Posts tagged ‘Lon Levin’

April 12, 2011

I’m Jacked Up About Starbucks

Starbucks logo and sign

Starbucks Coffee sign

The Treehouser is a coffee drinker. It’s true and I’m proud of it. There is no doubt that Starbucks has great coffee and for that matter their lowfat blueberry crumb cake rocks. But the best thing about Starbucks now is their willingness to join in and contribute to recycling and saving environmental resources.

Starbucks has made some impressive commitments to reducing the environmental impact of their packaging, but without a clear tracking system its difficult to see the progress being made.

The company has promised to serve a quarter of its drinks in reusable cups in an effort to reduce paper and plastic waste, but doesn’t keep track of how many costumers actually use them and rarely promotes the ceramic cups and travel mugs for sale in the store.

The goals that Starbucks is working towards are great and we would love to be able to track their progress. The coffee chain is one of the most popular and well-known, giving them an opportunity to make a change in the industry by setting a eco-friendly example.

A Savory Delight

Now here’s another cool thing about Starbucks, they give you info about making coffee on their website. Read on;

The 4 Fundamentals

The recipe for a great cup of coffee. Proportion, Grind, Water and Freshness. Understand and follow the guidelines for each of them, and you’re on your way to brewing a great cup of coffee every time.

Use the right proportion of coffee to water. This is the most important step in making great coffee. For the most flavorful cup of coffee, Starbucks recommends using two tablespoons of ground coffee (10 grams) for each six fluid ounces (180 milliliters) of water. If coffee brewed this way is too strong for your taste, you can add a little hot water to your cup of brewed coffee.

The shorter the brewing process, the finer the grind. Different brewing methods have different grind requirements, so grind your coffee for the brewing method you use. The amount of time the coffee and water spend together affects the flavor elements that end up in your cup of coffee, and the design of your coffee maker dictates how long the coffee and water sit in direct contact during the brewing process. For instance, coffee ground for an espresso machine should be very fine, in part because the brew cycle is only 19 to 22 seconds long. But for a coffee press, the coffee should be coarse ground, because the water and coffee are in direct contact for about four minutes.

Use fresh, cold water heated to just off the boil. A cup of coffee is 98 percent water. Therefore, the water you use to make coffee should taste clean, fresh, and free of impurities. Water heated to just off a boil (195° to 205° F or 90° to 96° C) is perfect for extracting the coffee’s full range of flavors. Any cooler and the water can’t adequately do the job. Automatic coffee makers heat the water for you. Make sure the one you use gets the water hot enough.

Use freshly ground coffee. Think of coffee as fresh produce. The enemies of coffee are oxygen, light, heat, and moisture. To keep coffee fresh, store it in an opaque, airtight container at room temperature. Storing coffee in the refrigerator or freezer for daily use can damage the coffee as warm, moist air condenses to the beans whenever the container is opened. Whole bean coffee stays fresh longer because there is less surface area exposed to oxygen. For the best results, coffee should be ground just before brewing and used or stored immediately.

I’m not saying that Starbucks is the best coffee in the world but it is certainly up there as far as the corporate coffee companies go. Not so much for the coffee taste aroma or the experience of sitting in a Starbucks and working your laptop. But for it’s acknowledgment that they must do something to help our environment. So for that reason and I do like the coffee I am giving a thumbs up to the coffee giant.

Let Starbucks’ President and CEO Howard Schultz know that you appreciate the effort that the company is making and that they have an excellent opportunity to be an eco-friendly leader in the coffee shop industry.

March 27, 2011

San Francisco Renewable Energy By 2020

green living by 2020 for San Francisco

San Francisco is an innovative city. The oldest “big” city on the west coast in also in many ways the most sophisticated. The city and its governing bodies always seems to be in the forefront of new movements. Remember Hippies in Haight Ashbury, Gay Rights and now eco-friendly living.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said recently at a gathering for solar enthusiasts in San Francisco that he believes the city can be functioning on all renewable energy in nine years. Nearly 800 people attended the event and paid $100 each as part of a fundraiser for the Vote Solar Initiative, which is a grassroots solar advocacy project backed by the Tides Center. They have about 50,000 members nationwide. They work at the policy level with legislators to make solar power more affordable to businesses and consumers. San Francisco currently generates about eighteen megawatts of electricity from solar power. The city offers various incentives for adding new solar installations, both for consumers and businesses.

Former Mayor Gavin Newsom said of their program: “GoSolarSF has more than doubled the number of solar installations in our City and created dozens of jobs. This program is literally transforming how our homes and businesses generate and consume electricity rooftop by rooftop.” (Source:

Actually, it was Newsom who first put forth the goal of 100 percent renewable energy in San Francisco by 2020. One source said that in 2006, San Francisco was only at about 12 percent renewable energy, and that rate put them easily in the top ten U.S. cities for clean energy. Currently San Francisco receives a significant amount of its electricity from the Hetch Hetchy hydroelectric powerplant. It was recently reported that the city had failed to find a competitor to their main supplier, Pacific Gas and Electricity, who can deliver power from 51 percent renewable sources.

Some say the 100 percent renewable goal by 2020 is not feasible, but the director of the city’s Environment Department said the city had actually exceeded their very ambitious recycling goal of 75 percent diversion from the waste stream, so a very aggressive energy goal might be beneficial.

Take note other cities the sooner you convert to renewable energy the better it’ll be for all of us.

Image Credit: photo via flickr

Read more: