Cafe Sessions with Steve: June 2023

Hello, fellow coffee enthusiasts, and welcome to the newest edition of our captivating Café Session! As we come to the end of June, Denver is warming up, teasing us with the promise of those scorching hot days that make us yearn for a refreshing iced latte. Let's be grateful that we haven't had to endure truly sweltering temperatures just yet.

We have, however, experienced just a little bit of rain… every day… for the past month or so. But it's not just rain—Denver has also experienced an onslaught of hail. I sincerely hope that your cars have emerged unscathed from the fury of these hailstorms. Mother Nature's unpredictability never fails to surprise us, drenching us with more hail than our memories can recall (maybe because who likes to recall being pelted with ice balls from the sky?). On the bright side, with all this precipitation, there's hope that we might escape the dreaded fire ban, allowing us to enjoy the magic of summer campfires once again.

Despite the whims of the weather, the Café Session is here to provide a virtual haven away from the elements. So, grab your favorite beverage, get comfortable, and embark on an exciting journey through the topics we have in store for you this month. We'll be delving into discussions about the most expensive coffee in the world and exploring sustainable coffee habits. Rain or shine, hail or heat, let's dive into this month's Café Session and uncover the wonderful world of coffee together.

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what's the most expensive coffee in the world and why?

Ah, the allure of luxury and the pursuit of the finest coffee money can buy – what is it, where do you get it and why is it so expensive? Turns out, these are rather loaded questions.

First, let's debunk a common misconception. As a barista, I often hear customers exclaim in disbelief when their favorite fancy drink surpasses the $5 mark. But truth be told, coffee is an undervalued gem. Consider this: a Chai Latté with all the bells and whistles, like a milk alternative and espresso shots, can easily land you in the $9+ territory. That's a lot of dough for a cup of joe, right? Yet, when it comes to wine, nobody raises an eyebrow at a $9 glass! Coffee is a labor-intensive process, akin to the craftsmanship of winemaking, and it deserves its fair share of appreciation.

Now, let's dive into the world of beans that fetch top dollar. If we're talking unadulterated coffee beans, ones that simply go from seed to cup without any fancy modifications, we must turn our attention to the purest soils. Enter Kona coffee from the beautiful Hawaiian islands. Back in the early 2000s, when my brother and I were working together at the same coffee shop, I remember us collecting vouchers to "buy" that coveted Kona coffee, which came with a hefty price tag of around $40 per pound. Today, it's likely even more. Grown in the Kona district, where volcanic slopes bless the plantations with ample sunlight, wind, and rain, this exquisite bean delivers a taste like no other. Another top contender in the realm of pricey beans is Jamaican Blue Mountain. The mountainous region's abundant rainfall nurtures blueish green beans, yielding a mild and delightful coffee experience.

That said, I have a feeling that when you submitted this question, you were truly intrigued by the enigmatic world of "crappy coffee." So let's delve into that fascinating topic. Allow me to introduce you to Kopi Luwak, originating from the lush lands of Sumatra. This coffee takes a rather unconventional journey. The beans embark on a transformational voyage through the digestive system of civet cats, where enzymes and acids work their magic on the coffee cherries, resulting in a reduction of bitterness and the infusion of delightful chocolate and caramel notes. Once the beans are naturally expelled, they undergo careful selection, thorough cleaning, and meticulous roasting to achieve perfection.

However, the surge in popularity of this unique coffee attracted the attention of animal rights activists. Regrettably, certain farms resorted to force-feeding civets excessive amounts of coffee cherries to maximize production, leading to justified controversy. Similarly, Thailand presents us with Black Ivory Coffee, where Arabica beans undergo a comparable transformation—this time with the assistance of our gentle giant friends, elephants. While these coffees may boast exceptional flavors, we must pause and reflect: is any taste experience truly worth the suffering of animals?

Call me old-fashioned, but when I'm in the mood for a luxurious sip, I'll stick with the ever-reliable Kona coffee. Its exquisite taste doesn't come at the expense of animal welfare. Let's savor our coffee with a clear conscience and appreciate the craftsmanship that respects both the beans and the creatures who inhabit our world.

how does coffee impact the environment, and what steps can coffee shop consumers take to reduce their carbon footprint? 

The first thing to know is Coffee's journey from bean to cup can be a long and winding road. Picture this: green coffee beans traveling across the globe, changing hands more times than a magician's deck of cards. With each exchange, the price tag inches up, while the hardworking farmers who nurtured those precious beans often receive the smallest slice of the pie. But fear not, dear readers, for the fairtrade movement swoops in to save the day!

Fairtrade coffee has been a game-changer since the late 1980s, when plummeting coffee prices sent shockwaves through the industry. This superhero of sustainability ensures a minimum price for coffee, acting as a safety net when market prices dip below sustainable levels. It's a win-win situation. Farmers can better predict their income, while we coffee lovers can indulge in guilt-free sips, knowing that our beloved brew supports the livelihoods of those who grow it. So only buy fair trade!

But what else can we do to reduce our coffee carbon footprint? First, consider bringing your own reusable mug to your favorite café, saving those single-use cups from reaching the landfill. And speaking of land, why not explore the delicious world of shade-grown coffee? By opting for shade-grown varieties, you support biodiversity and help protect our feathered friends in the process.

These are just a taste of the sustainable sips you can take. Want to dive deeper into the sea of eco-friendly coffee habits? Look no further than our blog, “Everyday Sustainable Coffee Habits” where we've brewed up a guide filled with tips and tricks to caffeinate conscientiously. From composting coffee grounds to embracing the wonders of home brewing, we've got you covered!

So, my fellow coffee enthusiasts, let's raise our mugs to a greener future. With fairtrade practices and everyday sustainable habits, we can all enjoy our cup of joe while minimizing our impact on the environment. Cheers to a more sustainable, delicious world—one sip at a time!

If you have a topic or question you’d like me to tackle next month, don’t hesitate to ask! Submit an anonymous question or problem here. No name or email required.