Tag Archives: Coffee

How to make a perfect cup of coffee using the Aeropress


-Casey Klekas

The word addict, as in “I am a coffee addict,” comes from the latin word addictus, meaning “to surrender” or “to pay religious devotion.” My girlfriend has helped me explore new ways of devoting myself to the coffee bean. She has opened me to newer and more elaborate rituals of transforming those roasted seeds into a subtler and more intricate cup of coffee. For instance, she bought me an Aeropress, a plunger of a device that combines the advantages of the French press and the espresso machine—all for less than thirty bucks.

The Aeropress is a cylinder of two inches in diameter, five inches in length, with a screw on cap at the bottom for a paper filter. You’re supposed to put two scoops of ground coffee inside the tube with the filter locked on. You fill it half full with water, wait thirty seconds, then “press” the plunger device to push the liquid out of the grounds, through the filter and into the waiting cup below. This normally gives you a double shot of espresso, which you top with water for an Americano, or milk for a latte. I have experimented with countless techniques for using the Aeropress and have come to accept a variant of the “inverted method” as my favorite. Here’s what I do (at least three times a day):

I heat the water to just below 200 degrees F. Water should never be boiling (212 degrees) when it hits the coffee or else your liable to get stuck with a burnt flavor. If you’re using an electric kettle, let it sit for a minute after reaching boil, or if you’re as sick as me you’ll use a thermometer for perfection.

Put the plunger bottoms up and place the cylinder just over the lip of the rubber, so as to get the same water tightness as the regular method. Take a rounded scoop of medium ground coffee and dump it into the tube (use the funnel that it came with).

Pour the water so it just barely covers all the grounds, then let it sit for thirty seconds or so in order to “bloom.” Blooming is when the coffee puffs up and releases CO2 at its first contact with hot water. It’s important to let the CO2 escape now rather than slipping into your cup.

Stir with the paddle-thing it came with, then fill to an inch below the top of the brewer. Or fill then stir. Just make sure it is stirred and filled, ok? We wanna get all the coffee grinds soaking, alright? Mmkay.

Let it sit for one minute or more, but not more than two minutes because you’ll be flirting with bitterness. While you’re waiting, put the filter in the cap and rinse with your hot water. You want to rinse the filter so as to get rid of any papery flavor, unless you are one of those who liked to eat the paper as much as the cupcake. I am guilty of doing this well beyond my adolescence. Rinse the filter over the cup you’ll soon fill with coffee. You want to avoid any big temperature jumps so as not to stifle the potential flavor of your (Roma) beans.

Pour out the water in your cup, screw on the filter, then carefully but quickly flip the whole brewer on top of your mug. Press until you hear the hissing of the last bits of liquid being squeezed out of your grounds. Sometimes I press all the way, but you’ll get a “cleaner” cup if you don’t.

Fill another half of the mug with water, let sit for a minute, then pour it on your keyboard, I mean, all over your pillow—no wait, just drink it. Drink it with your mouth. Open your lips and start to suck. Once the liquid fills and scolds your entire mouth, then swallow…

Coffee, sweet nectar for the weary!

-Casey Klekas

My morning ritual consists of drinking two glasses of water and three pots of coffee. That’s not true; sometimes I forget to drink any water. Regardless, I’ve picked up the nasty habit of buying a new coffee appliance every few months. Long ago I resigned my automatic drip brewer to the cupboard. Now, my coffee station consists of three brewers: the French press, the Aeropress, and the Chemex. If I’m entertaining for Easter brunch, I’ll use the French press. If I want a single cup of coffee, Americano, or shot of espresso, I’ll use the Aeropress. When it’s just me and my old lady—I wanted to say “Me and the Mrs.,” but there isn’t a standard unabbreviated form for Mrs. (forgive me, dear)—I use the Chemex. The Chemex is essentially a Melitta, the little plastic cone that is often used for single cup brewing. I can’t squeeze four years of coffee experience into 500 words, so I’m devoting the next few posts to the elixir that got me through college.

The best beans in town at the most agreeable price is a pound of whole bean, house coffee from Espresso Roma. I’ve long thought Roma to be the best coffee on campus. In my opinion, the next best coffee in Eugene is either Stumptown or from the Wandering Goat. However, they price their coffee adjusted for hyperinflation, and they have too many “floral” coffees that I don’t fancy. No, the beans to buy are from Espresso Roma for eleven bucks a pound. Do not buy your coffee from Starbucks. A twelve ounce bag goes for nine clams. As Dr. Bill Nye will tell you, there are sixteen ounces in a pound, so two extra greenbacks will get you four ounces more of higher quality beans if you go with Roma.

Next, you’ll need a coffee grinder. It is best to grind your own coffee immediately before brewing. Do a taste test between a pot of coffee made with fresh ground beans and the one made with your usual choice of musty shavings. You’ll never go back.

For years I used a standard blade grinder, loud and messy though it was. If you’re a snob, like me, you should invest in a burr grinder. These do not randomly hack the beans into submission. The burr is like a pepper grinder, where two blades or abrasive metals revolve in opposite directions. This gives you an even consistency in your grind.

Why is the grinder important? There is a noticeable difference in taste and aroma between the blade grinder and the burr grinder. The burr creates less friction, meaning less heat, therefore less flavor lost in your grinder and more in your cup. Also, you will want to grind your beans according to the brewer being used. If you need a medium grind for standard drip coffee, your blade grinder will give you pieces, big and small. Those grinds will give different tastes according to their size, leaving you with an unpredictable cup of joe. The coffee bean is a sensitive seed that, should you treat it tenderly, will repay your respect by ten-fold.

If you’re not using an automatic brewer, you’ll need a kettle. I prefer electric to stove-top kettles, but this is only a matter of preference (my stove sucks).

Well, that’s all for now. My next post will include step-by-step instructions for various brewing methods. The coffee is good enough to make anyone into a coffee snob. I should warn you: it’s an expensive lifestyle. Remember, get a burr-grinder and fill it with Roma beans!

Don’t Worry Be Healthy: 1,3,7-Trimethylxanthine – Part III: Red Bull

-Marissa Tomko

If you follow “Don’t Worry, Be Healthy,” you’re probably well aware of the fact that I love caffeine. After all, you know what they say, you should write about what you know!

So far, I’ve talked about the way caffeine works and given a little bit of background on coffee. But what’s next you ask? Here’s a hint: it gives you wings.

If you’re not a college student, have never taken a long drive, or have never been into a 7-11, then maybe there’s a chance that my hint means nothing to you. But as for the rest of you, you know what I’m talking about—Red Bull.

I have been a fan of this beverage since I was a freshman, and in the past two and a half years, I’ve heard it all: “They’re full of sugar,” “You drink too much caffeine,” and “Did you know you don’t need that much taurine in your diet?” I am fully aware of all of these things, and my guess is that you are too. I could write about how energy drinks are bad for you, and list the negative health effects you may or may not experience when drinking them. But what I find to be more interesting is why we still drink them, despite what we know about them. It all comes down to one thing: killer advertising.

In my opinion, Red Bull has one of the most effective advertising campaigns out there. It doesn’t sell a drink; it sells a lifestyle. The brand appeals to the adventuring, extremist, free-spirited athlete in all of us. The Red Bull website has next to nothing to do with that skinny silver can that I love to drink from; it’s full of sports videos, action photography, and the latest remixes. Red Bull’s Twitter profile is slightly more geared toward the actual beverage, but its main purpose is still to sell a persona. The bio on the social media site reads: “Red Bull is the only Energy Drink that #GivesYouWings. Likes: F1, racing, skate, surf, snow, moto, BMX, MTB, X Games, wake, music, art, culture, gaming. Fun.” The feed is full of inspiring thoughts, crazy videos, and has snow-covered mountains as a background picture—that right there sold me!

I know, I know—you think I’m a sucker for advertising. And maybe I am. But this campaign does more than sell a product. It taps into the person inside of us that we love the most: the fun-loving, dancing, carefree one that we wish we could be all the time. Even though drinking a Red Bull doesn’t make that come true when we’re studying or driving home on the interstate, it is sure to remind us that that person is still there, and that the possibilities are endless.

Visually Oriented: The Aesthetics and Aroma of Latte Design

-Emily Fraysse

Driving toward the blur of the city lights on the Bay Bridge, I looked in my rear-view mirror to a sunrise that made Oakland and the Berkeley hills look like they were on fire. I never usually drive into San Francisco at this ungodly hour of the morning, but my mother, father, two sisters, and I all signed up to work the morning shift at Glide Memorial in the Mission District. After countless plates served of watered-down eggs and two-day-old bread, we were finally finished and exhausted. We began to wander about the Mission district, ravenous with a major lack of caffeine in my system. Bringing up the Yelp app on my iPhone, I found a good rating for a restaurant called “The Blue Fig,” so we went forth.

It was a bit of a hole-in-the wall restaurant despite the high rating on Yelp. I snatched up an order of mocha and eggs Benedict and when the food came, I was astonished. My mocha had been transformed from a typical latte to an elaborate form of art with the name of the restaurant carefully and eloquently poured in by steamed milk.

While this form of art is purely temporary, it is a worldly recognized and appreciated type of edible design. Since the early ‘80s, the action of pouring steamed milk into a shot of espresso, or latte, while creating beautiful sketches and patterns is seen as a legitimate talent. Baristas, or coffeehouse bartenders, seek creativity and elegance when creating. Their goal is not only about flaunting their talents, however. It is also about making that single cup of coffee more special, sexy, and, consequently, more delicious  The artwork ranges from floral prints, to symbols, to portraits. For more design inspiration check out this gallery.

WikiHow provides a quick guide to creating a latte floral pattern.

Don’t Worry Be Healthy: 1,3,7-Trimethylxanthine – Part II: Coffee

-Marissa Tomko

There was one dark spot in my otherwise bright and sunny morning today—and I liked it. It sucked me in as I sleepily stumbled down my stairs toward its bitter lure, welcoming the way in which its steam burned my face. Black as night, I consumed it: my morning cup (or should I say pot) of coffee.

Legend has it that coffee was first discovered in the thirteenth century by an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi. As the story goes, he noticed that his goats were especially energetic after eating the berries that grew on a certain type of tree. He spread the news to the nearby monastery, where monks used the coffee berries to prolong their prayer time. While the credibility of this story is questioned, the origin of coffee can certainly be traced back to Ethiopia.

Since those spunky goats, coffee has become a profitable crop grown around the world in what is called the bean belt. It lies between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, with Hawaii being the only state in the US to grow the bitter bean. Be that as it may, the US has turned coffee into a $30 billion industry; CNBC estimates that our country drinks 400 million cups of coffee a day.

Mayo Clinic suggests that 200-300 milligrams of caffeine a day isn’t bad for you, but that drinking upwards of 500 milligrams is not healthy. To put that into more comprehensible terms, consider that a grande-sized coffee from Starbucks has 330 milligrams of caffeine. I don’t know about you, but when I do the math, I exceed my recommended dosage. In my defense though, I spread my intake throughout the day, save a recent work experience where I downed about 565 milligrams in twenty minutes. Needless to say I learned my lesson.

Coffee addicts often hear about the negative consequences of their habit: insomnia, anxiety, withdrawal headaches, and blood pressure spikes. But what about the positives? I will never forget the moment I read in a Newsweek article that claimed that women who drink four cups of coffee per day reduce their risk of becoming clinically depressed by 20 percent. Upon further investigation, I learned that those four cups also decrease my risk for liver cirrhosis by 80 percent, particularly alcoholic cirrhosis. While I drink alcohol responsibly, I interpreted this as a sign to drink my favorite caffeinated beverage with reckless abandon (thus my overdose in the workplace).

Sometimes you wake up smiling on the right side of the bed, and sometimes you don’t. In any case, I urge you to take a cue from those crazy Ethiopian goats, and kickstart your day with a fresh cup of joe.

Image by puuikibeach from http://www.flickr.com/photos/puuikibeach/3299635718/

Don't Worry Be Healthy: 1,3,7-Trimethylxanthine – Part I

-Marissa Tomko

The list of things that I love more than caffeine consists of one item: my mom. If you aren’t her, then I’m sorry if that was harsh and unexpected. I guess I’m just at a point in my life where I’m honest about my priorities.

Unlike my mom, whom I’ve relied on since, well, forever, I’ve had a dependency on caffeine since I was 17 years old. Most of my sweatshirts are dribbled with coffee stains, and you can usually bet that the straggling Red Bull cans around my house after a night out are mine. In the past four years, I think I’ve gone a total of five days without caffeine, and when I think about them, all I can recall are screaming headaches, hostile moods, and a life of reclusion under my duvet.

I’ve always been aware that my addiction is unhealthy, but even the most disapproving conversation or accidental overdose during a long day at work hasn’t even slightly swayed me into thinking that I need to change. I have a healthy diet, I exercise regularly, and I don’t smoke. What more do you want from me?!

But even after hundreds upon hundreds of daily pick-me-ups, I still don’t really know how caffeine works or what it’s actually doing to me. That’s why I’ve decided to write a short series on the caffeinated beverages in my life. I want to know where they come from, what they consist of, and the different effects they cause. Will any alarming discoveries deter me from my ritualistic drinking? Probably not, but at least I’ll be an informed citizen.

In this introductory post, I’m just going to give a quick rundown on how caffeine works: Our bodies produce energy because of a chemical called adenosine. By connecting to phosphates in the body, it creates adenosine troposphere (ATP). When that molecular bond is broken, energy is released. When adenosine connects to its receptors in the brain, there aren’t any available to create ATP, and we get tired. When we ingest caffeine (the molecule shown above), it bonds with the receptors, thus forcing adenosine to hang around with phosphates, which boosts the energy in our bodies!

That’s not all though! Caffeine also effects the pituitary gland by telling it to emit the hormones that create adrenaline. This quickens your heart beat and causes you to feel kind of crazy and energized. The pituitary gland also produces dopamine when it senses caffeine, which is the chemical that makes us feel good and happy—I’ll drink to that!

Don’t be latte for my next installment on—you guessed it—coffee!

The Rise of the Coffee Community

Brooklyn Walker, left, and Holly Gibson play a game of Rummikub in the corner of Eugene Coffee Co., where they enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and intimate feel of the coffee shop. Both students at Northwest Christian University, Walker, a junior, and Gibson, a sophomore, have visited the store three to four times to play their favorite game. (Michael Arellano/Flux)

In the Northwest, coffee shops have evolved from pit stops for professionals in need of a morning caffeine jolt to central gathering spaces that welcome relaxation and community. But will these coffee communities last?

It’s eleven o’clock on a Sunday morning and the Washburne Café in Springfield, Oregon, is awake.

The bell on the front door dings as customers enter to join the handful of people already sitting at wooden tables and plush sofas, immersed in their conversations or buried in their newspapers. Parents discuss politics over their now-tepid coffees as children run around waitresses who cart plates brimming with breakfast burritos and fresh fruit. Voices blend together in an unintelligible hum that makes the clinking of silverware and sputtering of cars outside almost imperceptible.

Nestled between a hair salon and a fabric shop on Main Street, the Washburne Café is where business executives, hipsters, and grandparents meet. It’s where people escape from their homes or workplaces to relax with a cup of coffee and take a break from the outside world. It’s also a prime example of what sociologists call “the third place.”

“I always say that we’re selling an experience, not necessarily coffee.”

-Sue Harnley, Eugene Coffee Company owner

In 1989, Ray Oldenburg coined the term “the third place” to mean an informal meeting space where communities gather and interact. The term originates from the theory that the home serves as an individual’s “first place,” and the office a “second place.” Third places are described as a home away from home, a hub that provides a comfortable environment for people to think, unwind, and interact with like-minded individuals.

“Through a radically different kind of setting for a home, the third place is remarkably similar to a good home in the psychological comfort and support that it extends,” Oldenberg wrote in his best-selling book, The Great Good Place. “Here joy and acceptance reign over anxiety and alienation.”

Despite the recent popularization of the term, the concept of the third place isn’t new. Public gathering spaces have long served as breeding grounds for political participation, civic engagement, and literary inspiration.

In the 1800s, amidst the abolition of slavery, organizers of the Underground Railroad used barbershops and saloons as congregation centers for the black community. Later in the 1900s, diners emerged as third places for inexpensive outings during the Great Depression. Today, coffee shops have attracted a plethora of public figures, including Malcolm Gladwell and J.K. Rowling, authors who each wrote bestsellers at café tables, scrawling on loose-leaf paper or the corners of napkins. People seem to feel a need to find gathering spaces that are distinct from their offices or homes.

 Looks Matter

“Homeliness is the ‘protective coloration’ of many third places . . . [they do] not have that shiny bright appearance of the franchise establishment.”
—Oldenberg in his novel The Great Good Place

Coffee shops have become popular during recent years as shop owners attempt to establish a sense of “homeliness,” especially in areas that have a large coffee culture already. Several cafés in Portland have employed distinctive interior design techniques to promote community gathering. Specialty coffee company Ristretto Roasters received national attention in 2011 for the decorative flair at its NW Nicolai location. Owner Din Johnson partnered with Bamboo Revolution, an architecture firm, to design a coffee house inside the showroom of a high-end lighting business, School House Electric and Supply Co. Here, Johnson hand-selected a variety of custom lighting fixtures to illuminate the building, including a set of lamps once used in mine shafts.

The popular result of Johnson’s meticulous work at Ristretto is a spacious café with lofty ceilings and an explosion of bamboo trim, tables, and shelving. A floor-to-ceiling photo of Portland’s St. Johns Bridge occupies one of the white walls, illuminated by the sunlight seeping in through large bay windows. Past wrought iron gates, the shop transitions seamlessly into the School House Electric showroom, where customers sit in upholstered chairs next to smooth mahogany tables that look more like they belong in a Pottery Barn catalog than a coffee shop.

“I think people can afford a $3 pleasure. They can’t afford the big screen TVs or the fancy vacations, but people are going to afford themselves that little bit of comfort, that little bit of routine at a time when things seem so crazy.”

-Harnley

“Din built this up to be a really fancy example of coffeehouses to showcase what we can do,” barista Ben Schultz says. “This [location] is not so much about the community. We are more of a destination for most people.”

Although Ristretto sees its fair share of regular customers, many first-time visitors flock to this coffeehouse to sip their carefully decorated lattes, listen to indie music playing over the speakers, and bask in the overall ambiance of the shop.

Two men chat with each other at Eugene Coffee Company, a place frequented by many locals daily. (Michael Arellano/Flux)

 A Home Away from Home

“Those who, on the outside, command deference and attention by the sheer weight of their position find themselves in the third place enjoined, embraced, accepted, and enjoyed where conventional status counts for little.”
-Oldenberg

“I always say that we’re selling an experience, not necessarily coffee,” says Sue Harnly, owner of Eugene Coffee Company, a small brew shop located in Eugene, Oregon.

Harnly bought the Eugene Coffee Company in 2008 and has since introduced a wide variety of event offerings, including a silent coffee hour for the hearing impaired, women’s poker night, and barista training for high schoolers, making the shop the heart of the community for many West Eugene residents.

“There are so many places in this town where you can get coffee, but there are not so many places where you can have a known connection with people,” Harnly says. “So that’s what I think keeps bringing people back.”

Neal Connor, one of the many regular patrons at Eugene Coffee Company, comes to the coffee shop every morning to work on his novel. He orders the same drink each day (his “poison,” or four shots of espresso), which is served in his personal, brown-speckled ceramic mug by one of the many baristas that know him by name.

As a recovered alcoholic, Connor uses his time at the Eugene Coffee Company to stay organized and productive. He says his third place used to be bars, but since embracing sobriety, he has switched to coffee shops.

“The Eugene Coffee Company has become sort of my extended family, which is great since I live alone,” Connor says as he cradles his steaming mug. “Going to coffee shops becomes a big part of your life when you’ve graduated from a drunken lifestyle.”

 A Sense of Togetherness

 “Life without community has produced, for many, a life style consisting mainly of a home-to-work-and-back-again shuttle. Social well-being and psychological health depend upon community.”
—Oldenberg

Third places have attracted a diversity of community members, but retirees in particular compose a significant portion of coffee shop patrons. According to the National Coffee Association, adults aged 55-64 are 28 percent more likely to purchase coffee away from home than younger generations. Whether it’s for exercise or social stimulation, seniors seem to believe in the importance of frequenting cafés and becoming involved in the local community.

Retiree Phyllis Kesner is one of the Washburne’s many regular customers. She’s been coming to the coffee shop for years due to its convenient location.

“I live alone, so I grab opportunities to talk to people,” Kesner says. And she’ll talk about anything—her two tortoises, her favorite operas, and that time in high school when she held the door open for Eleanor Roosevelt. “You can often get into a conversation at a café. . . Somehow the permission is there.”

Beverly Kjellander, 60, also visits the Washburne to socialize and meet with friends. Ever since the café opened, she’s been coming twice a week for her usual decaf, non-fat, no foam, extra-hot latte, and over the years she has grown alongside the coffee shop.

“The staff knows me well enough that I don’t have to tell them what I drink,” Kjellander says. “It feels much like the Cheers of coffee shops for me.”

She’s become so well-known at the café that she was even given a special pastry with a candle on it for her birthday, and if she calls ahead, the baristas save her a piece of strawberry shortcake or pie.

“If you live alone, it is a good thing to ‘get out amongst ’em,’” Kjellander says. “Coffee shops can be a very non-threatening place to go.”

Shamra Clark spends her Saturday morning making a to-do list, reading up on health tips, and catching up on a TV show while sipping on tea at the Wandering Goat Coffee Shop. (Kathryn Boyd-Batstone/Flux)

 Here to Stay?

“Third places are the heart of a community’s social vitality, the grassroots of democracy, but sadly, they constitute a diminishing aspect of the American social landscape.”
– Oldenberg

Regular customers like Kjellander and Kesner are a fading breed among coffee shop clientele. According to research conducted by the National Coffee Association in 2010, 86 percent of coffee drinkers prepare their coffee at home and the rate is rising. While 66 percent of adults purchased their coffee away from home in 2003, the recession has since cut that number in half. Now, only 30 percent of adults get their caffeine buzz outside of the home.

 “You can often get into a conversation at a café. Somehow the permission is there.”

-Phyllis Kesner, Washburne Cafe regular

Despite a lull in business, Harnly of Eugene Coffee Company is optimistic about the future of coffee shops, and her café in particular.

“I think people can afford a $3 pleasure. They can’t afford the big screen TVs or the fancy vacations,” Harnly says. “But people are going to afford themselves that little bit of comfort, that little bit of routine at a time when things seem so crazy.”

With his own struggling business, customer Neal Connor’s income has been suffering—making his daily coffee a much greater financial sacrifice. Yet, he still finds room in his tight budget for his daily visits to the Eugene Coffee Company.

“In the last two years, I really haven’t gotten out of debt, but I have to have my coffee,” Connor says. “There are a couple of basic needs we have. I mean, why do you keep eating every day? Why do you breathe?”

Despite empty wallets and full schedules, frequent customers like those at the Washburne and Eugene Coffee Company offer at least some proof that coffee shops have continued to serve as cornerstones of community. They are where couples have their first dates, where employees go before starting their workdays, and where regulars find a sense of family. Coffee is no longer just a staple of the working person’s diet, but a vessel for conversation and a liquid confidence for the lonely.

“Even if you are not involved in the chatter, there is something comforting about being around that sound of people talking and laughing,” Beverly Kjellander says. “Along with the coffee, it gives you a warm feeling . . . a feeling that you belong.”

 

The Paper Cup Demise

-Tamara Feingold

There’s something about holding that venti-sized paper cup with a cardboard sleeve that I just can’t get enough of.

I’m not going to lie, I texted about five friends in panic when Starbucks updated its cup design last March without warning me. Needless to say, I’m a drip coffee with a little bit of half-and-half and Splenda connoisseur and there’s nothing that says “I’m ready for class” like a good strong cup o’ joe. It’s the last dirty little un-environmentally-friendly habit I’ve hung on to. I ride my bike, don’t use paper towels, and carry reusable grocery bags. I judge people with Hummers.

But when I walked into The Buzz coffeehouse on campus a couple of weeks ago, my usual twenty-ounce drip coffee was $2.75. A little steep for a black cup of java, right? Right. That’s because The Fishbowl, The Buzz, and Union Market have all adopted a new pricing plan:

Use a disposable paper cup: You pay the beverage price plus 50 cents

Use a reusable mug: You pay the beverage price minus 50 cents

As attached as I am to that status symbol of steaming joy, this new payment plan is irresistibly sensible. The concept, which is the result of a recent contest hosted in the EMU called Fifty for Five Thousand, includes all profits from the paper cup tax returning to future sustainability projects.

For those of you hoping to save some money without carting a travel mug around campus all day, fear not. There’s an Adopt-a-Mug program allowing students to use a mug stocked by the coffee shop.

What’s so wrong with an occasional paper cup of coffee, you ask? Usually, the coffee cups aren’t made from recycled paper and the plastic coating that keeps your beverage warm also means it ends up in a landfill. According to the Environment Action Association, Americans consume about 400 million cups of coffee per day, which is disturbingly comedic.

If nothing else can get to poor college students, it’s a raise in prices. Especially in coffee, which I consider to be vital to the finals/no sleep/early classes experience that is the University of Oregon.

For that reason, as I sit in The Buzz listening to The Black Keys I’m sipping out of my brand new, twelve ounce, stainless steel with a screw lid and mug full of piping hot coffee. And if I, a diehard daily paper cup fiend, can switch over, so can the rest of Eugene.

NOTE: 12 OZ coffee mug not recommended for true coffee drinkers. What was I thinking? Someone get me a 20 OZ for my birthday.

The Anti-Starbucks

-Jamie Hershman

On almost every corner of every street in the bustling city of Seattle, Washington, you will most likely find a coffee shop. And among the many coffee shops that inhabit Seattle, one of the most ubiquitous is Starbucks.

Starbucks is one of the best-known coffee shops nationwide. As a large corporation, I don’t associate the company as being a homey, community-oriented coffee shop. But the Starbucks corporation begs to differ:

  • “From the beginning, Starbucks set out to be a different kind of company. One that not only celebrated coffee and the rich tradition, but that also brought a feeling of connection.”

I don’t know how much of the “connection” I feel, though. When I walk into my neighborhood Starbucks, the baristas don’t know my name or my order, and because there are so many locations, I know that I can get my usual drink in whatever town, city, or state I’m in.

However, Starbucks does want to go back to its roots of being that unique and cozy coffee shop that it first set out to be when it opened in Seattle in 1971. To accomplish this, they set out on their mission to open secret locations in Seattle, known as “un-Starbucks

In an attempt to shy away from the corporate monster that Starbucks has transformed into, these anti-Starbucks are brand-free in everything, from the classic paper coffee cup to the well-known sign that hangs above every location. While all the coffee beans are solely Starbucks, there is no indication that it is a Starbucks corporation creation.

There is an “un-Starbucks” on Capitol Hill in Seattle named “Roy Street Coffee and Tea,” which is their second location so far. To make this location more original, the store is decorated with furniture from vintage and antique stores throughout Seattle and offers alternative baked goods from Essential Baking. There is also a drop-down screen for showing films.

But, do all these factors truly make “Roy Street Coffee and Tea” original? The secret has been revealed and was even being investigated before this location opened. So many Seattle citizens know about these secret Starbucks shops, that it isn’t such a big secret anymore.

This project does not hide the Starbucks brand, it simply puts on a show for the customers’ sake. The Starbucks corporation wants to prove that it cares about its customers’ love for coffee more than the brand. Yet, if people know they are walking into a secret Starbucks location, then there is an obvious brand name association.

No doubt, it was a smart business move to regain title of comfortable coffee house, but it also just shows how willing they are to trick customers who are looking for a one-of-a-kind coffee experience.