TIME Economy

Love K-Cups? You’re Killing the Coffee Business

<> on March 5, 2015 in Miami, Florida.
Joe Raedle—2015 Getty Images In this photo illustration, Keurig Green Mountain Inc. K-Cup coffee packs are seen on March 5, 2015 in Miami, Florida.

Less wasted coffee means fewer sales for roasters

Single-serve coffee can now legitimately be called “wildly popular,” with more than one in four Americans using the brewing machines initially popularized by Keurig Green Mountain’s K-Cups.

You might think that’s a boon to the coffee-roasting business, but it turns out to be just the opposite. Why? The machines are much more efficient. Just think about how often you make a pot of coffee in an automatic-drip maker, only to end up pouring some portion of it down the drain. The less coffee you waste, the less you buy.

On one hand, this is better for consumers who are saving money. Less waste is also better for the environment, especially in parched regions like California. But roasters are feeling the pinch. “The coffee market has lost its best consumer: the kitchen sink,” Hernando de la Roche, a senior vice president at financial services firm INTL FCStone Inc., told Bloomberg. “Roasters are telling us that single-cup coffee has been reducing demand.”

Reducing demand, reducing waste — the difference is academic when it comes to toting up revenues.

Meanwhile, coffee bean inventories are rising, putting pressure on commodity prices. That’s thanks in part to recent rains in Brazil — the world’s top coffee-producing country — that have reversed two sequential years of falling yields.

At the retail level, total coffee sales are falling lately, down about 1.5% over the past year. Single-serve pods represent the only category where sales have grown in supermarkets, drugstores, and other non-restaurant outlets. Whole-bean, ground, and jarred instant coffee sales are all flat or falling.

Americans still love their joe, of course: it’s the most popular beverage other than water. Still, consumption fell over the past year as measured by the number of Americans who drink coffee daily, down from 63% in 2013 to 59% in 2014, according to the National Coffee Association. Some of that drop is thanks to people — especially younger ones — switching to tea and other beverages perceived as being healthier.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

How (and Why) to Make Cold-Brew Coffee

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Getty Images

It's more flavorful and nuanced and less bitter than hot coffee

Move over, pumpkin spice latte—the hottest trend in coffee these days is cold. Cold brew, that is.

This isn’t iced coffee, which is hot coffee or espresso allowed to cool and then served over ice (or whipped up in a blender with milk and sugar-laden syrups and topped with whipped cream). Cold-brew coffee is exactly what it sounds like, brewed by steeping coffee in cold water rather than hot. And, like another trend—we’re looking at you, bone broth—it’s a tried-and-true classic that is back in vogue.

Read more: 10 Coffee Drinks Worse Than a Candy Bar

Proponents of cold-brew say that because the grounds aren’t exposed to hot water, the resulting coffee is more flavorful and nuanced and less bitter than hot coffee. (Here’s some science around why, if you’re so inclined.)

You can buy cold-brew coffee ($10.30, amazon), but if you’re more of a DIY person, it’s a cinch to make yourself.

Read more: Best and Worst Foods for Your Teeth

“Cold brew is one of the easiest ways to brew coffee around,” Michael Phillips, director of training for Blue Bottle Coffee, tells Health. “If you have a bucket and some form of strainer or cheesecloth, you’re all set.”

Here’s a step-by-step tutorial from Phillips:

Measure it

“A simple way to get a good ratio of coffee to water is to use one pound of coarsely ground (French press grind setting) coffee for one gallon of water,” Phillips says. A lighter-roast coffee will be fruitier and will work better for a longer steeping time; darker roasts are earthier. Phillips recommends starting with filtered water: Water is “the majority of what’s in the final cup, so if it doesn’t taste good to start, the brew won’t taste good in the end.”

Add H2O

Put the coffee in a large, clean container (Phillips recommends glass; it’s the easiest to clean and will not leave any flavor in the brew). Pour in a gallon of water, taking care to get all of the coffee wet. “I like to give it a good stir after 10 minutes to allow all of the grounds that were floating at the top to sink down to the bottom,” Phillips says. Cover the container with something breathable, such as cheesecloth, so no dust settles into it, and let it stand at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours.

Read more: 6 Healthy Reasons to Keep Loving Coffee

Strain it

Set a strainer lined with cheesecloth or a paper filter on top of a clean container (this is the one that will be used to store the coffee) and pour in the coffee mixture.

Drink up

Cover and refrigerate the brew for 4 to 5 days. It’s a concentrate, so when you’re ready to drink, pour some of the brew into a cup and add some cold filtered water. How much you add depends on how strongly you brewed your cold-brew and how strong you like your coffee. It’s best served cold. Tip: Cold brew “also makes for a really easy-to-use ingredient for cooking to get coffee flavor into baked goods or even cocktails,” Phillips says.

Read more: 9 Ways to Kick the Coffee Habit

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

MONEY Food & Drink

Starbucks Backtracks on ‘Race Together’ Campaign

Starbucks will no longer add the phrase '#racetogether' on its coffee cups after facing a backlash.

TIME Food & Drink

Starbucks Plans to Launch Delivery Service

Empire State Building Run
Mark Lennihan—AP The Empire State Building and the Manhattan skyline on Oct. 5, 2014.

Work in the Empire State Building? Then you're in luck

Starbucks says it plans to launch trials of a delivery service in the second half of 2015 — but only if you live in Seattle, or work in New York City’s Empire State Building.

Sometime within the year, Starbucks will start two different delivery trials, the Seattle Times reports. The version in New York City will be limited exclusively to within the Empire State Building. The company will have employees from the Starbucks located in the building deliver beverages and food to customers who work there.

In Seattle, the company will be following a more traditional delivery approach, using on-demand delivery startup Postmates to deliver coffee, pastries and other sundries via car and bicycle.

People in these two catchment areas can use the Starbucks app to follow the status of their drink. To use the app, customers have to be a member of the company’s loyalty program.

[The Seattle Times]

Read next: Starbucks ‘Race Together’ Initiative Is Brilliant

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TIME Consumers

This Is the Drink People Are Getting Instead of Coffee

Man on desk holding cup of coffee, close up
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Consumption of coffee is declining

Coffee remains by far the most popular caffeine-delivery mechanism in the United States, but tea is making serious headway against its beverage rival, especially among young people.

The National Coffee Association reported Tuesday in its annual survey that coffee consumption overall slipped a bit over the past year. Last year, 61% of respondents said they drank at least one cup of coffee per day. This year, that number is 59%. It’s clearly a trend: the number was 63% in 2013’s survey.

Meanwhile, tea consumption continues to grow, with the total wholesale value of tea sold in the United States reaching $10 billion last year, up fivefold from 1990. The demographic breakdown is stark: a survey by YouGov last month found that among people over 65, 70% prefer coffee to tea. Among people 18 to 29, meanwhile, the two drinks are about even.

Some observers are guessing that the trend toward healthier options, especially among young people, is driving people to tea. There might be some truth to that, given that tea very generally contains less caffeine than coffee, and is largely perceived as the healthier option. But several studies in recent years have indicated that coffee might be much healthier than previously thought — not only not as bad for us as we thought, but actually good for us.

It’s possible to make too much of this trend. The Coffee Association survey points out that more than three-quarters of Americans still drink coffee at least sometimes, and coffee is still wildly popular in general. One indicator: the rising popularity of one-cup coffee machines (like those made by Keurig Green Mountain), which are now owned by more than a quarter of Americans.

Still, ebbing demand is troubling for the coffee growers, where wholesale prices, after a spike last year, have been trending downward. In February, the wholesale price for arabica beans fell by 5.8% from the previous month, part of a downward trend that began in October.

Read next: 7 Reasons to Have a Cup of Green Tea

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

How Much Coffee Should You Really Be Drinking?

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To determine your daily dose, here are five factors to consider

I love coffee, and I’ve written about it a lot over the past few years, from why it’s actually good for both mental and physical health, to reasons to drink java before a workout. So I wasn’t surprised when, for the first time in history, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee gave coffee a thumbs up.

But many of the headlines pertaining to the report didn’t tell the whole story, leaving a lot of people wondering how much is really OK. To determine your daily dose, here are five factors to consider.

Everyone’s different

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee looked at whether coffee poses any health risks, a topic they have previously been silent on. They concluded that strong evidence shows moderate coffee consumption (3 to 5 eight-ounce cups per day, or up to 400 milligram/day caffeine) isn’t tied to any long-term dangers for healthy people. Now, the word “healthy” is key (read on for more), and this is a general statement, not a directive. In other words, the committee isn’t saying that everyone should drink 3 to 5 cups a day.

Even if it may offer some benefits, it’s important to listen to your body. Some people can drink a strong cup of coffee and feel fantastic. Others may drink half a cup and feel jittery and be left with an upset stomach. There’s a lot of individual variation when it comes to how coffee makes you feel. So, don’t take this as a green light to down a pot a day. Consider what feels best for you. (And if the answer is none, there’s no reason to start drinking java.)

Read more: 20 Best Foods to Eat for Breakfast

Your current health matters

The committee considered healthy individuals. If you already have heart disease or other chronic conditions, you may still need to curb your coffee consumption. For example, I sometimes recommend coffee to my healthy athlete clients, but others who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or other digestive disorders feel much better when they eliminate it, as do those who have anxiety disorders. And while coffee hasn’t been shown to cause high blood pressure across the board, it may aggravate the condition. Bottom line: if you have any acute or ongoing medical conditions or your blood work values have been out of the normal range, talk to your doctor or personal dietitian/nutritionist about what’s best for you.

Be mindful of your sleep

One thing we know for certain is that caffeine interferes with sleep for most people, and catching enough zzz’s is critical for mental and physical well being, as well as for weight control (check out my previous post 5 Healthy Habits That Regulate Your Appetite). A good rule of thumb is to nix all caffeine at least six hours before bed. So if you’re tempted to pour another cup when you’re in an afternoon slump, find other ways to perk up, like going for a quick walk, listening to a five-minute guided meditation, or drinking a cold glass of water.

Read more: 18 Reasons Why Your Stomach Hurts

Your genetics play a role

Due to a genetic variation which affects a particular enzyme, some people break down caffeine at a very slow rate. It’s fairly common and, for these people, even a moderate daily coffee intake can increase the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. Access to this genetic test was extremely limited until recently, but if you’re interested, a University of Toronto-affiliated company called Nutrigenomix now offers it, and you can order it through a registered dietitian.

Consider what else is in your cup

While I’ve written about coffee’s potential benefits, I still often recommend limiting it to just one cup in the morning. That’s because many people aren’t able to drink it without doctoring it up with some kind of milk and sweetener, and those extras can add up to surplus calories that feed fat cells. For example, 150 calories (roughly the amount in a skinny vanilla latte) doesn’t sound like much, but downing an extra 150 calories above and beyond what your body needs to support your ideal weight each day can leave you 10 to 15 pounds heavier. Not to mention that extra cups of Joe tend to crowd out water, the ultimate beverage for optimal health. Balance is always the goal.

Read more: Best and Worst Foods for Sleep

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

Read next: Why You Should Order a Latte Instead of Coffee

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

MONEY groceries

Here’s How Much You’d Save by Dumping K-Cups for Traditional Brewed Coffee

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Shutterstock / Rob Hainer

The inventor of K-Cups says he regrets coming up with the idea and doesn't even own a K-Cup machine.

This week, the Atlantic ran a story in which John Sylvan, inventor of the K-Cup—the single-serve coffee pods that are increasingly taking over home and office counter space—dropped a bombshell. “I don’t have one. They’re kind of expensive to use,” Sylvan said of the K-Cup system he created. “Plus it’s not like drip coffee is tough to make.”

This isn’t exactly like Henry Ford saying that he prefers bicycles to cars, or Steve Jobs praising the cost-effectiveness of a rotary phone over an iPhone, but it’s sorta in the same ballpark.

Sylvan acknowledged that he feels “bad sometimes” about creating the K-Cup, which he likened to “a cigarette for coffee, a single-serve delivery mechanism for an addictive substance.” Also, the proliferation of coffee pods—which are mostly unrecyclable, and which take up more and more space in landfills thanks to America’s ever-growing love affair with coffee—have raised serious environmental concerns as they’ve increased in popularity. Quartz declared them “the most wasteful form of coffee” on the planet.

For now, though, let’s focus strictly on the household economics of single-pod coffee brewers. To what degree are they “kind of expensive” compared with regular coffee makers?

First, there’s the cost of the machine. Recently, marketing professor Eric Anderson at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management noted that in 2002, the average coffee maker cost $35. Today it’s still easy to find a basic coffee maker for that price, or even $20 or $25. By 2013, however, the average coffee maker purchase price hit around $90, partly due to the spread of pricey single-pod brewers from Keurig (the K in K-Cups), Nespresso, and others. At Bed Bath and Beyond, the least expensive Keurig coffee maker is $100, which seems fairly typical.

But that’s only a small factor in how much more K-Cups cost compared with brewing traditional drip coffee. The Atlantic story estimates that the tiny amount of coffee used in each K-Cup winds up costing the equivalent of $40 per pound. That’s easily three times the price of a pound of ground or whole bean Starbucks coffee.

How much more money, then, does a household spend by using K-Cups? The answer depends on several factors, including how much coffee you drink and what kind, and how carefully you shop for deals on coffee makers and the coffee itself. Over the years, various penny-pinching individuals have done the math on the subject, and the breakdown usually shows that K-Cups cost two or three times more per cup compared with traditionally brewed coffee.

One fairly typical analysis, comparing Caribou brand K-Cups versus ground coffee, showed that the per-cup cost was 66¢ versus 28¢, respectively. If you make three cups a day, 365 days a year, that adds up to around $723 spent on K-Cups, versus $307 for regular coffee brewers. So you’d easily save $400 a year by going the old-fashioned route—which, again, Sylvan points out accurately, ain’t exactly hard to handle.

For an idea of how much your household specifically would save—or, on the flip side, how much you’re paying for the convenience of K-Cups—check out the coffee maker calculator one economist created a couple years back. Enter a few data points into the Excel calculator, including how many cups of coffee you brew per week, the cost of coffee machines you’re considering, how much you typically spend on coffee, and even how much of the coffee pot you usually wind up pouring down the drain, and it’ll spit out the per-cup price breakdowns. We entered several different scenarios, and K-Cups were at least twice as expensive in all cases.

If the majority of your coffee does come brewed via K-Cup, at least you can take solace in the fact that you’re not hitting Starbucks or another coffee shop several times a day. Compared to that, your K-Cup habit will seem downright cheap.

TIME Heart Disease

Moderate Amounts of Coffee May Help Keep Arteries Clear, Study Says

Man on desk holding cup of coffee, close up
Getty Images

Coffee in your veins may actually be healthy

Drinking three to five cups of coffee per day may help to reduce signs of blocked arteries, says a new study out of South Korea.

Published Monday in the medical journal Heart, the study involved more than 25,000 male and female workers, who previously showed no signs of heart disease, looking for calcium buildups indicating plaque growth that can cause heart attacks and strokes.

The results showed that those who drank the least amount of coffee, and the most, had a larger amount of calcium in their arteries than those who consumed a moderate amount.

Interestingly, researchers also discovered that the findings were consistent through different subsectors, such as smokers, drinkers and those with obesity issues.

“While this study does highlight a potential link between coffee consumption and lower risk of developing clogged arteries, more research is needed to confirm these findings and understand what the reason is for the association,” Victoria Taylor of the British Heart Foundation told the BBC.

Taylor also noted that the results should not be generalized because different cultures have distinct lifestyle and dietary customs that may also contribute to cardiovascular health.

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.

More from Real Simple:

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]

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