There are no White Castles in my neighborhood – in fact, there aren’t any on my whole coast – but I am well aware that the fast food chain has some extremely loyal fans out there and the chain tries to do everything they can to satisfy their White Castle cravings. White Castle is known for their burgers, but one of the four original items on the menu when the first White Castle opened was coffee, and they have a loyal following for that among WC fans, as well. White Castle has been selling their ground coffee for a while now, but they just rolled out their own signature White Castle K-Cups so that fans can easily brew their own restaurant blend without having to leave the comfort of their own home – and with very little effort or cleanup. The only difference between using these and hitting the drive through is that you won’t have the opportunity to add burgers or other snacks to your order to go with your coffe.
The cups are being sold online and should also be available in grocery stores in areas where you’ll find White Castle locations.
Starbuck is usually perceived as the biggest threat to the “local coffee shop,” though there is plenty of competition out there that aims to capture your business for that first, morning cup of coffee. One company bas designed an app called CUPS that is designed to encourage local coffee shops to work together and offer consumers unlimited coffee for choosing them over one of the “big guys.” CUPS works by selling $45 monthly subscriptions that give consumers free, unlimited regular coffee (drip, pour-over or otherwise filtered) at one of their participating stores. It sounds like a good deal for consumers, since the only restriction is that you wait 30 minutes between cups, but it’s a little less clear as to whether it is a good deal for coffee shop operators.
The app pays the coffee shops for the coffee and keeps the change, if the total dollar amount is not used at the end of the month. It’s not clear how much the app pays the coffee shop per cup until that amount is used up, however, nor is it clear what happens after that price point is hit. The app offers or will offer other options for latte-type drinks and also pre-paid drink amounts.
Continue reading »
The most valuable part of the coffee plant are the coffee beans, but coffee beans don’t grow on trees ready to be picked and roasted. Coffee trees produce coffee cherries, a small fruit that contains the coffee beans. The coffee cherry is discarded after it has been processed to remove the bean and it is generally discarded. But there is one company that is trying to come up for a new use for those leftover cherries by turning them into coffee flour.
The gluten free Coffee Flour is made by drying and grinding up discarded coffee cherries, waste from the coffee bean harvesting process. It may sound like a stretch, but with the tremendous growth of the gluten-free flour market, there is actually a lot of potential for this unusual flour. Coffee flour contains 5 times more fiber than whole grain wheat flour, 84% less fat than coconut flour and three times more protein per gram than fresh kale. It is high in potassium and, like coffee, contains a bit of caffeine (although less than brewed coffee). It can be used in cooking and baking and, apparently, tastes more like roasted fruit than coffee. That’s certainly an interesting flavor profile for a flour and it could very well add a lot of complexity to baked goods. The flour is not yet commercially available, but it is being produced in Hawaii, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico and Vietnam, and should start showing up in products and on shelves sometime in 2015.
I was in Starbucks the other evening and the barista looked rather tired. I asked if he was feeling alright, and he said that he had been caught in a Frappuccino rush for the last hour and it was madness. It was an unusually cool April day in Los Angeles, but Frappuccinos never really go out of season here. In fact, Frappuccinos are one of the most ordered types of Starbucks drinks in Los Angeles in general.
The lovely map above (click to enlarge) shows the most popular Starbucks drinks from some major metropolitan areas across the country. The areas in blue all exhibit a distinct preference for cold beverages, whether blended or over ice, as they tend to have warm weather most of the year. The grey areas prefer hot drinks to cold ones. It’s interesting to see the trends, and I’d be even more interested to see more detailed maps with more specifics, too.