Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Why craft fair coffee doesn't have to be amazing, it just has to be hot---and available

It’s fall and in fall, people like to get crafty. Craft fairs are a standard-bearer of community tradition, in communities across the world---and coffee is the lubricant that keeps people shopping, buzzing around and having a chance to interact with others.

Just because something is expensive or ‘gourmet’ or deemed ‘high-end’ doesn’t mean it’s good---and even if it is good, sometimes it’s just not necessary. Sometimes all you want and need is a good cup of steeping hot brew and access to whatever it is you like to add to it (milk, sugar, etc.)

 Such was the attitude at the Anderson Park Craft Fair in Montclair, NJ last Sunday. The coffee was provided by CTX Jorges ICE Xpress, LLC, a national food vendor.  It was served by George, who greeted everyone with a smile.

People would breathlessly approach him and say, “Are you the one with the coffee?” He would nod, point them to the Styrofoam cups and let them get a nice cup of coffee for $2.00. Then they would meander over to the funnel cakes, or the hot dogs, or the crafts themselves----lots of amazing art, ranging from wall art, to ceramics, to sculpture and more; beautiful fall-friendly bespoke clothing; all manner of jewelry; gummy bears and worms and more, more, more.

This INFINITY HOOD SCARFWRAP is handmade by Diane, who is the owner of Clozs, along with her husband Eddie. They have every pattern and material imaginable, as well as a choice of lengths and styles. The price-points are very reasonable. Learn more here: www.clozs.com. 

The reality is that anyone who wanted to walk a block out of the park could have gotten a nice latte from Java Love, or they could have walked three blocks to Starbucks, or two to Dunkin’ Donuts. The point wasn’t the name on the cup. The point was that the coffee was very hot, it was decent, it was caffeinated and it was served with a smile.

Studies have shown that coffee increases social interaction in a positive way. Coffee not only stimulates the brain to neutralize sleepiness, but it also stokes virtually every reward system in the brain, with a huge dollop of dopamine-stimulating affects.

Nothing’s better for business than happy people looking to brighten their lives with beautiful stuff made by people who have dedicated their lives to creating beauty. Those people need coffee too---and deserve a hot cup wherever they go. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Second Annual NY Coffee Festival: Coffee, food, fun and a reality check about water

"Water ,water everywhere and not a drop to drink."---From the Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Coleridge Taylor

The global coffee industry is worth more than $100 billion. So it’s no surprise that there is a full line-up of industry trade shows and conventions scheduled over the next few months in the U.S. Brazil, Hungary, Turkey, China, Switzerland, Colombia, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates.

However, although there are a lot of trade shows for folks involved in the coffee industry, such as growers and coffee farm owners, sometimes the role of the consumer is underappreciated.
Not so with the NY Coffee Festival, which starts today and runs through Sunday late afternoon at NYC’s 69th Regent Amory, located at 68 Lexington Ave. (between 25th and 26th St).

This year’s festival---the second ever---promises to be stimulating, with over 70 coffee, food and equipment suppliers, interactive workshops, barista demonstrations and competitions, lots of nosh, a DJ, bands, art and even coffee cocktails---all for the price of $20 for a standard ticket and $45 for VIP entrance.

Although this is only the festival’s second year, the event will be packed. Last year, there were 12,000 people and given the current buzz, at least 15,000 people are showing up this year.

But here’s the catch. Fifty percent of the proceeds from this event are going to charity: water, a non-profit organization that provides clean and safe drinking water for people in developing nations---including many of those in coffee-producing locales. 

This NYC-based charity is 10 years old, with a history of major success helping people get potable water. Since 2006, the organization has helped fund almost 20,000 projects in 24 countries, benefiting over 6.1 million people and raising more than $200 million.

Watch this video to learn more about the founder,  Scott Harrison, who was previously a beer-guzzling, drug-addled, party-boy nightclub promoter before deciding that his life’s primary mission would be to help the 663 million people in the world who don’t have access to clean or safe water.

Many people die from drinking water infested by bacteria, leading to various tropical diseases and ultimately death, especially for children. Scott decided that he could not stand the thought of a child having to drink scummy water, or lose a day of education to carry that water from far-flung sources. 

He has since planned and executed numerous programs involving digging rigs, freshwater wells and community education.

As you sip coffee this weekend at the NY Coffee Festival, remember that good coffee requires good water to make it safe and drinkable---and also keep in mind the people who are grateful simply to have clean water every day to make way for a better future.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Pharma’s quest to unlock the molecular mystery of coffee

It’s fascinating to consider how coffee is de-caffeinated. The general idea is that the coffee beans are steamed and then rinsed repeatedly with a solvent to extract the caffeine, while leaving the other components intact.

What happens to the caffeine? It turns out that when coffee companies extract caffeine from coffee beans, they send the caffeine to pharmaceutical companies. Pharma companies then take the caffeine and use it as part of analgesic medications, such as Excedrin and other OTC medications.

The magic of caffeine
Coffee contains lots of things besides caffeine, which is just one of the hundreds of bioactive ingredients found in coffee, in addition to antioxidants, chlorogenic acids, melonoidins and other components.

All of the components of coffee combined confer numerous benefits to those who consume it, such as a decreased risk of diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, certain types of cancer and depression, among other things. However, as the world’s most consumed psychostimulant in the world, coffee owes its astounding popularity to its caffeine.

Targeted adenosine activity
In terms of its mode of action, also known as MOA, coffee is a nonselective antagonist of several adenosine receptors—A1, A2, A2b and A3---meaning it blocks the activity of these receptors, resulting in specific reactions in the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system.

Caffeine’s MOA is compelling because of its immediate and obvious benefits---increased energy and alertness and the ability to perform almost any activity, whether it’s productive or not, better. It all comes down to adenosine blockade.

Harnessing adenosine without side effects
For more than 20 years, pharma companies have been researching potential therapeutic applications of selective adenosine modulation (both blocking and enhancing various adenosine receptors). Researchers have found that effectively manipulating adenosine receptors could help treat the molecular damage and inflammation associated with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord injury.

However, developing effective targeted adenosine modulator therapies has been challenging, because of the ubiquity of adenosine receptors and the problem of side effects. The goal is to not only identify druggable adenosine targets, but  to develop a drug that hits that target without systemic side effects. In fact, there is only one FDA-approved selective adenosine agonist---Lexiscan (regadenison), which is marketed by Astellas.

The first and only adenosine agonist 
Lexiscan is approved for use in cardiac stress imaging in patients who are unable to use a treadmill or stationary bike. For those patients, IV infusion of Lexiscan increases blood flow to the heart for diagnostic purposes.

Companies with adenosine-related products
Three companies---Astellas, Fujisawa and Bedford Labs, manufacture a pure adenosine injection, which is used clinically to help normalize certain abnormal heart rhythms. Meanwhile, Adenosine Therapeutics has been at the forefront of adenosine therapeutic research, with mixed results. The company has been in business since 1999 and has struggled financially, continuing to look for financing or a partner to help it bring its phase 3 cardiac stress agent, Stedivase, to market.

At the moment, coffee remains the most reliable way to manipulate adenosine receptors and achieve physical and psychological (not to mention) social benefits. Drink up.