The Halloween Special

So… Halloween is back this year. Well, considering the apocalypse hasn’t come by yet, it seems like we’re safe for another year of festivities.

Having just said that, unlike most I won’t be jumping on the festival bus.. Living in Australia it’s not that much of a big deal, culturally. Nevertheless, it has come round and people are getting out their costumes, lollies and chocolates. Therefore, I have decided to remind people of their buying habits.

Don’t go buying the cheapest chocolates, please. Or for that matter, don’t go buying the most expensive chocolates either. Why think in money terms when you can simply think in humanitarian terms. It makes more sense anyway, since we are humans we should think in humanly ways.

Chocolates are a luxury for us in the Western World. For the producers it is work. Go fair-trade this year when thinking about buying chocolates for trick or treating.

I think you have all heard this before but here it goes once more:

Fair-trade protects the farmers by setting a fair price. This protects them from any “bad/unfair” business trading practices that is generally bad for the world. It is not just about being the saviour and acting heroic, but it is more so about the affect on global prices. Please check out my vietnam blog that explains that amount of coffee consumed by us, as well as the export and import technicalities..

Overall, this post serves as a reminder of the benefits of ethical coffee. Especially, as I have arrived at the end of my official campaign, it is an informal post, aiming to talk as opposed to tell. So please talk amongst yourselves about the benefits of fair-trade products this Halloween. And don’t forget to have a great time as well..

P.S I will probably be updating this Blog every now and again..

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Coffee Production: Vietnam

Vietnam is one of the largest coffee exporters in the world (only second to Brazil). Yet as we know, the coffee industry is versatile making coffee exports depend on various national and International factors, that range from domestic government policies to natural disasters. However, with the Fair-trade label protecting farmers and the production line, the level of inconsistency is minimised, albeit that’s not to say entirely solved.

Earlier today, I was exploring the Vietnamese production line and found that Vietnam is facing domestic issues through the introduction of new taxation laws.  With these new problems and a history of difficulties that have ranged from the Vietnam War to internal political disruptions, local farmers and communities are working ever harder to support their families.

As there aren’t many documentaries readily available on the Vietnamese coffee production (a pursuit that I would love to work on in the future) I did come across this heart-warming short-documentary created by Nikole Lim. It’s called Brewing Hope,

This is also viewable on the website, that is worth checking out if only for the beautiful photography.

Website, http://www.nikolelim.com/?p=50

For the Latest news on Vietnam’s coffee production the article to read is called, “Vietnam’s Coffee Industry Rumoured to be Collapsing” dated 2/10/2013

 http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/business/85799/vietnam-s-coffee-industry-rumored-to-be-collapsing.html

Something New

I think its time to combine my two favourite beverages, i.e. coffee and tea. This thought has come by after spending a lot of time at EasyWay Tea stores this Summer. It is only after I had noticed the frappe teas at the stores (I always buy fruity teas) that made me decide to do some investigation into the coffee-tea scene of this world.

My basic research into this, has shown that there is a kind of coffee tea already available in the market. It is apparently not as popular as coffee beans but it is more commonly found at health stores. It is called Coffea, and has numerous health benefits plus the coffee hit.

To further this, according to the news.com.au article “Tea or coffee? How about Tea made from Coffee,”  it is worth mentioning the benefits;

                “Aaron Davies, a botanist at Kew, reported in the journal Annals of Botany that seven species of coffee plant contained high levels of mangiferin – a chemical usually found in mangoes which is believed to have anti-inflammatory effects as well as lowering cholesterol, protecting neurons in the brain and reducing the risk of diabetes. The leaves were also found to hold high levels of antioxidants, which reportedly help combat heart disease, diabetes and cancer.”

The focus of the health benefits are great, but as the tea itself has not gained any momentum, I wonder if it ever will. It would be good to see some business investment into this product. I did a search for the coffee tea product and was disappointed to find no products available. The closest I got to was the yuan-yuang tea which is coffee mixed with tea. It seems like we will have to wait for a few years before this hits the markets, in the meantime I think I will need to go to Ethiopia to try a coffea arabica tea.

For more information

News.com.au, “Tea or coffee? How about Tea made from Coffee,”

http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/food/tea-or-coffee-how-about-tea-made-from-coffee/story-fneuz92c-1226553371377 

SMH,  “For Those Looking for a Healthy Kick Coffee Leaves a Lot to be Desired in one Tea” http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/diet-and-fitness/for-those-looking-for-a-healthy-kick-coffee-leaves-a-lot-to-be-desired-in-ones-tea-20130113-2cnje.html#ixzz2inJFsLwz

Sustainable Design: Too much or too little?

After reading about the new wonderfully designed Biocups, I have been inspired into doing some basic research into sustainable coffee practices.

If you have not done so yet, you must read the October issue of BeanScene’s publication. There’s an excellent article called ‘An Artist’s Touch.’ With interviews from art designers, and BioPak’s Marketing Manager you get small a glimpse of the work that combines life with art and design. If anything, after reading the article, you can’t stop wandering about other kinds of sustainable designs.

A simple Google search had to follow. The question I asked myself is, whether sustainable design exists in the coffee  world? I was surprised to find a market out there. If you spare a minute of two, its hard not to think think about the energy used on a commercial coffee machine. A standard coffee machine used in a cafe/restaurant would be switched on everyday, all day.

Then there is the physical material the coffee machine is made out of. Are they imported, from where and from what? Are they made locally and how? The more you think about it the more questions emerge. So here, I pose a great website that those interested much check out http://www.ausbeverage.com.au/green-product.php with recommendations of green coffee machines.

So we have the BioCup, the green machines, and the ethical coffee. It is hard not to wander if green is not becoming a commercialisation of what it is fighting against. After reading about the industry, I think we have not hit this level yet as new innovations are constantly emerging. Yet this does not prevent one from thinking.

Check out,

BioPak’s website for all their latest products http://biopak.com.au

BeanScene Magazine: https://www.beanscenemag.com.au/

The Traditional Turkish Flavour

Have you ever been daring enough to try Turkish coffee? A few days ago, I had gone to a Turkish authentic restaurant with a couple of friends. After spending some time convincing them that the entire menu must be tried, we finally settled on our meals. Hours had gone by with each of us embracing the atmosphere, chatting away. Once we finally got through all of the food, I compelled them to stay a few minutes longer and enjoy a Turkish coffee. It was only customary. 

Having no idea that they have never tired it before we got going on a conversation about the method one uses to make a Turkish cup. I thought it would be worth mentioning this today.

The method

I learnt to make Turkish coffee as a child, but I have grown up to find that there are different variants. I was taught that when one makes a coffee for someone else, they tend to ask if they like it sweet, extra or not at all. I like my coffee sweet with sugar. 

The process begins with measuring some water in the cup that it will be served.

I learnt that it is one cup of water to one tablespoon of coffee. This generally sounds excessive, however you will find that it makes a perfect cup just enough to reveal your future. 

Once the water is measured in the cup it goes into a briki. This is like a tea pot, you can find them at all of BBQ places, and general stores. With the water in the briki add the tablespoon of coffee.

Now the hard part begins. On the stovetop, slowly mix the coffee in with the water, before it boils. Then leave it but keep a watch on it. After a few minutes you will notice a faint boiling noise, this noise usually comes in preparation to the final part and will increase in sound. Once you watch the coffee and hear the sound, you will notice a bit of bubbles emerging from the sides of the briki (of the coffee), these bubbles will close in, and when they do you must quickly remove the briki away from the heat and into the cup. 

Pouring 

You will find that when you pour the coffee into your cup a small sizzling noise comes with it. You know that you have been successful when this happens. A great amount of crema will emerge on the top of the coffee cup. This is what you want in your cup. Your coffee is now ready to drink.

Coffee Cup Reading

When you have finished you  coffee a thick amount of coffee residual will form at the bottom. Turn your cup into the saucer and leave it there. The residual will form a path that shows where your future will lay in the cup. Find someone who knows how to read this and you have your future told. 

The coffee

 Turkish coffee

If you are not familiar with Turkish coffee, the Griffiths label is Australian owned. It also fairtrade as well, and you can find this brand at any local supermarket. It is one of my favs. 

Griffiths (Melbourne, Australia, Fairtrade

Keep an eye out for images

A Few Ways To Show You Care

Should coffee shops that support ethical coffee offer information on their products? I have been thinking about this question quite a lot recently. In many ways, this is because I have started to dig deeper into the benefits of ethical coffee. Overall I have come to the conclusion that, however interested one may be about the topic they will always search for information; but what about those who ask for ethical and know nothing about it, or only just a little? They should be informed through practical ways, and should not be limited to the Internet.

There are a few ways that a coffee shop can and should (but general don’t) inform people about the ethical coffee.

  • They can advertise the brand. Advertising is a very obvious one and most people/shops do this already. However, some of the advertisements should include images/words near the coffee machine or coffee production area. Have it so that people can see it at the till when they go and pay for their take-away coffee. This will remind them of the social and larger benefits that they are contributing to.
  • Maybe have a couple of books, or magazines scattered around the shop that deal with the issue of ethical coffee. This will entice people to read a bit about the coffee industry while waiting for their coffee, especially if they are recent publications and not 10-5 years old.
  • Provide information and tell people why you are selling ethically sourced coffee. If you can, print out a little booklet or a single sheet of paper giving reasons as to why you think ethical coffee is important. Maybe make it a little humorous and entertaining, or personalize and stylize it to suit your taste.
  • Use social media to your benefit. If you are using social media, add bookmarks to websites or articles and link them to your account. You don’t need to go overboard, but as a small coffee shop and business owner it may just add that extra bit of care in your product. People want to see that they are making that little bit of difference.

These are just some ways of making your coffee shop seem a little bit more ‘real.’ Just by saying you use ethical coffee is a step towards making a difference but sharing information and knowledge is more powerful.  Follow the rule, and take a little but give a little more. You’ll see the difference.