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How do you get the best tasting coffee?

Because so many people need a steaming cup of Joe to help them stay energized, it’s no surprise that more than 50% of all Americans drinkcoffee coffee and that office workers drink about four cups a day. In fact, 89% of office workers believe that having coffee improved their entire day, according to one study.

Even though so many people like coffee, there is a definite art to it that some people miss. While it’s easy to clean out a carafe, place a filter in the brewing basket, add grounds, etc., there two variables that you may have not thought about.


Using the Right Water

When filling up the reservoir, you may have never even considered the type of water you’re using or its temperature. Using the right water can make a world of difference in how well your coffee tastes. Because bottled water products often have contaminants from both factory production and transportation, it is often best to use fresh water from the tap. If you do not have a filter on your tap or hooked up to your main line, then even fresh water could contain total dissolved solids (TDS), or salts, minerals, etc. that can give your coffee a strange taste or smell.

Sometimes, tea and coffee drinkers find that their hot beverages have a flat or stale taste. This issue may be due to oxygen loss, since boiling water can make oxygen less soluble and causes bubbles to rise to the surface. A product that uses activated oxygen injections can help with this issue, since it not only kills germs, but creates a fresh taste. Since water starts to boil at about 212 Fahrenheit, Lifehacker.com recommends that people brew their coffee between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature will help to stabilize oxygen levels and help coffee extraction. If the water is too hot, you are going to have a bitter cup of coffee, and if you don’t heat it enough, then your coffee will not be as strong.

Lastly, water hardness, or the amount of minerals, can play a role in how good your coffee tastes. For instance, soft water is great for brewing espresso since too many minerals can cause scaling and break an espresso machine. However, you don’t want overly soft water, since water with minerals like magnesium and calcium can enrich the flavor of your coffee.

Grinding the Beans the Right Way

Everyone has their own personal preferences for their coffee grounds, ranging from coarse, medium, or fine. Keep in mind that if you grind too coarsely, your coffee will be weak, and if the particles are too fine, then it may have a bitter taste. There are  some other recommendations depending on which kind of brewing method you’re using. For instance, grounds that are going into a French press should be coarse and uniform in their distribution; otherwise, they can cause clogs. Be sure to remove any excess grounds by skimming the top of the carafe with a spoon before plunging the press.

One way to make sure you are getting the right grind size is to use a burr grinder over a blade grinder. With a burr grinder, you have a little more control on grind size. Blade grinders don’t create uniform grounds, so it is easier for them to block water flow in the filter.

Grind size isn’t the only factor when it comes to your beans. When you grind the coffee will affect its overall flavor. According to Cnet.com, coffee will actually start to lose its flavor within half an hour after being ground. So instead of buying preground beans, you should grind your beans before brewing.

If you start considering both your water purity and your grinding methods, your coffee will taste that much better. And if you are like the average office worker and drinking around four cups a day, improving these two variables can certainly add up in the long run.

References

http://www.ncausa.org/About-Coffee/How-to-Brew-Coffee

https://www.hamiltonbeach.com/media/Infographics/PDF/facts-on-coffee-consumption-020415.pdf

http://investor.keuriggreenmountain.com/releasedetail.cfm?releaseid=892058

https://www.cnet.com/how-to/these-tips-will-change-the-way-you-brew-coffee-at-home/

http://lifehacker.com/how-much-temperature-actually-matters-when-brewing-coff-510257540

https://www.kickinghorsecoffee.com/en/blog/water-quality

Minnesota Schools May Require Lead Testing

Minnesota schools may soon require schools to test for lead every three years.  Lead can be very harmful. It is especially harmful to children.

For more information:

http://kstp.com/news/woodbury-lawmaker-kelly-fenton-bill-requires-minnesota-public-schools-test-water-for-lead/4414851/

The Decline of “Big Soda”

A line of discarded soda machines in a field in Barrow, Alaska. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Five years ago, Mayor Michael A. Nutter proposed a tax on soda in Philadelphia, and the industry rose up to beat it back.

Soda lobbyists made campaign contributions to local politicians and staged rallies, with help from allies like the Teamsters union and local bottling companies. To burnish its image, the industry donated $10 million to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

It worked: The soda tax proposal never got out of a City Council committee.

It’s a familiar story. Soda taxes have also flopped in New York State and San Francisco. So far, only super liberal Berkeley, Calif., has succeeded in adopting such a measure over industry objections.

The obvious lesson from Philadelphia is that the soda industry is winning the policy battles over the future of its product. But the bigger picture is that soda companies are losing the war.

For more of the article

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/04/upshot/soda-industry-struggles-as-consumer-tastes-change.html

Dangerous Lead in Minnesota Schools

Kids at Risk: Minnesota Schools Failing to Follow Guidelines on Testing for Lead in Water

September 08, 2016 11:17 AM

School officials across Minnesota are knowingly putting thousands of children at serious risk by not following guidelines on testing for lead in water and not fixing water systems that they know are defective, a 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS investigation has found.

Our news staff poured over the water testing records of more than 600 Minnesota schools and found at least one out of every four of those schools are not following the state’s recommendations that a school be tested at least once every five years. We found some schools that have not been tested for lead since the late 1990s.

When looking at the reports in the map embedded below, keep in mind the Minnesota Department of Health’s guideline for schools: If lead is at or below 20 parts per billion (ppb), the tap may be used for drinking water or food preparation. If lead exceeds 20 ppb, twice daily flushing should be done.

School districts are not on the hook for exposing children to increased health risks by having high amounts of lead in water, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS found: The Minnesota Department of Health only recommends that schools test each tap or fixture providing water at least every five years.

And, it appears the department is lax when it comes to its oversight of monitoring schools that have gone long periods of not testing water. For example, records show Minneapolis Public Schools has not tested at least 31 of its schools since 1998. A district alternative school for pregnant and parenting students – Longfellow School – was last tested for lead amounts in 1998, according to district records.

“It’s a little surprising to me to hear that there are systems that have not been tested for very long periods of time,” Assistant Commissioner of Health Paul Allwood said. “I should point out that our guidelines are voluntary,” Allwood added. “That’s what we’re discussing – should there be additional authority.”

Document: MDH Guidance on Reducing Lead in Drinking Water

Minnesota communities that receive municipal water already test for lead in the system but health officials suggest schools test due to possible lead solder, brass fixtures, water usage and age of materials that could be in the water system students could drink from.

Dr. Marc Edwards, the nation’s leading authority on lead amounts in water, said in an interview that lead amounts of more than 20 parts per billion (ppb) is a critical health concern. Edwards is a professor at the Virginia Tech University and led the outcry over the recent contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

KSTP reporter Eric Chaloux went to Edwards’ lab on campus on in Blacksburg, Virginia, to learn more.

“Parents really need to hold schools’ feet to the fire to make sure this problem is fixed,” Edwards said. It costs as little as $30 to fix the problem when it comes to water fountains and high amounts of lead coming out of them, he said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently stated school water fountains should not exceed water lead concentrations of more than 1 ppb.

In our records review, news reporters and producers found that school children from Burnsville, Savage and Eagan – District 191 – were exposed to lead levels up to 942 ppb from one drinking fountain tested in 2013. That amount ranks as one of highest contaminant levels detected in the records reviewed. That fountain is at Joseph Nicollet Junior High School in Burnsville.

“One drink from that fountain, that’s a health concern,” Edwards said when he reviewed those specific results.

More more infomation:
http://kstp.com/news/minnesota-schools-water-lead-investigation-testing-guidelines-minnesota-department-of-health/4257404/?cat=1

Plastic plague

The plastic plague: Can our oceans be saved from environmental ruin?

By Kieron Monks, for CNN

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has become the stuff of legend. This hotspot of marine waste, created by the spiral currents of the North Pacific Gyre, has been described as a floating trash island the size of Russia.

But when filmmaker Jo Ruxton visited the location, she found clear blue water, and a deep-rooted problem.

Location and currents of the North Pacific Gyre.

“If you were diving, it looked like you had just jumped out of a plane,” says Ruxton. “But our nets were coming up completely choked with plastic pieces.”
The pieces were small enough to mingle with plankton, the tiny organisms at the base of the food web that support many fish and whale species. Researchers have found 750,000 microplastic pieces per square kilometer in the Garbage Patch, and the marine life is riddled with them.
“This was much more insidious than a huge mountain of trash which could be physically removed,” says Ruxton. “You can’t remove all the tiny pieces.”

Rising tide

Ruxton visited the site while producing the film “A Plastic Ocean,” in association with NGO Plastic Oceans, which documents the impact of half a century of rampant plastic pollution.
Around eight million tons of plastic enter the marine environment each year, and the figure is set to rise. The Ellen Macarthur Foundation estimates that 311 million tons of plastic were produced in 2014, which will double within 20 years, and projects that there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050.

Plastic is a remarkably durable material, with a potential lifespan of centuries. It does not biodegrade, but photodegrades under sunlight, breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces, which attract toxins and heavy metals as they travel on the tides. Plastic is pulled together in the powerful, circling currents of gyres, but it is also found in Arctic ice, washing up on remote islands, and infesting tourist destinations.
continue at
http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/30/world/plastic-plague-oceans/index.html

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