Only days after Steve Ballmer said he's retiring, Microsoft moved swiftly to acquire Nokia's mobile phone business. The deal signals that Microsoft is committed to a future that relies on mobile devices at least as much as software. Whether that bet succeeds will depend largely on Stephen Elop, Nokia's CEO, who is returning to Microsoft and is being discussed as Ballmer's potential successor.
A civet cat eats red coffee cherries at a farm in Bondowoso, Indonesia. Civets are actually more closely related to meerkats and mongooses than to cats.
Credit Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images
A coffee "bean" is actually the seed of a cherry-sized fruit that grows on the coffee plant. Civets eat the whole fruit. The seed is separated from the pulp in the digestive process.
Credit Paula Bronstein / Getty Images
Capitalizing on the fact that civet coffee can fetch a pretty penny, small producers have started farming it. That is, keeping civets in captivity and feeding them coffee fruits once a day.
Credit Paula Bronstein / Getty Images
Civet feces are collected and cleaned for the beans, which are naturally fermented during digestion.
Credit AFP/Getty Images
At a coffee shop in Indonesia, one cup of Kopi Luwak can go for around $9 U.S.
Credit Adek Berry / AFP/Getty Images
In captivity, civets don't choose what they eat. "It's unripe and it's robusto," says coffee connoisseur Oliver Strand, dismissing it: "That's of zero interest." Robusto coffee, he explains, is indigenous to Africa, and not what the animal would eat in the wild.
Credit Sonny Tumbelaka / AFP/Getty Images
In the wild, the civet "cat" is naturally drawn to the best, ripe fruits on the coffee plant; that's why, effectively, they would produce the best beans, in small batches.
Credit Paula Bronstein / Getty Images
Much ado about nothing? Left: civet poop coffee beans. Right: a cup of java brewed from the stuff.
Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 11:25 am
From gross to gourmet. That pretty much sums up civet poop coffee.
The beans are literally harvested from the feces of the tree-dwelling civet cat in Indonesia. The idea is that a trip through the animal's digestive tract partially ferments the beans and imparts a much-sought-after flavor to the coffee.
Update, Sept. 4: We added the audio for David Kestenbaum's radio obituary of Ronald Coase.
If you created the world as a simple economic thought experiment, companies wouldn't exist. Instead, everybody would work for themselves, and they'd be constantly selling their labor (or the fruits of their labor, or use of their tools, or whatever) to the highest bidder. Wages would rise and fall every day (every hour! every second!) depending on supply and demand. That's how the market works, after all.
An endless number of personal finance apps help consumers keep track of their money. Host Michel Martin speaks with Lisa Gerstner of Kiplinger's Personal Finance, about the different options for tracking savings and spending on mobile devices.
Continuing our conversation about personal finance, we just talked about apps like Mint and how people are using them to keep tabs on their personal finances, but Omar Green and his new software company want to take it even further to help you make good decisions about your money. And let's just say you might not need to call mom quite so often. We'll let him explain. Omar Green is the CEO and cofounder of wallet.AI and he's with us now to tell us more. Welcome, thanks so much for joining us.
The uncertain future of American military action in Syria is causing ripple effects in the world market. Host Michel Martin speaks with economic reporter Sudeep Reddy of The Wall Street Journal, about the relationship between the Syrian conflict and oil.
Nokia was once the largest mobile phone manufacturer in the world, the most valuable company in Europe and an icon in its home base of Finland. But the rise of Apple and Android smartphones knocked the company on its heels.
NPR News business news starts with Verizon in total control.
At least for the wireless network. Yesterday, we told you Verizon was on the way to approving one of the biggest deals in the history of the telecommunications business. And now we can tell you the deal is sealed. The company will pay $130 billion in cash and stock to the British company Vodafone to acquire Vodafone's share of their joint wireless venture.
Upstate New York has lugged around the Rust Belt identity for decades now. But today, the region is trying on a new reputation as the king of yogurt — especially the high-protein Greek yogurt that consumers crave.
Originally published on Mon September 2, 2013 4:32 am
Verizon and Vodafone are joint owners of the nation's No. 1 wireless provider Verizon Wireless. Over the weekend, the two companies were in talks to finalize the terms of a $130 billion deal. That's how much Vodafone is asking for its 45 percent stake in the company.
And today's last word in business is: boy band. Because what's better than one teenage heartthrob? Five of them. In 3-D.
The Irish-English pop group One Direction helped Hollywood break a Labor Day weekend record. Their 3-D concert film "One Direction: This is Us" grossed $17 million in its first three days to top the weekend box office. That's a nice take for the Morgan Spurlock music documentary, which cost a modest $10 million to make.
In the grand days of railroad travel, passengers arrived in monumental terminals. There was grandeur, style and comfort — qualities that today's equivalent for long-distance travel, the airport, mostly lack. Especially in the United States.
In a survey of international travelers by the British firm Skytrax, not a single U.S. airport ranked anywhere near the top of the list. Singapore got top honors, while the best the United States could do was Cincinnati's airport — which came in at No. 30.
The government of Ecuador has abandoned a plan that would have kept part of the Amazonian rainforest off limits to oil drilling. The initiative was an unusual one: Ecuador was promising to keep the oil in the ground, but it wanted to be paid for doing so.
When goods arrive in Houston, they may come in containers stacked high on huge ships or strung out on long lines of rail cars. But to get to the customer, those goods need to be put on trucks and driven to their final destinations.
And now with the oil and gas sectors booming, the demand for truckers is soaring. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says oil delivered to refineries by trucks shot up 38 percent between 2011 and 2012.
As Labor Day honors American workers, stress weighs on many. A changing world — and therefore a changing workplace — has many employees on the job and staring at screens for hours upon hours. Some have reached a breaking point.
John Challenger, CEO of workplace consulting company Challenger, Gray & Christmas, diagnoses burnout. He tells NPR's Jacki Lyden stress can manifest emotionally, mentally or physically. "It can be combined with doubts about your confidence or the value of the work you do," he says.
Joanna Cruz, a New Jersey mother of three who works as a cook at a convenience store, wrote in an online essay that "too often, people think that individuals on public assistance programs are lazy. I would like for them to spend one day in my shoes." She shares what it's like to support a family on minimum wage with guest host Wade Goodwyn.
People hoping to upgrade their old iPhone for a newer model now have the option of trading in their phone to get credit toward a new device at an Apple store. The technology company announced the new option Friday, ahead of the expected Sept. 10 release of updates to its iPhone line.
The new trade-in program, which Apple says is available at its 252 U.S. retail stores, has several requirements:
"I bought the stuff at full retail. I own it," says Michael Hallatt, owner of the _irate Joe's grocery in Vancouver. His store faces a lawsuit from Trader Joe's for infringing on its trademark and possibly confusing customers.
Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 1:24 pm
For the past year and a half, Mike Hallatt has been driving across the U.S.-Canada border and back, bringing loads of groceries back to Vancouver. There's no food shortage in Canada — but there's an absolute lack of Trader Joe's grocery stores, and that created an opening for an entrepreneur who doesn't mind making a long drive.
Originally called Pirate Joe's, Hallatt's store serves a niche market: Canadians who wish Trader Joe's was in their country and who will pay a bit extra for triple ginger snaps and fanciful trail mixes.
Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 1:44 pm
Each Friday we round up the big conversations in tech and culture during the week that was. We also revisit the work that appeared on this blog and highlight what we're reading from our fellow technology writers and observers across the Internet.
After years of sticking close to home, more Americans are eager to shake off the recession's remnants and have a final summer adventure, according to experts who track travel.
"We've noticed that vacation plans increased quite a bit in August," compared with June, said Chris Christopher, an economist who focuses on consumer markets for IHS Global Insight, a forecasting firm.
If you want to know what prompted Seth Goldman and Barry Nalebuff to cofound Honest Tea, here's the simple answer they give on their website: They were thirsty. Goldman had taken Nalebuff's class at the Yale School of Management, and they were both tired of the super sweet iced teas available in stores. So in the late 1990s, they started their own company based on the hunch that other people out there felt the same way.
Pregnant doctors are less likely than other women to deliver their babies via C-section, recent research suggests. Economists say that may be because the physician patients feel more empowered to question the obstetrician.
In 1938, a Work Projects Administration poster urged pregnant women to look to their doctors for guidance.
Obstetricians perform more cesarean sections when there are financial incentives to do so, according to a new study that explores links between economic incentives and medical decision-making during childbirth.
Don Byles, 65, is a funeral director in New London, Conn. His grandfather started the family's business, Byles-MacDougall Funeral Service, in 1904. Now, Byles is getting ready to hand it over to his 25-year-old daughter Mackenzie.
"You have to teach me a lot of stuff before you can retire," Mackenzie tells her dad during a recent visit to StoryCorps. "I'm a little nervous about being on my own here. I've got big shoes to fill with you."
Click on the audio link above to hear their StoryCorps conversation.