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Coffee in the News, 3/8/2015

Mondelez to Sell its Coffee Business Mondelez -- formerly part of the Kraft Foods Group -- has had a rough go of it amid falling sales in its core snack products business. It's selling its 50% stake in Ajinomoto General Foods, Incorporated. The buyer, D.E. Master Blenders 1753, is paying an expected $5 billion in cash, with the deal expected to close in April of this year. D.E. Master Blenders adds, among other Mondelez brands, Jacobs, Carte Noire, and Tassimo to their existing portfolio, which includes Pilao and Senseo. For its part, the move should enable Mondelez to concentrate on the snack foods core of its business in hopes of turning around currently lackluster sales. Mug, Cup, or Cone?
The KFC "Scoffee Cup"
Fast food stalwarts KFC -- home of the notorious Double Down sandwich -- is continuing in its tradition of questionable foodstuffs by introducing an edible coffee cup to its UK locations. The cup, dubbed the “‘Scoff-ee Cup”, is made of what would appear to be a waffle cone that's been coated on the inside with slow-melting white chocolate, and covered on the outside with edible paper. While it's not a new concept (we've seen this done at a handful of higher-scale eateries, minus the edible paper, when serving dessert coffees), it's safe to say that this is the first time it's been tried on a mass scale. In a further twist -- this is KFC; you knew there'd be a twist -- the company is infusing the chocolate layer with scents like coconut suntan lotion (okay, maybe) and fresh cut grass (wait, what?). No word yet on whether the cups will eventually be introduced to the US market. What Third Wave? We love our coffee. We love others' great coffee. You love great coffee (we hope). Guess what? We're in the minority. The Washington Post reports that even though "upscale artisanal coffee brewers" are on the rise, America on the whole actually drinks worse coffee than it did in years past. The reason is that coffee drinkers, given the choice between carefully selected and roasted, lovingly-brewed coffee, and cheap, easy swill like their swill just fine, thanks. They are, in other words, more likely to choose on the basis of convenience and cost than on quality or taste. Some of this has to do with economic pressures (people don't drink what they can't afford), but another trend behind the trend is that consumers love the convenience that comes with pre-ground coffee. Given the choice between a Keurig or Nespresso and a bag of whole beans, coffee pods win. Whole beans -- the foundation of a really good cup of coffee -- make up only eight percent of the market, and that market share is shrinking every year, while the sale of single-serve/single-use coffee pods has grown by a staggering 138,324 percent in the last decade. And no, that number isn't a typographical error. One hundred thirty eight thousand percent. The number has begun to level off, but it's still growing at a more than respectable 30 percent per year. Like the beer market, where craft gets the buzz and Bud Light alone makes up twenty percent of the beer market, there's a wide and growing gap between the artisanal and the mass-produced. England Runs On Coffee. Really. Bio-bean, a UK-based company, is taking the idea of recycling used coffee grounds far beyond the compost pile. They're targeting London's estimated 200,000 tons per annum of used coffee grounds, and turning them into biofuel that will then be used to power buildings and vehicles. Rather than targeting smaller "producers," bio-bean is going straight to the source, collecting waste from roasters and instant-coffee manufacturers. This "cradle-to-cradle" model turns waste into something else productive; in this case, the company upcycles used grounds into carbon neutral fuel pellets and biodiesel that save approximately 53,200 barrels of oil per year. Still more energy is saved by keeping those grounds out of incinerators and landfills. The company practices what it preaches; their vehicles run on the biodiesel they manufacture.