BEHIND THE PLATE
Coming Soon: Oprah's Chai Tea

"You get a chai! And you get a chai! Everybody gets a chai!"

Oprah Winfrey has officially announced the creation of her own signature chai blend, Oprah Chai Tea, which is set to be released in the USA and Canada on April 29th. After working with experts at Starbucks and Teavana, Oprah was able to create a beverage which features the flavors of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and cloves, all blended together with black and rooibos (red) loose-leaf teas. Once the blend is released for sale at Starbucks and Teavana locations across the USA and Canada, a portion of the profits will be donated to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation. This charity assists in creating educational opportunities for kids and teenagers throughout the world, providing just another reason to indulge in this brand new product.

BEST OF
Stick It for National Something on a Stick Day

#1 POP TART ON A STICK

Who knew that Pop Tarts needed any improvement? These itty bitty pop tarts look adorable and delicious; if only we could have some coffee on a stick to pair it with.

#2 DONUT ON A STICK

Practical yet creative, a munchkin donut on a stick is a sweetooth's dream appetizer.

#3 MINI PANCAKES

We'll be taking our gourmet breakfast to go on a stick today!

#5 Burgers on a Stick

Is it just us, or do these make you feel like Alice in Wonderland when she grows too much? We are so down with sliders on a stick!

DO-GOODERS
Drink Up New York

Corporate Social Responsibility has become an increasingly important aspect of doing business today. Thanks to more informed and connected customers, putting pressure on companies to be good corporate citizens and rewarding those that do with our business, industry leaders have listened, one being Starbucks. They precisely pinpointed an area where they could make a significant difference and ran with it. Coffee is grown in tropical areas like Latin America and the Caribbean. Industrial farming and processing of coffee has an adverse effect on the environment by increasing deforestation, using intense pesticides and chemicals, escalating water pollution, and decreasing soil quality. In addition to social investments in healthcare and education in farming communities, Starbucks is also working with organizations like Conservation International to train farmers on methods that will mitigate climate change and increase sustainability. By next year, they hope to ensure that 100% of their coffee is ethically sourced and are taking a step further to reduce waste by implementing front-of-the-store recycling.

DO-GOODERS
Choose (Red) For An AIDS Free Generation

Giving to charity can be hard work. Even if your heart is in the right place, sacrificing a little extra can jeopardize almost anybody's budget and although wanting to make a change may be easy, choosing to help is definitely much harder. Yet with Choose (Red)'s new campaign to help end the AIDS epidemic in Africa, people can now give a little extra without having to give anything extra at all.

Choose (Red) is a project initiated to help the Global Fund to Fight AIDS to achieve just that. Launched this month, Choose (Red) aims to encourage people to choose (Red) products starting in June to help contribute to AIDS and HIV prevention in Africa. Up to 50 percent of the money received from the purchase of (Red) products are directly contributed to the Global Fund. The catch is that all (Red) products cost the same amount of money as non-(Red) products. So by making the choice to buy (Red) products from a multitude of participating businesses, people will be automatically be helping by giving money towards this reputable cause.

DAILY BITES
The Best Part of Waking Up, is a Celebrity in Your Cup

New coffee blends and trends are already roasting in the new year as Starbucks switches from dark roasts to blondes and multiple celebrities, such as Leonardo DiCaprio, filmmaker David Lynch, Dave Mustaine from Megadeth and Lcd Soundsystem star James Murphy, enter the profitable industry.

After years of everyone being told by the coffee connoisseur that dark roasts are superior, coffee companies decided to attract a new market of coffee drinkers during this economic slump. This trend has already become a norm in many European countries, where they brew the blondes strong.

DAILY BITES
Starbucks 'Blonde' Blend Jokes an Offense, 'Blonde' Blend Flavor Also an Offense

Starbucks is taking their new 'blonde' Veranda blend very seriously. Apparently, if any employees make a 'blonde' joke about the new flavor, it will be a written offense. According to Jim Romenesko's Starbucks Gossip site:

we were told at a Regional Rally there are absolutely no Blonde jokes to be told around the coffee what so ever. It will be a written offense if so. This came right from the [Regional Director]'s mouth to about 100 [Store Managers] so communicate back to our stores at our own meetings.

DAILY BITES
Starbucks Raises Prices, Customers Notice

Yes, it's true. Starbucks has raised prices on several of their beverages. You'll now notice a 10 cent hike on many of your favorites including 'Tall' sized lattes and brewed coffees. I couldn't help but notice when they rang up my 'Tall' bold this morning that is was $2.01, instead of the usual $1.91. Most annoying, the change hadn't even been notated on the menu! Sure, 10 cents isn't much, but the price increase happened suddenly, with no formal announcement that we can recall. (Of course, many of us were submerged in pumpkin pie and a turkey coma recently, so it's possible we missed something.) I only found out after my purchase. What trickery!

DAILY BITES
Starbucks Closes Public Bathrooms

The New York Post reported earlier today that many public bathrooms in NYC-area Starbucks will close this holiday season. According to the story, "Starbucks can not be the public restroom for the city anymore." And while you may not have noticed yet, a handful of the 190 caffiene-pushing locales throughout the city have been quietly shutting their restrooms doors for good this past month.

Apparently, the decision to deny patrons the right to pee was based, in part, on employees difficulty in carving out their own bathroom breaks. From here forward, many locations will have baristas (and other Sbux employees) only loos.

DAILY BITES
Disgusting Starbucks News

Well here's the most disgusting news we've heard all day: a man calling himself Mr. PeePee is challenging himself to masturbate in Starbucks bathrooms throughout New York City. How many Manhattan-area wi-fi accessible coffee joints is this guy aiming to hit? Every. Single. One.

It gets worse. Apparently this self-lovestruck dude is a regular on The Glory Hole podcast as well as a frequent tweeter @MrPeePee. He will be documenting his quest on both sites and also commenting on outstanding factors like bathroom cleanliness and barista attractiveness.

DELICIOUS DEBUTS
Starbucks Rolls Out Lighter Coffee

Starbucks announced yesterday that they will release a lighter roast coffee in January 2012. The new "Blonde" variety will be even weaker than the company's 2008 "Pike Place" version and will be available in whole bean, roast, ground, K-cup Portion Packs and Ready Brew forms.

Why the introduction of this new brew? According to a Starbucks National press release (that we glanced at first via Eater), people are really jonesing for a punier drink. "We recognized the unmet consumer need for a super-premium light roast coffee," said Cliff Burrows, Starbucks President of the Americas. The statement went on to describe that "over 40 percent of US coffee drinkers- or approximately 54 million consumers" are craving this easier to swallow beverage. We're not totally convinced but we can pretty much guarantee that this news makes ironically-bearded baristas around the country fog up their plastic frames with a few tears (also shed ironically, of course).