Posted in Kafevend Blog

1.Which company was the first to bring Fairtrade coffee to the UK?

B- Cafédirect: Fairtrade has its roots in various fair trade initiatives that began shortly after the end of the Second World War. Various religious groups and NGOs sought to provide a way for small traders who had previously been marginalised to have a way of getting their products on the market. For many decades these products mainly consisted of handicrafts, but in the 1980s there was a shift towards the fair trade of agricultural products. One of these was coffee, and in 1989 Oxfam, Traidcraft, Equal Exchange Trading and Twin Trade founded Cafédirect in response to a crash in coffee prices. The coffee (as well as tea and cocoa more recently) is 100% Fairtrade, sourced from hundreds of thousands of smallholders and Fairtrade organisations.

2.How much water is used to produce a kilogram of coffee?

C- 18,900 litres: When we think about the water we use, it's easy to just think about what we put in the kettle and fill the bath with- surely we don't use that much? It's not as simple as that however, as with various items, particularly agricultural crops, there is an awful lot of water that has gone into producing them. Consider the amount of water needed to sustain just one field, let alone the rest of them worldwide! Coffee in particular requires an awful lot of water both to grow and then process into the stuff you keep in your cupboard- the water you add at the end is a relative drop in the ocean compared to the rest that's been used.

3.How many Canadian homes have a single serve coffee machine?

D- 40%: How about some context? Single serve coffee machines use small pods containing coffee for each serving of coffee. Unfortunately, each pod is made up of a combination of plastics- whilst they are recyclable, doing so would involve picking each one apart which is no easy task. These coffee pods have become personas non gratis amongst many more eco minded folk recently due to the vast amounts going to the tip. John Sylvan, the designer of the K cup coffee pod which is prominent in America, has even expressed his dismay at their explosion in use. Originally, he thought they'd just make it easier for office coffee runs, and wasn't accounting for the great human trend for convenience at any cost.

4.Which coffee company has been working on a more sustainable coffee pod?

C- Lavazza: In cooperation with a fellow Italian company called Novamont who specialise in biopolymers, Lavazza have been working on a new coffee pod for their own single serve coffee machines. What is different about these pods is that they will be made out of a biodegradable material which will go some way to solving the issue of waste mentioned above.

5.How much more coffee does sun cultivation produce compared to shade grown coffee?

B- Three times: Whilst this large increase in yield certainly sounds good, it comes at the expense of the environment. The other method- indeed, the original method- known as shade grown coffee provides a lot for the local ecosystem. Birds attracted by the trees serve as natural pest exterminators as they feed on things we might otherwise try to remove with chemicals. The tree growth also promotes water retention, prevents soil erosion and produces leaf mulch which helps to reinvigorate the ground.

6.Which company recently opened a zero energy coffee shop?

A- Costa: A couple of months ago Costa opened a new store in Telford, though it's no ordinary store. A variety of design decisions and eco minded materials have been used to ultimately make a shop that will use no energy, thanks to things like solar panels, insulation and even the building's orientation.

7.Which green invention did Singapore sutdent, Eason Chow, come up with?

A- The coffee droop: As an alternative to the biopolymer pods produced by Lavazza, Chow has figured out a way that removes the need for a pod altogether by coating the coffee in a layer of powdered milk and hardened sugar. This "droop" as he calls it can then be dissolved in water to produce your cup of coffee.

8.Rather than throw your coffee grounds away, what alternative use could they be put to?

All of them!: A bit of a trick question, this one. Coffee has a variety of alternative uses. Used grounds are well worth adding to compost as they contain a number of beneficial minerals, and the strong smell and acidity can go some way to warding off pests. The abrasive nature of coffee grounds lend themselves well to cleaning both pots and pans as well as your skin. By rinsing your hair in coffee and leaving it to soak, you can produce a nice sheen- those looking to ward off baldness will also be pleased to know that coffee seems to help strengthen hair and keep it on your head. Finally, coffee grounds work as a good deodoriser for things like your fridge or shoes- just be sure to put them in a bag first!

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