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I arrived at Dunkin Donuts around 1:00pm and was surprised by the short length of the line, considering that only a couple of weeks ago the opening-day line had been out the door and down the block. My delight at the brevity of the line was immediately replaced with ire, as the pacing of the service seemed to be extremely slow. It took at least 30 minutes for me to reach the front of a line that only had about 8 people in it. The behind-the-counter arrangement of the donuts and the coffee seem to be the primary source of inefficiency. As I got closer to the front of the line I became aware certain items on the menu were still not available two weeks after opening, including the Iced Green Tea, which I had planned to order. I ordered an Iced Latte, strawberry-iced donut, and a vanilla-iced donut. The preparation of the coffee was timely and the general preparation time for food also seemed to be generally swift.

I found a seat off to the side and took a second to study the interior décor. The ceilings were exposed, which is something I have to come to primarily associate with Chipotle restaurants. The interior was split into an indoor and outdoor section with the outdoor seating being curiously more spacious and seemingly more plentiful. I found this a very odd architectural choice considering the desert climate that has become the norm in the Greater Los Angeles area.

So the food… My latte was a latte, not bad, but not especially good. The donuts were decent, the icing was delicious, but the donut having been prepared some while ago had become spongy. My friend, Nick tried the Dunkincino, which was hot chocolate and coffee mixed together, he enjoyed it. I initially was underwhelmed by the Dunkin Donuts experience, I became aware that their sandwiches are one of their primary selling points. So I’ll have to hold off my final verdict until I try their sandwiches. However, I can say if you’re looking for great coffee stick to Starbucks or Coffee Bean.

Starbucks has become widely known for the seasonal treats they bestow on their loyal customers every year, one of the most popular being Pumpkin Spice Latte. Maybe in their urgency to please their customers Starbucks mixed up their seasons and thought fall was already here. Though mixing up their season would appropriate because their early launching of the Pumpkin Spice Latte has stirred up a ton of press and not the good kind.

Aside from the peculiar choice to release a coffee beverage does not have a iced equivalent like the Macchiato or Lattes during the summer. If drinking a scolding hot coffee during the summer does draw any ire perhaps the artificiality of the Pumpkin Spice Latte flavoring will. Considering the revealing discoveries about the effects of high fructose and various types of food coloring on our bodies, it’s becoming increasingly imperative that we as consumers are aware of whats in the food we consume. So naturally, it was only a matter of time before someone investigated the contents of Starbucks absurdly popular autumn offering. Little did we know that Vani Hari aka the Food Babe has actually been investigating whats in the Pumpkin Spice Latte for years. Hari revealed recently that Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte actually contains no pumpkin whatsoever, despite this quote from the Starbucks website seems to suggest “Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove? Check. Creamy milk for a delicious taste and texture? Check. Real pumpkin pie spices atop whipped cream”.

Oh the irony, that a drink that’s supposed be made of pumpkin, a fruit (yes, a fruit) that symbolizes the harvest associated with the autumn season, actually contains no pumpkin. That’s not the worse part Hari also revealed that the Pumpkin Spice Lattes contain an inordinate amount of sugar, in addition to Mosanto milk, a food coloring made from ammonia, and artificial flavors and preservatives. How long can Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte continue to immense popularity in the face of these revelations?

 

There are few things more universal than coffee. Visit any location in the entire world, and you’re likely to encounter coffee in some form or fashion. In westernized civilizations coffee has become more of a necessity good than a luxury. In countries like America, fueled by the 40 hour work week, coffee has become the fuel refreshing and invigorating seemingly without end. Seemingly.

The effects of global warming, while still being debated by some, are becoming more prevalent every day. Soon naysayers will be obliged to recognize our reality, unfortunately some will not heed warnings until its hits them in their cup. Across the globe, coffee farmers are finding it ever more difficult to produce substantial yields. Sadly, like most problems caused by global warming there are great consequences but few solutions.

Coffee Rust

The most prevalent threat to coffee crops is a deadly fungus known as coffee rust. Coffee rust is a parasitic fungus that feeds off the coffee tree, leaving yellow splotches on that ultimately prevent photosynthesis, which deprives the plant of the carbon dioxide it needs to live. In the past, South American countries have been able to dodge the threat of coffee rust by growing on their crops at higher altitudes, where lower temperatures acted as a deterrent to the fungus. However, global increases in temperatures, and unusual increases in rainfall have made even higher altitudes the perfect spawning ground for coffee rust. Scientists have attempted to create coffee rust resistant plants, but have been astonished by coffee rust’s ability to out-evolve coffee plants

Rising Temperatures & Droughts

Coffee plants are very delicate organisms. They can only be grown in specific conditions, primarily temperate climate. Slight increases or decreases in temperature are extremely detrimental to health of coffee crops. The same temperature increases that have allowed coffee rust to flourish also ends up killing many of the plants the manage to avoid coffee rust. Additionally, unusual weather patterns have produced dismal precipitation resulting in droughts and thus making it impossible for coffee plants to reach the harvesting stage.

Coffee’s Other Natural Threats

Threats to coffee, beyond the ravenous coffee rust fungus. Coffee plants also threats from the likes of Coffee Berry Disease (CBD) and Bacterial Blight. Coffee Berry Disease is a fungus that attacks the coffee berries. Normally, farmers spray their plants with pesticides during the rainy season to prevent infection. However, once again, due to abnormal weather patterns farmers are often plagued by unexpected rainfall, leaving them unable to spray and making their crops easing pickings for the CBD.

Bacterial Blight is as it’s implies, is a bacterial infection that can affect all parts of the coffee plant. One of the most common types of plant bacterial infections. The rate of infection of coffee plants has been exacerbated by abnormal increases in rainfall.

More Bitter Coffee

Most true coffee connoisseurs know that between Arabica and Robusta coffee beans, Arabica produces the more flavorful coffee. Regrettably Arabica plants are fragile plants, thus more susceptible to changes in climate, fungal and bacterial attacks. Some farmers have been forced to switch from growing Arabica to Robusta making the amount of traded Arabica much lower than its it’s been, despite increasing demand.

So what’s a coffee drinker to do now? Wait and hope. Scientist all over the world are for the first time are actually investing money, time and effort in researching coffee plants, how they grow, and what can be done to prevent their future extinction. Until then, cherish every cup of coffee like it’s your last, because very soon that could become reality.

 

Sources: http://qz.com/215666/how-climate-change-and-a-deadly-fungus-threaten-our-coffee-supply/#/h/73518,2/

http://sustainability.thomsonreuters.com/2013/04/19/climate-change-affecting-kenyas-coffee-output/

http://guardianlv.com/2014/04/global-warming-is-threatening-coffee-culture/

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/30/latin-america-climate-change-coffee-crops-rust-fungus-threat-hemileaia-vastatrix

 

 

 

StarbucksKorea

Starbucks Hits Korea as Korean Cafes Emerge Stateside

Take a stroll through Seoul streets, and the sheer number of coffee shops will astonish. Look one direction and you will see familiar American brands like Dunkin Donuts and Coffee Bean, look another direction and find just as popular, but less familiar such as Coffee Mill or Holly’s Coffee. With practically one out of every two buildings being a coffee shop, to call the growth in coffee consumption a coffee craze wouldn’t do the statistics justice.  Korea’s love of coffee evolved  from barely noticeable to full-blown obsession in a short period of time and there’s one brand Koreans have to thank for the recent black gold influx, Starbucks.  

Starbucks in Korea  
Starbucks venture into Korea began in 1999 with their first location. Now, some 15 years later, Korea has the 5th most Starbucks per million people and Seoul has the most Starbucks of any city in the world.  Yet, the growth continued with Starbucks adding 130 Korean locations last year, plus 50 more this year. Wiley in its business, moves Starbucks has been able to capitalize on the Korean youths adoration of American culture. The Starbucks logo has become a demarcation of status, within the culture, and rightfully so, considering the Korean Starbucks prices are more expensive that those in the America.  

Competition  
However, everything isn’t all croissants and latte’s for Korean coffee shops. Starbucks rapid growth in Korea has made it difficult for local coffee shop chains to compete. For instance, Starbucks primary competition is Angel-in-us. This year, Angel-in-us has opened 30 stores compared to Starbucks 50, and in terms of sales Angel-in-us made a respectable 279 million dollars last compared to the whopping 400 million that Starbucks made. While some have petitioned for government intervention to protect local shops from Wal-marted by Starbucks, the government is wary of causing any type of  trade conflict between Korea and foreign companies. Perhaps it’s for this fact that some of Korea brands have found another way to broaden their customer base.  

Coming to America.  
The coffee shop markets in Korea looks perilous, so its no surprise, three Korea coffee shop chains  have made the decision to venture across the Pacific and set up shop in Starbucks’ own backyard. Caffe Bene and Paris Baguette, both European style coffee shops have brought their style to America as an alternative to the sometimes too familiar Starbucks. The two brands have been slowly popping up in the some of the biggest America coffee shop markets, California and New York. Caffe Bene currently having 99 locations between the two states,  while Paris Baguette has about 30 stores, including one in Georgia. Tom N’ Toms, roaster/coffee shop has opened a few shops primarily in Los Angeles. All of these coffee shops are looking to capitalize on the massive coffee market in America, much like Starbucks has done in Korea. While the Korean coffee shops may never equal the level of success in America, that Starbucks has gained in Koreawith their alternative approaches to the coffee shop blueprint they may very well succeed in stealing away some of Starbucks’ massive American market share.