“The race to save coffee” by Caitlin Dewey (The Washington Post)
Dewey offers a remarkable primer on coffee’s endangerment by climate change. Coffee, which demands very specific climatic conditions to bear a quality crop, is severely threatened by rising temperatures, greater rainfall, and increased virulence of disease. Dewey finds hope in F1 hybrids, first generation hybrid cultivars that capitalize on parent varieties’ flavor, hardiness, and disease resistance to better withstand changing consumer demand and growing environmental challenges, just as the hybridization and grafting of grapevines helped reclaim Europe’s grape crop from phylloxera.
Dewey is wise to acknowledge a sobering truth of this solution: for most coffee farmers, coffee is foremost a means of subsistence. Where farmers don’t have the capital to invest in planting (typically expensive) experimental cultivars, and don’t otherwise have the means to alter farm-level practices to adapt to harsher climatic conditions, there will be pressure to transition to growing other crops or seeking other means of livelihood altogether.
“The Other Reformation: How Martin Luther Changed Our Beer, Too” by Nina Martyris (NPR)
Martyris identifies a relationship between the Reformation and the rise in popularity of hops as an ingredient in beer. Owing to the Catholic Church’s monopoly on gruit (a mix of botanicals once used to flavor and preserve beer), and spurred by an existing Catholic disapproval of hops, Protestants embraced the rebellious act of brewing with hops. While Luther himself didn’t favor drunkenness, his letters repeatedly indicated his love of delicious beer, including that brewed by his wife, Katharina.
Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink by Randy Mosher
Mosher’s book was remarkably thorough and detailed and a stellar introduction to the evaluation and classification of beer styles in particular. It quickly becomes clear why Tasting Beer is a premier resource for Cicerone Certification preparation.
“I’m The New York Times crossword puzzle editor” by Sam Balter (Weird Work)
Will Shortz, enigmatologist and crossword puzzle editor for The New York Times, discusses the history of crossword puzzles from their introduction in 1913 to their unlikely inclusion at The New York Times. Hearing Shortz discuss the paper’s one-time disdain for crosswords, then present his own beliefs on the importance of imbuing the puzzles with appropriately current and newsworthy clues, is oddly charming.
“Never Look Back” by Field Report (Stereogum)