Can coffee really give you cancer?

On 7 May 2018, a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge ruled that cups of coffee sold in California will have to carry a label warning customers about the potential cancer-causing effects of their favourite morning beverage. 

The basis of the decision was that coffee companies such as Starbucks, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Kraft Foods Global, and JM Smucker failed to show sufficient evidence that there was no significant cancer risk posed by just one particular chemical in roasted coffee – acrylamide. Read more

The big freeze: why there’s no longer a barrier to coffee freshness

Imagine going into a café in five years time and asking the barista for a look at the vintage menu of coffees on offer: a 2013 Panama Geisha, Sasa Sestic’s 2015 World Barista Championship (WBC) winning carbonic maceration-processed coffee, or perhaps the number one Brazil Cup of Excellence coffee from 2018 is more to your liking. 

By traditional standards, consuming such coffee years later would prove stale and lifeless in the cup, but what if they were frozen? It’s a concept Ona Coffee is exploring in order to preserve and extended coffee’s shelf life, and by all accounts, it’s got potential. 

George Howell saw that early on. He started freezing green coffee in 2001 to help preserve freshness and flavour, and at Re;Co 2017 he presented a series of vintage harvests from 2012 and 2013 to demonstrate how freezing coffee could preserve its integrity, telling the audience “by all standards, these coffees should have been dead and buried”. But they weren’t. They were very much alive. Read more

A Brazilian commitment

On the day I spoke to Jose Francisco on 8 May, Monte Alegre Coffee was a hive of activity on the first day of harvest. Despite the early mark, conditions were “perfect” – a dry 26°C during the day, 14°C at night, and low 45 per cent moisture. 

The cherries were ripe and mature, ready for round one of picking. It’s a process that will go until the end of August. 

About 35 per cent is mechanically harvested, and 65 per cent done by hand, a balance of technology and craft to ensure the best cherries are picked. 

Brazil’s special climatic conditions are one of the reasons the country has a reputation as one of the biggest coffee producers in the world, and an emerging specialty coffee scene.  Read more

Califia Farm’s plant power

In 1980, Greg Steltenpohl bought a box of oranges and borrowed a couple of hundreds bucks to buy a hand squeezing machine so he could sell fresh orange juice out of a van around San Francisco.

“That was my first taste of business entrepreneurialism in the beverage industry,” Greg describes. 

The small start-up would one day form the basis of Odwalla, a multimillion-dollar US supplier of fresh juice and nourishing healthy beverages, which Greg founded. The brand, later purchased by Coca-Cola, remains one of the fastest growing beverage ranges in the company’s suite of products.

“Odwalla was a huge education in the business world of beverages,” Greg says. “I built it from scratch into a medium-size business. We were a publicly-owned company for a while and it became one of the first natural food companies that broke out into American mainstream culture. I’m extremely proud of that.” Read more

Seven Miles Coffee Roasters digs deep

For the past 50 years, Seven Miles’ Coffee has shared its roasting expertise with hundreds of Australian cafés and thousands of coffee consumers. Within that time, the popular roaster has undergone a name change (formerly Belaroma Coffee), rebranding, a refurbishment of its Manly Vale headquarters in New South Wales, and become a Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) certified barista training campus. But with an increasing thirst for knowledge, Seven Miles Coffee Roasters decided to launch a science and education centre to push the boundaries of coffee experimentation.

Leading its Coffee Science and Education Centre (CSEC) is Dr Adam Carr, a chemical engineer who has forged a research career over the past eight years, working at Cornell University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Aerodyne Research. Read more

Chef Tobie Puttock’s true colours

After 25 years working in Italian kitchens, Tobie Puttock has consumed more espresso shots than many would dare attempt in a lifetime. 

At just 18 years of age, Tobie would watch as waiters brought a tray of 12 espressos to the kitchen for the staff of four on the hour, and they’d drink every one. 

“It was espresso all the way because that’s what the other chefs had and I wanted to fit in, to the point I’d drink so much I’d be a shaking nervous wreck,” Tobie says. “We were doing six double shifts a week on a seven-month contract, and everyone just lived off caffeine.”

Growing up, Tobie’s parents weren’t big on coffee. His first taste of Nescafe was thanks to his “bogan best mate” at 17, but it is the aroma of coffee he recalls most, brewing in his godmother’s restaurant. It’s still the thing he enjoys waking up to each day. 

“The first thing I do in the morning is put a pod through my Nespresso machine, which is like getting a big warm hug to start the day,” he says. Read more

La Marzocco’s living values

In an era of climate change and an increasingly fragile environment, machine manufacturer La Marzocco is well aware of its responsbility to set an example for the industry to follow. 

Company Chief Executive Officer Guido Bernardinelli says the company’s increased sustainable practices are not only good for business, but good for the community and the environment. 

“In observing society and the variations of the environment that have been occurring over the years, we felt the burning desire to dissent and to set an example for a better life in our small world,” he says. “As we continue to make wise decisions and to invest with this focus in mind, we sincerely hope to inspire other companies to follow our vision.” Read more

How to have healthy communication in the workplace

It’s 9:03am on a beautiful Friday morning in Sydney. It’s a fresh 22°C. The sun is shining and you’ve just started making a three-quarter skinny flat white for one of your loyal customers. You’ve got a smile on your face and your customer is pumped to see you. After a few minutes chatting, they leave for work with their coffee in hand. 

From the outside everything seems perfect. But little did that customer know you’d been standing with direct sunlight in your face since 7am. The glare from your shining polished coffee machine is starting to give you a headache, and although you’ve mentioned it to your manager, nothing gets done about it. This has been happening for the last month since summer started because your boss wants to let in as much sunlight as possible. Apparently, “customers love it”. The situation has become so bad you dread coming to work and standing in the sun for six hours until it passes at around 2pm. What would you do? Read more

André Eiermann’s Swiss success

André Eiermann has always had a fighting spirit. As a teenager, he faced fellow countryman Roger Federer in a tennis championship in their hometown of Basel. The contest was fierce, but Roger, showing his natural ability early on, won on that occasion.

That same year, Roger was asked to join the Swiss Tennis Federation and moved from Basel to a training academy, while André went to study a Masters in Economics and Political Science at university. 

After graduation, André had short stints working with large international marketing companies, but didn’t find the right fit. He was headhunted by a green bean company, and at age 26 went to work with Volcafe, one of the world’s largest coffee importers. Read more

Rumble Coffee Roasters launches Transparency Project

When it comes to the price paid for green beans, most roasters’ lips are sealed, but not Rumble Coffee Roasters. The Melbourne-based roaster has launched a new Transparency Project that will release the price paid to the farmer or co-operative for each of its coffees. 

Rumble Coffee Roasters’ Director Joe Molloy says the new sourcing model leaves nowhere for the roaster to hide, and for good reason.  Read more