Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Coffee’

Monday morning shakes: Is there a looming coffee shortage?

October 13, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Coffee 4 Comments →

coffee drought
Photo from Businessweek.

We’ve read several reports about the coffee shortage caused by the drought in Brazil, the world’s largest producer of coffee.

News that Brazil’s coffee production in 2015 may hit a 50-year low has already pushed coffee prices to a 3-year high. This year the price of arabica beans has risen 70 percent.

Let’s assume this shortage isn’t some foul plot by speculators to manipulate coffee prices. The drought will affect coffee production in years to come, and climate change is only going to make the situation worse.

Isn’t the Philippines a coffee producer? How much coffee do we produce? Some years ago we heard that our coffee production couldn’t even meet the local demand, and the Philippines had to import coffee from Vietnam. (Vietnamese coffee growers plant robusta beans. Kapeng barako is liberica.) Has local coffee production increased?

In the late 19th century, blight destroyed coffee crops all over the world, making the Philippines, particularly Lipa, Batangas, the only source of coffee on the planet. Lipa got spectacularly rich.

The thought that our four or five cups of coffee a day may be endangered is enough to give us the shakes.

Thanks for the coffee!

January 14, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Coffee 3 Comments →

coffee things

Reader Alenette in Miami sent us some organically-grown Colombian coffee, espresso (1 cup = 10 cups of cafe Americano) and a cafetera. Thank you! If this is the caffeine you live on, you will surely ace your exams.

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The World Domination T-shirts have finally arrived and will soon be available on our online store! We’ll take pictures today and post them tonight.

Do Not Drink Crappuccino: The sad true story of civet coffee (kopi luwak)

September 17, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Coffee 6 Comments →

Indonesians Farm Civet Cats To Produce World's Most Valuable Coffee
Shot was taken on a civet farm just outside Surabaya, Indonesia
Caged civets on Indonesian coffee plantations. Photos from the Guardian.

Coffee companies around the world still market kopi luwak along the lines of that original quirky story involving a wild animal’s digestive habits, many claiming that only 500 kilogrammes are collected a year, a scarcity that justifies its huge retail pricetag (usually between $200-400 a kilo, sometimes more). In fact, although it’s impossible to get precise figures, I estimate that the global production – farmers in India, Vietnam, China and the Philippines have all jumped on the bandwagon, too – is at least 50 tonnes, possibly much more. One single Indonesian farm claims to produce 7,000kg a year from 240 caged civets.

So kopi luwak is now rarely wild: it’s industrialised. Sounds disgusting? It is. The naturally shy and solitary nocturnal creatures suffer greatly from the stress of being caged in proximity to other luwaks, and the unnatural emphasis on coffee cherries in their diet causes other health problems too; they fight among themselves, gnaw off their own legs, start passing blood in their scats, and frequently die.

Wild luwaks – the trapping of which is supposed to be strictly controlled in Indonesia – are caught by poachers, caged and force-fed coffee cherries in order to crap out the beans for the pleasure of the thousands who have been conned into buying this “incredibly rare” and very expensive “luxury” coffee.

Read Civet coffee: Why it’s time to cut the crap, in the Guardian. Thanks to Jackie for this depressing alert. What’s next: celebrity crap coffee?

Tiramisu or tira-tira?

September 09, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Coffee, Food 4 Comments →


Illy Espressamente, your coffee is great, but is the tiramisu supposed to rise from the plate in a single solid mass when you stick a fork in it?

Is the mascarpone supposed to have the chewy consistency of bubble gum, or has it merely coagulated from sitting inside a vitrine for several days?

Is your tiramisu an hommage to the chewy Pinoy candy called tira-tira? Or does tira-tira in this case mean “unsold baked goods”?

The waiter said we had to pour the shot of espresso over the tiramisu in order to enjoy it fully. Oh, thank you. As we were sharing the cake with a pregnant woman who was already over-caffeinated, we poured the espresso over our half of the tiramisu. We thought the espresso was supposed to soak into the sponge cake and ladyfingers and give it an intense coffee flavor. Is the espresso really meant to run off the hard surface of the tiramisu and spill onto the plate?

How old is this tiramisu?

How old are the pastries in the vitrine? Is their firm, attractive appearance the result of fossilization?

Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Behold the evil mutant pastry.

June 17, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Coffee, Food 11 Comments →

pastry board

The first couple of times we went to Wildflour we weren’t impressed: we found the prices too high, the acoustics terrible, and the food fairly ordinary. But our friends kept wanting to meet at Wildflour, and after several visits we have grown to like it. They do have the best bread in the city.

At their branch in Podium they offer a pastry board: you can choose any four pastries for Php400. We picked (from bottom to top) the dulce de leche—a pastry filled with same and topped with chocolate, the old reliable sticky bun, the Nutella and banana danish, and the vanilla cronut.

Yes, the cronut, invented (and trademarked, oops) by Dominique Ansel in New York.


This mutant pastry, half-croissant and half-doughnut, is deep-fried, rolled in sugar, filled with cream, and glazed. Do not eat it by yourself! It is pure evil. Bring two friends and spread the guilt. And then skip dinner.

Coffee vs Alzheimer’s

October 13, 2012 By: jessicazafra Category: Coffee, Science No Comments →

Rasta Barista: James Dennis grows what is purportedly the best coffee on earth. Photo from the National Geographic.

Scientists recently discovered that caffeine consumption can be tied to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. They knew that it was suppressing the rise of amyloid plaques in the brain, but why coffee consumption did the trick remained a mystery. But now, researchers from the University of Illinois believe they have found the answer, and it has to do with caffeine’s ability to block inflammation in the brain — a discovery that could lead to new drugs which can prevent — or even reverse — mild cognitive impairment.

Read We now know why coffee helps to stave off Alzheimer’s disease in io9.