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Coffee and Tea Reports
from the Front Lines

Cafés in Quebec Can Keep English Name
MONTREAL, QUEBEC - The Second Cup cafés can legally continue to sell coffee under their English name at chain locations in Quebec, reported the Ottowa Citizen, recently. Signs in English advertising Home Depot, Future Shop and Burger King among others, have also been approved, since a provincial advisory body has decided chains with trademark names don’t have to adopt French monikers to comply with Quebec’s strict language laws.

Quebec’s French language charter requires that French be predominant on commercial signs. However, the Conseil de la langue francaise concluded that the charter doesn’t apply to legal trademarks. The Conseil did recommend that Quebec offer incentives to get chains to voluntarily adopt French names.

Starbucks Chain to Reach Europe
ONTARIO, CANADA - Starbucks Corp and Bon appetit Group AG, Switzerland’s largest food wholesaler, has formed a joint venture to open the U.S. specialty coffee retailer’s first store in continental Europe, reported the National Post recently. Bon appetit’s Passaggio unit will hold a majority stake in the venture, the company said. The first store opening is planned for Zurich this year.

Starbucks, with branches currently open in North America, the U.K., Asia and the Middle East, has said it wants to add 500 stores in Europe by 2003. Analysts suggested the company would first enter Scandinavia, Germany, France or Spain, where coffee consumption is high but specialty coffeehouses are less common. “Starbucks is a very strong brand and I think they can have success in Switzerland,” said Patrick Hasenboehler, an analyst at Zuercher Kantonalbank. “Swiss people like what’s fashionable in the U.S.”

A Place in the Shade
NEW YORK, U.S.A. - Shade-grown coffee is grown under a canopy of trees that supposedly provides a far better habitat for birds and other life than the typical open plantation. But a study by researchers including those from the University of Georgia has shown that there shade-grown coffee farms may not be as beneficial to bird-conservation as we may have thought, reports the New York Times.

The study was published in the Journal of Ecological Applications. Researchers studied 126 bird species around forests and coffee farms in western Panama. One part of their study was encouraging: the birds typically eat insects that are stirred out of the leaf litter by swarms of ants-and the scientists didn’t find ant swarms in open-sunshine plantations, but did in shade plots and forests in numbers that were high enough to sustain many species of birds. On the other hand, they also found that shade farms that were far away from forests failed to attract a large number of birds. For one thing, many forest birds are used to dimmer conditions, so they wouldn’t fly across the bright open spaces to reach the shaded areas.

Concluding that shade plots are indeed useful as a conservation technique, the researchers also note that they are not a substitute for forest and can be more effective near larger forested areas. In many part of Central America, however, shade plots tend to stand alone, miles away from any kind of forest.

Chinese Tea Found To Lower Cholesterol
TAIWAN, CHINA - Researchers have found a type of Chinese tea to be effective in lowering cholesterol levels in lab mice, reports the China Post.

A conductor of the study, Dr. Sun Lu-hsi of National Taiwan University (NTU) says she and a team of researchers found that when lab mice were put on a special diet that contained Puerh tea, a special bacteria-fermented Chinese green tea, their cholesterol levels all showed a significant drop.

Sun said even though her study on this particular Chinese tea has shown encouraging results on lab mice, she has yet to conduct a similar research on human beings to know whether it would yield the same effect.

Nevertheless, the NTU researcher stressed that, unlike adverse effects often associated with new drugs undergoing clinical trials, constant and moderate drinking could only promote overall health without any possible side effects.

Study Reveals More Tea Health Benefits
LONDON, UK - Tea can not only stave off heart disease, cataracts, and even help women conceive, it can also prevent colon cancer according to one study, states the New Scientist.

Green tea has long been known to protect against certain types of cancer, but the fermentationrocess involved in making black tea was thought to destroy the protective compounds.

Now researchers in Britain and Italy have found that if rats are given extracts of black Assam tea-the equivalent of three or four cups a day-theiy are protected against the effects of a known carcinogen (Food and Chemical Toxicology, vol 38, p. 1085). Other, common-or-garden teas should have the same effects as well, says Mike Clifford of Surrey University.

Coffee Sales in Russia Climbing -But Still Weak
ATHENS, GREECE - Demand for coffee has increased recently in Russia but both Kraft Jacobs Suchard, which recently opened a US$10 million coffee packaging plant in the Leningrad region, and Nestle (both Switzerland) say it has not returned to its pre-crisis highs, states the New Europe.

Nevertheless, the Russian state customs committee put imports for the first six months of 2000 at some 8,700 tons as compared with 3,330 tons for the whole of 1999. While this increase was largely due to Russia’s economic recovery, rather than a radical shift in consumer tastes, demand is undoubtedly picking up. However, obsolete legislation and widespread product piracy have so far hampered further investment in the industry.

One concern of the industry is an antiquated law whose definition of coffee include a minimum caffeine content of 2.3 percent. This means that some high-quality brands with low caffeine do not make the grade. Ironically, low-quality “adulterated” products, containing chicory or even production leftovers from shell or grain, can legitimately be labeled coffee, even though they do not meet international standards. The recently established Organization of Coffee Manufacturers in Russia, which includes Kraft Foods (U.S.), Tchibo (Germany), Paulig (Finland) and Douwe Egberts (U.S.), has lobbied the government for changes to the law with some success.

Tea & Coffee - February/March 2001

Theta Ridge Coffee

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