This week at the Melbourne International Coffee Expo, thousands of people will gather to watch the World Barista and Brewers Championships and wander through endless aisles of the latest coffee equipment. There will be meetings with coffee exporters from around the world and new product demos, all accompanied by a limitless number of drinks served from a myriad of complimentary coffee bars.
Usually all this free expo coffee leads to lots of wasted paper cups, but the homegrown Australian company KeepCup is going to try and limit that waste. Coinciding with the launch of a new global campaign called “Salute the Reuser,” KeepCup will manage three wash stations at this weekend’s coffee expo where they’ll wash reusable cups (of any kind). Beyond just keeping your mug clean, they will be donating 10 cents for each cup washed to Coffee Kids, a non-profit that supports families in coffee growing regions.
As the official Sustainability Sponsor of this year’s expo, KeepCup is tackling an issue that often gets discussed, but rarely addressed at these types of events, “how to reduce disposable waste.” I’ve used my KeepCup on planes, trains, boats and mountains—wherever I don’t have easy access to ceramic or glass, my KeepCup is there. I’ve been an advocate of the KeepCup for some time (and even sell DCILY versions), not just for the practicality of the product, but for the authenticity of the brand and the contributions the company has made to the coffee community. This is a a great initiative and we should not only salute the reuser, but also KeepCup for their continued efforts.
KeepCup has also worked with some of the world’s best letter artists, Jessica Hische and Timba Smits, to create several versions of their mantra for the campaign—they’d look great on a reusable tote. Salute the reuser and damn thy disposable.
Despite what the recent Samsung commercial would have you think, baristas and so many others in the coffee industry tend to be a highly creative group of individuals. I’m not sure where the correlation stems from exactly, but DCILY was founded on the principle that coffee inspires creativity and each day I’m more convinced of that.
Eileen P. Kenny is one of the latest artist/barista (or is it barista/artist?) who I’ve discovered creating great coffee inspired art. She is a twenty-two year old photographer who’s been making coffee since she was sixteen. Part-way through getting a Masters in Advertising, she decided to leave school to pursue what she already knew she was passionate about and began working with Seven Seeds Coffee (and soon Market Lane).
The project, aptly titled “Birds of Unusual Vitality,” is a collection of portraits & essays about passionate and unique individuals in specialty coffee, beginning with Melbourne’s Angus Gibbs, Jason Scheltus, Talor Browne and Mark Free.
Specialty coffee is an industry filled with fascinating people from every corner of the world and every background you can imagine.
The aim of Birds of Unusual Vitality is to shine a light on these baristas, roasters, farmers, pickers, workers, and everyone involved the process of coffee production, from start to finish. I want the passion for great coffee and the pursuit of quality and sustainability to spread beyond those who work in coffee—I think that getting insight into the people who have that passion is a great place to start.
The project has no expected end date and Kenny’s growing list of desired subjects expands well beyond Melbourne to include such coffee notables as Susie Spindler, Ben Kaminsky and Brent Fortune. Kenny shared her project ambitions with DCILY:
In the long term, I’d also like to go to origin and interview farmers, tracing the coffee’s journey in reverse; essentially, starting at where I am now (making coffee and tasting it), all the way back to those who are harvesting and processing and basing their livelihoods on the quality of their next crop.
This is such a great project that can capture the true diversity of backgrounds within the industry. If there ever were a specialty coffee related project fit for Kickstarter (or IndieGoGo)—turning these photos and stories into a lovely book is one I think would garner a fair bit of support from around the world.
You can view select portraits and read their stories at Birds of Unusual Vitality. Below is an exclusive look at a few of the photos left on the dark room floor. Enjoy.