Commodity historians find that coffee houses remain while smoking fades

The Daily Texan

Dr. Brian Cowan presented his paper

Dr. Brian Cowan presented his paper titled "Transnational and Comparative Hisotries of Coffee and Sociability" at a workshop Monday afternoon. Cowan is a professor of Early Modern British Hisotry at McGill University in Montreal.

Whether people sip coffee, chug energy drinks, or smoke cigarettes, caffeine and nicotine influence their states of mind and culture.

On Monday, scholars Brian Cowan, a faculty member of McGill University, and Mary Neuberger, director of the department of Slavic and Eurasian studies, gave a talk regarding the cultural importance of coffee houses.

Cowan presented his working paper titled “Transnational and Comparative Histories and Sociability.” Neuberger responded to the paper, drawing on her expertise in the culture of smoking in Eastern Europe.

Cowan and Neuberger referred to themselves as “commodity historians” who study society’s relation to consumer goods. The history of commodities is a booming area for research, Cowan said.

“Many historians are getting into it,” Cowan said. “It’s a flourishing field.”

Neuberger said commodities deserve more attention because they are a useful way to approach cultural history.

“Historians have looked at the past through wars and politics,” she said.

“But in a consumer society like ours, the production and consumption of commodities can totally transform a region.”

Change also occurs in the opposite direction, Cowan said. The way coffee is consumed is affected by the larger culture, he said. For instance, Austin’s coffee houses reflect the city’s laid-back culture, he said.

“I’ve only been in Austin for a few weeks and my experience is limited to Quacks and Caffe Medici,” Cowan said. “But I’ve noticed that people hang out in coffee houses here all the time. A lot of people are doing work ­— studying, writing a novel or coding software — but there’s definitely a slacker culture.”

Coffee houses in Austin cater to the same needs that coffee houses historically served, Cowan said.

“For a lot of students and entrepreneurs, the coffee house is their office, and that’s exactly what was going on in the 17th and 18th centuries” he said. “That’s an aspect of coffee house culture that still exists. People still need a place to go outside of the house, to be in public but also get their business done. Coffee houses are what’s called a third space — somewhere between the workplace and home.”

Cowan likened Austin’s coffee house culture to what he observed in Portland.

“I lived in Portland during the 90’s, when I was earning my B.A., and I saw all this stuff,” he said. “Austin is just like a spicy Portland.”

Coffee is here to stay, but the culture of smoking is now under siege, although tobacco use was not always demonized, Neuberger said.

“The proposed UT smoking ban does not make a huge difference because tobacco has already been so thoroughly demonized,” she said.

“However, it was only a few decades ago when professors smoked in class.”

Cigarettes and the world wars changed the way tobacco was used and perceived, Neuberger said.

“Tobacco was not demonized until the introduction cigarettes because there was no widespread cancer before cigarettes,” she said. “Cigarrette consumption spiked after the world wars because soldiers were issued cigarettes, and cigarettes became associated with feminine liberation for women at home. Cigarettes sped up consumption because tobacco could be smoked faster and in more places.”

Despite its demonization, smoking tobacco might never go away, said Neuberger.

“Though it’s been culturally pushed out in the United States and in the European Union, it persists and has become associated with an edgy counterculture,” she said.

Drink coffee to cut diabetes risk

The Hindu

Moderate consumption of coffee everyday may lower a person’s chances of developing type 2 diabetes, a new study has found. Photo: Special Arrangement

Want to stave off diabetes? Drink four cups of coffee a day, recommends a new study.

Previous researches suggested that drinking coffee cuts diabetes risk but there were conflicting results on whether it protects or promotes chronic diseases such as cancer.

Now, a team in Europe claims to have found that moderate consumption of coffee everyday may lower a person’s chances of developing type 2 diabetes compared with those drinking it occasionally or not at all.

In fact, drinking coffee can cut the risk of developing diabetes by nearly 30 per cent, says the study which has also revealed that the drink does not increase the risk of heart disease or cancer, the Daily Mail reported.

For their study, the researchers recruited 42,659 people. The volunteers, who took part in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Germany, were followed up for almost nine years on average. During that time, there were 1,432 cases of type 2 diabetes diagnosed, 394 heart attacks, 310 strokes cases and 1,801 cancer cases.

Drinking more than four cups of coffee a day — caffeinated and decaffeinated — compared with less than one cup was not linked to a higher risk of developing a chronic disease, the findings revealed.

A lower risk of 20-30 per cent of developing type 2 diabetes was linked to moderate consumption of both kinds of coffee, according to the findings published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Ten countries contribute to the EPIC study, including two centres in Germany which carried out the latest analysis.

Euan Paul of British Coffee Association said: “This study adds to the growing scientific data that suggests moderate coffee consumption, four to five cups of coffee per day, is safe and does not increase risk of chronic diseases.”

Adding Up Those Coffees at Work – $1,000 a Year

By MOTOKO RICH

While a weak economy may have driven consumers to cut back, we know that they are still indulging on the little things.

As we’ve been told over and over, those indulgences add up. According to a new survey, half of all American workers buy coffee regularly during work hours, spending more than $20 a week on java, or about $1,000 a year. (Workers 18 to 34 years old spend about twice as much, on average, as workers over 45.) Two-thirds of workers buy lunch instead of bringing something from home, and spend an average of $37 a week. That translates into nearly $2,000 a year — the price of a new piece of furniture or a vacation.

The survey, which Braun Research conducted for Accounting Principals, a staffing firm that is a unit of the Adecco Group, has a margin of sampling error of 3.1 percent.

Many workers simply do not budget for lunch or coffee, said Jodi Chavez, a senior vice president of Accounting Principals.

“They budget in new furniture or their commute, but not a coffee here or there,” Ms. Chavez said. “So over the course of a week or month people don’t realize what this expense is.”

Ms. Chavez said that:

” A $3 cup of coffee is a little way to reward yourself and it’s a nice little pick-me-up and a guilty pleasure,” and added: “People tend to have an easier time dismissing those small expenses as a means to reward themselves. It’s a little easier to hide the evidence of a cup of coffee than a big shoebox in the closet.”

Then again, it’s not so easy to hide the credit card balance. When those polled were asked what kinds of financial changes they planned this year, 43 percent responded that they would “pay down my credit card debt or other outstanding bills.” Just over a third said they would bring lunch instead of buying it. They were not asked about coffee.

Global Coffee Consumption Continues to Swell

Source:PR WEB

GIA announces the release of a comprehensive global outlook on the Coffee (Roasted & Specialty) Industry. Modern times have witnessed the evolution of coffee from an everyday habit to a healthy lifestyle choice. Coffee gains the status of being the most preferred beverage worldwide, with more than 400 billion cups of annual consumption. The hot beverage is all set to witness robust growth in terms of both consumption and trade amid recovering economies, rising preference levels, increase in production acreage, penetration in developing markets as well as volatility on the pricing front.

San Jose, California (PRWEB) February 10, 2012

Follow us on LinkedIn – Coffee is regarded as the highest consumed beverage in developed countries such as, the US and major European countries. The beverage is the second most traded commodity in the world, next only to oil. The global coffee market is characterized by high amount of speculation and volatility, and is highly driven by the production trends that prevail in the major coffee producing nations. Consumption of coffee in the global market increased in 2010, with the ready-to-drink (RTD) segment topping the list with notable increases in almost all popular brands.

Despite the financial crisis being at its peak during the last quarter of 2008 and all through 2009, coffee performed well in terms of overall consumption, indicating that people continue to indulge in this little luxury come what may. Consumption figures have nearly always exceeded production over the last several years. The recent recession saw a large number of takers for premium instant coffee despite the relative high pricing, indicating a shift away from fresh coffee. The demand of the premium Arabica coffee variety is expected to grow at a higher rate as compared to its low-end cousin, the Robusta variety. The major growth driver is the increasing preference by the consumers in the west, towards the premium variety Arabica coffee beans. With increasing sophistication in coffee drinking habits, the present day consumers are more curious about the origin and quality of coffee consumed.

Blended coffee has dominated the global roasted coffee market since long time. Different coffee (roasted and specialty) types are marked by their own distinct taste, body and aroma. Coffee is produced almost exclusively in the developing world that includes 17 least developed countries. Coffee producing nations are continuously increasing domestic consumption. Coffee consumption in Brazil, the largest coffee producer globally, grew by 5% in 2010 as against the global average of 2%. China and India, with their large middle class consumer bases and growing number of young professionals are witnessing increased consumption of coffee. On the other hand, while these emerging markets are increasing consumption on the strength of their rising disposable incomes, there are few other importing countries that are offering potential for expansion because of low per capita consumptions. New markets such as Ukraine and Russia are witnessing a sharp rebound in consumption levels. Several Middle Eastern countries with higher disposable incomes are also forecast to offer good prospects for growth in the short-to-medium term period.

The research report titled “Coffee (Roasted and Specialty): A Global Outlook” announced by Global Industry Analysts, Inc., provides a collection of statistical anecdotes, market briefs, and concise summaries of research findings. The report offers an aerial view of the global coffee industry and identifies production and consumption patterns, major short to medium term market challenges, and growth drivers. Amply illustrated with fact-rich market data tables, charts, and graphs, the report provides a comprehensive overview of major coffee producing nations, and coffee importing countries Regional markets elaborated upon include United States, Canada, Japan, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Norway, UK, Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania among several others. The reader stands to gain macro-level insights into recent noteworthy corporate developments such as mergers, acquisitions, product launches, and other industry activities. Also included is an indexed, easy-to-refer, fact-finder directory listing the addresses, and contact details of companies worldwide.

For more details click here.

About Global Industry Analysts, Inc.
Global Industry Analysts, Inc., (GIA) is a leading publisher of off-the-shelf market research. Founded in 1987, the company currently employs over 800 people worldwide. Annually, GIA publishes more than 1300 full-scale research reports and analyzes 40,000+ market and technology trends while monitoring more than 126,000 Companies worldwide. Serving over 9500 clients in 27 countries, GIA is recognized today, as one of the world’s largest and reputed market research firms.

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Global Industry Analysts, Inc.
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How the Bean Impacted the USA

Brian Clark Howard – Coffee Infographic

Many of us adore the taste and other sensations of a hot cup of joe, not to mention the comfort and ritual of it, but how much do we want to look behind the bean? For all the talk of caffeine, science actually doesn’t know a lot about its effects on the human body, much less the hundreds of other biologically active ingredients (and their interactions) present in your latte. There’s a lot of debate on how healthful coffee is, and studies often seem to contradict each other.

Coffee also has a complex relationship with culture and the environment. Done “right,” in traditional shade-grown operations, coffee can help preserve valuable semi-forest and forest habitat. It can provide work for rural people and is a primary export of many developing countries.

Done “wrong,” coffee cultivation can result in cleared rainforests, large inputs of pesticides, poisoning of workers, brutally low wages, and degradation of habitats. Many certification schemes have cropped up around the world to give market signals to better producers. I have written extensively about Fair Trade, bird-friendly, organic, Rainforest Alliance-certified, and other programs.

Coffee people are often as passionate about their preferred eco-label as they are about their single-country-of-origin bean or favorite blend, and there are pluses and minuses to every certification. The old adage that coffee “should be triple certified” (planet, people, no pesticides) has largely fallen out of favor, due to the high costs to growers for enrollment in each program and the large areas of overlap among organic, Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, and other standards.

Coffee also has a rich cultural history, both in areas where it is grown and in the wider world. Prized seeds were smuggled into remote jungles to jumpstart illicit plantations, and coffeehouses evolved as centers for alternative gatherings. The coffeehouse has often become a lightning rod for debate about globalization, corporate responsibility, and local ownership. (Activists picketing the first Starbucks in my college town once screamed, “Is your coffee worth it?” at me, although they looked bewildered when I told them I had ordered hot chocolate. A week later the large glass windows of the storefront were smashed.)

(Related: “Crafty Ways to Reuse Coffee Bags“)

So although I am now caffeine sensitive myself, and can only enjoy the occasional cup of decaf (I know, sacrilege), I reviewed this new infographic with interest. An acquaintance of mine, Drew Hendricks, does some social media guru work for the company that produced this infographic, and asked if I wanted to run it. He describes the graphic below:

Although native to Northern Africa, coffee has played a major role in America.

First brought here by the British, coffee was once thought of as a mediocre beverage, especially when compared to tea; however, coffee’s popularity in Colonial America skyrocketed after the Boston Tea Party. After this protest on the British tea tax, the drinking of tea was often considered unpatriotic, while the act of drinking coffee became a sign of independence.

Coffee continued to play a role in American culture and society with the creation of the “Coffee Break” during WWII. Having seen the effect of caffeine on the workforce, factory owners began offering workers longer breaks and even supplying coffee.

As represented in this infographic design by Lumin Interactive and Condor Consulting, coffee remains one of the most popular beverages in America, with nearly 80% of the population deemed to be coffee drinkers. Coffee’s popularity continues to increase as coffee houses expand throughout the country.

Brian Clark Howard is a writer and editor with NationalGeographic.com. He was formerly an editor at The Daily Green and E/The Environmental Magazine and has contributed to many publications, including TheAtlantic.com, FastCompany.com, MailOnline.com, PopularMechanics.com, Yahoo!, MSN and elsewhere. His latest book, with Kevin Shea, is Build Your Own Small Wind Power System.

Redefining fair trade coffee

Redefining fair trade coffee
by Victoria Bouloubasis @thisfeedsme

Counter Culture pays a fixed minimum price of $3.60 per pound for green coffee

When you buy a pound or a mug of fair trade coffee—signified by its logo depicting yin and yang—you expect that somewhere in Africa, Central America or Indonesia, a small farmer is benefiting from your choice. But can you be sure?

A division over the definition of fair trade has sparked an international disagreement over the requirements of fair trade coffee. Supporters of the change, including two local North Carolina coffee roasters, Counter Culture Coffee and Carrboro Coffee Company, say the overly rigid standards penalize larger farms—larger meaning 50 or 100 acres, not the 10,000-acre tracts associated with American agribusiness—that are as environmentally and economically sustainable as their smaller counterparts. Opponents say the change dilutes the meaning of “fair trade.”

Fair trade coffee certification offically began in 1988. In general, the original standards were meant to foster a thriving livelihood for small-scale farmers in developing countries. In theory, fair trade cuts out a middle man and provides a floor price of $1.26 per pound, with a 5-cent premium above market prices. Fairtrade International then funnels part of this money into economic development programs for the coffee communities with which it does business.

The standards require that all fair-trade certified small-scale farmers belong to a cooperative. Ideally, fair trade with co-ops ensures small farmers reap larger profits for smaller amounts of beans—too small for a full business order. (These co-ops typically mix beans from various farms into one cargo container.) Another requirement is that farms rely solely on farm-owner labor and their families, not outside employees.

But in September, Fair Trade USA (FTUSA) split from Fairtrade International and proposed new standards that expand fair trade to include some larger farms and estate plantations. The move has been scrutinized by the Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy, which founded FTUSA. In an official statement released Dec. 1, IATP wrote: “We are deeply concerned that Fair Trade USA’s unilateral approach will fracture the fair trade movement, and reduce the overall credibility and value of the fair trade ‘brand’ for farmers and consumers.”

However, that may not be the case. Carrboro Coffee and Counter Culture still buy from Fair Trade Certified co-ops. They prefer to work directly with farms, regardless of their co-op membership.

Kim Ionescu, Counter Culture’s coffee buyer and sustainability manager, recognizes the economic and social distinction between co-ops and independent farms. But she says the latter, as described as “large” or “estate” by FTUSA’s new program, are not corporate farms that the classification may suggest.

Ionescu cites Counter Culture’s most consistent client, Finca Mauritania in El Salvador, which is a family-operated, fifth-generation farm.

“They’re too large to qualify to participate in a fair trade cooperative because they produced enough coffee to market it to buyers,” she says. “We struggled in how to approach everyone in the same way. It always came up in a consumer’s mind, ‘Does this mean that these coffees aren’t fair?’ No. We have to figure out a way to put these farms and coffees on a level playing field. In the scale of American agriculture, those are not gigantic farms. But they produce enough coffee on a 50-acre farm to produce a container, 275 bags, without combining it with anyone else’s coffee.”

Aida Batlle owns Finca Mauritania, which has been in her family since 1969. For each harvest Batlle hires the same farmers to thoroughly pick the ripest coffee cherries on the 38-acre farm; by using these non-family employees, Finca Mauritania doesn’t meet Fairtrade International’s requirements. But Batlle says she can pay her workers “three times what everybody else is paying, which includes transportation and food. A lot of farms will provide transportation or food, but they’ll deduct it from their wages.” She also says she reinvests in the community, including supporting schools and health clinics.

“Our biggest complaint with fair trade certification when we created direct trade certification was that we couldn’t apply it to Aida’s farm; that there was no way that we could say this is fair too, but just different,” says Ionescu, Batlle’s biggest customer.

Counter Culture pays at least $3.60 per pound for coffee from Finca Mauritania because the workers are treated well and the quality of the coffee is high.

“We always felt like the message of fair trade being about co-ops wasn’t something the consumer connected to. Consumers think that fair trade was about minimum wage. That wasn’t really what it represented. It’s also the workers’ ability to organize, working conditions. I think there are some positive things about it. Some disadvantages are the critical reviews of fair trade. It seems like it’s been portrayed as a decision by Fair Trade USA to weaken the standard to cater to larger buyers.”

Miguel Zamora, FTUSA’s director of coffee innovation and producer relations, told the Indy that the organization’s new approach doesn’t change the essentials of fair trade. This new model is already used with other fair-trade agricultural products, such as bananas and tea.

“Right now, many roasters buy from larger farms because of the specific quality characteristic, relationships for their products and can’t have all their supply chain Fair Trade Certified (independently of how sustainable the practices of those farms are),” Zamora says. “With the certification opening to more farmers willing to meet the environmental, social, economic and labor standards of Fair Trade, roasters will have more Fair Trade options for their products.”

Zamora meets with farmworkers, he says, “one on one, directly with farmworkers and without the presence of management,” he says. “For the next visit, the conversations actually happen outside the farm, in the workers’ communities.”

Carrboro Coffee and Counter Culture agree that FTUSA has helped consumers distinguish between what is and isn’t ethically traded. However, they say the terms are broad, which prompted them to develop their own standards. Scott Conary, co-founder of Carrboro Coffee, defines his methods as a direct relationship, with a focus on family farms and personal relationships with the farmers. Counter Culture has created its own model and logo, using the term “direct trade” to signify fair price, quality and transparency.

The labels that Counter Culture and Carrboro Coffee use are substantiated by their own research and methodology. For 17 years Conary has worked with small farms in Central America to import high quality coffee while paying the farmers a price that exceeds a living wage. Fairtrade International’s certification system doesn’t specifically define a minimum, fair or living wage, but bases figures on each country’s average.

“I’m not bashing Fair Trade [certification],” Conary says. “It’s done a lot for awareness. I just get worried that people think because the certification exists, that the problems aren’t still there. We go to great risks to do this. It’s about making sure that there’s equity in the economic structure and that people aren’t only getting paid what they deserve, but that it’s disseminated appropriately [within the community].”

Coffee Industry: Prices Down & Consumption Up

Coffee Industry: Prices Down & Consumption Up

Coffee Production in the US: Market Summary

Coffee Production in the US: Market Research Report
Coffee Production Market Research Report | NAICS 31192a | Nov 2011

Coffee perking up

Americans love their coffee. So although the US Coffee Production industry has been somewhat hampered by recessionary effects, demand has continued steadily and kept revenue growth up. Recent research into coffee’s health benefits has also contributed to this growth. In the next five years, the industry will be primarily aided by expected declines in raw coffee bean prices and a still-high level of consumption. Spending on specialty coffees and increased availability of coffee at supermarkets will also support growth.

Los Angeles, California (PRWEB) November 28, 2011

Expected declines in raw coffee bean prices and a high level of consumption will drive the Coffee Production industry growth over the next five years, according to IBISWorld, the nation’s largest publisher of industry research. Through 2016, the world price of coffee is anticipated to gradually decline at a 0.4% average annualized rate. Likewise, IBISWorld expects soft consumer and business confidence and low disposable incomes to rebound slowly during this time. Leading indicators of global economic activity are forecast to recover, and a weak dollar will boost industry exports. As a result of these trends, revenue is projected to increase 0.1% in 2012 and grow at an average annualized five-year rate of 0.7% to total $9.1 billion in 2016.

According to IBISWorld analyst, Agata Kaczanowska, the changing landscape of consumer dietary patterns and the increased emphasis on healthy living and lifestyles are driving Coffee Production industry growth. Backed by the scientific community, coffee manufacturers aggressively promoted the various health benefits of coffee consumption. In addition, “the rapid expansion of coffeehouses and their associated social aspects also renewed demand and drove industry growth over the five years to 2011,” says Kaczanowska. Despite the global recession, rising unemployment and waning consumer confidence, industry revenue is expected to increase during the five years at an average rate of 3.2% per year to $8.8 billion. Because coffee bean prices have risen recently, revenue is projected to decline slightly in 2011, dropping 0.5% as a result of lower consumption in response to the increased prices.

The high level of value added during production has enabled the Coffee industry’s major players to realize high profit margins and do well despite high unemployment and saving rates in the past five years. Major players in the Coffee Production industry include; The J. M. Smucker Company (Folgers, Millstone), Kraft Foods (Maxwell House, General Foods International Coffees, Starbucks (under license), Seattle’s Best (under license), Yuban (under license), Nestle SA (Nescafe, Taster’s Choice, Coffee-Mate), Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Starbucks Corporation. The strong brand loyalty that the major players command has also contributed to high profit margins and sales growth. A mature market and domestic volatility in supply have led to an increase in international trade participation. In 2011, coffee imports are estimated to increase 50.9% to $1.9 billion, comprising a 19.7% share of domestic demand. Export volumes are expected to increase by 24.7% in 2011 to $1.1 billion and account for 12.0% of industry revenue.

Population growth in the United States is forecast to balance out a gradual decrease in per capita coffee consumption. The Coffee industry’s ability to adapt to changes, like the rise of the ethical consumer and the increased awareness of fair-trade and organic coffee production methods, will largely impact future demand and consumption. To this end, IBISWorld projects that industry revenue will grow at an annualized rate of 0.7% over the five years to total $9.1 billion in 2016. Meanwhile, projected declines in coffee bean prices over the next few years should translate into lower industry costs and lead to higher profit margins.

For more information, including latest trends, statistics, analysis and market share information, download the full report from IBISWorld on the Coffee Production industry.

About IBISWorld Inc.

Recognized as the nation’s most trusted independent source of industry and market research, IBISWorld offers a comprehensive database of unique information and analysis on every US industry. With an extensive online portfolio, valued for its depth and scope, the company equips clients with the insight necessary to make better business decisions. Headquartered in Los Angeles, IBISWorld serves a range of business, professional service and government organizations through more than 10 locations worldwide. For more information, visit www.ibisworld.com or call 1-800-330-3772.

Can Starbuck’s Coffee Fix the Economy?

Coffee Fix: Starbucks Pushes Small Business Loans
Posted by: John Tozzi on October 18, 2011

      Howard Schultz is giving new meaning to “start me up.” The increasingly activist Starbucks Corp. chief executive officer is taking donations online and through Starbucks cafes to create a small business lending fund. The company will donate $5 million in seed money to give the project, umm, a jolt.

New York Times columnist Joe Nocera today lauds Starbucks for supporting community development financial institutions, the nonprofit lenders serving small businesses and affordable housing in low-income communities. The coffee chain is donating $5 million and encouraging customers to pitch in at the checkout line as well. CEO Howard Schultz touts it as a way to help create jobs, without relying on Washington for help. Nocera writes.

With the government a nonfactor, Schultz began mulling other ideas. He knew that small businesses created most new jobs, but that many small businesspeople couldn’t hire because they had lost access to credit after the financial crisis. He thought about Starbucks’s involvement in microlending programs in some of the countries where it bought coffee. He wondered if there was some way that that could be applied to small business lending in this country. Finally, he thought about the nearly 7,000 Starbucks stores in the United States, and its tens of millions of customers. Surely, he mused, there must be some way to take advantage of Starbucks’s sheer size.

Last year Mark Pinsky, CEO of the group that will distribute the Starbucks funds to lenders, described in Bloomberg Businessweek how CDFIs work. They combine careful underwriting and lots of hands-on help for business owners to make good loans that get paid back, even though many of their borrowers aren’t considered credit worthy by mainstream lenders. Demand has only increased through the recession and limp recovery.

Starbucks is the latest big brand to get behind CDFIs. Financial institutions including Goldman Sachs have funded the lenders, looking to benefit from the halo effect of aiding small businesses. In addition to the money, CDFIs will benefit from the marketing oomph of one of America’s biggest consumer brands. That may be even more important for the industry, which as Nocera says, operate “mostly under the radar.”

For more, see Bloomberg View’s take on Schultz’s plan.

Hold the Presses: Coffee is Good For You

Delia Lloyd American journalist/blogger based in London

Ever have one of those mornings where you wake up, jump in the shower, turn on the radio and hear the best news you’ve gotten in ages? No, not world peace, but close.

Apparently, coffee is now good for you. It holds a host of physical — not to mention psychological — benefits which scientists are only now beginning to appreciate.

So snuggle up to your computer and grab a Latte or Cappuccino and enjoy…

In a household where our espresso machine holds a hallowed place, this is definitely grounds for rejoicing. I haven’t been this excited since I learned that sugar made a comeback.

So hear ye, hear ye: 5 reasons to drink (more!) coffee:

1. It reduces depression in women.

This just in. A new study out of Harvard University shows that women who regularly drink coffee — the fully caffeinated kind — have a 20 percent lower risk of depression than nondrinkers. This comes on the heels of previous research showing that the risk of suicide decreases with increased coffee consumption.

2. It lowers the risk of lethal prostate cancer in men.

But it’s not just the ladies who will benefit from more java. In another study out of Harvard (what are they drinking there? ahem!), men who drank six or more cups per day had a 60 percent lower risk of developing the most lethal type of prostate cancer, and a 20 percent lower risk of forming any type of prostate cancer compared to men who did not drink coffee. Given that prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, that’s nothing to sneeze at.

3. It may protect against head and neck cancers.

A study from the University of Utah showed that people who drank more than four cups of coffee a day had a 39 percent decreased risk of cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx combined, compared with those who didn’t drink coffee. Regular consumption of coffee has also been linked to a lower risk for brain tumors, reduced rates of colorectal and endometrial cancer, as well as liver cancer and cirrhosis.

4. It may ward off Alzheimer’s disease.

Several studies looking at how caffeine affects brain development in mice have confirmed that caffeine significantly decreases abnormal levels of the protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease. When aged mice bred to develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease were given caffeine — the equivalent of five cups of coffee a day — their memory impairment was reversed, according to a report issued by the Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centre. Should these results be replicated on humans, it might suggest coffee as an effective treatment for this disease, rather than just a protective strategy.

5. It appears to stave off diabetes.

Numerous studies have shown that coffee may be protective against Type 2 Diabetes, although the precise mechanism is not well understood. An analysis in the Archives of Internal Medicine, for example, found that people who drink three to four cups of coffee a day are 25 percent less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who drink fewer than two cups. In the U.S. alone, nearly 24 million children and adults — nearly 8 percent of the population — have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease and accounts for about 90 to 95 percent of these cases.

Whether these studies will prove robust in coming years — or be cancelled out by some of caffeine’s adverse effects on things like sleep and high blood pressure — remains to be seen.

But I’m going to blithely hedge my bets and carry on enjoying my cuppa (or two).

Video: World’s Fastest Coffee Powered Car

In the rear of the Rover, a gasification thingamajig heats coffee grounds to about 1292ºF. At this temperature, the grounds produce something called syngas, which consists of hydrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and methane. This mixture is piped into the engine where it’s used to power the vehicle normally.

Could a bacon and eggs car be very far behind?

Built by the Teesdale Conservation Volunteers of Durham, England, the Rover managed to hit 66.5 mph, good enough for a Guinness Book of World Records entry.