FIVE IDEAS: Buying coffee in a tough economy

Friday, November 14, 2008 | 11:49 a.m. CST; updated 10:51 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Economic grind

Throw a rock down Ninth Street, and most likely, you’ll hit a coffee shop.

There are five coffeehouses within five blocks on this downtown street: Coffee Zone, Lakota Coffee, Kaldi’s Coffee Roasting Co., Cherry Street Artisan and the notoriously ubiquitous Starbucks Coffee.

But as of this fall, Columbia is without one coffee hot spot. The Coffee Ground in northeast Columbia shut its doors on Oct. 18.

The problems started with competition from corporate chain stores, like Starbucks. Then, Columbia’s “mom and pop” coffee shops started feeling the pressure as gas prices spiked to $4 a gallon. This fall, the nationwide economic crisis drained disposable income from Columbia residents’ wallets, and coffee-drinking habits changed as a result.

Even Starbucks felt the pressure. Last summer, the chain closed 600 stores nationwide to combat the rising cost of gas, and in September, its recorded fourth-quarter profit margins fell 97 percent.

For some coffee drinkers, a shrinking budget changes how, not if, they buy their daily cup. Shop owners called it the “latte factor,” as customers opted for a $1 cup of plain coffee rather than splurge on a $3 latte. Other customers are buying their coffee in bulk from shops like Lakota — which roasts its own beans — so they can brew their own cup.

How has the credit crunch affected your coffee-drinking habits?


It’s a different kind of football that’s bringing home the trophies this year.

Missouri’s soccer team became the third team in school history to win a Big 12 tournament on Sunday. The win continued a record-setting season for Missouri (15-5-1), breaking the team record for regular season wins with 13 and for conference victories with seven.

Missouri, which was seeded No. 3 in the tournament, beat Colorado, the No. 4 seed, for the championship. Midfielder Mo Redmond scored the game’s only goal in the sixth minute, earning a trophy and an automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Championship tournament for the team.

Only the 1997 softball team has ever earned Big 12 championship games in Missouri. They won a regular season championship and a tournament championship that year, making the soccer team’s win the third ever in Missouri history.

The Tigers have made it to the Big 12 soccer finals in 1998, 1999 and 2003, but this year’s team was first to win the championship.

Days after their Big 12 win, chalk messages appeared on campus congratulating the team and wishing them luck in the NCAA tournament. The team is seeded fourth in their 16-team bracket, just behind North Carolina, Florida and Texas A&M. The Tigers host Evansville at Walton Stadium this weekend for their first game of the tournament.

Is our trophy-winning soccer team getting the attention it deserves?

Yes, youth can!

For young people across Missouri, President-elect Barack Obama’s election slogan “Yes, we can” has become a call for action long after the polls closed.

“I really want to stay involved somehow,” said Jony Rommel, a 20-year-old MU student who took the semester off to work for the Obama campaign in Pennsylvania. With four semesters as a journalism major behind her, Rommel switched to studying political science after organizing Get Out the Vote activities for Penn State’s off-campus students and eight polling locations. Now, she’s debating between returning to school right away or applying for the committee that will handle Obama’s inauguration.

On Election Day, Rommel and about 23 million other Americans under 30 proved that their generation — one demonized as apathetic and too distracted by video games and Facebook to notice — could affect the course of an election by casting their ballots.

Young people mobilized more than any other age group, according to Tufts University's Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. The center estimates that 52 percent of young people voted, up 4 to 5 percentage points from 2004 and 11 percentage points from 2000. It also found that 60 percent of the increased number of votes this year came from young people.

Why did America’s youth mobilize behind this year’s election? Will their actions continue through Obama’s term as president?

Getting a head start

Hope you enjoyed this month’s election, because if three of Missouri’s new state representatives-elect have anything to do with it, next year’s will be different.

Stephen Webber, Chris Kelly and Mary Still — representatives-elect from the 23rd, 24th and 25th districts respectively — are already working together to address three major election issues: bringing early voting to Missouri, expanding the state's no-call list to include automated political calls (or “robo calls”) and restoring limits on contributions to political campaigns.

To alleviate lines and encourage higher turnout, the team is pushing to open election headquarters and satellite polling places before election days. Early voting measures could also allow anyone to vote absentee. Currently, voters must explain why they can’t vote in person on Election Day.

The team also supports adding automated political calls to the no-call list, created in 2001 by Attorney General (now Governor-elect) Jay Nixon as a way to block calls from telemarketers.

The representatives-elect believe enforcing limits on contributions to campaigns can level the playing field for candidates with good ideas but no billionaire donors. Missouri voters approved limits on contributions in 1994, but the General Assembly lifted those limits this year as of Aug. 28. And while both Republicans and Democrats have accepted large campaign contributions, most Missourians overwhelmingly support limits.

How would elections change if Missouri added early voting and campaign contribution limits while eliminating robo calls?

The bluebird has landed

John Henry and the Engine, the local band that opened for Obama during his campaign rally in Columbia, spent much of their set pushing the audience of about 40,000 to buy tickets for the Bluebird Music and Arts Festival. By Sunday, we’ll know if their shameless plug worked.

For just $35, Columbia’s music junkies scored a ticket to more than 80 acts in 11 downtown venues this weekend. The Bluebird Festival is the newest in a variety of music and entertainment festivals to rock The District and vie for residents’ attention.

In October, the blues returned to Columbia as the second Roots 'N' Blues 'N' BBQ Festival came through town. Fifty-seven groups battled it out in the barbecue contest while artists such as Buddy Guy and the Jerry Douglas Band entertained crowds sprawling through Columbia’s intersections and parks.

And last winter, the fifth True/False Film Festival sold more than 18,000 tickets. Films fresh from their premiers at Sundance, Toronto and other festivals found their way to this Midwestern town for a weekend of shows, games, lectures, debates and parties.

This weekend’s event pulled national headliners — such as Ha Ha Tonka and Atmosphere — and local artists to satisfy almost any music taste.

Why is Columbia such a popular place for music and entertainment festivals?

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.