May 10th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Starbucks and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have partnered to reduce waste from single-use cups and other packaging.
Starbucks’ goal is to ensure 100% of its cups are reusable or recyclable by 2015.
Currently, the coffee chain considers its cups to be recyclable only in communities where they’re collected and accepted at commercial and residential recycling systems. One of the major challenges Starbucks faces is a variance in local recycling capabilities.
“We know we can’t solve this problem simply by purchasing cups that are labeled ‘recyclable’ or ‘compostable,’” says Jim Hanna, Starbucks’ director of environmental impact. “We have to ensure our customers actually have access to recycling services at their homes, at work and in our stores. We’ll only be successful if the various businesses and organizations that touch this issue are aligned and equally motivated to take action.”
Starbucks’ “holistic approach has the potential to make a significant impact on the entire food-service industry,” says Peter M. Senge, PhD, a senior lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.
In the last year, Starbucks has introduced front-of-store recycling in Toronto, Canada, where its cups are recyclable, and in San Francisco, where its cups are both recyclable and compostable.
The company plans to introduce front-of-store recycling in Seattle this summer and is discussing testing and implementation plans with other communities, including Denver, Chicago and Boston.
“This collaborative, solution-oriented approach is good for business and good for our planet,” says Jim Hunt, Boston’s chief of environment and energy.
Reusable Cups Preferred
Starbucks also encourages its customers to help reduce cup waste by opting for reusable alternatives.
The company has launched a global marketing campaign to increase tumbler use. Last year, more than 26 million beverages were served in reusable cups in U.S., Canadian and UK stores—a behavioral shift that kept nearly 1.2 million pounds of paper from ending up in landfills.
For Your Organic Bookshelf: My Sister’s a Barista: How They Made Starbucks a Home Away from Home
Read More:Starbucks, MIT Collaborate on Recyclable Cups
April 8th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
As temperatures rise, you may consider cooling off with a blended coffee drink, whipped cream and all.
But as we’ve noted in the past, Frappuccinos and flavored lattes are high in calories, largely due to the addition of whole milk or cream, flavored syrups and added sugar.
At the extreme, a 24-oz. Starbucks Venti Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino with whipped cream contains 750 calories, or 38% of one’s daily caloric intake (based on a 2,000-calorie dietary allowance). A large Dunkin’ Donuts Vanilla Bean Coolatta (32 oz.) has 860 calories.
Staking Out the Chains
Researchers from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene were alarmed by residents’ increased caloric intake from such beverages, which they associated with higher obesity rates. So, they staked out two New York City coffee chains (42 Starbucks, 73 Dunkin’ Donuts) to monitor consumers’ afternoon beverage orders and calculate average calorie content.
The researchers clocked 1,127 beverage purchases at Starbucks and 1,830 at Dunkin’ Donuts. Their findings, published in the peer-reviewed journal Preventing Chronic Disease, were staggering: Roughly two-thirds of Starbucks purchases and one-fourth of Dunkin’ Donuts purchases were for high-calorie blended coffee beverages.
Now, extrapolate these stats for the rest of the country: Starbucks, the world’s largest coffee chain, has more than 11,000 retail stores in the United States, while Dunkin’ Donuts boasts 6,400 U.S. stores. And as the researchers note: “Both companies have promoted their products aggressively and serve millions of customers each day.”
- The average calorie content of beverages purchased at Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts is similar to that of a standard 12-oz. can of sugar-sweetened soda.
- At both chains, ice-blended drinks had the highest calorie content (more than 300 calories, on average)—the equivalent of a scoop of high-fat ice cream.
- Almost 60% of customers who ordered a blended coffee beverage (all sizes) purchased more than 10% of their calories for the day in a single drink purchase. Without expending enough energy to compensate for their liquid treats, they could potentially gain 20 pounds a year, based on consumption of an extra 200 calories per day.
Promoting Better Alternatives
“Because [our] data were collected from 2 to 4 p.m.,” the researchers write, “many customers probably bought these high-calorie beverages as afternoon ‘pick-me-ups,’ in addition to their lunchtime meals.”
Consumers who visit coffee chains at other times of day may order lower-calorie beverages, they admit. They also acknowledge that customers may not have consumed their entire beverages.
Nonetheless, the researchers suspect consumers fail to consider calorie count when placing their orders. As such, “the industry should be encouraged to provide and promote less-caloric alternatives,” they write.
For Your Organic Bookshelf: Herbal Teas for Health and Healing
Read More:Coffee Drinks Contribute to Obesity Epidemic
March 24th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
While a cup of coffee can get you moving each morning, a java jolt is also a great pick-me-up for your organic garden.
You can use coffee and tea byproducts as a slow-release fertilizer and key compost ingredient. Thinly dispersed coffee grounds serve as a soil amendment that puts nutrients back into the ground.
Here are some tips for getting “grounded”:
- Add coffee grounds (including filters) and tea bags to compost piles to create a rich, all-natural source of energy for plants.
- Dilute with water to make a fast-acting fertilizer.
- Use in soil for houseplants or in vegetable beds.
- Some gardeners believe coffee grounds can help repel pests, such as snails and slugs.
- If your garden needs more nitrogen, turn to coffee. Nitrogen is essential for leaf development.
- Plants that thrive in acidic soil—think pines, evergreens, blueberries, raspberries, roses, azaleas, gardenias, ferns, rhododendrons, lily-of-the-valley and marigolds—can benefit from coffee grounds, which slightly lower soil pH.
- Feed coffee grounds to garden worms. Worm excrement and the aeration provided by tunneling worms work wonders in the garden.
Read More:Give Your Garden a Coffee Break
February 12th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
On Sunday, say “Be My Valentine” with this deliciously simple coffee drink, which will warm you up—or cool you down, if you add ice cream.
Sweetened condensed milk adds a rich, creamy texture and sweet flavor. Several organic brands should be available at well-stocked natural food stores.
Prep time is only 5 minutes. Cook time is also 5 minutes.
Prepare to receive mocha-flavored kisses!
Makes 4 servings
4 cups strong brewed coffee
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
2 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (optional)
- In large saucepan, combine coffee, sweetened condensed milk, chocolate and cinnamon.
- Heat through, stirring constantly.
- Serve in mugs. Top with whipped cream or small spoonful of ice cream (optional).
Valentine’s Day Recipes from Our Blog
- Valentine Salad
- Warm Griddle Salad with Chicken and Apples
- Maple Wasabi Grilled Salmon
- Triple-Berry Granola Crisp
- Plus: Impress Your Sweetie with an Organic Valentine’s Day Dinner for Two
Read More:Mocha Coffee
January 16th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
In November, we featured a wintry low-fat Pumpkin Latte recipe, which has only 80 calories—less than half of a store-bought frou-frou latte.
The London-based World Cancer Research Fund wants consumers to know that some iced coffee drinks at the popular chains also pose major dietary pitfalls, with some containing up to 25% of a woman’s recommended daily calories.
Regular consumption of high-calorie drinks increases one’s obesity and cancer risks, according to WCRF experts.
“Having these types of drinks as an occasional treat is unlikely to do you any harm,” says Dr. Rachel Thompson, the group’s science program manager. “But if you are having them regularly, then they will increase the chances of you becoming overweight, which in turn increases your risk of developing cancer, as well as other diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.”
There is convincing evidence that excess body fat can cause six types of cancer, the WCRF notes:
- Postmenopausal breast cancer
- Bowel cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Endometrial cancer (uterine lining)
- Kidney cancer
“With even some small [drink] options containing 300 calories, people should check the nutritional content of these drinks, particularly if they are having them regularly,” Dr. Thompson urges. “There are some iced coffees on the market that are low in calories, so it is worth shopping around.”
Opt for an unsweetened organic coffee with nonfat or low-fat milk, and pass on cream or sugary flavoring syrups.
Read More:Whip Iced Coffee Treats into Shape
January 13th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Too much caffeine can keep you up at night, but coffee may have the power to lull you to sleep—as long as you inhale its aroma.
A team of international researchers found that the scent of roasted coffee beans calmed stressed and sleep-deprived rats. Their research was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
“The results of this study allowed us to improve our knowledge involved in relationships among coffee bean aroma, brain function and stress via sleep deprivation,” the authors write.
Further studies are needed to identify the compounds responsible for initiating a relaxation response.
In the meantime, pour yourself a cup of organic coffee and inhale deeply!
Read More:Stop and Smell the Organic Coffee
December 15th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Yesterday, I shared the results of a hot-off-the-press study: Coffee, Tea Linked to Lower Diabetes Risk. Now there’s more news on the java front.
Harvard Medical School researchers have found an association between coffee consumption and a lower risk of lethal and advanced prostate cancers.
“Coffee has effects on insulin and glucose metabolism, as well as sex hormone levels, all of which play a role in prostate cancer,” explains postdoctoral fellow and lead researcher Kathryn M. Wilson, PhD. “It was plausible that there may be an association between coffee and prostate cancer.”
During their investigation, Dr. Wilson and her colleagues found that men who drank the most coffee had a 60% lower risk of aggressive prostate cancer than those who drank no coffee.
As with the diabetes study, caffeine can’t take the credit for reducing risk. Dr. Wilson suspects biologically active compounds like antioxidants and minerals offer a more realistic explanation.
“Very few lifestyle factors have been consistently associated with prostate cancer risk, especially with risk of aggressive disease, so it would be very exciting if this association is confirmed in other studies,” she says. “Our results do suggest there is no reason to stop drinking coffee out of any concern about prostate cancer.”
As we recommended yesterday, always buy organic coffee to reduce your exposure to pesticides and toxic chemicals.
Read More:Coffee May Reduce Prostate Cancer Risks
December 14th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
People who drink more coffee (regular or decaffeinated) or tea appear to have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a rigorous analysis of previous medical studies.
Each cup of regular coffee consumed in a day was associated with a 7% reduction in risk, according to researchers at the University of Sydney, Australia. Those who drank 3 to 4 cups per day had roughly a 25% lower risk than those who drank 0 to 2 cups per day.
People who drank more than 3 to 4 cups of decaffeinated coffee per day had about a 33% lower risk of developing diabetes than those who drank no decaf. And those who drank more than 3 to 4 cups of tea had a 20% lower risk than those who drank no tea.
“That the apparent protective effect of tea and coffee consumption appears to be independent of a number of potential confounding variables raises the possibility of direct biological effects,” the authors write in a paper published in the Dec. 14/28 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.
Because decaf seems to offer protective benefits, caffeine is unlikely to be responsible for the reduced risk. Other compounds in coffee and tea—including magnesium and antioxidants known as lignans or chlorogenic acids—may be involved, the authors note.
Future studies will be required to determine whether therapeutic coffee and tea “doses” can help prevent type 2 diabetes—a disease that will affect 380 million people by 2025.
If such studies confirm these beverages’ interventional effects, the authors envision a time when “we advise our patients most at risk for [type 2] diabetes to increase their consumption of tea and coffee in addition to increasing their levels of physical activity and weight loss.”
We, of course, recommend organic coffee and tea to reduce your exposure to pesticides and toxic chemicals.
Read More:Coffee, Tea Consumption Linked to Lower Diabetes Risk
November 25th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Starbucks and other coffeehouses are trotting out their high-calorie winter beverage menu.
A 12-oz. (Tall) Starbucks Peppermint Mocha made with soy milk has 250 calories, not counting whipped cream (add another 70 calories). A 12-oz. Gingerbread Latte, even with nonfat milk, has 150 calories—220 with whipped cream. You really don’t want to know the calorie count in the full-fat versions. Trust me.
Save money and calories with today’s Pumpkin Latte, which has only 80 calories per serving.
The key is smart substitutions, says Jenny Harper, senior culinary specialist for the Nestlé Test Kitchens. In today’s recipe, she blends low-fat dairy with a nutrient-dense ingredient like pumpkin.
Best of all, the ingredients should be readily available at your local natural and organic food store. Enjoy!
Makes 2 servings (8 ounces each)
1 cup strong coffee
2/3 cup evaporated fat-free milk
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar (or other sweetener)
1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon
- Combine coffee, evaporated milk, pumpkin, sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a 2-cup microwave-safe glass measure or small saucepan.
- Heat until very hot. (If using the stove, select medium-low heat and stir occasionally.)
- Carefully pour into mugs.
Want a Foamy Top?
Prepare recipe as directed. Then, carefully transfer the hot mixture into a blender container. Cover with lid, and hold it down with a folded towel or potholder. Blend for 1 minute.
Nutrition Facts per Serving: 80 calories, 0 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 90 mg sodium, 14 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 12 g sugar, 5 g protein, 80% vitamin A, 20% calcium
Recipe and photo courtesy of Nestlé
Read More:Pumpkin Latte
October 5th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
You needn’t read tea leaves to see that tea connoisseurs are emerging everywhere. Tea’s rising popularity has inspired specialty tea shops across the country, and tea-making accessories have become a chic new gift category.
“Tea connoisseurs pay attention to the aroma, texture and unique flavors of fine teas,” says Patricia Zenobi, marketing director for Lipton. “Today, choosing and savoring tea is a personal statement.”
Here’s a recipe that will warm you up this fall.
Caramel Truffle Latte
Makes 2 servings
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 caramel-flavored tea bags
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- In a 1-quart saucepan, bring water, milk and cinnamon sticks just to a boil.
- Remove from heat and add tea bags.
- Brew 3 minutes; remove tea bags and cinnamon sticks.
- Stir in sugar and serve immediately.
Hot & Spicy Chocolate Tea
Today’s Book Pick
Tea Here Now: Relax and Rejuvenate with a Tea Lifestyle—Rituals, Remedies, and Meditations
Note: Because you are committed to organic living, OrganicAuthority.com recommends using certified organic foods, when available, in all recipes to maximize flavor and nutrition, while minimizing your risk of exposure to pesticides, chemicals and preservatives.
Recipe and photo courtesy of Lipton
Read More:Caramel Truffle Latte