of tea. Trang, who is also a meditation instructor, uses tea to focus one’s mind on the present moment. Thus, she draws my attention to the delicate roll of the Jade Earrings, which resemble small hoops. As the tea steeps, the leaves lose their curl. “Watching beautiful whole leaves unfurl before my eyes is as important to me as the quality of the [tea] and the effect it has on both body and mind,” says Trang. As Trang suggests, I cradle the small porcelain cup in my hand and slurp the liquid. Slurping helps cool down the tea, and it also aerates the palate, which allows tea enthusiasts to pick up on more flavor notes. The Jade Earrings tea is delicate, with a malty and dry flavor. The sweetness of the white peony is gone. I’d thought of white teas as bland and flavorless, but it turns out I’d never had a proper cup.
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JADE EARRINGS is a meticulously handrolled white tea.
Turning Back to Tea Our tasting is one of three private tastings Trang has arranged for the day. Tastings are held in her private tea room, which is a study in simplicity. Buddhas and miniature snail figurines—“tea pets,” Trang informs me—rest on wall shelves. A wooden table holds porcelain tea cups, gaiwans or lidded brewing cups, and other accessories used in gong fu. Teas are stored in canisters, which protect from light and humidity. Most of Trang’s tea guests are New York City residents (Trang recently moved upstate full-time), while others are nutrition counseling clients who are interested in using tea for its healing properties. Though most tastings take place at her private tea room, she also hosts tea tastings and Asian cooking classes at bluecashew, an upscale kitchen store in Kingston, New York. “I’ve done tastings for five hours,” says Trang, adding that, in long tastings, snacks are offered along the way.
Since tea is acidic, she explains, you don’t want to consume too much on an empty stomach. The theanine in tea is similar to caffeine, but it doesn’t affect the body the same way caffeine does. That’s what sparked Trang’s interest in tea. Trang, a coffee drinker, noticed her morning buzz began to cause unpleasant side effects. “Coffee [started to give] me the shakes and headaches to the point where it became unbearable,” she explains. Searching for a beverage that would give her energy without the jitters, she turned—or rather, turned back—to tea. “Being half Chinese, I grew up drinking tea,” she says. “It’s always been part of my life. We drank it at home and when visiting friends and family.” Trang recalled the soothing effects of drinking tea, but the calm, grounding energy it provided came as a surprise. She credits the gong fu method with providing a sustained energy release. When tea is brewed in the gong fu style, theanine releases over a series of infusions. The slow release causes the body to absorb theanine gently for sustained, all-day energy and focus without the crash of coffee. In contrast, an English-style infusion, which can run five minutes, often creates a bitter brew that concentrates the theanine into one cup of tea. Casual enjoyment of tea turned into study, and eventually Trang says she “became obsessed with the beverage.” Liquid Gold rose out of this obsession. Explaining its name, she says, “In Asian culture there is no greater show of respect, no greater gift than tea. Summed up, tea is like gold. It’s precious.”
Cultivating Connections On her culinary travels throughout Asia, Trang had often visited tea plantations and met with culinary professionals from across the continent. She’d even written about tea culture in one of her nine books, Essentials of Asian Cuisine. This exposure gave her an advantage: she knew the breadth of what was out there from personal experience. She
PHOTOS: INSTAGRAM @LIQUIDGOLDTEA
PU-ERH cakes and a prepared cup.
had cultivated connections with tea professionals, which was easy to do because “the world of tea is relatively small” and tea enthusiasts soon become acquainted. And she knew what she didn’t like: blended teas. With Liquid Gold, Trang buys high-quality whole leaf teas direct from the source. “I never buy tea from mass distributors where the emphasis is more on the bottom line than on quality,” she says. “I source newly harvested teas from farmers in China, particularly in Fujian and Guangdong. These farmers have had their tea farms for several generations and that is important to me because I love continuity paired with a good story.” For aged and vintage teas, she works with tea experts who “have been in the business for a long time…[and] enjoy tea as a beverage and a way of life rather than a commodity.” To select most of her teas, she solicits samples, more often than not “video conferencing with a tea farmer
in broken Mandarin,” she says. Out of dozens of samples, only a handful make the cut. Trang keeps her line small on purpose, preferring quality over quantity. “Some of my teas are sourced from trees that are around 150 years old,” she says. “Some grow wild.” In either case, what makes a great tea is the same: terroir and processing technique. A good tea should make a “clear soup” (or cup of tea) and provide a long finish on the palette, so appreciators can examine its flavor. “I want each sip to linger for a while,” she says. Like a good wine, a fine tea should display a balanced aroma, mouthfeel, and flavor. While Trang’s preference for balance means she shies away from blends, including jasmine, Liquid Gold does offer an unusual Lapsang Souchong. The traditional smoky tea has no subtlety. “I cannot taste the leaves,” says Trang. “It’s pure smoke.” After tasting smoked and unsmoked versions, she gravitated toward a wild unsmoked Lapsang Souchong. “I can taste the leaves and the smokiness is just a subtle backnote. It makes a huge difference,” she explains. “It tastes like a fine Cognac.” At present, Trang is planning a trip to Fujian’s Wuyi Mountains and Guangdong’s Phoenix Mountain, where she will visit some of the tea farmers she buys from—and perhaps bring home some new surprises. Several of her tea students will go along, eager to deepen their appreciation of the leaf with tearelated travels.
Upending Expectations For my last cup, Trang pulls out a 2009 Tuo Cha, which is a fermented cooked pu-erh cake from Yunnan, China. It will be my first time trying pu-erh, I tell her. I’d avoided the style of tea, believing it would be too earthy for my tastes. Once again, Trang’s pick upends my expectations. The pu-erh is the color of burnt caramel, with a taste that’s sweet and malty. The tea dances
PU-ERH PHOTOS: INSTAGRAM @LIQUIDGOLDTEA; CORINNE TRANG PHOTO COURTESY OF CORINNE TRANG
CORINNE TRANG teacher, author, chef, yoga instructor, and founder of Liquid Gold Tea.
across my tongue. I slurp a second cup, intrigued. The Tuo Cha doesn’t taste earthy because it’s a different type of pu-erh, she tells me. As she discusses the characteristics of pu-erh, I’m struck by her passion for education and by the balance she’s sustained among her own interests—chef, nutrition counselor, cookbook writer, yogi, meditation instructor, and now tea shop owner. “It’s always funny to me how people perceive what I do as separate interests,” she tells me. “Everything that I do comes together seamlessly. It is all related.” As we wrap up, she leaves the pots of tea for another tasting. She’ll use the same tea leaves anywhere from five to over fifteen times, stopping when all of the energy and flavor in the tea leaves have been released. It’s mindfulness again: savoring the experience of the tea, noticing the qualities present in each infusion, then letting go of the experience when tea turns back to water. “Tea is a journey, a meditation,” says Trang. “I contemplate the leaves from start to finish with every steep.” FC
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SPECIALTY COFFEE EXPO 2019
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No Toil & Trouble Here, Folks Micom Water Boiler & Warmer CD-WHC40 Zojirushi www.zojirushi.com This four-liter capacity Micom Water Boiler & Warmer is a portable water boiler that keeps water warm at a specific temperature as long as the unit is plugged in. The interior is made of rust-resistant stainless steel. Four “keep warm” temperature settings (160°F, 175°F, 195°F, 208°F) allow you to brew anything from green tea to French press coffee to perfection. The optional Quick Temp mode reaches selected keep warm temperature directly without first having to reach a boil, saving time and energy while reducing steam. Also equipped with safety auto-shut-off feature to prevent boil dry.
Melt-in-your-mouth Luxury, With a Side of Hygge Lakrids C: Coffee Kieni Lakrids by Bülow www.lakridsbybulow.com
For a connoisseur, good coffee tends to be part of everyday life. Danish confectionary icon Lakrids by Bülow, which recently celebrated its formal entry into the U.S. market, has teamed up with The Coffee Collective, a brand focused on delivering exceptional coffee experiences while providing better living conditions for coffee farmers across the world, to create Lakrids C: Coffee Kieni. Lakrids C is a sweet licorice coated in a blend of smooth milk chocolate and Coffee Collective’s coffee beans from the small Kenyan community, Kieni. To ensure the unique product quality, Lakrids by Bülow receives the freshly roasted coffee at their factory just prior to the licorice production.
Traditional Meets Trending at a TimeHonored Event
Fresh businesses & products
HOST Milano Host2019 www.host.fieramilano.it The coffee universe is continuously evolving worldwide. New frontiers of speciality coffee and of alternative brewing methods, such as cold brew, nitro, and coffee cocktails, are gaining popularity in Italy, alongside the immortal espresso, and visitors to HOST Milano, October 18–22, will be invited to discover them all. With four months to go before opening, the leading event in the Hotel/Restaurant/Café sector can already count on the presence of 50 countries represented by over 1,600 companies. The world of coffee and of its many expressions is preparing to be the star in the booths of FieraMilano, attracting all the most important companies of the sector and hosting a packed calendar of events, contests, and training activities designed to offer the most complete global overview on trends and characteristics of specialty coffee. Pre-registration is available now until June 30.
“Before the Cream Sits Out Too Long” iSi Nitro Whip Barista Pro Shop www.baristaproshop.com Known for its smooth texture, frothy head, and stunning cascading effect, nitro brew is one of the fastest-growing trends in coffee today. Now with the new iSi Nitro Whip, it’s possible to easily create velvety nitro coffee, tea, and cocktails without a tap system. Simply fill the Nitro Whip canister, charge with one iSi Nitro Charger, shake, and dispense. The iSi Nitro Whip employs a closed system that keeps brew uncharged until dispensed allowing brew to be stored and later dispensed fresh for every serving. Create unique, attractive and personal signatures beverages with this handy system. Find the iSi Nitro Whip system at BPS today.
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Trade Show & Events Calendar JUNE 6
4C GLOBAL SUSTAINABILITY CONFERENCE
WORLD OF COFFEE
WORLD LATTE ART CHAMPIONSHIP
WORLD TEA EXPO
Berlin Germany worldofcoffee.org
Las Vegas, NV
LET’S TALK COFFEE
SUMMER FANCY FOOD SHOW
MALAYSIA COFFEE FEST
LATIN AMERICA COFFEE SUMMIT
New York City, NY
Petaling Jaya Malaysia
Mexico City Mexico
HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL TEA FAIR
SEASIA CAFE EXPO
Los Angeles, CA
WESTERN FOODSERVICE & HOSPITALITY EXPO
Los Angeles, CA
AUGUST 30-SEPT. 1
EXPO CAFE MEXICO
CAFE SHOW CHINA
MIDWEST TEA FESTIVAL
Mexico City Mexico
Kansas City, MO
cafeshow.cn/ huagang/hgcoffceen/ index.htm
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GOLDEN BEAN Nashville, TN
NATURAL PRODUCTS EXPO EAST
CANADIAN COFFEE & TEA SHOW
FLORIDA RESTAURANT & LODGING SHOW
TEA & COFFEE WORLD CONFERENCE
CHINA XIAMEN INTERNATIONAL TEA FAIR
Milan Italy host.fieramilano.it
KONA COFFEE CULTURE FESTIVAL
WORLD COFFEE LEADERS FORUM
CAFE SHOW SEOUL
LOS ANGELES COFFEE FESTIVAL
SINTERCAFE San Jose Costa Rica
Los Angeles, CA
London United Kingdom
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The Last Plastic Straw NOSSA FAMILIA provides single-use straws and sleeves only upon request, and sells reusable straws (opposite left). If customers want a to-go cup, it will cost them a quarter, but those who bring their own mug will save a little extra (opposite right).
Embracing Sustainability BY ROBIN ROENKER
t Portland, Oregon’s Nossa Familia Coffee, sustainability is a central tenet of the café’s culture—and it has been from day one. Founded in 2004 by Brazilian native Augusto Carneiro, whose family has grown coffee for generations, Nossa Familia became the first Certified B Corporation roaster in Oregon in 2016, a designation given only to “purposedriven” businesses that can illustrate the positive impact of their operations, products, and services. “Our approach to stainability really stems from the vision of our owner,” says Karen Lickteig, Nossa Familia’s director of marketing and sustainability. “His family has been growing coffee
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since the 1890s, and so for us, sustainability is not just a marketing term. It’s about treating the land right, treating growers right, supporting the supply chain, protecting the environment— it’s a holistic view that recognizes the ways that all those things are wrapped up together.”
Pursuit of Zero Waste Nossa Familia’s commitment to environmental sustainability is evident in its daily operations, whether it’s making stainless, silicone, and bamboo straws available to customers, offering plant-based milks, which have a lower carbon footprint than dairy, or providing certain disposable items, like coffee sleeves, only upon request.
The café’s pursuit of zero-waste status was one driving factor behind its new 25-cent cup charge for all to-go cups, which it began implementing at each of its three Portland locations in late April. The cup charge had been launched initially at the café’s newest location, Seven Corners, last August as a sort of test case. The results were dramatic: While 80% of customers at Nossa Familia’s Pearl District location and 52% at its Central Eastside location typically got their drinks to go, the 25-cent upcharge at Seven Corners resulted in only 31% of customers ordering drinks to go in a disposable cup, with the majority of customers (52%) opting to enjoy their drink in house.
What’s more, after the upcharge at Seven Corners was enacted, 17% of Nossa Familia’s customers there began to bring in their own cups—more than triple the rate of their other two locations. “We had already been giving a discount for bringing in your own cup—we’ve done that since day one— but we felt this new charge would be more effective in changing behavior,” says Lickteig. “Theories of behavioral economics tell us that people feel a loss of 25 cents twice as strongly as they feel a gain of 25 cents.” With the café’s new pricing strategy—a standard menu price for drinking in house using one of Nossa Familia’s own reusable cups, 25 cents more for
PHOTOS COURTESY OF NOSSA FAMILIA COFFEE
a disposable to-go cup, or 25 cents less if you bring your own—customers who choose to bring their own to-go mugs essentially feel as if they’re saving 50 cents per cup over what it would cost them to get their coffee to go in a single-use cup. “The response has been very positive,” says Lickteig. “We were getting five-star reviews on Yelp and Google from people, specifically noting their appreciation of what we were doing at Seven Corners to try to cut down on waste.” Nossa Familia has also recently launched Little Free Cup Libraries at each of its Portland cafés, which encourage customers to take a cup/leave a cup, adopting the model from the
Little Free Libraries that are prevalent throughout the country. Lickteig believes Nossa Familia is one of the first businesses in Portland to charge for to-go cups. It was a bold move—but one that’s paying off. “We want our pricing to reward people who are choosing actions that are more sustainable,” says Lickteig. “And the money from the cup charge actually goes into a separate pool, which we plan to use to purchase carbon offsets to help us achieve our goal of becoming carbon neutral in the café.” FC Read more about Nossa Familia’s sustainability efforts, including a thoughtful analysis of the reasonings behind its new cup charge, at www.nossacoffee.com/blog.
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To view our advertiser list and visit the websites listed below, go to freshcup.com/resources/fresh-cup-advertisers
Barista Pro Shop
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Tea Trade Show
Theta Ridge Coffee
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