Showing all posts tagged: coffee

The health benefits of giving up drinking coffee

21 May 2024

As with many things we consume, the science on coffee can be conflicted. One decade caffeine consumption is a no-no, the next it seems coffee is quite beneficial. Regular readers will know I’m a coffee drinker, but in — what I consider to be — moderation: two (large serve) cups per day.

But some people struggle with coffee addiction. And the same people say their general health, and mental well-being, much improved when they stopped drinking coffee all together. Jesse Downes, based on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, says he used to drink seven cups of coffee a day, before giving up completely about three months ago:

Three months into his coffee-free life, Mr Downes is noticing some changes. “The anxiety levels generally seem to be more managed, or reduced, if you like, and I would have to say there’s a sustained energy level,” he said.

Good for him. Just because many people enjoy something, doesn’t mean everyone will. I guess we all have our no-no vices. Mine would be alcohol and soft drink, both of which I only partake of a couple of times a year.


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Third best coffee on Earth? Sydney. Tenth best? Melbourne…

11 April 2024

Expresso coffee at Crepe & Coffee Co, Redfern, Sydney. Photo by John Lampard.

Espresso, brewed by Crepe & Coffee Co, photo by John Lampard.

Sydney has been adjudged the third best city in the world for coffee, this according to American magazine, Food & Wine. Copenhagen, perhaps unsurprisingly, comes in at number one, followed by Tokyo in second place. But here’s where things may get contentious: Melbourne — perhaps surprisingly — ranks at number ten on the list.

Number ten? How can that be? Did not Melbourne birth McCafe, the McDonald’s hamburger restaurant coffee-shop off-shoot? Isn’t Melbourne where the rest of Australia supposedly draws all ideas and inspiration coffee related from? Not that I’m trying to stoke up any Melbourne versus Sydney antagonism, or rivalry, here.

Not me. After all, I’m officially based almost two-hours drive north of Sydney. But when it comes to coffee consumption elsewhere, I’ve had more Sydney coffee than I have Melbourne. And besides, I like both cities. But they’re different places, they’re not cookie-cutter replicas of each other.

Objectively, how then could one possibly be better than the other? Let me illustrate, while keeping the theme victual. Years ago, a chef (whose name escapes me), described the differences between the two cities, thusly. When you go out for dinner in Sydney, it’s for a quick bite, because you’re on the way somewhere else.

That’s true. Sydney never stands still.

On the other hand, when you go out for dinner in Melbourne, it’s an occasion. People dress up, and stay seated at the table for hours. And sometimes we like doing both. But let’s avoid any further Melbourne versus Sydney discord, and take solace in the fact Australia is a country that embraces independent coffee brewers, and has little time for multinational coffeehouse chains.


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Workers using cafes as offices may reduce their profitability

3 April 2024

Malcolm Knox, writing for The Sydney Morning Herald:

Then there are rents, insurance, equipment and other fixed costs. In a Sydney suburb near me, a new cafe is paying $5000 a week in rent. At $1000 per 7am-to-1pm shift, they need to be selling 300 coffees a day to make it worth their while. That’s nearly one a minute. They don’t often make money on food, which requires more infrastructure such as cooking, storing, plates and so on. It’s all down to their coffee price.

Cafes are a great stand-by for the WFH crowd, an office away from the home office. They’re somewhere to work, be in the company of others, while enjoying a coffee. Or two. Or three. In fact, the more the merrier, so far as the cafe is concerned.

But as much as I love the idea of working in a cafe, I do so infrequently. And then in short bursts — an hour tops — and I will buy at least one coffee and a cake — valued at maybe a little more than ten dollars — to make my stay at least partially worthwhile for the cafe. But even then, I’m short-changing the owners, as they’re hoping to earn closer to forty dollars an hour on the table I occupy.

Running a cafe you see, is an expensive undertaking, and WFH workers who buy a single cup of coffee, and expect to have the same table to themselves all day, are doing the cafe a distinct disservice. I’m fortunate to have a couple of hot-desk options if I don’t want to work at home, virtually negating the need to use a cafe, something I’m sure owners are grateful for. Instead, I’ll come by for a take-out coffee, and be on my way.


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Australian cafes feel brunt of rising inflation, interest rates

17 July 2023

Australian cafes are among those bearing the brunt of the cost of living crisis. Many are dealing with rising overheads, and reduced revenue, as their customers — who are negotiating increased rent or mortgage payments, among other things — feel compelled to reduce discretionary spending.

As a result, many cafes are going out of business:

About one-sixth of cafes advertised for sale now will close down before finding a buyer. In May, ASIC data showed business insolvencies were at the highest monthly rate in eight years. So far the insolvencies have been dominated by construction firms, but hospitality is expected to overtake it in 2024, credit reporting agency CreditorWatch said.

At a large shopping centre I visit in Sydney’s east, I’ve seen about half a dozen coffee shops close in perhaps the last twelve months. While myriad factors could account for this, including a noticeable decline in foot traffic in the centre, rising interest rates and inflation are surely also to blame.

It’s sad to see. For many people, operating a cafe is one way of realising the dream of owning a small business and being self-employed, together with creating work opportunities, both direct and indirect, for other people.


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For a hard boiled brew try deep fried coffee beans

3 December 2022

Instead of roasting some coffee beans, the more usual process for preparing beans for brewing, British coffee connoisseur James Hoffmann decided to deep fry a batch.

Like Hoffmann, I was unsure why anyone would actually, or ever want to, deep dry coffee beans, but his experiment is purely in the name of curiosity. After the beans have been fried, Hoffmann prepared two brews to sample. One by filter, the other by shot. All very interesting I’m sure, but I might stick to drinking roasted bean coffee…



Anthony Douglas barista of the year World Coffee Championships

6 October 2022

The 2022 World Coffee Championships were held in Melbourne, Australia, during the last week of September, and local coffee-brewer Anthony Douglas was named Barista of the Year.

Here’s some video footage of Douglas in action. But whoever thought that coffee making could be a spectator event?



Dumpster diving, finding food when prices are rising

27 July 2022

Inflation is back. Prices are rising — sharply in some cases — adding to the cost of living. My go-to — highly anecdotal of course — inflation indicator is the price of a large sized takeaway cappuccino. While rises in the price of coffee have been on the cards for some time, I paid A$5.20 for a cup in Kogarah, a southern suburb of Sydney the other week, the first time I’ve seen the cost exceed five dollars.

But the price of household staples, not just coffee, have also been rising steadily in recent months, imposing financial hardship on many people. Despite this, some Australian supermarkets are engaging in what is surely the unconscionable practice of disposing of food products before their use by date, or fruit and vegetables that simply don’t look saleable, without even offering them at a reduced price beforehand.

But savvy consumers, including Sydneysider Brenden Rikihana, are countering this wasteful process by taking to dumpster diving. That is, going around to the dumpster bin area at a supermarket, and sifting through them for food that is still safe to eat. And if Rikihana’s Facebook page is anything to go by, dumpster divers are truly spoilt for choice at the moment. In fact Rikihana collects so much usable food, he gives a lot away to others.

Dumpster diving can’t be without its hazards. There’s obviously a danger to sifting through waste bins. Broken glass, other sharp objects, not to mention who knows exactly what’s been put in the dumpster. Then there’s the legalities. Some of the bins are probably on private property, so trespass may be a factor. I doubt few people rummage through dumpsters out of choice though. And that’s the problem at the moment. For many it’s not about choice, it’s about necessity.



Coffee grounds go full circle being reborn as the Kreis Cup

12 July 2022

Kreis reusable coffee cup

Our insatiable appetite for coffee leaves a few superfluous by-products in its wake. Disposable coffee cups are one. Coffee grounds, being what remains of the beans used to brew the cup of coffee you bought, are another. And, as with the disposable cups, coffee grounds tend to build up. It’s estimated two billion cups of coffee are made daily globally, which adds up to a lot of coffee grounds.

And given just about all these dregs end up in the waste bin, our caffeine addiction is hardly environmentally friendly, nor particularly sustainable. While some people make an effort to recycle discarded grounds, they can be repurposed as household deodorisers, compost, and even insect repellent in the garden, among other things, most end up in landfills.

The people at Coffee Kreis are hoping to change that though. They’d like to see coffee grounds come full circle, as it were, by turning them into reusable coffee cups, which is quite apt as kreis is the German word for circle, or circuit.

Kreis means circle, resembling our circular economy model based on the regeneration of natural materials into a sustainable product. The Kreis Cup is an alternative to disposable paper cups and aims to replace the end-of-life concept of used coffee grounds.


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Espresso, Lady J Cafe, Bondi Junction, Sydney

1 July 2022

Espresso, Lady J Cafe, Bondi Junction, Sydney

For Flash Back Friday. Espresso at the sadly long closed Lady J Cafe at Bondi Junction in Sydney, a snap I took several years ago. At the moment I’m using part of the image for the header on my Twitter page.

Lady J was an institution in its day, and I think it’s telling that a number of cafes and restaurants that have occupied Lady J’s old retail premises since, have struggled to make a go of it. They last a short time and close. The store space is along the bustling Oxford Street, so it’s not as if there’s a shortage of foot-traffic, or the place is hidden away.

Interesting, I was searching for the Lady J Instagram page, and found another IG page for a cafe with the same name and a similar logo, opening “soon”, somewhere in Texas. If it’s operated by the same people, and the similar logo certainly seem to suggest that, then Texans are in for a treat.



Used disposable coffee cups could be a concrete ingredient

11 June 2022

This might be the breakthrough coffee drinkers have been waiting for. Yanni Bouras, a Melbourne based structural engineer, thinks there might be a way to recycle the single-use takeaway coffee cups that Australians can’t seem to live without. Bouras has devised a method of replacing some of the sand used in concrete mix, with used, broken down, disposable coffee cups:

The cups are ground up and mixed in as a substitute for a proportion of the sand that goes into a typical concrete mix. So far, testing has found the material is weaker than standard concrete but has a higher thermal performance. That means it could be useful for non-structural purposes, like footpaths or even insulation. If 10 per cent of sand was replaced by takeaway coffee cups, there could be up to 700 coffee cups used per cubic metre of concrete.