Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Love and Hate: The Starbucks Effect on Coffee Consumption

Heard from a couple of you about my last post, in which I attributed a rise in Chinese coffee consumption to the presence of Starbucks. Thanks for the feedback! But, please, don't assume I love Starbucks. I'm just giving a bit of credit where credit is due.

The Love and the Hate
Let's be clear: Local cafes with accomplished baristas serving locally roasted and Fair Trade coffees rule. Compared to a real pull of espresso from an indie coffee house like Pikes Perk, Starbucks drools an overly bubbled milk foam of drool.

Though I question aspects of the Starbucks business model, I do salute them for pledging to double their Fair Trade coffee purchases to 40 million pounds in 2009. This is a victory for Fair Trade, but even with the increase, Fair Trade will comprise but a sliver of the Starbucks coffe pie at 3.7%.

Starbucks, like Walmart, is a big player. So, whether we like it or not, what they do matters. Today's announcement of deep Starbucks job cuts suggests economic recession is meeting up with trends like DIY espresso at home:
Starbucks plans to close 300 stores, including 200 in the United States, and eliminate about 6,000 store jobs. The company also plans to eliminate about 700 corporate jobs, including about 350 at its corporate headquarters in Seattle.


I think we all love and hate big players. Starbucks is a worldwide coffee giant that does promise a consistent (if bland and overroasted) espresso. They offer a 100% Fair Trade roaster like us a big corporate foil against which we can hone our message and mission. (Love to hate them!) In spending the marketing dollars to raise coffee awareness and appreciation in undeveloped coffee markets, they help the rest of the coffee industry grow. Like, for example, the way that Starbucks is boosting latte quaffing in Tea Capital of the World, China.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Coffee Consumption Grows in China

Though tea in all its forms may be the traditional caffeine source of Chinese beverage drinkers, coffee is gaining an audience as China adopts western consumption trends.

Thank you, Starbucks

Starbucks has worked hard to entice Chinese consumers with the lure of coffee culture. In 10 years, the company has built 44 stores in Beijing alone. To celebrate their 10 year anniversary in china, Starbucks released a Yunnan province coffee blend available only in mainland China, Malaysia, and Singapore. From
The world's biggest coffee chain announced the launch of Starbucks "South of the Clouds Blend," containing coffee beans from Yunnan, which is the company's first offering using coffee grown by farmers in China. The name has been chosen to honor its birthplace of Yunnan, which means "south of the clouds" in Chinese.

How does Chinese coffee compare?
Early today, I wondered aloud on
Twitter what Chinese coffee tastes like. Roast Magaine describes Yunnan coffee as "a light to medium body and a light to medium acidity, similar to a wet-processed South American coffee. Moreover, says Stuart Eunson, managing director of Arabica Coffee Roasters in Beijing, China, the coffee “More and more people are beginning to drink coffee, and in the major cities, people are learning about higher-quality fresh coffee from cafĂ© chains like Starbucks.” So again, we have the Starbucks marketing machine to thank for nurturing budding Chinese coffee connoisseurs.

Why grab coffee and run when you can sit on a moon cusion and nosh on something tasty?
A cultural trend that altered the typical GrabNGo Starbucks model among Chinese Starbucks is that, in China: coffee does not work without grub. This plays perfectly into (Starbucks CEO) Herr Howard Schultz's idea of the "
third place"--Starbucks as a home away from home. NPR reported last week that Starbucks sales are still "piping hot" despite an economy that is slowing.

Still, for those coffee drinkers who don't want to lounge in their local Starbucks, one of the convenient things about living in China is the relatively low cost of courier services, so Chinese residents can get coffee delivered to their own doors for practically nothing.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Fair Trade recipes from our contest

Congratulations to Candy McMenamin, the winner of our Fair Trade Recipe contest! Here are the finalists
posted also on, December 22, 2008.

Spiced Cranberry Coffee Cookies – by Candy McMenamin
1 cup organic fair trade white sugar

1/2 cup organic butter
1 large organic egg, beaten
1 teaspoon fair trade Frontier Natural Organic Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup whole wheat flour1 1/2 cups white flour1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt1 teaspoon organic allspice
3/4 cup strong brewed Buy Well Fair Trade Coffee
1/2 cup fair trade certified dried cranberries
1/2 cup fair trade certified pine nuts (such as Goods From the Woods brand)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter. Add egg and vanilla. Mix thoroughly. In another large bowl, sift together whole wheat flour, white flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and allspice. Alternate adding flour mixture with coffee to sugar mixture, stirring to combine. Add the cranberries and pine nuts. Mix thoroughly. Using a tablespoon, drop onto greased baking sheets about 1 ½ inches apart. Bake in preheated oven 10-12 minutes or until browned. Remove from oven and let sit 2 minutes. Remove to wire baking rack to cool completely. Yield: about 4 dozen cookies

Happy Holidays Mocha Rice Pudding – by Candy McMenamin
3 cups cooked fair trade long grain rice

1 (14 ounce) can organic sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup fair trade baking cocoa (such as Equal Exchange)
1 (13 ounce) can organic evaporated milk1 tablespoon fair trade sugar
1 teaspoon fair trade vanilla
1/3 cup strong brewed fair trade coffee (such as Buy Well brand)
1/3 cup chopped fair trade chocolate bars, expresso bean variety (such as Equal Exchange)
1/3 cup fair trade almonds, toastedGarnish: Mint sprig, if desired

Prepare a 3 1/2 to 5 quart crock pot with non-stick cooking spray. Add all ingredients except chocolate bars and almonds to slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cook on low heat 3-4 hours, stirring occassionally if possible. Stir in chopped chocolate bars and almonds. Garnish each serving with a sprig of mint, if desired. Yield: 8 servings

Mother Earth Molasses Sugar Cookies – 100% vegan — by Kathryn Barry of Pittsburgh, PA
¾ C Palm oil shortening

1 C Fair Trade raw pure cane sugar
*¼ C Fair Trade molasses
*¼ C soy milk
2 C whole wheat flour
2 t baking soda
½ t Fair Trade ground cloves
½ t ginger
1 t cinnamon
½ t salt

Melt shortening and let cool. Add sugar, molasses, and soy milk. Beat well. Sift together flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Combine with sugar/ molasses mixture. Mix well and chill for four hours. Form into one inch balls, flatten slightly with palm and top with sugar. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 mins. Let cook on a wire rack five minutes and serve with Fair Trade coffee. Makes about a dozen cookies.

Champurrado Tropical Brownie — by Ken Hulme of South Vencie, FL
Based on a thickened hot chocolate Holiday drink recipe from Mexico, the Pacific fusion of coconut milk and coffee turns a simple drink into a decadent tropical dessert.
2-3 cups Masa Harina para tamales

1 cup Water1 tablespoon Cinnamon
3-4 Chipotle Chiles en adobo, minced fine, with sauce, to taste
2 teaspoons Fair Trade branded Vanilla extract
1/4 cup Fair Trade branded Dark Roast Coffee, very finely ground
1 cup Fair Trade branded Sugar2 cups Coconut Milk
2 cups Heavy Cream
12 oz Fair Trade branded Unsweetened Chocolate
1/4 cup Coconut, shredded
1/4 cup Fair Trade branded Semi-Sweet Chocolate, shavedWhipped Cream for topping

In a large saucepan, combine 1/2 cup masa harina with the water, using a whisk. Add the cinnamon, coffee and vanilla. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Stir in the sugar, coconut milk, cream and chocolate, and bring to a simmer, whisking until smooth. Add the chipotle chiles, to taste and whisk. At this point you have a coconut & chipotle spiked version of classic Champurrado. But, to continue…
Begin adding more masa, a quarter cup at a time, stirring continuously with a spoon to incorporate, until you reach a very stiff dough stage. Mold the dough into ramekins or small springform pans coated with cooking spray, and allow to cool 20 minutes. Plate each brownie on a base of shredded coconut, top with a dollop of whipped cream and shaved chocolate. Serves 6-8.

Easy Cocoa “Fudge” — by Jenny Lugardo
Not for the faint of heart, very intense cocoa flavor. The cocoa is the only ingredeint that has a fair trade option, so I also listed local (for me) options. I won’t be offended if you edit that out, but supporting small farmers in the US is part of fair trade to me. In all honesty I can’t shop this way all the time, but I am trying.

3/4 C Black and Gold Cocoa
1/2 C Curtis Orchard & Pumpkin Patch Honey or other sweetner
1/2 C Stone Organic Pastures Butter3 Joy of Illinois Eggs1 T vanilla
Beat everything together and pour into greased 8″ pie pan. Bake at 350 for 20-25 min, or until the center no longer appears wet. Cut into wedges. Enjoy.

Mocha Chocolate Brownies — by Woilfgang of West Palm Beach, FL
Brownie Ingredients:

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt1 cup water
1/2 cup butter, cut up
1/2 cup cooking oil (Fair Trade Product)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Fair Trade Product)
1/2 cup extra strong brewed BuyWell Fair Trade organic Coffee- Blackbird Espresso-cooled to room temperature2 eggs1 tsp vanilla (Fair Trade Product)

For the Frosting:
1 1-lb pkg . powdered sugar, sifted
Dash salt1/2 cup butter, cut up
1/3 cup extra strong brewed BuyWell Fair Trade organic Coffee- Blackbird Espresso - cooled to room temperature
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Fair Trade Product)
1 tsp vanilla (Fair Trade Product)
1/2 cup pecan or walnut pieces (your choice)

Grease a 15 x10×1″ baking pan. Set aside. In a large bowl, stir together flour, granulated sugar, baking soda and the 1/2 tsp salt.Set aside. In a medium sauce pan , combine the water, 1/2 cup butter , the oil and 1/4 cup cocoa powder. Heat just to boiling, stirring to melt butter; Add hot liquid to flour mixture. Beat with an electric mixture on low speed just until dry ingredients are moistened. Add the 1/2 cup Espresso coffee , the eggs and 1 tsp vanilla. Beat on low speed for 1 minute and do NOT overbeat. Batter will be thin. Pour into the prepared baking pan . Bake in a 350 degree F hot oven for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Place pan on a wire rack.

For Frosting:
In a large bowl combine powdered sugar and salt, Set aside. In medium sauce pan combine 1/2 butter, the 1/3 cup espresso and 1/4 cup cocoa powder. Heat and stir over medium heat until butter is melted. Pour hot espresso mixture over powdered sugar mixture . Add 1 tsp vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed just until combined; beat on medium speed until smooth. By hand, stir in nuts. Carefully pour the warm frosting over the warm brownies, spread evenly. Cool completely. Cut into bars: makes about 48 brownies

Fairest of Them All Festive Holiday Rice — by Nancy Dentler of Greensboro, NC
2 cups Fair Trade or organic Jasmine rice

4 cups Fair Trade or organic apple juice or cider
2 teaspoons Fair Trade or organic sea salt (if salt is desired)
1 teaspoon Fair Trade or organic black pepper
1/3 cup Fair Trade or organic dried dates, chopped
1/3 cup Fair Trade or organic dried figs, chopped
1/3 cup Fair Trade or organic dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup (or to taste) Fair Trade or organic honey
1/3 cup Fair Trade or organic sliced almonds

Combine rice, apple juice or cider, sea salt (if desired), and black pepper in a 4 quart size pot. Bring rice mixture to a boil on stove top, and stir. Add dates, figs, and apricots to pot and stir well. Cover pot and lower heat to simmer. Cook until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in honey and sliced almonds. Remove covered pot from heat and let rice rest for 5 minutes. Fluff rice with fork and serve. Makes about 7 cups of holiday rice.

Note: Fair Trade ingredients in this recipe are my first choice. If you cannot find a specific Fair Trade ingredient in your area, use an organic item instead. Since availability of Fair Trade ingredients may vary in certain areas, recipe ingredients were listed as Fair Trade or organic. “Fairest of Them A ll” Festive Holiday Rice is delightful at your holiday lunch or dinner. It is also delicious heated for a post-holiday breakfast or snack, just in case any rice is remaining after the celebration!

White Asparagus Risotto with Smoked Gouda, Crispy Country Ham & Toasted Cornbread Crumbs — by Cheryl Perry of Hertford, NC

1 cup vegetable oil6 ounces country ham, thinly shaved

5 ¼ cups vegetable stock or broth1 pound White asparagus, trimmed & cut into one inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup shallots, finely chopped
1 ½ cups arborio rice
¼ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon white pepper
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup Smoked gouda cheese, shredded & divided
¼ cup lightly toasted cornbread crumbs
4 cilantro sprigs

Heat vegetable oil in a medium skillet and quickly cook ham over medium heat until crispy on both sides. Remove to paper towels to drain; set aside. Bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a large saucepan; blanch the asparagus for 2 minutes. Remove asparagus from stock and shock it in ice water until chilled; drain thoroughly. Reduce the vegetable stock to low and keep hot. Meanwhile, add the oil & shallots to a large skillet; saute for three minutes over medium heat. Add rice and stir until lightly golden, or about 3-4 minutes. Add ½ cup of the vegetable stock and allow to cook until liquid evaporates. Continue stirring the rice and adding the vegetable stock, one cup at a time, for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, add the cream, any remaining stock and pepper. Continue to cook & stir constantly until mixture is tender, creamy but slightly firm in the center. Remove saucepan from the heat, stir in the asparagus, butter, and ½ cup of gouda cheese. To serve. Spoon risotto on individual serving plates followed with reserved cheese and crispy country ham. Sprinkle cornbread crumbs over the top and garnish with cilantro sprig. Makes 4 servings.