Self Stirring Mug

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The self stirring mug made it to the front page of YouTube today as a featured video. Indeed, it really is funny to see it in action. Kinda creepy.

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Vancouver Water Advisory Lifted

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The boiled water advisory has finally been lifted. From the press release:

the boil water advisory that has been in effect for Vancouver, parts of the North Shore and Burnaby is now lifted for these areas. Hospitals, care facilities, schools, food premises and the public are no longer being advised to boil drinking water or to use an alternate drinking water source. There is no boil water advisory for any area receiving water from the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD).

Water turbidity is still a little higher than normal but is getting better.

Top 10 Coffee Table Books

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Here are the Top 10 Coffee Table Books, as recommended by The News & Observer

  1. The Rejection Collection: Cartoons You Never Saw, and Never Will See, in The New Yorker
  2. Theories of Everything: Selected, Collected, and Health-Inspected Cartoons, 1978-2006
  3. Pollen: The Hidden Sexuality of Flowers
  4. Seeds: Time Capsules of Life
  5. The World of the Polar Bear
  6. Mandela: The Authorized Portrait
  7. Ngorongoro
  8. Historical Atlas of the United States
  9. A Photographer’s Life: 1990-2005, Annie Leibovitz
  10. Home: The Blueprints of Our Lives

I would also add this one in for pure Entertainment and Joy factor:

BONUS: My Secret: A PostSecret Book (Postsecret)

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Dominican coffee exports growing

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Coffee Exports from the Dominican Republic grew 196% between 2005 and 2006:

Dominican coffee exports, which registered a meager 54 thousand quintals last year, increased to 160 thousand quintals in the period 2005-2006, representing a recuperation in the order of 196.2 percent, which means that the sub-sector is certainly recovering from the crisis suffered between 2000-2003, when international prices declined to the lowest levels of the century.

Coffee sales abroad increased from 54,000 quintals during 2004-2005, to some 160 quintals during the coffee year 2005-2006.

Coffee is the 2nd greatest agricultural product that contributes to the country’s GDP.

Via Dominican Today ; Image Source ; Tags: , , ,

Huge power outage in Vancouver

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The snow that fell yesterday has knocked out power to more than 70,000 homes and businesses in Vancouver, from UBC right to Aldergrove.

This means a lot of people are staying at home and another bad week for coffee shops still fighting the boil water advisory.

Via news 1130 ; Tags: , ,

Sammy Lin Coffee Art

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Sammy Lin is a barista in New York who serves up fresh ideas with his coffee – the art of your choice. Every day Sammy creates 700 masterpieces for his customers – anything from a swirl to the Mona Lisa.

The article in NY Post:

WHEN one of Manhattan’s most reputable Italian eateries installed a Chinese barista, heads turned. Gone was Lorenzo, the restaurant’s traditionally Italian barista, replaced by a young man who had been raised drinking jasmine tea. Yet six years later, Bottega Del Vino’s Sammy Lin is gaining notoriety as the city’s finest cappuccino artist.

Sammy Lin knocks out over 700 lattes, espressos and caps a day at the East 59th Street restaurant. But this is no ordinary coffee. Having created the "perfect creamy foam" as his canvas, he sets about designing intricate artworks atop his offerings, tailored to his customers’ quirks. Be it a monkey, a Chinese symbol, an umbrella or some detailed flora and fauna, Sammy brings a little extra to your daily fix.

Formerly a music teacher raised in Fuzhou, South China, Sammy was working the coffee machine within days of arriving in Manhattan. "I got a lot of complaints at first," he laughs. "I learned from Lorenzo. He taught me everything about the steam, the grain, and the foam. The customers taught me the rest."

Just how does Sammy decide who gets what? "It depends on how much time I have, and on the customer. My favorites are the flower and the leaf – I can make them in five seconds, whereas a monkey face takes 20 seconds. It also depends on the type of coffee they want. A latte has a brown foam in which I carve a white design, a cappuccino is the other way around."

And we had to ask – what’s his most memorable design request? "To make the Mona Lisa smile! Leonardo couldn’t do it, but I can!"

I would love to see some of his designs. I would be tempted to just stand there all day seeing what people ask for.

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Coffee as renewable fuel

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More research is being done into using coffee grounds as a renewable fuel source.

From Times Online:

Dynamotive, a small Canadian company, has been thinking about bits of plant waste and come up with a solution: bio-oil. It has begun operations at West Lorne in Ontario, converting waste from a woodflooring company into a liquid fuel that runs a 2.5 megawatt power plant, supplying the town with electricity. Dynamotive is the brainchild of Andrew Kingston, a former oil company man whose vision for biofuels differs from those rushing to lay waste to millions of hectares of virgin forest to build palm oil plantations that can fuel our cars…

The biofuel industry is hitting the buffers over concerns about crop shortages and the use of food crops, such as rapeseed, for fuel.

The political momentum behind renewable energy has created a plethora of projects that are driving up the price of palm oil, a raw material for biodiesel…

“Where we have an advantage,” Mr Kingston said, “is we are not taking food crops.” He has set up a team to prospect for secure supplies of biomass. That includes crop waste, timber from demolition sites and a 5,000-hectare energy park in Ukraine, where Dynamotive and its partner, Rika Biofuels, is planting enough msycanthus — elephant grass — to replace the energy of 250,000 barrels of crude oil.

Dynamotive uses a patented technology, pyrolysis, that turns plant material into liquid in two seconds. According to Mr Kingston, the fuel is competitive at oil prices of $25 to $30 a barrel — half the crude price…

Anything based on cellulose will do, including coffee grounds, the object of talks with another large company. “It’s coming to a coffee shop near you,” Mr Kingston said.

I like the concept immensely, since it not only recycles but solves a major political and environmental issue.

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Java Juice

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Java Juice – liquid coffee extract. Just add water.

Well, I think I’d probably go for this over coffee-in-a-can concepts, but indeed it’s a crazy caffeine concept. It’s a pure coffee extract that you add to water to make coffee – like instant coffee, but not quite as crappy.

From the Java Juice FAQ:

Java Juice® is a single-serving pouch of liquid coffee concentrate. A pure coffee extract, Java Juice is made from 100% premium, organic coffee beans and triple-filtered water, nothing else. No additives or preservatives. Java Juice® is a pioneering coffee product designed for hundreds of different uses. Use Java Juice® for making superior organic coffee on the go, at home, for cooking, camping and much more. Rip it, drip it, and sip it.

How do you extract juice from a coffee bean?

We start with the finest organic, premium grade 100% Arabica coffee beans. We fresh roast the coffee beans and immediately extract the pure coffee liquor. Java Juice is then individually packaged in special barrier film that seals in the full flavor and aroma of the coffee for up to six months. We source the beans from only the finest harvests; then roast them to perfection at our certified organic coffee roastery. Then, a patented process extracts a concentrated liquid from the roasted beans, retaining all of the aroma and body of fresh brewed coffee.

There’s a contest going on right now for recipes using Java Juice. I think I’d be tempted to use this for cooking over instant coffee any time, but I am not sure about drinking it.

Anyone tried it?

Via Josh Spear ; Tags: , , ,

Top 10 Gifts for Coffee Lovers

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With the holidays just around the corner, you might be planning your Christmas shopping. If you have a coffee lover on your gift list, here are some ideas for gifts we’d recommend.

  1. Bodum Chambord 8-Cup Coffee Press – the cheapest, easiest and best way to make coffee at home.
  2. Zassenhaus Coffee Grinder – better than most electric grinders in the same price range
  3. Nissan 14-Ounce Leak-Proof Insulated Travel Mug – my favorite mug and most highly recommended product.
  4. Bodum Pavina Double-Wall Thermo Glasses, Set of 2 – these are great to drink coffee at home on the weekend.
  5. Chocolate coffee beans – they make a great stocking stuffer
  6. Espresso 101 Barista Training DVD – for any aspiring coffee guru
  7. Bodum Columbia Thermo Press – another fabulous way to make your coffee in a stylish Bodum
  8. Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World – for those who want to feel the history of coffee
  9. Braun WK600 Impressions 7-Cup Electric Kettle, Brushed Stainless Steel – the right water is essential to a good cup of coffee – good filtered water, just before the boil if you use a French Press
  10. Aerolatte Original 18/8 Stainless Steel Frother with Stand, Chrome – for those latte lovers

And for those of you who can’t decide, there are always Amazon Gift Certificates to give your coffee lover the choice of which machines, gadgets or gizmos they want to buy.

Don’t forget that Online Shopping will be great on Monday – it will be “Cyber Monday” in the US, after “Black Friday”, so be ready for some great deals!

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Mortar shell coffee makers

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Azmeraw Zeleke, an Ethiopian machinist, has started a business recycling mortar shells into coffee machines. Turning weapons into safe, effective cylinders used in household coffee machines and an innovative business.

From the BBC:

"The shells were dropped in Ethiopia during the war with Eritrea. They were dropped so people hid them in their homes and now they sell them," Mr Azmeraw says.

… He then transforms the cylinder to channel the water, coffee and milk…

He uses old mortar shells, which stand about one metre high, to make his coffee machines.

He cuts off the pointed ends, seals them and puts holes into the aluminium cylinder. The cylinder channels the water, coffee and milk…

"Sometimes I think about the fact they were used for war but I want to change them to do something good. They could be a symbol of war but I am doing something good out of the bad."

Since he started production five or six years ago, Mr Azmeraw has sold hundreds of machines – he cannot remember exactly how many.

Each one costs about $1,300. Most of them have been sold to people in the Mekele area.

Via boing boing ; Tags: , , , , , ,

Starbucks expansion ambitions

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Starbucks has set some lofty goals for expanding in 2007. According to Reuters,

Starbucks will open 2,400 stores in its 2007 fiscal year and will have 20,000 stores worldwide within seven years, a senior executive said on Monday.

Colman Cuff, Starbucks’ director of trading and operations, said the new stores would be spread among the United States and worldwide markets, with Asian growth driven by China.

"In fiscal year 2006 we opened more stores than were forecast, and we will better that in fiscal year 2007," Cuff said at the Sintercafe coffee industry conference in Costa Rica. The 2006 fiscal year ended on Oct. 1.

Starbucks has more than 12,000 stores, including 8,800 in the United States.

Too bad Starbucks employees are dissatisfied with their working conditions:

This November 24th-25th, stand in solidarity with Starbucks workers as we call for an end to the anti-union campaign waged by Starbucks and for the reinstatement of all unlawfully fired workers. In addition we are calling on Starbucks to give Ethiopia control over its coffee. [More from Starbucks Union]

Via badgett ; Tags: , , ,

Coffee coming back to Vancouver

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Fresh brewed coffeeSlowly, coffee is returning to Vancouver. After the boil-water advisory for the entire GVRD issued on Thursday, many coffee shops closed down or chose to stop serving coffee.

From CTV.ca:

It is the single largest water advisory in Canadian history, and has led to widespread bottled water shortages and even a lack of coffee in the nation’s caffination capital.

Many espresso machines are hooked directly into the city’s water supply, and with taps spewing brown water, many baristas have shut off the flow.

To Vancouverites, this was a tough deal. But now, coffee is on its way back. We had coffee today at Elysian, and our own home tap water has gone from a murky brown to a lighter shade of yellow, a large improvement since yesterday. The boil water advisory may be lifted as early as tomorrow, but some areas can expect a few weeks before the turbidity completely clears.

From The Globe & Mail:

The decision on whether to sell coffee in Vancouver yesterday appeared to depend on the way water is distributed to coffee machines.

Starbucks and Blenz, which also decided not to sell coffee or tea, have central distribution systems that send water directly to coffee machines. Employees are not able to boil water and then manually add it into the top of a coffee maker in the stores.

A spokeswoman for Vancouver Coastal Health said yesterday it is safe for cafés to sell coffee and tea, although the taste could be affected by sediment in the water supply, even if it is boiled.

And in a statement late yesterday, Starbucks said its decision came down to taste.

The high temperatures required for its systems mean there is no risk in serving hot beverages in its Lower Mainland locations, the company said. But “this does not guarantee the quality of the beverages with respect to taste.” It said its stores would resume hot-beverage service only after beverages meet an internal quality standard.

Mario’s Coffee Express owner Mario Trejier said yesterday was one of the busiest mornings in recent memory at his café. It uses a traditional commercial-style espresso machine to make its coffee, with a filter system that Mr. Trejier said is safe for customers, even with the boil-water advisory. Café Artigiano was also doing a brisk business at its outlet near the Vancouver Art Gallery.

From the Langley Times:

Starbucks’ outlets decided to stop selling any products made with water, including coffee, speciality coffees and teas. Tim Horton’s opted to make all their coffee and teas with bottled water. The Logan Avenue Tim Horton’s lineup was out the door, with at least 20 vehicles in the drive-thru lineup.

McBurney’s was buzzing with customers Friday morning. The popular City cafe lost a day and a half worth of business due to the power being out.

"We had lots of calls from customers this morning, asking if we were serving coffee," said McBurney’s Jessica Flanagan.

The espresso machines at coffee shops boil water to 180 degrees, which is even higher than the 100 degrees required to make water safe.

So, at this point, nobody has come down sick from the tap water, in coffee or otherwise, so the advisory is more of a precaution. Whether to buy coffee or make it yourself comes down to your personal taste and the cafe preparations of the water. I think we’ll be using bottled water for our home brew until the advisory clears.

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GVRD Water Advisory

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News just came out that the terrible storms we’ve had, and the vast rainfall of the past week, have resulted in a GVRD-wide water advisory. This is the largest boil water advisory in Vancouver’s history.

There is a boil water advisory due to increased turbidity in the water. Be sure, if you make or go out for coffee, to ensure the water has been boiled or is bottled!!

Press Release:

The GVRD Medical Health Officers are advising that “the turbidity of the drinking water supplied to homes through the water distribution system has reached levels unprecedented in recent years. As turbidity increases, there is a potential for increased risk of gastro-intestinal illness. Until turbidity returns to acceptable levels residents may wish to use an alternate drinking water source (for example: bottled water) or boil their drinking water.

Discolouration of drinking water is a very good indicator of high levels of turbidity. If using boiled water use a kettle and ensure that you allow it to cool before decanting to another container or moving it to the refrigerator.

TAP WATER IS ACCEPTABLE FOR USES OTHER THAN DRINKING, BRUSHING TEETH OR WASHING FRUITS AND VEGETABLES.

GVRD Staff will continue to monitor water quality closely. This advisory will remain in effect until
the Medical Health Officer is satisfied that drinking water quality has returned to an acceptable
standard.”

GVRD staff advise that turbidity levels in the GVRD’s Capilano and Seymour reservoirs are very high, and less so in the Coquitlam source, as a result of the extremely heavy rainfall experienced in the past several days. The region is currently discharging water from the Capilano and Seymour lakes in an effort to release as much of the turbid water as is possible. Inflow to the reservoirs is, at the moment, experiencing much lower turbidity, although additional impact can be expected from storms forecast for this weekend.

Currently the news is being distributed on the radio, but it has yet to make it to online news sources or other BC health websites.

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Make your own coffee pods

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I won’t admit to liking the coffee pod system since, well, I don’t. However, many many people like the convenience of it. So, for those of you, I present the Perfect Pod system.

The Perfect Pod Maker alows to to easily make your own pods using any coffee you like. So, you can choose a great roast, fresh, and make your pods in small batches. The machine will heat seal the pods, so no mess.

Makes pods for most brands, including Senseo, Melitta, Simple Human, Juan Valdez, Bunn Home Cafe, Bunn-o-matic, Mr. Coffee, Hamilton Beach, and more.

Via boing boing & popgadget

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