“It’s the end of the world as we know it...”
Between a certain virus, the recession it caused, political turmoil in the USA, and the usual round of strife, the last twelve months have been distinctly sub-optimal. And now The Register brings you news of a terrifying new crisis: a coffee shortage. Bloomberg’s Indian outpost Quint details the disaster: droughts in Brazil …
The British do indeed prefer tea.
Unfortunately these days we have a huge number of benighted heathens present in the British isles who eschew identifying as being British and abstain from traditional signs of Britishness such as drinking tea, real ale, wearing tweed and the like.
Distressingly, many people thus afflicted drink cans of industrial chemicals and sweeteners which they call "energy drinks", coffee (which is an acquired taste, typically acquired after it has obliterated your taste buds...) or or some form of canned piss imported from abroad instead of proper ale. It is suspected that the latter problem is a consequence of the wholesale destruction of taste buds caused by drinking coffee or industrial waste.
It's awfully distressing. Still, some of us won't be worried by the spectre of a shortage of coffee, other than by the possibility of watching the death throes of our poor colleagues suffering from the pangs of caffeine deprivation. The ones who proclaim that sleep is a clinical complication of caffeine deprivation can reasonably be expected to suffer the most from the withdrawal symptoms.
There are those that actually like the taste of high quality, local roasters (so it doesn't taste like locking an ashtray like a certain instant coffee)...
As for beer, not all beers from a tap taste like it came directly from the toilets. There's a number of good local breweries where I am (currently 30 and counting) that make some really hoppy numbers.
As for the withdrawal?.... Fine, you got me on that one.
When I lived in Streatham Hill in the late 1980s there was a small coffee shop that had one of those roasting machines in the window. Wonderful smells when you walked past. This was before the days of Talyors and such like mass-producing "artisan" or "connoisseur" coffee .
You could buy it in beans and ground, selecting the amount of grinding you wanted.
I have not seen a place like that for years.
They were all over our our high streets in the 50s and 60s. I used to love the blue smoke and the aroma as a kid. Sadly they all the modern roasters seem to be fitted with filters and above roof exhausts nowadays. I miss the smell of boiling wort from the breweries and molten chocolate from the chocolate factory. Nowadays all I can smell is the sewage works when the wind is from the east.
Mine's the one with the Mediterranean dark roast in the pockets.
Just saying, but if you go to a trade distributor (ie; cash and carry) then you can buy by kilogram sized containers, and there are often price promotions for buying multiple packs which will work out a lot cheaper (and easier to store) than a pile of retail packets. And you'll get a lot more for your money.
Savings are of course greater the further you get up the trade chain.
There won't be any left by then!
Funny how in "normal" circumstances, the range of coffees on the shelves includes everything from undrinkable to really good. When there is a shortage, anything reaching "acceptable" on the scale disappears almost immediately.
Rather suggests that the hoarders have some taste.
Friends don't let friends purchase supermarket coffee.
I get my coffee in 50lb bags for about a hundred bucks (up from about 75 a year ago). The beans are still green, so they last for a long time in a cool, dark, dry place. Maybe I have to roast 'em myself ... but at least we can survive the next earthquake (or coffee shortage) without worrying about it too much.
For those of you with less storage space, you can get 5 or 20 pound bags for around three or four bucks a pound, plus shipping. Yes, modified air-pop popcorn poppers work to roast the beans. One can probably find videos of how to go about it via your favorite search engine.
This feels like a setup, roughly akin to "have you stopped beating your wife?", but I'll bite anyway ...
I get it pretty much at cost from a wholesaler that I do computer work for. It's pretty damn good, or I wouldn't buy it. Life's too short to drink crap coffee.
I have no idea what percentage of the price the producers get, any more than I know what percentage the producers of my rice, beans, flour, sugar and other dry goods get. Life's too short to trace everything I eat back to the individual producer. Yourself?
On the other hand, I grow most of my own fruit&veggies and meat (milk, eggs), so I know EXACTLY how much the producer receives ... and I almost never buy food (except some cheeses), I only buy ingredients. Yourself?
It depends on the coffee, doesn't it? I recently bought 65 pounds of Ethiopian at $3.80/lb, and the batch before that was Tanzanian at $2.15.lb. So it depends. Yes, I could get Vietnamese robusta at $0.75/lb. And I've bought Hawaiian Kona-grown coffee at appx $25/lb.
Sure, it's green coffee, roast it yourself. But it does last a very long time when it's green. And freshly roasted coffee tastes soooooo good. Just ask James Hoffmann, who drank coffee from the 1950s for his channel audience.
"Friends don't let friends purchase supermarket coffee."
That's the truth. But even buying the higher end products involve navigating quite a bit of lying, ah, I mean marketing.
"100% XYZ coffee" can often mean grade Z rejects.
"Grade A XYX coffee" in big letters with "blend" in small letters means if you are lucky the bag contains a single Grade 1 bean.
"But even buying the higher end products involve navigating quite a bit of lying, ah, I mean marketing."
Well, yes. But that's true of pretty much everything in our modern world, alas. That's why the Romans had the saying "Caveat emptor, quia ignorare non debuit quod jus alienum emit" ...
 "Modern World" defined here as "since the invention of money".
I have have green beans up to 20 years old in my freezer. I find that a heavy aluminium pan, a wooden spoon and a gas hob or camping stove (no not gasoline:) are all you need to roast to perfection. Do it outdoors or invest in a good extraction system;)
It's no joke. It happened in 1974. For a while all you could get was some awful instant brew that was 50% chicory and 50% used Gauloise. Then there was a sugar panic, and a salt panic...... All that EOW stuff in the early 70's convinced people that any glitch in supply was a sign of doom.
The "gas crisis" of the 1970s taught Big Business that creating fake shortages was a good way to boost profits. They passed laws against it here in the US, not that it did any good.
For example, the price of gas (petrol) here in the San Francisco Bay Area is higher than anywhere else in the Nation. After the Great Freeze in Texas shut down oil production and refineries in that state that weren't already closed due to Covid, the price here in SFBA skyrocketed. Because of oil and gas (petrol) shortages coming out of Texas, or so they told us. Only problem is that California gets absolutely none (that's none, zero, zilch, nada) of its oil and gas (petrol) from Texas. Nor do we export any of it to anywhere that Texas supplies. The Venn diagrams of Texas Oil and California Oil do not meet in any meaningful way.
It's collusion between the big oil companies to drive up oil prices, pure and simple. It happens every time there is a big fire at a refinery in Texas. Anyone who looks into it can see it. But will the legislature look into it? Will they fuck ... Too much money in the oil lobby.
And so here we are today ... Other industries are learning to get around it. Probably by
bribing elected officials applying lobby dollars correctly.
I suppose your programmers can drink the stuff from the vending machines in the hall. Whatever it is, it is black, bitter, and quite possibly contains a stimulant. I don't know what it is made from. I don't think anyone does. I'm pretty sure that no one wants to know what's in it. But I'm pretty sure that it contains little or no actual coffee and therefore should continue to be available.
I hate to think what the inside of those machines looks like after a year or so of use, too. At least an auto-drip machine can be properly cleaned out.
Though frankly my main objection to them is that making a cup at a time seems like the coffee-drinking equivalent of driving a mile in my car, stopping it, getting out, getting back in, starting it, and driving another mile.
I suppose this depends on the individual.
I've been drinking coffee daily for more than 30 years. I typically drink between 1500 and 2300 ml a day, if my conversion (using units(1), naturally) is right. I often drink it late into the evening; even a few cups before bedtime doesn't keep me from sleeping, though I do get up more times in the night to, er, answer the call of nature. (Nature, couldn't you email instead?)
But about a year ago I was staying at my daughter's house and we ran out of coffee. Lockdown had started and I wasn't going to run out to the grocery, or ask anyone else to, just for coffee. So I went a few days without it until we did the big weekly grocery run.
I don't care for other caffeinated beverages, so I just drank water.
I found I really missed having a hot beverage to sip, but other than that ... pretty much as normal. I guess I'm just less sensitive to it than most.
But won't someone think of the hipsters!! How will they ever survive without their caramel soy latte, with extra foam and chocolate sprinkles!!
Only joking. This is terrible news, just wait for the increase in the murder rate, as wives murder husbands, husbands murder wives, and flatmates kill each other for the last cup of morning coffee! It'll be a massacre, I tell you!!!
Or learn to drink tea.
There's about the same amount of caffeine in the average cup of tea as there is in the average cup of coffee. Around 90mg, I believe.
Someone did the calculation. Apparently, tea leaves have a fair bit more caffeine than coffee beans gram for gram (or pound for pound), but since you use more coffee and hotter water to get a cup, more of the caffeine is extracted. But the average cup of either is about the same, give or take.
No, coffee is (should be) made with water just under the boiling point, between 195 and 205F (91-96C). Any hotter and you release the bitter acidic components that some (most?) people find narsty, any less and you miss out on some of the best aromatics (and in fact, the closer you can hold it at 205F while it brews without going over, the better your coffee will be).
Black, fermented tea (which most of you Brits drink) works best with boiling water. Other teas work best at progressively cooler brewing temperatures. The kettle in my kitchen has 6 different temperature settings, 5 for various teas, one for coffee.
IOW, you are quite correct, the OP had it bassackwards.
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Actually, I looked it up first. Neither drink should be made using boiling water.
The best temperature for water for fine or delicate tea is between 70-85C. Black tea is best brewed with water at 90-98C.
The best temperature for water for coffee is 96C.
Therefore, if you're brewing either properly, you'd generally use slightly hotter water for coffee. You shouldn't use boiling water for either of them, although most people do.
The point was, though, that both tea and coffee (and I enjoy drinking both) carry about the same amount of caffeine per cup - give or take how they are made. Dried tea contains more caffeine than coffee beans for the same weight, but you use twice as much coffee as tea to make a cup. And if made properly, the water for coffee is generally very slightly hotter than for tea.
Although I do, as already stated, enjoy both, tea is by far the one I drink most of. I never use boiling water - always slightly off the boil - because it does affect the taste.
A cup of tea and a cup of coffee still have similar levels of caffeine per cup, and if someone's sole purpose for drinking either was a caffeine fix, if coffee became difficult to get hold of, tea would provide said fix. Hence my original light-hearted quip.
Everything I've ever read about brewing strong, black tea in the British way (which is what we are discussing here) suggests using boiling water (212F or 100C). A quick glance at TehIntraWebTubes suggests that some folks say 208F (98C) works as well as boiling. Regardless, British style tea is properly brewed at a temperature high enough to wreck coffee.
I suspect if you asked most of the Brits reading here if they would like a cup of tea, and then presented them one of your fine or delicate teas, you would be mocked derisively in perpetuity for the faux pas.
Whoda thunk that the Extinction Level Event that ends humanity will not be a deep impact of stupidly large space boulders, an invasion of morbidly curious aliens armed with suspiciously familiar looking plumbing and kitchen utensils, or the comparatively banal option of nuclear war, but it will in fact be a deficit of coffee running through our increasingly pulsating veins?
The movie "I am Legend" suddenly makes a lot more sense.
My parents, in the '60s, drank Camp as instant coffee -- they had indeed acquired a taste for the chicory during the war.
But post-war living as expats in the Far East and South America had taught them to like real coffee as well. They even had an electric percolator! I remember that the local Sainsburys tea & coffee counter would grind coffee beans to order (of course, there was no concept of self-service in Sainsburys in those days - my mother had to queue at half a dozen different counters to buy all the things on her list).
I don't want to drink coffee substitutes, but my wife and I occasionally enjoy a pot of Café du Monde coffee, which has chicory added to it. It's not quite the same experience without a couple beignets, but it's still evocative of New Orleans. Again, though, it's very much an acquired taste, and I wouldn't want to drink it exclusively (at least not without the beignet).
Meh. I have been roasting my own coffee beans (which is ridiculously easy) for years. Buying green beans in bulk (10-15kg or so) means you end up paying about 1/3 of the going retail price, and the latter is for bog standard coffee, not single origin gourmet quality, which is essentially what fresh home roasted coffee is. Green beans, when properly packaged and stored, have a shelf life of at least 2 years. So I've got the better part of 25 kg in stock and I'm ready for Armageddon. (And I'm not even mentioning home brewed beer and home distilled hooch here.)
Time to become more self-sufficient, people!
Life's to short to drink shitty coffee ...but I suppose it might go well with your favorite Catshit ElRopo cigar, as long as you're killing your sense of taste anyway ...
Besides, some reports suggest that over 99% of all the coffee sold as kopi luwak is fake. You pays your money and you takes your chances. Caveat emptor.
Roasting coffee is a very delicate expert process.
Buying roasted beans in bulk direct from a roaster, the day it's roasted and sealed up, and storing in a freezer also works. Under these conditions coffee can easily last a year in perfect condition.
The beans you get at the "supermarket" are ancient by the time they're sold and badly stored, so don't bother with them.
I'll go along with the taylors beans number six hot java roast....mmm even smells like decent coffee rather than the muck everyone at work gets from starbucks 1/2 mile down the road (or the instant 'coffee' beloved by other engineers bleerggghhh)
But on the other hand, I used to survive on god awful vending machine coffee. the stuff made by grinding up dried leafs and twigs from a long dead coffee plant .... you know the sort I mean... the ones that taste better after you drop the cigarette end in it...
"Roasting coffee is a very delicate expert process."
My Grandfather used to do it with a pair of cast iron skillets over a camp fire. One to toast the beans according to eye, nose and ear, and the second one to cool them quickly when done. Best coffee I've ever had. (Waking up in the great outdoors, many miles from civilization, no doubt improved the flavo(u)r.)
Concur about supermarket beans. Get them from a professional. Green or roasted.
...coffee shortage of 2011. You remember that?
Similar to the one in 2014? Nope? How about the 2017 one?
So roll your eyes and just remember its the stock market doing its usual bullshit while those at the bottom of the rung get no benefit at all from the inflated prices.
Old folks who remember the wartime in Finland say they made ersatz coffee from dandelion roots. At least it is a readily available raw material: dandelion typically grows here wherever you really try to grow something else.
When the first ship from Brazil carrying real coffee arrived after the war, it was a cause for national celebration.
The article states that 30 plants may be needed for the average user to satisfy his addiction.
At present, growing 30 or more coffee plants may be entirely lawful and allowed but one wonders how long this will obtain? When coffee is so rare as to command prices in the hundreds of dollars per cup, will the Authorities ban growing it as a personal crop? Will it become less lawful, more illegal than that other famous weed? Might the laws be amended to treat home-brew coffee as harshly as home-brew likkers?
Big Coffee, after all, will not wish to lose any profits to Mummy&Daddy micro-breweries any more than the Excise men did to moonshiners.
Ah, yes, I can see the day [sometime in 2023, perhaps?] when the jails are stuffed full of nasty, asocial hippy-types who want to legalise home production of "harmless" drugs like coffee and whose houses are raided on a regular basis.
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