‘At CIA Starbucks, Even the Baristas Are Covert’

Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, writing for The Washington Post:

This coffee shop looks pretty much like any other Starbucks, with blond wooden chairs and tables, blueberry and raspberry scones lining the bakery cases, and progressive folk rock floating from the speakers. (There are plans to redecorate, possibly including spy paraphernalia from over the decades.)

But the manager said this shop “has a special mission,” to help humanize the environment for employees, who work under high pressure often in windowless offices and can’t fiddle with their smartphones during downtime. For security, they have to leave them in their cars.

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‘The Psychology Behind Costco’s Free Samples’

Joe Pinsker, writing for The Atlantic:

There’s no brand that’s as strongly associated with free samples as Costco. People have been known to tour the sample tables at Costco stores for a free lunch, acquired piecemeal. There are even personal-finance and food bloggers who’ve encouraged the practice. Costco knows that sampling, if done right, can convince people that its stores are fun places to be. (Penn Jillette, of the magic act Penn & Teller, has on more than one occasion taken a woman on a date at a Costco warehouse.)

[...]

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‘How Ramen Got Me Through Adolescence’

Veronique Greenwood, writing for The New York Times:

For more than three years I ate a packet nearly every day, a thousand steaming bowls. I read easily hundreds of novels. My life had two poles: the reliable, satisfying bite of those shelf-stable noodles and the warm cocoon of the world’s books.

Ramen — Top Ramen, which I think is the brand Greenwood alludes to — is a staple of my childhood memories. I vividly remember my grandmother making it for me, always straining the broth and putting melted butter atop the cooked noodles. I also would cook the noodles sans seasoning packet, and add my own ingredients from the pantry to create a sort of pasta salad-esque concoction.

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On Truffle Oil

Priceonomics, “The Truffle Oil Shuffle”:

The truffle stands in stark contrast to the convenience-biased trends of the late 20th century that allowed wealthy consumers to buy fruits and vegetables during any season and filled bread with enough preservatives that it lasts weeks. Admirers contend that the truffle begins to lose its flavor as soon as it is pulled from the ground, and fresh truffle season really only lasts a season. The rarity and temporality of truffles have made them — at €4,400 to €11,000 per pound for Italy’s prized white truffles — the most expensive food in the world. In 2007, a Macau casino owner set a record by paying $330,000 for a 3.3 pound truffle unearthed in Tuscany.

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Kickstarter Project Raises $9,000 for Potato Salad

Maya Kosoff, writing for Business Insider:

With over 1,000 enthusiastic backers, Brown, a web developer, has already raised over 900 times his original goal of $10. The project, which started on July 3, doesn’t end until August. He’s already promised his backers four kinds of potato salad so far, including one vegan option.

Must be some damn good potato salad.

Starbucks to Offer In-Store Charging Stations

Roger Cheng, reporting for CNET:

Starbucks said on Thursday that it would roll out Powermat’s wireless charging station in its Starbucks and Teavana shops. The deployment will begin in the San Francisco Bay Area this year and expand to other metropolitan areas in 2015.

[...]

But Starbucks and Powermat plan to install “Powermat Spots,” which will be located in designated areas such as tables and counters, that run on a different and incompatible standard championed by the Power Matters Alliance and Duracell Powermat, a joint venture between Powermat and Procter & Gamble’s Duracell brand. Only the addition of a compatible charging case would allow most phones to work with the spots.

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On Cover

Ryan Lawler, writing for TechCrunch:

Payments app Cover wants to make it easier for restaurant goers to “dine and dash.” To do so legally, at least. And now it works in select San Francisco restaurants, in addition to those that accept it in New York City.

The app lets users skip waiting for a check, with a seamless process for paying a restaurant with your mobile phone instead of breaking out cash or a credit card at the end of a meal.

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On Nutritionists and ‘Big Food’

Kiera Butler, reporting for Mother Jones:

With 75,000 members, the CDA’s parent organization, the national Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), is the world’s largest professional association for nutritionists and dietitians. It accredits undergraduate and graduate programs in nutrition science and awards credentials to dietitian degree candidates who pass its exam. In Washington, its lobbying arm is active on issues including childhood obesity, Medicare, and the farm bill.

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On Suspended Coffee

Sylvia Poggioli, writing for the NPR’s The Salt blog:

The Neapolitan writer Luciano de Crescenzo used the tradition as the title of one of his books, Caffè sospeso: Saggezza quotidiana in piccoli sorsi (“Suspended coffee: Daily wisdom in small sips”).

“It was a beautiful custom,” he recalls. “When a person who had a break of good luck entered a cafe and ordered a cup of coffee, he didn’t pay just for one, but for two cups, allowing someone less fortunate who entered later to have a cup of coffee for free.”

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Best Practices for Eating Sushi

Jessica Saia and Isla Bell Murray, writing for The Bold Italic:

In the spirit of education, I went to one of the best sushi restaurants in San Francisco: Ichi Sushi. They’re in the process of opening a new location and commissioned lettering master Erik Marinovich to paint a huge mural in the new space that beautifully breaks down all the do’s of eating sushi. It’s a fantastic mural, but lacks the hard truths about what exactly we’ve all been doing so wrong. Allow me to show, not tell. Here, I’ve chosen five rules detailed in Erik’s mural, and asked a fellow sushi lover (who knows she holds her chopsticks weird, okay??) to reenact the good, the bad, and the OH GOD STOP IT YOU’RE EMBARRASSING YOURSELF of sushi etiquette.

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