Coffee Health

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Starbucks Announces Media Marketing Initiatives; Australian Researchers Announce Persuasiveness of Caffeine

Posted by on 01 May 2006 | Filed under: Café Society, Coffee Health, Consumer Trends, Starbucks

Some days you come across two stories that, when combined together, are far more interesting than they are separately. Case and point, two curiously complimentary (conspiratorial!?) stories that came across the wire today:

Now of course I am being facetious. The belief that you should “never assume a conspiracy where incompetence will suffice” is written gospel to me. (I would never make it in Italy.) But here’s the lowdown on these two stories, and together they make for some interesting conspiracy fodder…

Would you like a latte with that home entertainment system?

First, Starbucks Coffee continuously seems to fashion itself as an entertainment company rather than a worldwide chain of coffee houses. Today they announced a relationship with the William Morris Agency (WMA). Yes, the agency that once represented Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis Presley — and today represents many of their modern day equivalents — is jumping in the coffee sack with the company-formerly-known-as-Starbucks, who just brought us the movie Akeelah and the Bee this past weekend.

Quoted in the press release is Ken Lombard, president, Starbucks Entertainment (notice that curious division name?): “We are extremely excited about the value that William Morris is providing to our strategy and more importantly bringing quality entertainment choices to our customers.”

First step, William Morris. Second step, Philip Morris.

Which brings us to the second article. As regular readers of TheShot know, I normally refuse to post on the medical blather du jour about caffeine and coffee — largely because unfiltered health information is the legacy of a scientifically ignorant mainstream media (and is one of the industry’s most painfully obvious embarassments).

But researchers in Australia have apparently found that caffeine makes us more open to persuasion… and, perhaps, advertising. To quote the article:

Their experiments showed that “caffeine increases persuasion through instigating systematic processing of the message.” But caffeine also puts people in a better mood, which makes them more likely to agree with a message, the researchers say.

You know you want that Pauly Shore anthology box set, don’t you? Oh, and have another latte — it’s on the house.

I forget… was George Orwell a former WMA client?

Coffee Sugar Sex Magik

Posted by on 24 Feb 2006 | Filed under: Coffee Health, Consumer Trends

It’s no wonder why health care is in shambles in this country. Every two-bit researcher with a corporate-sponsored grant proposal collects their check, publishes their paper, and some low-wage PR grunt in their administrative office issues a press release. Major media, given their rip-and-read reporting laziness and blissful ignorance of science, publishes every piece of news release drivel that comes over the wire — not even pausing long enough to let it sink into their brains. Consumers read this regular stream of confusing and contradictory medical research and, from week to week, have no idea whether to drink ten cups of coffee a day or to swear it off altogether.

So what’s the latest idiot piece that doesn’t seem to go away, even as much as we may try to avoid it? Researchers at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas discovered that caffeine increases the female rat libido. So what do many of the newswires report?: “Is coffee the female Viagra?”

No, seriously.

Of course, if you’re hot to trot on a Saturday night and are looking to score with vermin, this is excellent news. Apparently you should be looking for love in the dumpster behind the local Starbucks. But chances are that you do not qualify for this group. Yet to spice up the story, people have made a leap of faith from rats to humans, from caffeine to coffee, from sexual interest to blood flow, and the next thing you know newswires, bloggers, and the like are eating it up like Hugh Hefner after word of a Viagra shortage.

Who cares if there isn’t any relevance, let alone truth, to this concept? And who cares if the university that performed this reputable and renowned medical research actually posted the following on their Premedical and Predental student section of their Web site?:

During its long history, Southwestern University has never “got anyone into medical or dental school.”

It doesn’t matter — all those pesky details just get in the way. This reminds me of my favorite old physicist joke, which illustrates the lunacy of postulating and debating for hours upon the foundation of a ridiculously erroneous assumption. The punchline goes, “We first assume a spherical chicken…” (Physicists live by the simplified mathematical abstraction.)

And to prove that things have a life of their own, here’s a press release today from Drinks Business Review: Java Sutra introduces libido-boosting coffee – Drinks Business Review. With the opening headline, “Java Sutra, a Portland-based company, has introduced a nutrient-infused coffee that is claimed to boost sexual energy in men and women,” it’s clear that there’s a market for spherical chicken if everyone just believes in it.

Upscale coffee drinks almost as caloric as Big Mac

Posted by on 06 Feb 2006 | Filed under: Add Milk, Coffee Health, Consumer Trends

Normally I detest the monotony of the rip-and-read medical research press release du jour that you see in the news every week. Depending on the week you tune in to this short-attention-span drivel, coffee will either give you heart attacks, improve your sex drive, prolong your life, make you impotent, or all of the above. No wonder why so many consumers are confused — no one is bothering to make sense of all this disconnected spot research (often sponsored by questionable corporate or political grant support).

But in today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution, there’s a medical story on coffee worth mentioning: Upscale coffee drinks almost as caloric as Big Mac.

For all the garbage people put in their fancy coffee drinks (or, more like it: the small amount of coffee they put in their garbage), they frequently end up with a beverage that rivals the caloric intake of a McDonald’s Big Mac. Which is why I advise people to not even bother with the coffee, let alone quality coffee that costs a little more, if what they’re going for is a vanilla-caramel milkshake anyway.

Super Size me, Starbucks…

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