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  • Peaberry: 2 — Espresso Tech, Robusta Report, Cups Get Sustainable, Toby's Goes to Dubai, Onyx Espresso Extraction

Peaberry: 2 — Espresso Tech, Robusta Report, Cups Get Sustainable, Toby's Goes to Dubai, Onyx Espresso Extraction

A Coffee News Roundup

Welcome back to another edition of the Peaberry newsletter, your weekly peek of the latest happenings in the coffee universe.

In this issue, we'll look at how technology is transforming the craft of espresso through innovative apps that help both pros and home baristas fine-tune their technique. We'll also examine the rising price of robusta beans and their growing role in the coffee industry. Sustainability is on the menu as well, with a focus on Starbucks' expanding reusable cup program. We journey to the UAE to see specialty chain Toby's Estate continuing to spread its wings in the region. And finally, we highlight Onyx Coffee's new shelf-stable espresso concentrates that capture astonishing depth of flavor.


Smartphone technology and espresso apps are providing deeper insights into the brewing process for prosumers and home baristas, allowing them to easily track key variables like temperature and flow rate for a more consistent and refined result; apps connect enthusiasts across the globe to share methods and data for an enhanced experience.

While apps can potentially help cafe baristas efficiently record and analyze brewing data to maintain quality standards, busy shops may find integration challenging, though the benefits like streamlining operations can make investments worthwhile. As specialty coffee continues growing, espresso apps may become ubiquitous, freeing baristas from technical tasks to focus on customer service, and providing platforms to share knowledge and passion.

Nonetheless, shops can decide how apps best serve business needs beyond improving quality, as technology reshapes specialty coffee experiences.


The growing demand and volatile supply of robusta coffee has led to rising prices, narrowing the price gap with arabica; however, experts believe it's unlikely robusta will reach price parity with arabica due to inherent differences in quality, productivity and research investment.

While some farmers are shifting to robusta given its lower production costs, they face challenges like lack of technical support; increased investment in R&D for robusta is still needed to help farmers improve quality and yields. Specific high-quality robusta lots already fetch prices comparable to specialty arabica, signaling promising potential through further differentiation, though robusta is expected to remain the cheaper commodity overall.

Nonetheless, robusta will likely play an increasingly important role in the coffee industry's future amid declining arabica supplies.


The one and only James Hoffman walks us through how to make coffee for a group of people, when you are “the coffee person”.


Furthering sustainability commitments, Starbucks launched reusable cup pilots allowing customers to bring personal cups or borrow cups in 12 California stores, using tech bins to study returns; the program builds on tests worldwide, including fully reusable stores in Seattle and Arizona, as Starbucks pursues the goal of all packaging being reusable or recyclable by 2030.

The reusable cups pilot provides discounts to reward sustainable choices, while cup washers, designed with employee input, ensure convenience; drive-thru tests in Colorado also increased access to reusables for on-the-go customers.

With most beverages consumed outside cafes, Starbucks is testing various models to shift consumer behavior towards reusables through ease and incentives; by 2024, personal cups will be accepted for orders everywhere, as Starbucks leverages innovation to halve waste.


Kuwait-based Pinnacle Group opened the first United Arab Emirates outlet of Australian specialty coffee chain Toby's Estate in Dubai Hills Mall, adding to its 15 other Toby's cafes in the Gulf region; Founded in Sydney in 1998, Toby's Estate operates 17 stores in Australia and 22 more across Asia, signing a 2017 deal for Pinnacle Group to franchise the brand in the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The Dubai cafe builds on Pinnacle's franchise growth for Toby's in Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, with a second UAE location set to open in Dubai's Jumeirah neighborhood by late 2023 as part of their agreement to expand the specialty roaster in the region.

Toby's Estate's expansion across the Middle East mirrors the rising demand for high-end coffee experiences and regional growth for specialty chains.


Onyx Coffee Lab's new shelf-stable Extractions concentrates capture the full terroir of the company's seasonally sourced espresso blends through a proprietary process, retaining nuanced flavors lost in other coffee extracts to deliver a premium experience conveniently; Launching with popular Southern Weather and Monarch blends, the ready-to-use liquid enhances hot or iced coffee drinks and cocktails at cafes, restaurants and bars seeking to easily add complex espresso taste.

Onyx is introducing Extractions to bring their commitment to quality, innovation and experiential coffee to more consumers in an accessible way, as the product's unique method reflects the roast's distinctive notes shaped by factors like soil, climate and origin.

The launch of Extractions signals Onyx's focus on bottling not just convenience but the full journey of flavor that has defined the brand.