TIME Food & Drink

Why You Should Order a Latte Instead of Coffee

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New research explains why regular coffee may not be the best choice for commuters

Whether you’re carrying your cuppa from the coffee maker to the kitchen table or toting it along for your commute, your morning pick-me-up isn’t likely to make the journey without a few small spills. Turns out, though, your bleary-eyed, non-caffeinated self may not be totally to blame. New research, published in the journal Physics of Fluids, suggests that regular liquid is more prone to spilling than that with a little foam on top. Adding a few layers of bubbles—like the layer of milk foam in a latte—seems to significantly minimize the sloshing motion of liquid.

After a team of researchers from Princeton noticed a few real-world scenarios in which foamy liquids appeared to spill less—a pint of Guinness, which is a very foamy beer, for instance, seemed less prone to spills than other pub favorites and a Starbucks latte didn’t need a lid stopper to keep it from splashing—they resolved to find out why.

The scientists first constructed a narrow rectangular container made of glass, and filled it with water, glycerol (a substance that keeps fluid thick), and dishwashing detergent to create a uniform layer of bubbles to test. The container was then subjected to two types of movement—a quick side-to-side wave and a steady rocking back and forth—and the subsequent motion was recorded with a high-speed camera. The results showed that just five layers of foam decreased the height of the fluid’s waves tenfold.

Beyond informing your coffee or beer order, researchers say the findings may help engineers develop affordable and easy ways to transport liquids, including hazardous fluids like oil and gas. In the meantime, though, don’t let the findings justify too many latte orders: a small one will set you back about 120 calories, and plain coffee has plenty of health benefits—spills aside.

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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TIME Food & Drink

Global Coffee Consumption Projected to Soar Over Next Five Years

MakiEni—Flickr/Getty Images
MakiEni—Flickr/Getty Images

Populous nations like India and China are increasingly becoming fans of coffee

As more of the world turns to coffee, demand for the beverage will increase by nearly 25% over the coming five years, according to the International Coffee Organization (ICO).

“Consumption is increasing as societies in India, China and Latin America continue to be Westernized,” the ICO’s executive director Roberio Silva told the Wall Street Journal.

Currently, consumer intake of coffee stands at 141.6 million bags of beans; but by 2020, coffee demand is slated to rise to 175.8 million bags (each weighs approximately 132 lb.).

The high demand coincides with a period of tight coffee supplies globally and currency fluctuations in Brazil. Last year’s high prices were partly precipitated by a drought in the South American nation, currently the world’s largest coffee grower.

Global coffee production has been cut by 5.7 million bags this crop year because of the Brazilian drought, bad weather and a Central American plant fungus.

Other coffee growers like Vietnam, India and Indonesia are not expected to produce enough coffee to ensure a market stabilization next year.

[WSJ]

TIME Starbucks

Howard Schultz Has a Radical Plan for Starbucks—And America

Photograph by Ian Allen for TIME

The outspoken Starbucks CEO tells TIME about his plans to transform his business

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has big plans for the future of his coffee empire. In a new cover story, the 61-year-old executive gives TIME’s Rana Foroohar a preview of the company’s transformation, much of it designed to cope with a rapidly changing American middle class. In a wide-ranging, exclusive interview Schultz describes the firm’s strategy to move up market, delving into the personal history that has shaped his beliefs on issues ranging from the working poor to race relations.

Just as fashion brands have haute ­couture and mass-market lines, Starbucks this year will start opening a series of luxury Reserve stores, where customers can get a more rarefied and expensive assortment of coffee. (Some may experiment with selling wine.) Expect many more specialized formats designed for specific places, like express stores coming to New York City or mobile trucks currently on college campuses. Over the next five years, Schultz will be busy retooling the Starbucks experience, in large part by experimenting with ways to draw in ever-more-fickle ­consumers.

To read the full story, please subscribe to TIME. More from the story:

On whether he will run for President in 2016, Schultz insists to TIME that he’s not interested in running for office at the moment, saying, “I don’t think that is a solution. I don’t think it ends well.” For now, Schultz says he’s content to, “see what Hillary does.”

On Starbucks’ coffee-­sales figures from nearly 12,000 stores nationwide, Schultz says: “We have a lens on almost every community in America…. At 4:30 in the morning, I wake up and see the numbers of basically every store from yesterday.” Over the past few years, says Schultz, they’ve pointed to a “fractured level of trust and confidence” that he attributes in large part to a sense that government is no longer functional and that no one is looking out for the welfare of the middle and working classes.

On how businesses should operate in America: “I think the private sector simply has to take a larger role than they have in the past. Our responsibility goes beyond the P&L and our stock price…. If half the country or at least a third of the country doesn’t have the same opportunities as the rest going forward, then the country won’t survive. That’s not socialism.”

On growing up while struggling with poverty in the housing projects of Canarsie, Brooklyn: “When you say you went to Canarsie High School, you get a whole new level of street cred!”

Grover Norquist talks to TIME about how Starbucks can act as a model for a kind of business federalism in which the private sector does things better and faster than government, saying: “Howard isn’t saying, Hey, I’ll give you a check. He’s saying, I want your skills, [at the same time] that he’s changing the cost of education by revolutionizing education itself. He’s backing into the reform of public education.”

His friend David Geffen says: “I first told Howard he should run back in 2008. We were having a very intense conversation about things that were happening in the country, and Howard had a strong point of view about various things…. We both felt there was a lot of corruption in government and a lack of conviction to put things right.

Read next: Starbucks For America

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MONEY freebies

Free Coffee at Chick-fil-A for Entire Month of February

Chick-fil-A restaurant, Naples, Florida.
Jeff G—Alamy Chick-fil-A restaurant, Naples, Florida.

Restaurants are pouring free coffee for the whole month, no purchase required.

The new year kicked off with dueling free coffee promotions from McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts in some parts of the country, and now another fast food player is entering the coffee wars with an even bigger, broader, no-strings-attached giveaway.

On Friday, Chick-fil-A announced that throughout February, restaurants nationwide will pour customers free cups of hot or iced THRIVE Farmers Coffee—all day long, no purchase required.

Chick-fil-A launched a partnership with THRIVE, a Georgia-based company that networks with family-owned coffee producers in Central America and reportedly allows them to earn up to 10 times the norm, in August 2014. Now the push is on to win over customers by giving the coffee away, with only a very little amount of fine print to worry about:

This offer includes 12 ounce hot or 16 ounce iced sizes and is available while supplies last. The offer is available anytime during regular restaurant hours and is limited to one cup of coffee per customer, per visit. No additional purchase is necessary and no substitutions are available.

The coffee giveaway especially makes sense in light of how important breakfast has become to fast food restaurants. Breakfast is the only meal of the day that has experienced consistent growth in sales in recent years, which explains why more competitors are entering or expanding into the space—notably Taco Bell. Another factor explaining the fresh coffee push: Consumers are more prone to grabbing a cup of Joe at Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, McDonald’s, or at convenience stores such as Cumberland Farms and 7-Eleven, not just for breakfast but at any hour of the day. Chick-fil-A clearly wants to be thought of as a great spot for a quick anytime coffee as well.

In all cases, the hope is that when folks swing by for coffee, they’ll also pick up a scone, donut, hot dog, Egg McMuffin, Slim Jim, chicken biscuit, or some other specialty of the house.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Why Your Coffee Addiction Isn’t So Bad for You

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Go ahead and pour yourself another cup

Knocking back a daily cup of joe (or several) delivers more than a jolt of energy. That morning brew comes with a host of health benefits, according to research. Here’s how coffee can benefit your body and your brain.

1. Coffee may decrease your risk of depression. Drinking four or more cups per day could decrease the risk of depression in women, according to a study from the Harvard School of Public Health. The study examined the coffee habits and depression rates of 50,739 women over 10 years. Coffee drinkers had a 20 percent lower chance of developing depression later in life. Drinking two to four cups daily also appears to lower the risk of suicide by 50%, according to another Harvard study.

2. Coffee might help prevent skin cancer. Drinking four or more cups of coffee daily may lower your risk of cutaneous melanoma, the leading cause of skin-cancer death in the U.S., by 20 percent, according to a new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Researchers followed nearly 450,000 cancer-free participants over 10 years. Overall, those who drank more saw less cutaneous melanoma. Four daily cups of coffee can also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, according to previous studies.

3. Smelling coffee can bust stress. When rats smelled coffee beans, genes connected with healthful antioxidants and stress-reduction were activated, according to researchers from Seoul National University in South Korea. No, you’re not a rat—even if you’re in the rat race—but the stress-busting benefits may be one reason your morning latte smells so delicious.

4. Coffee might help fight obesity. A compound found in coffee, chlorogenic acid (CGA), could help ward off obesity-related diseases, according to researchers at the University of Georgia. In a study of mice, CGA prevented weight gain, reduced inflammation, helped maintain normal blood-sugar levels, and kept livers healthy. Gradually increasing your coffee consumption can also lead to a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, according to previous research.

5. Coffee may prevent Parkinson’s disease. Men who did not drink coffee were two to three times more likely to develop the disease than men who drank four ounces to four cups per day, according to a study published in Journal of the American Medical Association. Though there are treatments to slow the progression of Parkinson’s, which targets the body’s nervous system and causes tremors, there’s no cure, so prevention is key.

6. Coffee could boost your workout. Caffeine increases the number of fatty acids in the bloodstream, which raises overall endurance, because your body doesn’t have to burn carbs so fast, The New York Times reports. Weightlifters who drank caffeine before their workouts stayed energized longer than those who did not, according to another small study.

7. Coffee may help your hearing. Regularly consuming caffeine may help prevent tinnitus, a persistent ringing in the ear. Women who drank one and a half cups of coffee a day were 15% more likely to develop tinnitus than those who drank four to six cups, according to a study of 65,000 women published in the American Journal of Medicine.

8. Coffee could lead to a healthier liver. Drinking both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee may lower liver enzymes associated with inflammation, according to a 28,000-person study conducted by researchers at the National Cancer Institute. Participants who drank at least three cups of coffee per day showed lower levels of the potentially harmful enzymes than those who did not drink coffee.

9. Coffee might help you live longer. Drinking two to six (or more) cups of coffee per day could lower the risk of dying by 10 percent for men and 15 percent for women, according to a study of over 200,000 men and 170,000 women (ages 50 to 71) in The New England Journal of Medicine. (The data was adjusted to discount the effects of unhealthy habits, such as smoking, since regular coffee drinkers also tended to be regular drinkers and meat-eaters.)

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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TIME Food & Drink

How to Roast Your Own Coffee at Home

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Follow these simple instructions on how to roast your own beans

Once you master the art of the pour-over, the next step in coffee nerdery is to start roasting your own beans. But it’s the sort of thing that can sound intimidating at first. Lots of coffee drinkers may have never even seen green, unroasted coffee beans. Others might assume you need a dedicated roasting machine that can run over $1,000. You don’t. You don’t even need to spend $30.

Coffee fiend Ruth Brown’s new book, Coffee Nerd: How to Have Your Coffee and Drink It Too, has everything you could want to know about coffee, from its history to tasting notes to which espresso drinks you should care about (and which you absolutely should not).

It also has incredibly simple instructions on how to roast your own beans using equipment you almost certainly have on hand: an oven (preferably gas) and a baking sheet.

Just beware of the coffee-roasting rabbit hole. You might turn into a fanatic. As Ruth points out, “If regular coffee nerds were Trekkies, homeroasters would be the people who write Star Trek fan fiction.”

Here’s how to do it.

Gas Oven Roasting — From Coffee Nerd

You need a small amount of green beans (1 pound typically costs between $5 and $10), a perforated baking pan (if you don’t have one, a kitchenware store or your great-aunt will) and a metal colander. You might also want to crack open a window or 10 for this—there will be smoke.

1. Preheat the oven to 500° (or 450°, if it is a convection oven).

2. Spread a single layer of beans across the pan (only the perforated part of it).

3. When the oven is ready, place the pan onto the middle shelf.

4. You should start to hear the first crack somewhere around 7 minutes (maybe more in a convection oven), and you should be able to see that the beans are turning brown.

5. Wait at least a couple more minutes, then either take the tray out (use oven mitts!) or wait a few more minutes until the beans are almost at the color you desire (they will continue to roast for a bit after you take them out, so don’t wait too long).

6. Dump the beans into your colander. Stand over a sink or go outdoors, and shake them around. This will cool them down and get rid of the chaff (the little bits of parchment that didn’t get removed at the mill), which can get pretty messy. The faster you can cool your beans off, the better.

If your interest is piqued, Ruth recommends ordering green beans from Sweet Maria’s and Roastmasters. And to find out what else she has to say about coffee, you can find Coffee Nerd here.

This article originally appeared on FWx.com.

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MONEY Fast Food

McDonald’s Restaurant Owners Want to Banish These Menu Items

A customer carries McCafe cups and a bag of food
Tim Boyle—Bloomberg via Getty Images A customer carries McCafe cups and a bag of food inside a McDonald's restaurant in Oak Brook, Illinois.

If McDonald's franchisees have their way, some coffees, wraps, and Happy Meal options will disappear from menus.

By some account, 2014 is shaping up as McDonald’s worst year in three decades. Sales in the U.S. have grown an average of 5.6% annually over the last 30 years, according to industry publication Nation’s Restaurant News, yet it looks like domestic sales will have actually declined in 2014, marking the first time this has happened over that span.

In recent years, McDonald’s has been relentless in efforts to attract new customers—younger ones especially—and they’ve been adding menu items and customization options left and right in pursuit of that goal. It’s hard to determine the degree to which these efforts have been successful. What is clear, however, is that the menu has expanded to the point that it’s slowed down operations and arguably hurt profits. McDonald’s acknowledged as much last month when the fast food giant announced it would be removing some items from the menu in 2015.

The fact that the menu has become unwieldy is not news to McDonald’s restaurant owners and managers. They’ve been complaining for years that, among other issues, there are too many seasonal items and too many dollar menu options for restaurants to keep business humming along. These are supposed to be “fast” food operations, remember, and drive-thru wait times have consistently gotten slower in recent years.

But what parts of the McDonald’s menu should be done away with? Janney Capital Markets restaurant analyst Mark Kalinowski recently polled a few dozen McDonald’s franchisees about the menu items they’d most like to see disappear, and the owners—whose comments were published anonymously at Burger Business and MarketWatch—weren’t shy about voicing their opinions about the menu, as well as how the company has been doing as a whole.

“Operator morale is at the lowest I’ve seen in over 20 years,” one owner said. “Sales decreases are the new norm. Nothing exciting on the horizon. It looks like we’ll be down all year,” reads another comment. Still another chimed in:

“From an operator’s perspective, the financial future looks grim. Operations are overly complex. … A silly marketing campaign. Customers who are leaving us because even they can’t figure out what we are trying to be anymore.”

And another, specifically regarding the topic of scaling back the menu:

“Significant menu simplification is not happening as far as I can tell. Any operator could have, and many did, say that this needed to happen two years ago.”

As for specific menu items that they’d like to see targeted for termination or at least downsized, these stand out:

Happy Meal Options
Fast food kids’ meals have been bashed as unhealthy for years, and sales have fallen both because of the health factor and because ordering off the dollar menu is often a better value. To address these concerns, McDonald’s has drastically expanded Happy Meal options to include more fruits and vegetables and toy choices. At the same time, all the variations have created huge headaches for restaurants, because customers are confused and take an extra long time to place orders, and because it’s more difficult for employees to get the orders right. “Downsize Happy Meal choices,” one franchise owner said, flatly. “Happy Meals are a chore to ring up with all the options,” said another. “Perhaps corporate should make a decision on what a Happy Meal is and stop with complicating the choices.”

Espressos
During the Great Recession, McDonald’s saw a big opening into the coffee market, what with the potential for consumers to scale back on pricey Starbucks while still getting their “gourmet” caffeine fix. Hence the rise of McDonald’s McCafe line, and the larger quick-serve coffee wars, which now include McDonald’s periodically giving away coffee to draw in customers. Somewhere along the line, some franchisees have come to think of McCafe items—and espresso in particular—as too time-consuming to make and not profitable enough to keep on the menu. “Eliminate espresso drinks but keep the rest of McCafé,” one owner said.

McWraps
As the Wall Street Journal pointed out a few months ago, the Premium McWrap is a “showstopper” for restaurants because it comes with two choices of chicken, three options for sauces, and can’t be prepared in advance. So it’s no surprise owners would love to see this item removed from menus, or at least have the variations winnowed down significantly. “Downsize Premium McWraps down to one or two,” one owner suggested. “They take so long to make we already hope nobody orders them.”

Read next: Here’s How McDonald’s Makes Its French Fries

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TIME Diet/Nutrition

There’s Now Coffee to Help You Fall Asleep

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A new product mixes coffee with a sleep-inducing herb

Imagine brewing coffee as a nightcap. That’s what Deland Jessop says he and his wife have begun to do with Counting Sheep Coffee—a new product designed to allow coffee lovers to drink a cup before bed without being kept awake for hours.

“Instead of a glass of wine, we’ll brew up a cup of coffee instead,” said Jessop, who launched the company in 2013.

When his wife complained that she couldn’t enjoy coffee after 3 p.m., Jessop turned his home into a makeshift lab to search for a possible solution. After experimenting with a variety of herbs and supplements, he says he stumbled upon valerian—a plant that has been used as a mild sedative in Europe for centuries. He mixed it with decaf to mask the pungent smell, and sleep coffee was born.

Jessop notes that Counting Sheep Coffee is a food product, not a drug to help with sleep. Valerian is approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a food ingredient.

Experts don’t know exactly why the plant such a potent sleep-inducer, but there’s little known risk of side effects (other than the obvious drowsiness), says University of California San Francisco associate professor Stephen Bent. “In the studies that have been done, it’s been show to be safe,” he says. “It has a long traditional history of being used to induce sleep.”

The product first appeared at Bed, Bath & Beyond in 2013, and is now sold in several regional supermarkets.

TIME Cancer

This Drink Could Protect You From Skin Cancer

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The sun is the biggest culprit in causing skin cancer, but there’s a beverage that may thwart some of the tumor-causing effects of ultraviolet rays

You may grab a cup (or two) of coffee every morning to help you wake up and face the day, but you may also be doing your skin a favor. Researchers in a new paper released January 20 say that coffee can protect against melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Melanoma is triggered by damage to skin cells’ DNA caused by UV rays from the sun or tanning beds; these mutations prompt the cells to grow abnormally and spread to other tissues in the body, where it can be fatal. But in a report published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Erikka Loftfield from the National Cancer Institute and her colleagues found that people who drank more than four cups of coffee a day on average had a 20% lower risk of developing melanoma over 10 years.

Loftfield’s group looked at food and cancer information from more than 447,000 people enrolled in a National Institutes of Health-AARP study who answered a 124-item food questionnaire and allowed the scientists access to their medical records. Even after the team adjusted for the potential effects of age, smoking, alcohol use and family history of cancer, the connection between high coffee consumption and lower risk of melanoma remained significant. The researchers even factored in the potential effect of casual sun exposure by looking at the average July ultraviolet readings where the participants lived.

The association only held for caffeinated coffee—not for decaf—and Loftfield’s group says there’s sound biological reason for that. Coffee contains numerous compounds, including polyphenols and caffeine, that keep cancer-fighting processes that are triggered by UV light under control. The roasting process of coffee beans also releases vitamin derivatives that protect against UV damage in mice. There’s also intriguing evidence that caffeine may act as a molecular sunscreen, absorbing UV rays and therefore protecting DNA from damage.

The group says that their results need to be repeated and confirmed, and that it’s too early yet to change your coffee habits to protect yourself from skin cancer. But the findings support the idea that there might be more you can do to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays than only slathering your body in sunscreen. It’s okay to enjoy a few cups of joe (as long as it’s in the shade).

Read next: This Kind of Tea Lowers Blood Pressure Naturally

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TIME Diet/Nutrition

Yes, Caffeine Withdrawal Is a Real Thing

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Science says that caffeine comes with some real perks

Ever had a time when you really needed a cup of coffee? Some days, the urge can be so strong that everything seems off until you have a hot cup of Joe in your hands.

Well, you’re not alone. Even pro athletes like Serena Williams find it hard to fight the siren call of caffeine. The tennis star made her love for coffee known during a recent match at the Hopman Cup in Perth, Western Australia.

HEALTH.COM: 12 Surprising Sources of Caffeine

Despite being the World No. 1 in women’s singles, Williams wasn’t doing too hot in her match representing the U.S. She dropped the first set 0-6 to Italy’s Flavia Pennetta.

Williams asked an official if she could order an espresso during the break between sets, SI.com reports. The request seemed silly, even to the pro herself, but the quick pick-me-up turned out to be a major game-changer.

Williams went on to dominate the next two sets 6-3 and 6-0, winning the match for the U.S. The athlete blamed a combination of jet lag and missing out on a cup of coffee as the reason for her slow start.

According to HopmanCup.com, Williams told reporters, “I am a coffee drinker. I didn’t have mine this morning and I was just feeling it, so I just had to get some coffee into me.”

HEALTH.COM: The Best Foods to Eat for Breakfast

Props to Williams for pulling off a win, but it does make you wonder just how much people really need their coffee.

“Caffeine withdrawal isn’t necessarily about addiction—it’s really more about your body adapting to having caffeine in your system, then reacting when the substance isn’t there,” says Health‘s contributing nutrition editor Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD. So if you’ve been a life-long coffee drinker, skipping your regular cup could bring on symptoms like headaches, fatigue, decreased alertness, and mood changes, she says.

“It’s more likely to happen if you [regularly] consume 500 milligrams of caffeine or more,” Sass says. “But it can happen with less if caffeine has been a daily habit.” Keep in mind 8 ounces of brewed coffee can have up to 200 milligrams of caffeine, Sass adds, while 1 ounce of Williams’ drink, the espresso, is on the lighter side with up to 75 milligrams.

HEALTH.COM: How to Burn Calories at Breakfast

That said, there are upsides to making coffee part of your routine, especially for athletes like Williams.

“Caffeine may help boost athletic performance by increasing muscle strength and physical endurance while decreasing feelings of fatigue,” says Marisa Moore, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Having caffeine during activity may give that second wind.”

Before big athletic events, it’s important to stick to what’s worked during your training routine, Moore says. If that means having a cup of coffee, then by all means do it.

HEALTH.COM: Best Superfoods for Weight Loss

Just enjoy caffeine in moderation—Sass says the recommendation for enhancing athletic performance is up to 6 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, which is about 400 milligrams per day for a 150-pound woman. And don’t use the beverage as a quick fix for fatigue when other issues like stress or diet are to blame.

“The real keys are listening to your body, and being honest with yourself about why you’re reaching for a cup of coffee (or two),” she says.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

Read next: The Science Behind Making the Perfect Cup of Coffee

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