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Urban "Coffee Farm"

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Coffee farm 3The Urban Coffee Farm and Brew Bar designed by Hassell has 'popped up' in Melbourne's centre for the duration of The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival which concludes in March.

The design is built around the existing red stairs in Queensbridge Square and took seven days to construct.

The ‘Victorian-Grown Tropical Garden’ has been provided by Melbourne-based nursery, Warner’s Nurseries while the design was done by an informal division of HASSELL- the Young Designers Group, made up of junior designers.

Warner’s Nurseries has provided approximately 24 different species of plants which aim to engage the public to think about the logistics of where coffee comes from.

The Farm and Bar has incorporated sustainability by looking at the origins of the materials used and also where the materials will end up after the festival.

125 coffee trees from a disused coffee plantation in New South Wales are in use for the Farm and have been sold on to someone in Victoria who will replant them.

Coffee farm 1Over 2000 tropical plants were used to create the 'jungle effect' and will be given back to the nursery which donated them.

The pallets, of which there are 1500, were donated to the festival and will be returned to the owner at the end of the festival and the shipping containers which make the undercover areas, were 'at the end of their life so this is their final destination'.

Warner’s Nurseries has provided approximately 24 different species of plants for the Urban Coffee Farm and managing director, Michael Warner said he was delighted to be involved in the Urban Coffee Farm, which he believes takes the concept of ‘greening our city’ to new levels.

When we were originally approached by the Festival to see if we could help to create a tropical garden in Melbourne’s CBD, it was such a clever idea, so we thought why not take it one step further by showcasing species which could be easily replicated at home.

Coffee farm 2“So that’s where the idea for our ‘Victorian-Grown Tropical Garden’ came from - all of the plants we have used in the Urban Coffee Farm focus on lush green foliage which creates the tropical feel, but selected for the Victorian climate so they will perform in gardens at home,” he said.

App that makes coffee....

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Iphone Coffee AppOkay, this isn’t brand new but it’s still awesome and having seen it in the flesh, I had to share it.

Stopping by the excellent Founder's House co-working space in Copenhagen the other day, I was introduced to the team at app development agency Shape. They offered me a coffee using an iOS app which they built for Scanomat's TopBrewer coffee machine.

The app connects to the coffee machine via Bluetooth or WiFi and then makes your coffee. The machine will set you back several thousand dollars but hey, at least the app’s free. Check out the video here:

http://thenextweb.com/video/2013/03/02/an-iphone-app-that-makes-coffee-video/

Courtesy:  thenextweb.com

Microwavable Moka Pot

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Microwave Mocca Pot 1Moka pot. Microwave. Espresso pods. Three things I would never recommend for improving your coffee experience. However, two German brothers decided to combine all three and team up with San Francisco-based Lunar design to create the Piamo—an inverted, microwavable moka pot. Sigh. At least it’s not disposable.

Not sure if these pots will ever be available in SA, but I can certainly think of a number of coffee snobs who would like to add this to their collection.

Courtesy - Dear Coffee I Love You

Black Gold

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Black GoldIf you've never given much thought to the lives affected each time you choose one brand of coffee over another, allow this handsomely mounted documentary from British filmmakers Marc and Nick Francis to serve as a bracing, double-shot of reality. Focusing exclusively on the coffee-producing regions of Ethiopia — the so-called "birthplace of coffee" — the Francis brothers explore the long and unnecessarily convoluted chain that brings the area's highly prized coffee beans to the shelves of your supermarket, specialty store or Starbucks. Our guide through the manufacturing process — one that that effectively inserts as many middlemen between farmer and retailer as possible — is Tadesse Meskela, the manager of Ethiopia's Oromo Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union. Meskela's union represents over 70,000 coffee growers and works to maximize their profits. The market prices for coffee are set by buyers and sellers in the financial capitals of New York and London, far from the growers who are most often unaware of the market rate, and at the time of filming, farmers' profits dropped to a 30-year low: One kilo of beans, which can brew up to 80 cups of $3-a-shot coffee nets the grower less than 23 cents. And yet over the last 15 years, retail sales of coffee have nearly tripled to $80 billion a year with four multinational corporations — Kraft, Nestle, Procter & Gamble and Sara Lee — dominating the market. Meskela seeks to increase the farmers' revenue and their standard of living — many communities don't have schools, clean water or nutritious food — by seeking out better markets, circumventing the unnecessary exporter-buyer-roaster-retailer chain and increasing awareness of fair trade among consumers. The film is tacitly unkind to the unthinking — the giddily idealistic manager of Seattle's original Starbucks is allowed to go on about how she's in the business of connecting people, unaware that the film in which she's going to appear is all about how her business actually serves to disconnect, isolate and exploit the lowliest workers on the production chain. And what about the loathed Starbucks? In its advertising literature, the company prides itself on engaging in socially responsible, fair-trade practices, but the film glosses over exactly how the coffee megacorp goes about getting its prized Ethiopia Sidamo bean. It does, however, point out that the Sidamo region is in the grips of a worsening famine without providing any details about its causes or the extent to which malpractice in the region's coffee-farming industry is to blame. Nevertheless, like DARWIN'S NIGHTMARE before it, the film serves as a valuable explanation of the ways in which the cultivation and exportation of a particular crop can affect the welfare of fragile countries, and offers plenty of things to think about the next time you're waiting in line for that triple-shot mocha frappucino.  --Ken Fox

A caffeine fix could help depression

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Happy_CoffeeIf you are feeling low, it may be best to lay off the fizzy drinks and have a cup of coffee instead.

A study has linked soft drinks to depression – with diet versions particularly problematic. Coffee, however, appeared to have the opposite effect. The finding comes from US researchers who studied the drink consumption of 265,000 men and women aged 50 to 71. Ten years into the study, the volunteers were asked if they had been diagnosed with depression in the previous five years. Those who drank more than four cans of soft drinks a day were 30 percent more likely to have had depression than those who drank none, the American Academy of Neurology conference heard.

The risk seemed greater among those who preferred diet drinks. The researchers said this may be due to the presence of the artificial sweetener aspartame, which was provisionally given a clean bill of health by the European Food Safety Authority, following a review.

Making the link does not prove soft drinks cause depression. But researcher Honglei Chen said: “While our findings are preliminary and the underlying biological mechanisms are not known, they are consistent with a small but growing body of evidence suggesting that artificially sweetened beverages may be associated with poor health.”

The study found that those who had four cups of coffee a day were 10 percent less likely to become depressed than non-coffee drinkers. Dr Chen said this may be due to the caffeine in coffee stimulating the brain.

The British Soft Drinks Association urged caution over the findings and pointed out that the scientists themselves said that more research is needed.

Previous studies have linked soft drinks to heart attacks, diabetes, weight gain, brittle bones and pancreatic cancer.

FIONA MACRAE - DAILY MAIL.