Entries in Coffee (13)


From Food to Breweries to Candles, Businesses Embracing Pumpkins

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Once reserved for the holiday pie and jack-o'-lanterns, America is embracing the pumpkin in a huge way.  From lattes to beer to candles and car deodorizers, there's scarcely a product line that doesn't include the giant gourds, which supporters say can even improve your love life.

It's not clear how and where the pumpkin craze began, but Starbucks was certainly an early mover.  Eleven years ago, the world's largest coffee chain rolled out its Pumpkin Latte, though recently the chain has upped the ante on its pumpkin products.  A promotional Facebook page on the drink reportedly crashed shortly after it was launched last month.

Chains featuring pumpkin on their menu have increased 38 percent since 2010, according to the Menu Monitor Trend-Tracking tool by Technomic, a food research and consulting company.

Dunkin' Donuts is offering pumpkin cream cheese and pumpkin muffins, to go with its glazed pumpkin cake donuts and pumpkin coffee.  At Einstein Bros., there are two types of pumpkin bagels and a new pumpkin scone.  And frozen custard brand Culver's is rolling out three new desserts with pumpkin flavoring mixed in.  Sonic even has a pumpkin pie shake.

First seen as an offbeat entry into the drink marketplace, it seems as though it's the rare coffee outlet that doesn't include pumpkin on the menu.  Caribou Coffee's newest pumpkin line, which it calls Pumpkin Perfected, includes pumpkin white chocolate mocha, pumpkin bread and pumpkin chai tea.

Pumpkin beers seemingly hit stores earlier than ever before, with some being spotted in late July.

Pumpkin and fermented yeast were combined in the late 1980s when California-based Buffalo Bill's Brewery debuted its Pumpkin Ale.  Since then, more than 100 breweries have followed with their versions, including the big boys.

Anheuser-Busch InBev's Shock Top and MillerCoors' Blue Moon both have pumpkin beers.  The popular seasonal beer category even saw an entry by Sam Adams this year, which made a small batch of a brew called Fat Jack, made with 28 pounds of real pumpkin in each barrel, the company says.

And then there's the alleged amorous properties of pumpkins.  Seattle's Best Coffee held a nationwide contest in August to create its next drink. The winner was Eileen Gannon, whose coffee included caramelized bacon and pumpkin spice flavors.

Gannon called the drink "How to Win a Guy With One Sip," citing a study that found that pumpkin pie scent was an aphrodisiac for men.  The study, conducted last year by the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation of Chicago, said that the smell of pumpkin got 40 percent of the subjects aroused.

And there's no problem finding that smell should you need some. Scent producer Yankee Candle makes its spiced pumpkin scent in candles, room spray and car deodorizers.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fiat Offers Car With Built-In Espresso Maker

Fiat(NEW YORK) -- Italian automaker Fiat made headlines when it introduced a new line of stylish compact cars. And it’s making headlines again with its 500L model, which will come with a built-in espresso maker when it hits the market this fall.

“The 500L is the first standard-production car in the world to offer a true espresso coffee machine that [uses] the technology of the ‘A Modo Mio’ pods," a press release said. "It is perfectly integrated in the car with a deck designed expressly by Fiat.”

The espresso makers will be created in collaboration with Lavazza, an Italian coffee company.

It addition to premium coffee, the car will also offer a premium sound system created by Beats Audio.

Fiat says its new model offers greater functionality and space, user-friendly technology that’s also eco-friendly and a “trend-setting” interior design.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Textspresso Machine Takes Text Message Coffee Orders

Gerald Zanetti/FoodPix(SEATTLE) -- If you think waiting for your coffee to brew is a total waste of time, employees at the Seattle-based company Zipwhip would agree.  After 20 days and several thousand dollars, they created an espresso machine that takes orders via text message.

The start-up tech company's CEO, John Lauer, noticed how often employees visited local Starbucks and wanted to offer a more convenient solution. "We really do drink a lot of coffee here," he told KOMO News.

After sending the machine a text machine with a word like "double" or "latte" the machine grabs a cup, grinds the beans and brews the drink.  To avoid confusion between orders from several dozen employees, edible ink customizes each cup.  The machine is comprised of over 300 parts that are stored in an Ikea cabinet.

Despite its popularity, Zipwhip isn't looking to produce more machines in the future.  Instead, the company will focus on their app, which allows users to receive text messages from their cellphone onto their computer.

Zipwhip will share the textspresso plans in the next few weeks for those coffee fanatics hoping to build a machine for themselves.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


California Man Sues Starbucks, Alleging Discrimination

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(SAN DIEGO) -- Starbucks faces allegations of discrimination from a job applicant who claimed he was "blatantly" discriminated against because of a disability during a job interview at one of the coffee chain's San Diego stores.

In court documents filed on Feb. 8, Eli Pierre, who was born with half of a left arm, alleged he "was not hired for the position because of his disability, despite his capable work history."

According to the complaint, obtained from Pierre's attorney Joel Larabee, on Feb. 1, after Pierre mentioned that his disability was not a problem for a barista position, a hiring manager stated, "Oh, at our store our syrups are up high, and I have to extend my whole body to pump it. You can't work here with one arm."

"We employ many individuals with a wide range of disabilities. A disability such as Mr. Pierre's would not disqualify him, or any other candidate, for employment at Starbucks," a spokesperson for Starbucks told ABC News. 

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"Based on our initial investigation, we found that Mr. Pierre's description of what occurred during the interview is vastly different than our own," said the spokesperson, who told ABC News that Pierre was considered for the position based on his responses in the interview and qualifications.

"We decided not to move forward with Mr. Pierre's application for the Mission Valley location," the spokesperson told ABC News.

The complaint filed by Pierre alleges that because of interruptions, the interview for the barista position lasted only about 10 to 15 minutes. After mentioning a part time-position at Victoria Secret, the interviewer turned to the shift manager, who was present during the interview, and said, "maybe he can help you find the right bra size."

The complaint states Pierre was "shocked and offended" by the remark "after being discriminated against based on his disability."

The suit stated there was "no discussion of any possible accommodations of Pierre, no discussion of whether he actually needed any accommodations, no discussion about how he could perform the essential job functions and no discussion of his past experience, which may be analogous to the position and duties at Starbucks.

"Pierre was simply summarily dismissed based on his appearance/disability/perceived disability ... without further investigation that Pierre could not do the job," stated the complaint.

In his lawsuit, 25-year-old Pierre has accused Starbucks of wrongful failure to hire in violation of public policy, wrongful failure to hire and discrimination in violation of the Federal Employment and Housing Act, failure to take steps reasonably necessary to prevent discrimination in violation of FEHA, failure to make reasonable accommodations and failure to engage in the interactive process in violation of FEHA, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

According to the lawsuit, Pierre is seeking payment of all statutory obligations and penalties as required by law; punitive damages; costs of suit; loss of income incurred and to be incurred according to proof, among other things.

"We have been advised that Mr. Pierre has filed a lawsuit based on his claims, and look forward to responding," a Starbucks spokesperson told ABC News.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


After 35 Years, LA's Philippe’s Ends 10 Cent Cup of Coffee

Gerald Zanetti/FoodPix(LOS ANGELES) -- Philippe’s restaurant in Los Angeles says it is the “home of the original French dip sandwich,” and until now, it has also bragged about its 9 cent coffee special with only 1 additional cent added for tax.

But that all changed Wednesday when the historic restaurant announced that on Feb. 2, customers will have to shell out 45 cents for their morning caffeine, with 5 cents tax.

When Philippe’s first moved to Los Angeles in 1951, coffee was just a nickel.  The price was raised to a dime in 1977 and remained that way until now.  The family-owned restaurant struggled with whether to increase the price because of the 35-year tradition.

Mark Massengill, manager and fourth-generation member of the founding family, told ABC News the rising price of coffee was just too much strain on their business to keep the price.

“We made the change because we felt it was time.  It wasn’t a decision that came easily.  The restaurant is based in tradition and 10 cent coffee has been an important part of that tradition,” Massengill told ABC News.  “It was difficult decision.  It was something we all talked about within the family.”

Philippe Mathieu started the original Philippe’s in 1908.  According to their website, one day in 1918 “Mathieu inadvertently dropped the sliced French roll into the roasting pan filled with juice still hot from the oven,” and accidentally created the French dipped sandwich.  The family has been running the restaurant ever since and it has become a staple for many individuals and families in the Los Angeles area.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Starbucks to Serve Beer, Wine at Select Stores Later This Year

Starbucks Corporation(SEATTLE) -- Ordering a "tall one" at Starbucks will eventually take on a whole new meaning at a few select stores.

The Seattle-based coffee giant said that it will be serving beer and wine in up to six stores in Southern California toward the end of 2012, with other locations in Atlanta and Chicago following suit.

The company rolled out serving alcohol in 2010 at its experimental Olive Way cafe in Seattle, with beers costing $5 each and glasses of wines listed between $7 and $9.

Figuring that serving adult beverages and premium food is the wave of the future, Clarice Turner, Starbucks' senior vice president of U.S. operations, said Monday, "As our customers transition from work to home, many are looking for a warm and inviting place to unwind and connect with the people they care about."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Starbucks to Hike Prices in the Northeast, Sunbelt

Starbucks Corporation(SEATTLE) -- If your a fan of Starbucks coffee, get ready to dig deeper into your pockets because the price of their java is going up in certain regions.

The Seattle-based coffee chain is hiking up prices at Northeast stores and locations in the Sunbelt, although California and Florida are spared for now.

Starbucks says the costs of "coffee, fuel and other commodities" are rising so they have to pass the increases onto their customers.

According to the company, some items will increase by an average of 1 percent.  Tall brewed coffees in New York City, for example, will cost 10 cents more.  Other items, like grande brewed coffees, will not go up in price.

These latest prices increases follow ones that already affected Starbucks stores last November in the Pacific Northwest, California, the Midwest and Hawaii.

Economists believe these changes could hurt Starbucks, which has been on the rebound over the past year after the recession changed the coffee drinking habits of consumers.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Coffee Prices Are on the Rise Again

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ORRVILLE, Ohio) -- Coffee drinkers may soon have to pay more for their morning cup of joe.

The wholesale price of coffee beans has jumped more than 70 percent in the past year, and now, for a second time this year, a big supplier to supermarkets has announced a double-digit price hike.

J.M. Smucker Co., the company that sells Folgers and Dunkin' Donuts packaged coffees, said on Tuesday that it will charge retailers 11 percent more.  The latest increase comes on top of a 10 percent price hike in February and two more from last year.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Magic Coffee Beans Save You From Scalding Coffee

Joulies [dot] com(NEW YORK) -- Young inventors Dave Petrillo and Dave Jackson may have solved a problem that has frustrated many an office warrior -- the scalding cup of coffee.

But it's not just their product that's innovative.  The funding for their Coffee Joulies, a product that cools scalding drinks down to their optimal temperature and keeps the drink at its optimal drinking level, came from a social media site that crowd-sources funding for start-ups: Kickstarter.

So what is a Coffee Joulie, and why would you want it anywhere near my cup of Joe?  The small bean-shaped stainless steel Joulies are each about the size of a large ice cube and are filled with a non-toxic material designed to regulate the temperature of hot beverages.

The liquid found inside the Joulies is the key ingredient that regulates a steaming cup of coffee.  The substance (its formula is a trade secret) liquefies as it absorbs heat until it reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit.  At that point, the substance starts to harden again, releasing stored energy and keeping the temperature of the cup around 140 degrees.

The beans last a lifetime with proper care (think silverware), and are completely safe, according to the two Daves.

"The mug you drink your coffee out of is probably made out of the same stainless steel [the beans are made from], so there is absolutely no problem there.  The stuff that's inside is completely edible and food based.  It's so non-toxic that you could drink it," Jackson told ABC News.

Kickstarter is a two-year-old company that has becoming the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world.  So far, 500,000 people have pledged over $50 million to start-ups just like Dave and Dave's Joulies, getting rewards like products for their investment.

The site allows people to post their ideas and concepts and ask for "pledges" from Kickstarter's user base.  If the combined pledges reach the goal set by the entrepreneur (or surpasses it), they get the money, minus a five percent fee for Kickstarter.  If funding does not hit the goal, no money changes hands, so it is for companies with products and/or hard start and end points.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Starbucks Begins Rolling Out New Logo in Time for 40th Birthday

Starbucks(NEW YORK) -- Starbucks turns 40 years old this month and to celebrate, the world's largest coffee chain began rolling out its new logo Tuesday.

The new logo was unveiled in January and features a much simpler design than its predecessor.  It loses the words "Starbucks" and "Coffee" and consists solely of the Melusine, a two-tailed, mermaid-like figure that has been part of the logo from the beginning.

Since first setting up shop in Seattle on March 30, 1971, Starbucks has grown to operate in 55 countries and serve an estimated 60 million customers.

The coffee chain has also expanded its menu over the years, adding food items, which accounts for "about 20 percent of our business and growing," according to company CEO Howard Schultz.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio