Chick-fil-a has become the latest fast food chain to upgrade their coffee offerings. The fast food chain has popular breakfast sandwiches, but was behind larger chains like McDonalds when it came to coffee options, and in an effort to boost their breakfast sales, they decided to partner with Thrive Farmers Coffee. Thrive is an Atlanta-based startup whose goal is not only to offer retailers better quality coffee, but to offer more revenue to the farmers who grow the beans. Instead of paying the farmers based on the wholesale price of the unprocessed beans, Thrive roasts the beans and sells them, then splits that higher profit with farmers. The payout model offers farmers 50% of the sales price for roasted beans and 75% for green beans that are sold to other coffee roasters.
The Chick-fil-A program has been in development in test stores for over a year, and the chain says that the new brew has boosted coffee sales by 35 percent. The announcement of a national roll-out is huge for Thrive, too. Up until now, the company’s largest account has been a regional Whole Foods-style store, and moving into 1,825 Chick-fil-a stores around the country means that up to 2 million people a day will see the Thrive’s logo.
Coffee drinking is easy, while coffee tasting is not. This infographic, which is part of a series called The Truth About Coffee from The Bold Italic, sums up the process pretty well. Coffee tasting, like wine tasting, is a skill that you can develop by drinking lots and lots of high quality product. But the key is that you need high quality coffees where the flavors of citrus, caramel and earthiness – to name just a few – really stand out, so that you can easily identify them and learn to find them in other types of coffee.
ShopSmart is a magazine put out by Consumer Reports that presents an easy-to-reference guide to your favorite products. They always have great content, but when they set out to identify the best mocha iced coffee drinks in a recent issue (Aug/Sept 2014), I skipped everything else in the magazine and went straight for that page. The tasters at the magazine reviewed 8 different options and picked out the top five. Their top pick was Starbucks Discoveries Caffe Mocha. I really enjoyed the caramel macchiato version of the Starbucks Discoveries line, so I’m not surprised that it took top billing. The tasters said that it was the closest to homemade (or cafe-made) iced mocah, with a “nice blend of coffee, milk and cocoa flavors, with a touch of sweetness.” Compared to individually bottled drinks, the Starbucks Discoveries drink was very reasonably priced (less than half of some of the bottled drinks, per serving), but the International Delight Iced Coffee Sweet & Creamy Mocha was a little bit less expensive and was awarded the best “Bargain Buy,” for price-conscious shoppers that are looking for a milder coffee drink.
The other top drinks included the classic bottled Starbucks Mocha, Frappuccino, which had a good balance of coffee and sweetness, with a mild chocolate flavor, and Illy Issimo Mochaccino, which has a stronger coffee note than some of the other options. Across the board, the tasters did not care for any of the “light” or nondairy coffee drinks (the nondairy drinks really should have their own taste test!), though the Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino Light was their top choice from that grouping.
Coffee and wine are two of the world’s most popular drinks, but they’re not often drunk together. Soon, however, the two drinks will meet in a new product from Friends Fun Wine, the Florida company known for their easy to drink canned wines: Coffee Wine. The canned drink comes in two flavors – Cabernet Coffee Espresso and Chardonnay Coffee Cappuccino – and their are two servings per can, which means that there is plenty to share with a friend if you decide to take a chance and give the drink a try with someone as daring as you are.
The press release states “The Cabernet Coffee Espresso features a rich flavor of cabernet grapes, espresso coffee and a hint of chocolate, while Chardonnay Coffee Cappuccino features sweet, refreshing Chardonnay grapes with vanilla cappuccino coffee and smooth hints of chocolate.”
To be honest, my initial thought is that this is a terrible idea. I don’t think that there is a big call for a product like this one from consumers looking to combine wine and coffee in the first place. But I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and give it a try if/when I see it in stores to see if it exceeds my expectations.