Everything Old is New Again

Everything Old is New Again

In which I take one for the team. Ya know… for the the environment. Back in the 80s (remember the 80s?) I used to scoot around town on a Honda Elite 250. Why? Well… ’cause it was easy on the pocketbook and got me where I wanted to go. Fast forward 20 years and I’m scootin’ again. Why? Same reasons, really. Sure, it’s environmentally friendly. But honestly, that’s a bonus. (A good bonus, mind you.) At 60-70 miles a gallon, I’m digging the fact that it costs me less then 15 bucks to fill-up. And the bit about it being a hoot to ride… well, that’s got nothing to do with it. Nope. Nothing at all. Bonus! Scootering has a history in the Cadmus clan. That’s my dad on the right, my uncle George on the...

I Can’t Hear You!

It reads like an episode of The Office. Turns out, it’s your government at work. From the New York Times: “The White House in December refused to accept the Environmental Protection Agency’s conclusion that greenhouse gases are pollutants that must be controlled, telling agency officials that an e-mail message containing the document would not be opened, senior E.P.A. officials said last week. “The document, which ended up in e-mail limbo, without official status, was the E.P.A.’s answer to a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that required it to determine whether greenhouse gases represent a danger to health or the environment, the officials said.” Let’s make sure we’re  perfectly clear on this. After years of foot-dragging on the part of the Environmental Protection Agency, the frickin’ Supreme Court orders the EPA to fish or cut bait, by making an agency-level determination whether greenhouse gases are, or are not, dangerous to our health and environment. Having exhausted its available “do-nothing” options, the EPA finally, reluctantly, sends its court-ordered findings to the White House where the Bush administration — in a fit of pique that would rival a three-year-old stickin’ his fingers in his ears and squealing “I can’t hear you!”  — refuses to open the email. This, my friends, is your government at work. January 20, 2009 cannot arrive quickly enough. Hat tip: to Making Light, which you may want to visit to see the fireworks that occur in response to this development. Update: Don’t miss the fun conversation happening over at Scalzi’s place, where the trolls are in full throat and Scalzi’s whackin’ em like so many moles in an arcade...
Green Up Your Coffee House!

Green Up Your Coffee House!

It’s Earth Day 2008. The climate crisis is accelerating, vast sheets of ice are collapsing, islands in the Pacific have been drowned in rising seas, and weather the world over is growing increasingly violent. If we don’t take immediate action — all of us, and right now — we face a future unlike anything we’ve known. But let’s be honest… running a successful and (ideally) profitable coffee house is something of a high-wire act at the best of times. And — economically-speaking — these aren’t the best of times. You’ve got a budget to watch; a creeping expense column can throw things out of kilter. Fast. It’s not going to do you or your environmentally-minded customers any good for you to bankrupt yourself in the name of ecology. That said, there are savings to be found in running a more efficient and sustainable coffee house, coffee shop or espresso bar. Some of these savings can be realized pretty quickly, others require a longer view. If you can, don’t just consider today’s bottom line, but tomorrow’s. And next year’s. And — for goodness sake — don’t lose sight of the ultimate bottom line here… the planet’s climate is in crisis. And it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that the viability of specialty coffee is at the forefront of that crisis. In greening up your coffee house, there are (at least) three distinct areas where you can bring your efforts to bear: reducing energy, increasing sustainability, and making it easier for your customers to go green, too. We’ll look at each in turn. There’s a lot to slog through here, so...
C.A.F.E. Through Rose-Colored Glasses

C.A.F.E. Through Rose-Colored Glasses

It’s hard to peer into Starbucks’ notoriously opaque coffee sourcing standards. In a Sunday article in the Seattle Times — Changing the Way Costa Rican Farmers Grow Coffee – and Live — writer Manuel Valdes offers a glimpse, through the eyes of Rodrigo Vargas of Santa Eduviges — one of Costa Rica’s largest family-owned coffee-farming operations. Vargas is one of the hundreds of farmers — large and small — in Costa Rica who have benefited from Starbucks’ arrival after an influx of cheap beans from Brazil and Vietnam saturated the market and sent prices tumbling in the late 1990s, creating a crisis for coffee growers. As Starbucks’ presence grew in Costa Rica, Vargas’ relationship with the Seattle specialty coffee-shop chain tightened. He replaced 25 percent of his coffee plants with better breeds of arabica beans to keep up with Starbucks’ growing demand and quality standards. By 1998, he sold 1.2 million pounds of coffee to Starbucks. In 2002, Vargas visited Seattle, met CEO Howard Schultz and sat courtside at a then-Schultz-owned Seattle Sonics basketball game. Should you unwittingly get the impression that Starbucks’ coffee growers were all new-found members of the Seattle jet-set, chomping cigars and playing poker with Howard, the article further suggests that Starbucks still must wag the occasional disapproving finger at their naughty kids coffee suppliers… Much like his boss, Yeiner Chacón’s life revolves around coffee. As head agronomist for Santa Eduviges, he knows coffee. He’s a fan of Café Practices, but he no longer deals with the certifiers that visit the farms. “I almost killed the last guy,” Chacón says half-jokingly. But his attitude reflects...
Coffee Notes From All Over

Coffee Notes From All Over

In which the proprietor dumps a bunch of coffee-related stuff into a single post. Enjoy. Cuppa Joe to Go, Hold the Cup — In Edmonton, the DaCapo Caffe won’t give you a paper cup for your takeout coffee. Co-owner Antonio Bilotta, 31, says he’s tired of the waste. “I’m a cyclist and spend a lot of time in the river valley, and I see a lot of paper cups there,” he said from his university-area cafe. The last time he was at a bus stop, he glanced at the garbage can and found it full of coffee cups. He decided he wasn’t going to add to the problem. “I’m putting my foot down and that’s the way it’s going to be.” Circle the Wagons! — As Starbucks sets its sights on rapidly expanding its presence in St. Louis, area coffee shop owners are banding together to fight back. “We’re the neighbors” is how Craig Schubert, owner of the 1st Cup kiosk close to Chrysler’s plants in Fenton, summarizes the sales pitch. It’s based on the idea that “St. Louisans love to support the home team,” said Ben Murphy, managing partner at Applegate’s Deli & Market. Bloggle’s advice to the home team: it’s all about the coffee. Cuppa Joe, Hold the Carbon? — Starbucks has been calculating its carbon footprint, with an eye toward going on something of a diet. In its shop in downtown San Mateo, Calif., for instance, baristas serve up about 40,000 cups of coffee drinks every month. Just based on utility bills alone, that means Starbucks is serving up about 4,900 pounds of carbon with its...

A new image for the mermaid…

That’s gotta hurt. Starbucks dumps its PR firm after a survey of 8,000 consumers says the coffee behemoth is “arrogant, intrusive and self-centred.” Here’s hoping that Starbucks’ efforts to recast itself as a more socially and environmentally conscious organization are more than skin [scales?] deep. Given their stature, Starbucks could have a bigger impact than anyone to inform and educate the consumer, and to spur the specialty coffee...

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