Vancouver Considers Bylaw on Paper Cups

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Vancouver may be one step closer to a bylaw to prevent paper cups from piling up in landfills.

A Vision Vancouver councillor is trying to solve the issue, whether it be with a tax on paper cups, or with a bylaw to have recycling bins prominently inside coffee shops. Toronto is considering a tax, starting December 1st, on disposable cups to encourage customers to bring their own mugs. While Vancouver has no green tax in the works, people are pushing for a Green change.

Starbucks alone uses more than 1.5 billion cups per year, and the plastic lining of the cups prevents them from being recyclable (in most cases). And while 10% of the cups are made from recycled material (saving 5 million pounds of tree fiber), well, that’s just not really good enough.

Personally, there are a lot of little changes I’d like to see Vancouver coffee shops adopt - changes that have a big impact overall:

  • Have paper cups that can be recycled
  • Have a sugar dispenser, instead of sugar packets
  • Have spoons, instead of wooden stir sticks (although many are compostable, they are still wasteful)
  • Offer a discount for your own travel mug (most do)
  • Teach recycling - have a sign that lists what materials can be recycled near your bin (Tim Horton’s recently started this as a pilot project)
  • Choosing biodegradable coffee cup lids

In addition, for those companies who want to go the extra mile to becoming more environmentally friendly, these options can help:

  • Recycling used coffee grinds, or offering them free to customers for gardening
  • Use biodegradable products for take-out packaging
  • Going green in other ways - in materials bought, lighting used, etc

If you are taking steps in your cafe to be green, let your customers know. Giving them the option is just one more reason to shop with you, and educating them goes a long way toward creating positive recycling habits.

If you own a cafe in Vancouver, or work at one, and have been taking steps to go Green, I’d love to hear about it. Drop me a line or leave a comment here.

UserFriendly on Flavoured Coffee

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Today’s UserFriendly makes fun of flavoured coffee.

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A little while back Trevor emailed me to let me know he was starting a new coffee blog: Coffee Tribune. And we seem to be partly responsible for this, in the blog he says:

“What is the purpose of this blog?” Well, I’ll tell you.

I love coffee. Most of my friends love coffee. Even my pastor loves coffee. My wife loves coffee, too. We love coffee.

Recently, I was scouring the internet for fresh new blogs to read, and I found Vancouver Coffee. The authors simply want to share their coffee experiences with you. They live in Vancouver, BC and they love coffee. Do you get it?

So I was thinking, “Hey, I love coffee.” and, “I like to share my opinions.” and, “I can blog.”

So now you have the Coffee Tribune.

He shares news, tips and opinions. I really like the story of how he met his wife.

So welcome Trevor, Coffee Tribune is now in my coffee blogs folder :)

Coffee @ Userfriendly

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Today’s Userfriendly strip makes fun of flavoured coffee. Quite funny.

Indonesia Flores Coffee

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Today we are drinking Indonesia Flores, roasted on February 27th. I am a fan of Indonesian coffees. Find them very pleasing from the first drop to the last.

The last batch of coffee, which we unfortunately didn’t write about, wasn’t as good. It started well right after roasting but didn’t last well as we continued to finish our half pound. Since we don’t get fresh coffee every day, it’s good to have one that can last a week.

The flavour of the coffee is not very strong. Perhaps it’s a little on the more flat side as opposed to many others we have tried that have distinct flavours.

About Flores:

The island of Flores was never really part of the Dutch East Indies. It was discovered by the Portuguese in the mid 15th century and was settled by them soon after. The Portuguese influence lasted for over 100 years before the Dutch drove them out. However Portuguese missionaries remained and today most of the population is Christian, unlike the rest of the country which is predominately Muslim. The island itself is a fantastic place- from the Komodo dragons in the east, to the volcanic lakes of Kelimutu and the friendly port city of Larantuka…vast jungles cover the island and many of the roads are narrow and allow limited access to the hinterland. The arabica produced on the island displays mellowness reminiscent of that found in Java.. Several large plantations produce beans for export, however again the small hold producers grow beans with unusual and very favorable qualities. - Source

Artigiano’s barcodes

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Caffee Artigiano has recently gotten into the coffee roasting business. Alongside that, they have started expansion to other retail environments.

One aspect of their development that I’m very happy to see is their use of logical barcodes with roast dates.

I say logical because there are some brands of coffee I do like at the grocery store. For example, Salt Spring is carried at Capers.

However, the roast dates on most bags are either not visible or not logical. My past experience looking for the roast dates was to find a whole bunch of numbers that seemed to make sense as a roast date. And yet, if it were a roast date, it would mean the coffee was a month old, or more. And I kept checking every week or two to see if the numbers changed. They did not. My conclusion was that the numbers I was seeing were either not roast dates, or there are retail issues at Capers (btw, no staff member knows anything about them, as we asked many times).

So, Artigiano, congrats on making your roast date clear. Hopefully you have success also in ensuring your coffee is shelved properly.

From Dwell Time

Today we are drinking…

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A coffee roasted 5 days ago by Hines from Nicaragua.

Subtle flavour profile. Smooth. Nice. One of my favourite regions. It is a good everyday coffee for me - not too bold or tangy.

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Coffe at Microsoft

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Robert Scoble points to a new Microsoft employee talking about his experience of his first six weeks working there. What may interest you is what he says about the coffee that Microsoft provides for his employees:

First, something negative that I hadn’t expected: the coffee. It sucks, all over the Redmond campus. I would never have thought that a company managed like Microsoft would be incapable of providing decent coffee to its employees. But it’s true. This stuff is gut-wrenching bad. Coffee-addict-repulsing bad.

Read the rest at Doug’s World.

Nestle gets fair trade mark

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So, Nestle has a new line of coffee that is fair trade approved… and not all are happy.

“A few days ago, global ‘food’ giant Nestlé, announced it was releasing Nescafé Partners’ Blend, a line of coffee endorsed by the much respected FairTrade Foundation. The coffee has been “bought from democratic smallholder organisations certified to supply the international Fairtrade market, and traded according to agreed Fairtrade standards including payment of the Fairtrade price.” The Foundation say that people have been “pressing the major companies to offer Fairtrade coffees.” And here it is. But all are not happy with the Foundation.” - Treehugger

Yes - the Fair Trade market should grow. Yes, they will push that brand with their marketing campaign… but, are they the ones who should get credit for being fair trade, and for what that stands for? This is, after all, only one line in their coffee brands…

For Nestle this is a cheap public relations trip to undermine the Nestle boycott - the biggest consumer boycott of any single product in the UK. For the Fairtrade Foundation, it undermines its reputation and will undoubtedly damage the success of fairtrade. Please take action below.

Problems with Nestle obtaining a fair trade label:

· Nestle has recently been found the ‘least responsible’ global corporation, subject to a boycott from for its aggressive marketing of baby milk formula which leads the deaths of millions infants in places where water is unsafe. See Baby Milk Action for more info:

· Fairtrade aims to end the marginalisation of small-scale farmers in response to the corporatisation of the global food supply. Large corporations like Nestle have driven farmers across the world out of business with savage supplier relations. Farmers are replaced with plantation workers, slaving in poor conditions for a pittance. Nestle is still pursuing these tactics with all of its other coffee brands, and as such is the antithesis of fairtrade. Its fairtrade label does not signify a change of heart but a brutal marketing strategy to rescue Nescafe from its boycott image. UK Indymedia

What’s your take?

Starbucks Fair Trade Challenge

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October is Fair Trade Month 2005, according to Transfair USA.

The goal of Fair Trade Month is to expand the Fair Trade movement in the U.S. overall, with different organizations promoting their own areas of involvement, and we encourage you to Fair Trade in every way possible! TransFair’s focus will be on the promotion of Fair Trade Certified products, and, following last year’s great success involving hundreds of events that garnered widespread national media coverage, we are once again collaborating with businesses, consumers, and non-profit organizations to raise consumer awareness and increase sales of Fair Trade Certified products.

According to Transfair USA, Starbucks is Fair Trade - you can read Starbucks’ take on its own policy (PDF). Apparently, if you ask, they’ll make you a fair trade coffee in any of its locations in any of 23 licensed countries.

Well, “GreenLAGirl” wants to test this policy with a Starbucks Fair Trade Challenge - will your local Starbucks step up to the plate and make Fair Trade coffee for anyone who walks in the door, no matter the time of day?

Join the challenge:

1) Simply visit your local Starbucks and ask: “Could I get a cup of fair trade coffee?”

2) Tell us what happened next. Was it hard or easy to get a cup? You can see our first posts here.

Simply tag your post with “starbuckschallenge” to report your findings. There’s even a prize.

So far - some have lucked out and some have not. The results are apparently being followed by Starbucks - and they are apparently in contact with the blogger who has started this challenge alerting to press releases and information, and to customer service reminders they are sending to their stores.

So, see what you can find - and let people know. Coffee can taste more bitter when served badly, regardless of its perfection (obviously, not anywhere near that for Starbucks brew…)

Via Cafe Metaphoric

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Ode to Hines

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Well, not an ode, but more a positive rant.

I love Hines Coffee. Really. One of the best. Recently they had to vacate their premises so some condos could be put up, but they will be back. And yet, they are still roasting! The batch we just bought yesterday was roasted at Stumptown. We got it from the Elysian Room. They get a lot of our coffee buying business.

Anywho, we tried a new Hines yesterday. Oh my. Heaven in a cup. No kidding. We’ve had other blends before and considered them our faves, and were really partial to Ethiopian coffees from various roasters, but this new one we have is a Nicaraguan. Unspeakably good. Smooth. Strong but not in your face flavour. Something complex in the flavour. Settles nicely in your mouth. Needs hardly any milk (yes, I put milk and sugar in most coffees - unless it’s a really well done Americano). Makes my mouth tingle, I love it so much. I’ll have to try more from Nicaragua to compare.

So, I am very happy Hines is still roasting. Though we still continue to try other blends and other roasters so we can fully understand coffee in all its different options, we are always coming back to Hines.

Yesterday we also bought another coffee from Intelligentsia - will try it tomorrow. From my initial smell and chew of a bean (a habit I got into, probably not a good one), it seems more acidic. Anyway, won’t venture too far out there, but will comment tomorrow.

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Delocator for Canada

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I got a tip about a new online database that compares the number of Starbucks stores with other cafes within a specific postal code. has been around for a while but is US only. But now we have that lets you do the same in Canada.

A couple of days ago it was missing lots of cafes, but I just checked and the list is growing. You can help too by adding your favourite cafe. And then go write a review at Cafe Geek.

Coffee as health food

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BreadCoffeeChocolateYoga has all the scoop on using coffee for your health. Yep, it’s the easiest indulgence I can think of.

The blog references a study that shows the use of moderate coffee intake and the resulting decrease in getting some health problems, especially diabetes. Women had more benefits from drinking coffee than men (I can live with that).

I agree, though, that the issue is about what is beneficial. Caffeine or one of or a mix of the other 1100 components in coffee?

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More Puck Coffee in a Can reviews

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A consumer report came in from WFAA on Wolfgang Puck’s coffee in a can - which I have explained when it was released and also with the MAKE deconstruction.

James Andrews gives the coffee a try. Here is the review:

When testers tried it at room temperature, it worked well. In about six minutes you get a hot cup of coffee.

Unfortunately, the coffee didn’t taste all that great.

When the cans were stored in a 39-degree refrigerator, the testers ran into a problem. The coffee only got lukewarm.

“If you have them outside on a cold day—say you’re ice skating or camping and you activated it—it wouldn’t get very hot,” said Consumer Reports’ Megan Steintrager.

Testers found if the can is stored in a hot location, the results can be downright dangerous.

“When we put them in a car on a sunny day, the coffee inside reached almost 200 degrees when heated,” Steintrager said. “That’s hot enough to scald you.”

Even worse, steam and hot liquid leaked from all four drinks tested as they heated up. And says there’s yet another drawback to the coffee in a can: the packaging is bulky and is not recyclable.

Ok, so granted the market is open - even a small chunk of a $9 billion industry for specialty coffees alone is a big hunk of cash. But, please, do not spend it on this! One - torture! Two - it’s far worse than disposing of a cardboard cup. Think of all the waste in that sucker.

Oh - and why not give a shot to a good travel mug. Even less waste.

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Deconstructing the Puck self heating coffee can

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So, a while ago I wrote about Puck’s self-heating coffee, and now they’ve been deconstructed on Make.

Inside the mug is the self heating element. And, inside that, 8 oz of minerals. White powder with little rocks. Lovely.

So there it is, an exothermic reaction (gives heat off) with water and calcium oxide. You can easily remove the liquid and use it for something else. I’m not sure what- but i think there are some uses for this. It’s constructed like a tank, so I bet military and outdoors people might be using these.

One of the best uses might be to remove all the materials (before they’re heated/water added) and show how chemical reactions can be used for something tangible for students. You could also likely do some neat things with the materials for experiments that require a small amount of heat.

Educational, yes. Drinkable, no.

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