Cargo Container Coffee

In very unsurprising news: Starbucks has opened a new coffee shop. In surprising news: that Starbucks store is made from repurposed cargo containers!

With many containers scrapped at the end of an average lifespan of 20 years, the Starbucks solution served to convert a potential waste stream from the company’s supply chain into shop space.

This Tukwila store is also the first LEED-certified structure in town. It uses fully reclaimed material for the exterior. Rainwater collected from the roof reduces water consumption and nourishes surrounding “xeriscaping” — landscapes and plants that naturally require less water.

More info and pictures.

Thanks to Mike!

The Benefits of Coffee and Tea

The CBC has an article on the benefits of drinking coffee and tea, the benefits range from preventing cancer to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in women.

3 cups a day curbs memory loss?

Women aged 65 and older who drink at least three cups of coffee or tea a day are less likely to suffer memory loss, according to a French study published in the August 2007 issue of the journal Neurology.

Lead researcher Karen Ritchie, of the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research, said it was premature to suggest caffeine conclusively cut cognitive decline but she noted the psychostimulant appeared to have a positive effect on the brain.

The study also found the positive effects of coffee appeared to heighten with age. Women over 80 who drank three or more cups of coffee daily were found to be 70 per cent less likely to experience memory loss over those who didn’t drink coffee.

Ritchie and her team observed the caffeine intake and cognitive skills of 7,000 participants over the course of four years.

Keep reading at the CBC.

The Greenest Cup of Office Coffee

The Green Lantern (the cute name for Slate’s enviro-advice column) answered the question of which kind of cup to use in the office. The answer isn’t as clear as you think, as always, there are many issues that need to inform your decision. In sum, use an old mug (don’t buy new ones) and wash using environmentally friendly soap.

The Lantern uses a mug for office beverages, but he’s chosen to go the scavenger route—using an old one someone left in his office. Your colleagues’ instincts are right to avoid polystyrene, but they shouldn’t buy brand-new mugs as a replacement (even the kind that come with cheeky green messages). Unless you absolutely need to drink your coffee on the go, ceramic is better than stainless steel. And when you wash, do it by hand, using phosphate-free soap and cold water. (If you want to use hot water, see if you can share washing duties throughout the office, so the water doesn’t need to be heated separately for each mug.)

What if you get your coffee at the local Starbucks on your way to work? The nationwide chain deserves credit for including 10 percent recycled content in its cups, and paper—unlike polystyrene—has the advantage of being a renewable resource. But in other ways, the wood-based venti cups are even worse than office polystyrene: They’re heavier, which means more energy used to create the cup and more waste once the cups have been crushed. Other coffee retailers are experimenting with cups made out of plant-based material, which can then be composted—a positive step, although one that raises a question of where all that extra corn will come from.

Have Your Coffee in a Ceramic Cup

Using paper cups for our coffee is absolutely ridiculous, a Canadian writer proposes we use some really awesome ceramic cups.

We have some amazing technology developing here in Canada. Homegrown high-tech whiz-bang — Nobel Prize material, really.

This system is too good to be true: it can provide fuel, or be easily processed into one of our most versatile building materials; it can sequester CO2 to slow global warming; be harvested for food; increase ecosystem health and biodiversity by providing habitat for animals, birds, plants and insects; slow damaging storm-water runoff; purify water; and help remediate contaminated soils. The feedstock is free and abundant, and maintenance on the system is negligible.

Starbucks Actually Helps

Starbucks is a massive international coffee chain that is infamous for putting their own coffee shops across the street from one another. They also have a reputation that they drive local independent coffee shops out of business, it seems this reputation is undeserved.

Slate has an article examining how Starbucks helps small coffee shops by giving them new customers.

The first time Herb Hyman spoke with the rep from Starbucks, in 1991, the life of his small business flashed before his eyes. For three decades, Hyman’s handful of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf stores had been filling the caffeine needs of Los Angeles locals and the Hollywood elite: Johnny Carson had his own blend there; Jacques Cousteau arranged to have Hyman’s coffee care packages meet his ship at ports around the world; and Dirty Dozen leading man Lee Marvin often worked behind the counter with Hyman for fun. But when the word came down that the rising Seattle coffee juggernaut was plotting its raid on Los Angeles, Hyman feared his life’s work would be trampled underfoot. Starbucks even promised as much. “They just flat-out said, ‘If you don’t sell out to us, we’re going to surround your stores,’ ” Hyman recalled. “And lo and behold, that’s what happened—and it was the best thing that ever happened to us.”

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