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Aug 28, 2014

Is a Pumpkin Spice Latte Dangerous?

A List of Un-Truths about the Pumpkin Spice Latte

An image has been circulating around social media, blogs and even some more traditional news outlets that presents a very alarmist picture of Starbucks’ popular fall drink, the Pumpkin Spice Latte. While most people are going to read through the captions on the image and realize that these claims don’t seem quite right, that didn’t stop thousands from simply sharing it and perpetuating the alarm. I can’t tell you how many times it popped up in my social media news feeds with comments like “Something to look out for!” and “Watch out!” The image comes from a woman who runs a blog called Food Babe, which is well know for fictionalizing claims and counting on the chemical illiteracy of her audience – not to mention the fact that many readers won’t get past the click-bait headline, let alone try to understand, the claims she is making – to build traffic and alarm over things that should not be that alarming.

The short answer is no, the pumpkin spice latte is not dangerous. It’s a sweet treat that isn’t going to kill you from a “toxic” dose of sugar or an FDA-approved food coloring. Snopes has a detailed breakdown of the bullet points in the graph that should quash any doubts that the PSL is anything but a seasonal treat that you don’t need to feel guilty about enjoying when it is in stores.

Aug 22, 2014

McDonalds to Sell Packaged Coffee at Grocery Stores

McDonalds to Sell Packaged Coffee at Grocery Stores

McDonalds is a popular morning spot for grabbing a quick cup of coffee when you’re on the go. Ever since they upgraded their coffee options a few years ago, the fast food chain has developed a loyal fan base for its java. It’s easy to hit the drive through on your way to work, but it isn’t as convenient on your days off. Fortunately for McCafe fans, Mcdonalds will roll out packaged coffee to grocery stores nationwide sometime next year. The offerings will include Premium Roast – their “house” blend – along with Premium Roast Decaf and a whole host of other flavors that aren’t offered at actual McCafe locations, such as Breakfast Blend, French Roast, Colombian, French Vanilla and Hazelnut. They will also be brewing up single-serving pods for Keurig brewers in their most popular flavors.

McCafe coffee has been sold in Canada since late 2012 and test US stores since the beginning of this year, so fans should keep an eye out for these in their local retailers over the next few months.

Aug 15, 2014

Chick-fil-a Upgrades Coffee, partners with Thrive

New Chick-fil-a Coffee

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.

Jul 20, 2014

Half the World Prefers Instant Coffee?

Regular coffee vs Instant Coffee Preferences - via Euromonitor

In the news, I’ve seen the headline boldly proclaiming that half the world prefers instant coffee┬áto regular coffee. Eastern and Western Europe combined drink 40% of the world’s instant coffee, with Eastern Europe consuming more than twice as much as Western. Australia and Asia account for most of the rest of instant coffee consumption. That sure sounds like the headlines are correct and that people are clammoring for instant coffee!

But what these headlines are omitting is that instant coffee has an almost indefinite shelf life and is significantly less expensive to buy than fresh coffee. Most of the places where instant coffee is “preferred” are places where there is not a huge, developed coffee culture and/or places where the cost of freshly brewed coffee puts it out of reach as a daily drink for those who are not affluent. American coffee drinkers are the least likely to opt for instant coffee, with an almost total (up to 90%) preference for fresh brewed. We have a strong coffee culture and as a result we have a basic expectation for how tasty and fresh our coffee should be (though even “fresh” coffee isn’t necessarily delicious coffee). It is likely that as coffee becomes even more popular globally, consumers in other areas will start to seek out more flavorful options than instant, too.

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