Friday, 10 October 2008

Anyone for coffee?

Water is the most precious resource on the planet. It should not be wasted.

The following is an abridged translation of an article in the Wiener Zeitung newspaper of 9th October 2008.

Coffee - and too much water
by Alexa Jirez

Americano, Frappuccino, Caramel Macchiato: Customers at the American coffee-house chain Starbucks know what this means. It means an expensive drink of coffee. But what does one need to make coffee other than coffee beans and milk? Water. The best water is pure drinking water. And Starbucks has plenty.
The British Sun reported a few days ago that Starbucks pours away thousands of litres of perfectly clean water for reasons of 'hygiene'. The coffee-chain has so-called dipper-wells, metal sinks for washing spoons; each with its own tap that runs the whole time.
In Vienna's Starbucks coffee-houses there are such dipper-wells. Local Green politician, Rüdiger Maresch, spoke to an eye-witness. Fact: the water runs the whole time. And that, says Maresch, is environmental craziness.
A spokesperson for Starbucks said, 'The water is only running during opening hours.'
An official from Vienna's Water Department calculated that a small tap with a diameter of 7 mm would give 2,360 litres of water per hour. A normal household tap has a much larger diameter - 1 cm.
Starbucks on Vienna's Kärnten Street is open daily from 6.30 am until 1.00 am. That's 18.5 hours. Should the tap there have a diameter of 7 mm it could mean that 43,660 litres of water is used for washing spoons - per day!
Starbucks claims that fresh running water is required to prevent a build-up of bacteria and dangerous germs. For Andreas Tomenendal, responsible for Vienna's water pipes, Starbuck's argument is nonsense. Tomenendal: The water stands in reservoirs where it is collected. It is tested and is of a high quality. Even the hospitals don't have their water taps running the whole time. An average household in Vienna needs 130 litres of water a day. 1,000 litres of water costs €1.30. To take away 1,000 litres of waste water costs €1.69, he added.

(A quick P-i-R calculation shows that a metered domestic user, with a small 7 mm tap, following the Starbucks' method for washing spoons would need to fork out €120 per day)

*The water wasted by Starbucks comes from the high Alps to the south of Vienna. It originates in springs in the mountains and is collected in reservoirs before being sent to Vienna through a 100 km long pipe. To waste such a resource is beyond folly.


The following rime is based on Part II of Samuel Taylor Colerdge's work of two grains of opium, The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere. Poet-in-Residence finds Coleridge the coffee addict in a city centre Stirbucks...

A Vienna Melange in Stirbucks

The breezes blew, the white foam flew,
The coffee follow'd free:
I had a thirst that ever burst
Into that Stirbuck Sea.

Found spoons diseased, the spoon drops down
'Twas hard as hard could be
And I did sip only to slake
The wisdom told to me.

Day after day, day after day,
Stirbucked with froth and notion,
Wider than my painted lips
Upon that tainted potion.

Water, water every where
And all the broads did wink,
Water, water every where
And running down the sink.

The very drips did rot: O Christ!
That ever this should be!
Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
Out of that fine coffee!

'Get out, get out, you heel get out!'
The breath fierce rants on sight
The water, that the witch did boil
Burnt green and black and white.

And some in dreams assured were
Of the spoons that plagued us so:
The watchman sleeps! They have follow'd us
To the Land of Ice and Snow.

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