A partnership originally between Starbucks, Tully’s, Vivace and Puget Sound Fresh gained support from surprise partners Microsoft and Monsanto, meaning coffee beans will soon be growing right here in King County, both on the Redmond campus and on a farm in Carnation.
The key is the development of a coffee bean that thrives in a temperate, damp climate. Monsanto led the research on this project, using serotonin from coffee drinkers in the rainy Northwest to modify the gene of a coffee bean indigenous to Aliwkut, a remote region of Bolivia.
The coffee grown on the Microsoft campus will be used for that company’s corporate cafeteria, a move many see as countering the attention Google and Facebook’s workplaces have received for offering free lunches. Additional grounds will be packaged and included in a limited edition bundle with shipments of Microsoft Office software. The brew will be called Microsoft Poured.
The innovation is largely being hailed by espresso lovers and local foods supporters in the Puget Sound region. Capitol Hill resident Solomon Douglas sipped his octuple latte and commented, “I’m all in favor of it, if it guarantees the availability of espresso for the foreseeable future.” University of Washington student Juan Valdez looked confused and said, “Wait, I thought it was already grown here. Isn’t that why Seattle has so many coffee shops? I’m so confused; I haven’t had my espresso yet today.”
The coffee will be available at local co-ops and farmers’ markets, the Microsoft website, and a new CSA (Caffeine-Sustained Agriculture) delivery system. There are plans to open a few coffee shops in the beginning of April of 2012, using locally produced milk and foam from the Friendly Foam Shop in the U-District.
Yet, there were critiques. A representative of the Community Alliance for Global Justice hesitated and then said, “I don’t know. I’m all for local foods. But Monsanto? A Carnation plantation? Will the workers be treated well? Can I have another mocha?”
Whether locally-grown coffee is a passing trend or here to stay, the excitement of the announcement is enough — almost — to keep us awake for now.
Tomorrow’s post: How to render your own squirrel fat!
(For more information on the topics in this post, please go here.)