The Dutch Monarchy

We’ve all heard the news of the pope’s resignation this past week.  But did you know that the Queen of the Netherlands is also stepping down from her throne?  (The Netherlands is home to Douwe Egberts so we here like to keep abreast of Dutch news.)

Last month, Queen Beatrix announced her intention to abdicate the throne on April 30th, 2013, exactly 33 years after she succeeded her mother, Queen Juliana.  She will be replaced by her eldest son, Prince Willem-Alexander.  Queen Beatrix’s husband, Prince Claus, died in 2002 from complications with prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease.  Unlike the pope, Queen Beatrix is abdicating not because of the strain of the work but because she says the country should be led by a new generation.

The new king (who will be crowned on April 30th) and his wife will be known as Their Majesties King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima, with the oldest of their 3 daughters Princess Catherina-Amalia, (9 years old) as the next in line to the throne, after her father.

Queen’s Day, which celebrates the Queen’s birthday (and is held on Queen Juliana’s actual birthday of April 30) is a national holiday and one of the biggest celebrations each year in Holland.  Starting next year, it will be held a few days earlier and, of course, be known as King’s Day.  Perhaps not by chance, it will fall on the new King’s 47th birthday next year.

We wish the pope, Queen Beatrix and the new King the best of luck in their future endeavors!

Black Tea Lowers Rate of Type 2 Diabetes

[Originally published in our newsletter 11/9/12]Black-tea

A mathematical study looked at the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes in 50 countries.  The global prevalence of type 2 diabetes has increased six-fold over the past few decades, so the study’s conclusion that countries where consumption of black tea is high lowers the number of type 2 diabetics is particularly relevant now.  Coming in first for black tea consumption was Ireland, closely followed by the United Kingdom and Turkey.  (Morocco and Mexico had the lowest consumption rates of black tea.)  While the study showed an impact on the rates of diabetes, it did not find any other health impacts.  While the authors of the study acknowledge that there may be exceptions to their findings, their research does agree with many previous studies.

Probiotic Coffee

[Originally published 1/17/13]BW pills

A coffee manufacturer in the state of New York has developed an instant coffee with probiotic organisms that are supposed to be 10 times stronger than ones in probiotic yogurt.  The label on the product states that the coffee will help maintain a healthy digestive system.   We know coffee can be good for you, but we prefer to take care of our digestive systems in our own way.

Coffee Fungus Outbreak Affecting Central American Producers

[Originally published 1/24/13]

Coffee_berries_ImageReuters News is reporting that just this week, the Costa Rican government enacted an emergency bill to allocate $4 million to address the leaf rust (also known as roya) outbreak.  Experts estimate that more than 10 percent of the country’s planted coffee fields will be lost in the 2013/14 harvest as a result of this outbreak.  Roya kills coffee leaves by draining them of nutrients and substantially lowering the bean yield.  Unfortunately, roya has already affected other countries in Central America and Mexico, which in total are responsible for more than 20 percent of the world’s Arabica coffee production.

Coffee Helps Us Think Pleasant Thoughts

[Originally published in our newsletter 2/3/13]

A recent study found that volunteer subjects given the equivalent of 3 cups of coffee in the morning performed better on word recognition tests than those who were given a placebo.  The subjects performed much faster in identifying words with positive associations much faster than words with negative or even neutral associations.  While studies have already shown that positive words tend to be recognized more quickly, caffeine markedly increased the speed of recognition.  Isn’t that another reason to treat your sweetheart to great coffee and a kind word every morning?!!Happy Child

‘Central Perk’ Recreated in China

Beijing Central Perk CafePicture the big orange couch, the over-sized coffee mugs, the neon signs and even the guitar on which Phoebe strummed “Smelly Cat.”  This Central Perk is not on sound stage or in New York City.  It is thousands of miles away in downtown Beijing, on the 6th floor of a nondescript office building.  This working coffee shop, opened last year, started as an idea by the owner when watching “Friends,” he wanted to be able to buy coffee at the coffee shop depicted in the show.  A dedicated viewer, he reviewed thousands of pictures of the show’s set, watched reruns and then labored over furniture designs with Chinese manufacturers to create the replica.  Business was slow to get going, but once the buzz about the shop got on message boards and social media, fans poured in.  Customers even refer to the owner as “Gunther” (the shop’s fictional manager) though the two look nothing alike.  Apparently, the sitcom remains one of the most popular U.S. TV shows for young people in China.  Who knew?!!