Coffee art, the SodaStream story and the rise of rosé wine

Planet Business: Also this week, the campaign for a Brexit ‘People’s Vote’ gets a boost

But is it art? Judges at work at the Latte Art World Championship Open in Los Angeles, California. Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP

But is it art? Judges at work at the Latte Art World Championship Open in Los Angeles, California. Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP


In numbers: Wine o’clock

9.1 million

Cases of wine consumed by Irish consumers last year, up 100,000 cases (or litres) on the year before.


Percentage market share held by rosé wine, up from 3 per cent the year before, as the pink stuff took two percentage points off the share held by red wine (now 45 per cent).


This percentage of the wine Irish people drink comes from Chile, according to the Irish Wine Association, helped no doubt by a full-bodied Santa Rita marketing campaign.

Image of the week: Coffee champion

Two cups of coffee, three people staring hard at them – what could be going on? It’s the Coffee Fest Latte Art World Championship Open in Los Angeles, California, and these three coffee experts are engaged in the serious business of judging the head-to-head, sudden death-style competition. Competitor baristas are given three minutes to produce one “free pour” milk and espresso into a fancy pattern, meaning they can’t use any special stencils or powders or engage in any “etching”. The “losing” latte maker is eliminated. The rules at the international latte art event in Brazil in November are more complex, with baristas challenged to create two identical free-pour lattes as well as two identical designer lattes (etching and decoration allowed), among other tests of artistic expression.

The lexicon: People’s Vote

The People’s Vote is a campaign in Britain calling for a second referendum on Brexit. “Whatever your opinion on Brexit, no one would disagree that it’s a big deal. And not a done deal,” says its petition-carrying website, operated by a group called Open Britain. It says it is “leading the campaign against a hard, destructive Brexit”. The call for a referendum on the exit deal eventually agreed between Westminster and Brussels is backed by MPs including Labour’s Chuka Umunna and the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas, as well as celebrities such as Patrick Stewart and Gary Lineker, while Julian Dunkerton, the co-founder of clothing chain Superdry, has just donated £1 million (€1.11 million). “I’ve got a good instinct for when a mood is going to change and we’re in one of those moments now,” he told the Observer. “We have a genuine chance to turn this around.”

Getting to know: Thierry Andretta

“We have to remain relevant,” was the message last year from Thierry Andretta, chief executive of luxury fashion brand Mulberry, as he announced a new “see now, buy now” model of marketing (instead of the usual catwalk-teasing of items not actually available for months). It was all about supporting “consumer demand for immediacy”, he said. But a retail-led business is only as good as the retailers you sell through, and this week Mulberry confirmed it expected a £3 million (€3.3 million) hit from the collapse of House of Fraser as well as a slowdown in UK sales. The handbag-maker’s shares promptly fell 30 per cent after this profit warning and, though it recovered some of the loss, it has been an unfortunate step backwards for Andretta, the French fashion industry veteran tasked in 2015 with bringing Mulberry back into business vogue.

The list: Five facts about SodaStream

PepsiCo has bought SodaStream, the company behind the carbonation device that every Eighties kid thought was magic, for $3.2 billion. But where did SodaStream come from anyway?

1: Edwardian fizz. SodaStream was founded in Britain in 1903 by W&A Gilbey, a London gin distiller. Back then, it was an unwieldy “apparatus” strictly for the upper classes, with one making its way into Buckingham Palace.

2: Seventies rise. A mini SodaStream machine was described as “a great money-saver, especially if you have children” in The Irish Times in 1974. It would have set you back about IR£15.

3: Israeli move. In 1998, Israel’s Soda-Club bought SodaStream from its owner of 13 years Cadbury Schweppes, keeping the latter’s brand name. In 2010, it went public on the New York Stock Exchange.

4: West Bank controversy. Boycotts were threatened over the fact SodaStream had a factory in an Israeli settlement in the Palestinian territory, leading to some pushback against the face of the company’s advertising, actor Scarlett Johansson. SodaStream has since closed the factory.

5: Swedish popularity. In Sweden, they’re big fans of home carbonation, with an estimated 16 per cent of households possessing a SodaStream – a figure PepsiCo would die to replicate elsewhere.