Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Coffee Farmer

Here I am standing in a field in the middle of nowhere. Buying coffee. Buying coffee in Tanzania. Coffee for our loyal customers who know coffee like some know wine or fine food. Those who appreciate the aroma and the subtle flavours and expect something different. Well, here is different all right. 130km of dusty climbing, twisting roads to reach this amazing place - coffee bushes all around and the bustle of the local farmer and his workers roasting beans for me to taste.

Open fire roasted coffee...the plains of Tanzania in the distance and the sound of nature all around. Does it get any better? Oh, yes. Taste the brew...taste the brew...In my mind, I can hear the sounds of all those coffee machines and coffee vending machines grinding up these beans and pouring out a unique, "slightly-tangy-on-the-side-of-the-tongue", crema rich espresso! Oh yes, I'm buying!

But wait, not too much enthusiam boyo. You may be paying Fairtrade prices...but lets not encourage a premium... "It's ok" I say. The farmer looks pained. "Not good?" he replies. His eyebrows rise and I can see this isn't just a crop of beans, these are his children he's selling off. Dang, this is hard. I relent. "Yeah, it's good...very good".

He can see I'm impressed. I can see the price rising. We look at each other.

"I can see you like this coffee" he responds after what seems like an hour. We have not stopped looking at each other. "I do like it and I think it will make a great espresso coffee through our coffee vending machines. Yes I'll buy".

He smiles, looks down at his hands, still cupping a few beans. He raises his head, and throws out his price. I know this is now the time to haggle - it's the part I hate - but he names my price. The price I had decided on. Uncanny. So I nod. We shake hands - and as I pull my hand back, he holds it firm "I can see you really liked my coffee" he says. He smiles a kind of "sly grin" smile. "That is why you get it for better price than the others". I smile. The handshake means something.

Three hours of heat and dust and potholes all mean something.

It's hard to believe that you'll wake up, press the switch on your coffee machine, drink and enjoy a fine blend of his coffee, and not even know where those beans have come from. It's sad to think you'll never see that farm, nor meet that wise old man. A simple life.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Coffee Vending Machine Service

A coffee vending machine service offers you the option of outsourcing your hot beverage requirements and operations. An external operator installs the coffee vending machines, keeps them maintained and operated and also provides consumables and staff (if needed).

Sounds great...but what do you need to know?

First, is the operator going to serve you well. Just because they say they can, be aware that service differs between vending companies. Check their experience, background, length of time in business etc. If you can't find a landline, know that you may be dealing with either a new business or a small and unstructured business. Then ask yourself, do they have the resources to manage my site? Get references and check them out...a few phone calls sure beats a legal bill to get out of the contract.

Second, check what they are providing. How many machines do you need? Are the coffee vending machines tried and tested or will they break down on you daily? No point having a coffee service if the machines are not working. Will they be able to repair your machines on the day of failure? Do they have a strong technical team?

Third, look at the quality of the consumables. Where are they used? Call the references to check if the quality is good. Taste them before buying...are they of the best quality?If they are providing staff, where have they managed staff on a site before..can they do it with serious efficiency?

Fourth, look at the billing and what you are paying for. Are you getting 250ml or 175ml cups...are you getting a chicory based instant coffee or a pure instant coffee...is hot chocolate included? The price will differ dramatically. Will you pay for the coffee machines and the products separately? Some companies tell you the coffee vending machines are free if you buy their product...yeah right...when you are paying twice as much for coffee than the competitors...is it really free? Calculate this to find out!

Go in with good knowlede as contracts will probably run for 12, 24 or 36 months and you'll want good products, machines and great service.

Should you decide to buy a coffee vending machine, have a look at our site for an article called "7 things to consider when buying a coffee vending machine"....it will also help you avoid some common mistakes!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Rub a coffee vending machine into your skin and avoid skin cancer

An article on MSNBC (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29409056/) makes the office coffee vending machine a lifesaver (no really!)

"A cup of joe a day may help keep skin cancer away: A new study shows that caffeine helps kill off human cells damaged by ultraviolet light, one of the key triggers of several types of skin cancer.

The finding, detailed in Feb. 26 online issue of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, could one day lead to the development of caffeine creams or ointments to help reverse the effects of UV damage in humans and prevent some skin cancers.

Nonmelanoma skin cancers, which rarely metastasize or cause death, are the most common form of cancer in humans, with more than 1 million new cases occurring each year in the United States alone. (Melanoma is, however, one of the deadlier cancers.)

Exposure to ultraviolet light is one of the most important factors in causing nonmelanoma cancers. The rays cause DNA damage to skin cells, which then mutate or become cancerous.
Several studies have shown that people who regularly drink coffee or tea seem to have lower incidences of nonmelanoma skin cancers. One recent study of more than 90,000 Caucasian women found that with each additional cup of caffeinated coffee consumed, there was an associated 5 percent decreased risk of developing one of these skin cancers (decaf coffee had no effect).

Caffeine also seemed, in another study, to have a protective effect on mice that had been exposed to UV light, whether they ingested it or it was applied to their skin.
But researchers didn't know how caffeine exerted its cancer-preventing influence, said Paul Nghiem of the University of Washington and a team member of the new study.

Cellular suicide
The normal cellular response to DNA damage is to activate a protein, dubbed ATR, that helps initiate repair.

But when damaged by UV light, some cells will initiate a kind of cell suicide program, which keeps them from becoming cancerous. Adding caffeine seems to stimulate more cells into triggering their suicide sequence (called apoptosis) — while only about 1 out every 500 cells will undergo apoptosis when exposed to UV, about 1 out of every 200 do when caffeine enters the picture, Nghiem told LiveScience.

By examining the effect of caffeine in human cells (for the first time), Nghiem and his colleagues determined that ATR was caffeine's target in the cell. Cells that are damaged, precancerous or dividing have more need of ATR, and if you suppress ATR with caffeine, "you can selectively kill the cells with those features," Nghiem said. So the cells most likely to become cancerous are killed before they can do so.

Of course, this finding doesn't mean that you should start guzzling down coffee and tea.
"We are by no means recommending that people change their beverage habits," Nghiem said. It would take regularly drinking six cups of coffee a day to decrease the risk of incidence by just 30 percent, and tea has only half the potency of coffee, he added.

But the finding could be used to develop a topical application of caffeine that could be targeted to at-risk skin cells, as it seems to make those cells more killable and because "caffeine itself is a potent sunscreen," Nghiem said.

That application is still years away though, Nghiem cautions.

The new research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, a Harvard Skin Cancer SPORE Career Development Award, and Shiseido Corporation. "

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