Following the devastation and poor management of relief to the hurricane Katrina victims in New Orleans, Mississippian Michael McDaniel was determined to develop a solution that would prevent inefficiency and waste in future disasters and avoid making things worse for the victims. The goal of his company Reaction over the past 8 years has been to improve the quality and cost of post-disaster shelters for victims. With the inspiration of a styrofoam coffee cup, McDaniel came up with the idea for the lightweight, stackable, and cost effective Exo Housing System.
According to the company’s website, the shelters are light enough to be moved by hand and strong enough to stop bullets. While the average cost of a FEMA trailer, the current post-disaster shelters, is around $20,000 each and designed for a single use, the Exo will be sold for about $5000 and can be reused. Apart from the cost and construction, they can also be stacked, just like coffee cups, fitting 28 housing units on one semi trailer that can only transport one FEMA shelter.
The shelters are also more than just a roof over the inhabitants heads, they are wired with modern technology to allow victims charge phones and stay connected with updates through an integrated app called Populous. The company just finished raising $50,000 to send shelters to Syria and they are beginning the process of manufacturing on a large scale to make these available to all the areas in the world that desperately need them.
Fast Company just published this nice video interview with McDaniel about the Exo shelter’s creation and its potential for doing good in unfortunate circumstances. Disposable coffee cups are often one of the downsides to coffee’s popularity, but in this instance, a disposable coffee cup’s inspiring impact has the potential to do a lot of good for a lot of people around the world.
Read more: Reaction Housing
I want to start the new year by celebrating a coffee company that everyone should be watching in 2011—especially if you missed what they’ve been up to in 2010. Coava Coffee (pronounced “ko-vuh”), is a small company in Portland Oregon that’s already made big news in the coffee world and aren’t slowing down anytime soon.
Matt Higgins began Coava in 2009 and just a year ago, in January 2010, he was joined by best friend Keith Gehrke. In the last year, the duo have opened one of the most beautiful coffee bars I’ve ever seen, had over 25 coffees rated 90+ on Coffee Review, developed a stainless steel Chemex filter called the Kone, followed by its cousin—the Disk— for the AeroPress.
On January 1, Coava leaked photos of the latest gem to emerge from their lab—the Kone Funnel—a full immersion glass brewer that looks like part clever coffee dripper, part homemade beer-bong, and part chemistry lab. This latest creation uses a Kone filter inside of a glass funnel that’s equipped with a stopper. The stopper will allow a controlled release of coffee ranging from 10 seconds to 3 minutes depending on the brew variables. The official launch date is January 18th at the La Marzocco Out of the Box event, so expect a follow-up with more details in the future.
I visited Coava in November and got to experience the passion these guys have for coffee first hand. Though Keith was busy, I met Matt, who treated me to a nice shot of their Costa Rican Helsar and soon began talking more like an engineer than a barista, as he explained a bit about the process behind the Kone.
It was immediately discernible that Matt loved what he’s doing—so much that he’s even begun growing coffee in his basement to learn more about the process and hone his green coffee buying skills. Now that’s dedication.
The simplicity of Coava’s space is complimented by the finesse of the craft that went into building it out. The counter is generous and low, allowing a nice view of their single origin offerings as they’re brewed with a Chemex and Kone. A restored Probat sits just past the end of the counter, offering a public view of the roasting process and seating spreads throughout a large showroom shared with a Bamboo fabrication studio. Old drill presses and prototype furniture double as tables and industrial decoration, making the space feel raw but functional. If I could call any local cafe my own, this would be it.
Check out Coava and keep an eye on them as they continue contributing great things to the coffee industry this year.
UPDATE: As a part of the continuing Year of the Coava coverage I wanted to announce that representatives from Coava Coffee, Sam Purvis and Devin Chapman, have just swept the Northwest Regional Barista Competition and Brewers Cup, respectively. They will both move on to the United States Barista Championship this April in Houston. Congrats on the win! Read an interview with Sam Purvis on Willamette Week.
[photos by Jelani Memory via Coava]