Coffee And Cups: 2 Stories Of High Stakes And High Prices

Paying $15 for a cup of coffee may sound alarming. Ozy.com co-founder Carlos Watson tells NPR's Arun Rath why some think it can be worth it. They also discuss a rising star on Portugal's soccer team.

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ARUN RATH, HOST:

From NPR West, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Arun Rath.

It's time now for the New and the Next.

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RATH: Carlos Watson is the co-founder of the online magazine Ozy. Each week he joins us to talk about what's new and what's next. Welcome back, Carlos.

CARLOS WATSON: Arun, really good to be with you.

RATH: So this snuck up on me. We're only a month away from the start of the World Cup in Brazil, and it sounds like fans in Portugal are excited because they're going to be playing in their former colony, but also they're excited because they might have a secret weapon in Portugal.

WATSON: And his name is not Cristiano Ronaldo, which of course is one of the two most famous players in the world right now.

RATH: Right.

WATSON: But instead, there's a young 20 year old named Carlos Munoz. His family is originally from Guinea Bissau, who just may get called up to the team and could become the latest boy wonder of the World Cup.

RATH: And you say boy wonder 'cause he's only on the junior team right now. But there's a buzz that he's going to get called up to the big team.

WATSON: Correct. So the coach of the national soccer team has been watching him play on the so-called under 21 team and has been watching him as he plays in his Portuguese team. And they're talking about bringing him up to play alongside Ronaldo, which would be an incredibly precocious deal.

RATH: Wow, and some countries are starting to put their provisional squads together now. So will we hear pretty soon if he's getting called up?

WATSON: We should hear in the next couple weeks or so. And a lot of folks are excited about him not only because of his speed but he is one of the rare players who is truly elite with both his left foot and his right foot. He's truly ambidextrous.

RATH: But there are some rumors that he could eventually switch to another team?

WATSON: Well, he's being scouted by some of the teams in the U.K., most notably Manchester United.

RATH: Of course.

WATSON: Which would be a very big deal on multiple levels including the fact that Munoz's family is now in the U.K. The idea that their young son who got on some of the teams as early as 7 might now be playing on the world stage this summer is something that he's got a lot of people rooting for him.

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FRANK SINATRA: (Singing) Way down among Brazilians, coffee beans grow by the billions. So they've got to find those extra cups to fill.

RATH: So if that old Frank Sinatra song is true, they'll be drinking an awful lot of coffee in Brazil at the World Cup, which is my very strained transition to a story about coffee. You know, it's been a comic riff going back to the old days when Starbucks was new that when did we go from spending 25 cents on a cup of coffee to three bucks. But you found some coffee experts who say that three bucks, that's actually cheap.

WATSON: Welcome to the world of $15 cups of coffee. People are lining up outside of a very cool set of coffee shops in Santa Cruz, California called Verve Coffee Roasters. And they literally are dropping 15, 16, 18, even 20 bucks for various kinds of special coffee.

RATH: Now, I love caffeine more than anybody, I think. But 15, 16 bucks for a cup. Is it that good?

WATSON: Hey, listen. If you want La Palma or Street Level Espresso, that's part of what they are now calling third wave coffee. So really handcrafted, the beans are specially grown, they're saying think of your coffee the way some people think of wine, that all the effort you put into it ultimately should be met with the kind of money you end up spending for it.

RATH: Now, it's in Santa Cruz, no offense to Santa Cruz, but they're not exactly Main Street America, you know? Most colleges don't have a consciousness program, and that kind of thing. So do you think this is something that can have broader appeal across the country?

WATSON: Well, Santa Cruz is often a little cutting edge, a little bit different. But now you're going to have another one of these coffee shops open up in L.A. soon, and not surprisingly, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. So they'll be hitting both the coasts before too long.

RATH: Well, when it comes down here, it will be your treat.

(LAUGHTER)

RATH: Carlos Watson is the co-founder of the online magazine Ozy. You can explore all of those stories we talked about at npr.org/newandnext. Carlos, thanks again.

WATSON: Arun, have a great weekend.

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