January 2020: The Best of the beverage industry.
As we do every month, we have rounded up a selection of the best of the news from the world of drinks: Hot Coffee for Three Kitties, El-Chapo Beer, A Case of Third Reich Nostalgia, Macron Says “Non”, Ethiopian Coffee Producers: Uneasy, But Not Too Uneasy, Is a Morning Coffee Good for You ...
Hot Coffee for Three Kitties
This is a moving, heartwarming story, shared by Kendall Diwisch, a Canadian working in the oil industry. During a routine well inspection, he found three kittens, literally frozen to the spot, having probably been abandoned. The poor creatures had faced Arctic temperatures during the night and had found themselves with their tails frozen in the ice early in the morning. Kendall’s quick thinking came to the rescue, at the cost of his morning coffee. By posting the story on social media, Kendall was hoping to find the kittens a new refuge, after having taken the frozen trio into his home temporarily ... the post went viral and adoption requests came flooding in.
El-Chapo, cocaine king, one of the world’s 1000 richest people, and as well known for his bizarre escapes as the cruelty of his crimes, will have to end his days in a US maximum security jail. Meanwhile, his family will perhaps not have too much cause for complaint about being in the depths of poverty. In fact, the Mexican Mafioso’s daughter, who already has her own clothing line, has decided to create a beer in her father’s image. So, you’ll be able to drown your sorrows in a tapas bar, with a glass of “El-Chapo” in your hand.
A Case of Third Reich Nostalgia
At €18.88 a case, the semantics of its pricing must have already caused some annoyance in a Germany that takes a hard line against Nazi symbolism. Although the A(1)dolf H(8)itler who was greeted with great cries of H(8)eil H(8)itler! did not drink any alcohol and especially not beer, his qualifications as a master stirrer surely could have landed him a top job in a brewery. In a Europe in crisis, unable to collectively manage the calamity of the migrants coming from the south, Nazism is regaining popularity and is proving the leader among the growing constellation of populisms that are no longer hiding fearfully in the shadows since new pseudo-threats have come along to mislead Europeans tired of being at peace. Notwithstanding the German authorities’ offence at the marketing of a product referencing a Third Reich that might have lasted only twelve years, but will certainly live on for a thousand in the collective consciousness, record sales of the “Deutsches ReichBräu” beer have proved that, these days, “no one cares.” Perhaps, after all, it’s just down to beer’s double-effect of being both an upper and a downer.
Macron Says “Non”
It’s not easy to choose a side when, in his own government, those who said “Oui” to Dry January have formed a group around Agnès Buzyn, Minister for Health, and those who said “Non” have flocked to the side of Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume, defender of “the French cultural exception.” President Macron has never hidden his love of wine ... and, accordingly, has declared that he is not in favour of his presidency supporting this initiative from the other side of the channel. Added to that, it wouldn’t have been a good idea to slight, even for a month, the jewel in the crown of French “savoir vivre” at a time when D Trump’s America wants to sink the Hexagon’s wine fleet by weighting it with heavy taxes. All of that is understood, and let’s be clear, French wine is not alcohol, like the whisky of those devils the Scots. The emphasis here should probably have been placed more on “savoir boire” than on the transcendental nature of things, as with other emblems and for the greater good of the winegrowing industry, France knows how to bring all its sovereign weight to bear so that the scales of culture (and even of health) always tip the right way.
Which leads us to quote a certain Phil Woods: “Oh, the French, without whom things would be only what they are.”
Ethiopian Coffee Producers: Uneasy, But Not Too Uneasy
In the country of coffee’s birth, there are more than 5 million producers ... and 20 times more consumers. Ethiopian coffee is doing fairly well, except that the current crisis affecting all the world’s producers and the international fall in prices means excellent profits are far from guaranteed. The health “wars” might also be mentioned, focusing on the always scientifically proven benefits or dangers competed for by coffee and its great rival tea, via the intermediary of powerful lobbying groups; of course, it goes without saying that the two are not mutually exclusive ... We can continue to drink coffee and still enjoy a good tea just as much, without giving rise to denominational schisms or having our souls split into two heaps of warm ectoplasm.
Is a Morning Coffee Good for You?
It’s an almost planet-wide habit to have a coffee as soon as we get up ... without waiting for our stomachs to break their nighttime fast with something more solid. Following the recent discovery of coffee’s beneficial effects (when consumed in moderation) on diabetes, the heart, and some degenerative diseases, is the black beverage concealing its true dark side? Once again, science has come to the rescue of the most faithful companion of those who serve it (as we’ve never seen an American TV movie where scientists drink tea ...).
At Mr Trump’s Table, the Wine of Freedom Is Corked
The holiday season was soured by the always grandiloquent and grotesque declarations of the White House’s current occupant, to the great misfortune, as always, of all: French producers and American importers alike. This “new prohibition” on certain European products, and French wine in particular, seems set to have a lasting effect on consumer habits, as that is ultimately what Mr Trump wants. There is no better way of indirectly banning a product than making it unavailable, even for a brief period. Substitutes are easily found for the “condemned” products, and sometimes they are just as good as their vilified rivals. French wine, it must be admitted, these days largely trades on its prestige. Its long winegrowing tradition is one to which people bow their heads in respect before even uncorking the bottle. All the supposed or real nobility of the great estates is reproduced on a label and in a savoir faire that used to be thought inimitable, but which have now been widely exported to the point of being sometimes outdone by long and industrious competition. A winegrower would not dare do more than tacitly acknowledge it, but it is easier to create an excellent vintage than to sell it. If this free trade is threatened, it will not be just one season that will be ruined. France has more to fear from Mr Trump’s mood swings than from heatwaves or vine-destroying hailstones. For a state that recognizes no celestial power, this might be a way for God to get himself off the hook for the next economic cataclysm, a sort of: “It’s not me, it’s him ...”
A (Coffee) Break in Conflict Cafe
Without a doubt, the American President has shaken up diplomatic exchanges between nations. Whereas, law-abiding citizens were rarely, in former times, invited to see the (sometimes insalubrious) underbelly of strained relations between their leaders, over the last few years, it seems that a “new-deal” in the style of communications has become the norm. The crude, sensationalist, vulgar, and sometimes outrageous tone will probably inspire a lazy kind of mimicry in the next great men of this world. But we digress. The trade dispute setting Paris and Washington (in the main) against one another is currently on pause; a truce of 90 days has been called to “see” who will get the upper hand in a duel of one-upmanship, where each is casting baleful glances at the 12-shot Colt hanging from the other’s gun belt. Still, the conversation between President Macron and his American counterpart seems to have led to a domestic revelation: during the press conference, Donald himself declared: “Melania [his wife] loves French wine” This announcement may seem trivial, but history has shown that men’s greatest decisions have been taken, first and foremost, behind the bedroom door, by wise women.
There is nothing surprising about wanting to date a whisky that claims to be more than a century old, especially if the price of the centenarian nectar is over $100,000 a litre. It’s a brilliant idea to authenticate the personal data of the precious liquid, before any transaction, by way of isotope particles. Counterfeiters will then have to artificially age their contraband twice before offering it for sale and this “Carbon-14 Certification” will probably become a supreme quality label. And no Scotsman will toss a caber onto your head for having doubted, for a moment, the nobility of their most famous malt, if it doesn’t come with the scientific seal of approval.
“Supercoffee:” $100 a cup
This can’t compete with the most expensive cup of tea in the world (Da Hong Pao Tea, which sells for $1,200,000 a kilo), but even at this price, we hope the coffee is served in your choice of cup and with the loveliest of smiles. Elida Geisha Natural 1029 is its name and you will fork out the modest sum of $1,029 for a pound of this Panamanian coffee, thought to be the most expensive on the planet. A test against lesser quality coffees, or even those of frankly dubious quality, was carried out to find out whether this cup of supercoffee is really worth it.