Rooibos gets a makeover

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Rooibos gets a makeover

first_imgRooibos being harvested at Groenkol Rooibos Farm in the Clanwilliam district of the Western Cape. (Image: Rodger Bosch, MediaClubSouthAfrica.com. For more free photos, visit the image library) The Red Espresso drink with a distinct crema layer makes it look like a coffee although it’s made with a leaf traditionally used for tea. (Image: Kerry Walsh Photography) Tamara O’ReillyThe look, taste and health properties of a South African-invented beverage that’s neither coffee nor tea is causing quite a stir with lovers of both drinks.Red espresso is made from rooibos, the uniquely South African plant that only grows on 250km of the earth’s soil in the Cederburg Mountains in the Northern Cape Province. The drink is made in the same method as an espresso – where the coffee is brewed by forcing extremely hot water through finely ground coffee. Although red espresso is made from a plant considered a tea, it bears the distinct characteristics of an espresso – such as crema, a crème coloured foam that appears on the top of an espresso.The idea for the drink came in 2005, when Carl Pretorius, a firm coffee drinker, began realising the toll that the caffeinated drink was taking on his body. He began playing around with ideas and after months of sourcing the best rooibos and experimenting with preparation methods, he came up with a complimentary combination of a tea made like a coffee.“Red espresso offers a healthy alternative to coffee without compromising on taste or style and satisfies my need for an authentic espresso experience,” says Pretorius. “I didn’t want to give up on the ritual and sophistication of coffee, but I also didn’t want to drink an ordinary cup of tea. Delicious, full-bodied, caffeine-free and even coated with crema, red espresso is my solution to having the best of both – good health and espresso style.”The drink is caffeine free and contains five times the amount of antioxidants, which are said to help with a host of ailments like headaches, digestive problems and boosting the immune system.In its three-year-existence, the drink has become available in coffee shops, restaurants and stores around the country and has debuted to wide acclaim internationally.  It is available in the US, Canada, Portugal, Denmark, Switzerland and parts of Asia.In the first year of the drink’s launch in South Africa, more than one million cups of espresso were sold. This doubled in the second year and the product is now a staple in many homes and restaurants. Red espresso shines when made in an espresso machine or stovetop espresso machine but it can be made using other appliances like a drip coffee machine or percolator.  Like its coffee counterpart, red espresso can also be used to make lattes and cappuccinos.Coffee connoisseurs and organisations that honour innovations have also taken notice. In 2006 it won the New Product of the Year Award at the 2006 SA Food Review/Symrise New Product Competition. The competition rewards innovative food that is true to South African eating trends as well as its accompanying marketing.According to SA Food Review’s Brenda Neall, this is quite an award. “Reaching the finals of this competition, never mind winning it, takes some doing. Each entry goes under the beady scrutiny of its creator’s peers on the judging panel – including marketers, food scientists, dieticians, packaging experts, and a microbiologist. Apart from uniqueness, market demand for the product and its sustainability is carefully evaluated.”At the World Tea Expo held in Las Vegas in May 2008, it was named one of the Top 10 Tea Products. Red espresso’s greatest achievement though is winning the Best New Product award in the Specialty Beverage Category at the world’s largest coffee show organised by the Specialty Coffee Association of America.“As a South African company, bringing this award home feels like winning the World Cup. The coffee industry is huge and incredibly competitive. For us to get their endorsement is a major feat,” said Pretorius on winning the award.  “I am delighted that my invention has such global appeal. I also feel privileged to have such fantastic support and such talented people around me. It comes through in everything about red espresso.”The farm from which the rooibos is sourced takes great pride in producing and harvesting the best quality leaves. Apparently, four generations of rooibos farmers have operated from this farm, rendering the current farmers experts on the subject.   The plant thrives in the high altitude, rocky soil and a very specific climate which cannot be mimicked.Do you have any comments or queries about this article? Email Tamara O’Reilly at tamarao@mediaclubsouthafrica.com.Related articlesAn infusion of innovationSpreading the love – and profit Slackpacking in the CederburgUseful links Specialty Coffee Association of America Red Espresso SA Food Review  South African Foodieslast_img read more

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Neotel goes prepaid with Blue Label

first_imgJohannesburg-based Blue Label Telecoms is a market leader in the distribution of prepaid products and services to unbanked and under-banked consumers in emerging and developing economies across the globe. Blue Label joint CEO Brett Levy pointed out that more than 80% of the South African population purchased airtime on a prepaid basis. “More so, as our customer base increases we want to ensure that they have easy access to our products and services on a national basis and with this new partnership we are convinced that there will be a strong uptake from the customers using our services,” said Pandey. South African telecoms operator Neotel has appointed Blue Label Telecoms as its e-voucher vendor partner. He explained that with over 130 000 points of presence in South Africa, Blue Label was a leading company in voucher services and had a proven, viable solution that met Neotel’s needs. “Blue Label Telecoms has over ten years experience in this growing space and has built long-term partnerships with our distribution network to ensure that prepaid products and services are conveniently available for our client’s customers,” he said. “We are excited to be working with Neotel to extend their reach into the market.” To date, Neotel has entered into strategic partnerships in place with Altech Autopage Cellular, Postnet South Africa, Samsung and Nashua, while also opening retail stores in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town. 28 July 2010 “Neotel will soon be launching prepaid services to the market and we required a partner that had a wide operational footprint, and with Blue Label Telecoms we have gained that reach into their extensive distribution network, including large chain stores, independent retailers and petroleum forecourts,” Neotel CEO Ajay Pandey said in a statement this week. SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

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US support for 16 Days campaign

first_img24 November 2010The United States Mission to South Africa has organised a number of activities in support of this year’s 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign, including free performances of the one-act play We Are Here by American actor Antonio David Lyons.The play, comprising 16 sketches expressing the diversity of male voices within the issue of woman and child abuse, is supported by the US Consulate in Johannesburg, and runs at the Joburg Theatre in Braamfontein from 25 to 30 November.All performances are free, although donations will be accepted. The doors open at 7.30pm, with the show beginning at 8pm from Thursday to Saturday. Monday, Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday performances are at 3pm.From 28 November to 7 December, US Minister in the United Church of Christ and founder of the FaithTrust Institute, Rev Marie Fortune, will be taking part in discussions on the role of faith and community leaders in ending gender violence. The events will be held in Johannesburg and Cape Town.The US Embassy Pretoria’s Political Working Group will host a meeting focused on gender-based violence on 2 December. The embassy is inviting panelists from civil society and government to address questions concerning the causes of gender violence in South Africa and strategies for eliminating it.USAid also funds a number of projects aiming to root out gender-based violence, including Brothers for Life, which aims to reduce violence by encouraging changes in gender norms and personal behaviour.Another project is the Greater Rape Intervention Project, which operates 26 facilities in Mpumalanga province and offers services to survivors of rape and abuse, many of them children from communities with minimal infrastructure and police protection.The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention South Africa and the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief are also collaborating with the South African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union and the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union to raise awareness of the connection between gender violence and HIV transmission through a workplace campaign.This year marks the 11th anniversary of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign for No Violence against Women and Children in South Africa.Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

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MTN launches cloud services for SMEs

first_img11 April 2013 Mobile telecommunications operator MTN went live in Ghana and Nigeria on Wednesday with a range of cloud computing services for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), with launches in Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa and Uganda to follow later this year. Cloud computing involves the delivery of computing resources over the internet. Users access cloud-based applications through their web browsers or mobile apps, while software and data are stored on remote servers. MTN launched cloud pilot projects in Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa in December, becoming the first mobile network operator in Africa to adopt the cloud service brokerage model, in which access to services is centralised, with MTN in this case acting as the single point of contact for customers. “The focus is on convenience, as centralising access to services eases the administrative burden for businesses, where instead of dealing with multiple service providers, they now deal with one,” MTN said in a statement on Tuesday. “What the pilot project confirmed is that our offerings are on the mark,” said Farhad Khan, executive for MTN’s group enterprise business unit. “There is great appetite for ICT solutions that are relevant, customised and affordable. SMEs are looking to technology service providers such as MTN to bring them world-class tools that improve their business efficiencies. MTN Cloud offers exactly that.” MTN Cloud offers an impressive list of services. As part of the trial, participating companies were offered access to Office Desktop, a cost-effective e-mail and collaborative software; Mozypro, a back-up service for the effective management of files and servers; and Dialcom, an on-demand video conferencing offering. Also on offer were McAfee, a popular anti-virus and anti-spam security software; Averiware, used for companies’ HR, accounting, finance and sales force automation needs; and Microsoft SharePoint, a staff and cross functional collaborative tool. This is in addition to Microsoft Dynamics CRM, a customer relations management tool. According to MTN, the most popular solutions during the trial were Averiware, MozyPro Online Backup, and McAfee SaaS. Companies that participated in the pilot ranged from SMEs in the IT, manufacturing and hospitality sectors in Ghana to those in media and advertising in Nigeria. “MTN is optimistic about the uptake of MTN Cloud,” Khan said. “Our focus as MTN is to contribute to the development of enterprises and the sustainable growth of economies, and SMEs are key economic growth drivers in most of our markets.” MTN said that business customers would receive a 30-day trial of MTN Cloud. Customers who subscribed to MTN Cloud through MTN Business would also be able to pay for services using airtime. “Plans are also under way to enable businesses to use MTN Mobile Money to pay for MTN Cloud services, with payment being effected in the local currency of the participating market,” the company said. SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

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Fiberglass Insulation Manufacturer Tackles Installation Quality

first_imgOwens Corning’s push for Grade 1 installationOwens Corning, of course, is the company I’m talking about. The photo at right, from their 12-page guide, Achieving Grade 1 with Fiberglass Batts (pdf), shows their trademarked pink insulation. The guide begins with some general information about what it means to get to RESNET’s Grade 1 in insulation installation quality. It also includes a nice checklist that builders and insulation installers can use to help ensure they get Grade 1 when installing fiberglass batts.The guide closes with four pages of photos on the right and wrong ways to install insulation. They hit on some of the critical areas that cause most of the problems preventing installers from getting Grade 1 assigned to their work by the home energy raters who inspect the work. One of these pairs of photos is displayed at the bottom of this page as Image #2. RELATED ARTICLES A helpful video for installersIn addition to the 12-page guide, Owens Corning also produced a really nice video. In 11 minutes, they cover pretty much everything installers need to know to get to grade 1 installation quality. It’s on YouTube, but you can watch it right here, too. Allison Bailes of Decatur, Georgia, is a speaker, writer, energy consultant, RESNET-certified trainer, and the author of the Energy Vanguard Blog. Check out his in-depth course, Mastering Building Science at Heatspring Learning Institute, and follow him on Twitter at @EnergyVanguard. If the style of that image looks familiar, you may recognize that it’s from the Energy Star Version 3 training materials. Owens Corning has referenced the Energy Star Thermal Enclosure Rater Checklist (TERC) in this document so installers know why they’re getting docked, at least for Energy Star homes. (Advanced Energy, which put together the ESV3 materials, also prepared this document for Owens Corning.)The insulation installation grading protocol is from Appendix A in RESNET’s Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Standards. I wrote about how to grade installation quality of insulation a while back, so you can check that article for more details about what’s behind the grades: 1, 2, or 3. (The short version is that Grade 1 is the best, and the parameters that govern the grade are the percentage of area with missing insulation and how much compression or incompletely filled areas there are.) A good start, but…I think this represents good progress for the fiberglass insulation industry. Fiberglass insulation, especially in batt form, has a pretty bad reputation among home energy pros. I’m going to say something now that I’m sure will lead to some interesting discussion below: The problem isn’t the material. The problem lies in the design and installation. Fiberglass batt insulation can work just fine in assemblies designed to make good installation possible and when installers take the time to do it right. Yes, it will cost more, but as usual, you get what you pay for.Owens Corning has made a good start. They need to push harder, though. A lot harder. They put out these materials last summer, but if you don’t know where they are, you’ll have great difficulty finding them. I looked all over the fiberglass insulation part of their website and couldn’t find them. I had to go back to an email I received last summer to dig up the links. Come on, OC. Put these things front and center so anyone going to your site will see them.Still, kudos to Owens Corning for this start. It’s much better than trying to pretend the problem doesn’t exist or squashing negative publicity about fiberglass batts. (Oh, come on. No manufacturer would do that. Would they?)Fiberglass insulation isn’t going away. Let’s make sure it’s done right. One of the major fiberglass insulation manufacturers (the color in the lead photo gives away which one I’m talking about) is getting serious about the installation quality of fiberglass batt insulation. They’ve put out a video (embedded below) and a document showing how to achieve RESNET Grade 1 installation quality with fiberglass batts. Have you seen these things yet? Installing Fiberglass RightShould Batt Insulation Be Outlawed?GBA Encyclopedia: Batt and Blanket InsulationGrading the Installation Quality of Insulationlast_img read more

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The Pros and Cons of a Shallow Depth of Field

first_imgThe overuse of shallow depth of field has been an issue since the DSLR revolution hit, and it can look especially bad on daytime exteriors.There’s certainly a place for shallow depth of field, and, as a filmmaker, much of my work involves shooting wide open. That said, like any other cinematography technique, it does have its limitations and it will work best only in certain types of shooting situations.Many independent filmmakers rush to shoot with their lenses wide open because they feel it’ll make their films look more ‘Hollywood,’ but in reality they aren’t taking into account many other factors. For example, just because many blockbuster films use selective focus, doesn’t mean that those filmmakers are shooting wide open. Larger scale films typically have larger sets, studios, and big environments to work in, which means their actors are often further away from the background. This gives them the luxury of shooting stopped down a bit (so their actors are still in perfect focus), and still blurring out the background. For instance:While you may not be shooting your next short or feature on a soundstage in Burbank, chances are you’re shooting at least some of your film outside – which effectively gives you a lot of choice when it comes to how your scenes are shot. I’ve seen far too many indie films that were shot wide open in broad daylight in a huge exterior space, effectively diminishing the quality of the final product. These are the three main reasons you don’t want to go down that path:Your lenses perform better stopped down.Unless you are shooting on the highest end cinema lenses available, chances are that your lens isn’t going perform optimally when it’s opened up all the way. Most lenses are softest wide open, and don’t typically hit their sweet spot until at least F2.8 or F4. It’s quite common for filmmakers to assume they will get great results when shooting at a very fast aperture (such as F1.4) but then look at their footage later only to be disappointed with the results. There is no reason why you can’t achieve beautiful shallow DOF shots outside even at F5.6 under the right conditions, so always take that into account before setting your exposure.Your actors have more leeway if they don’t land on a mark.When you’re shooting wide open at F1.4 or even F2 on a Super 35mm or full frame camera, your actors have very little wiggle room to work with. If they miss their mark by a couple of inches they may be out of focus, and that can lead to unnecessary re-takes and frustration for the crew. Not to mention, your talent will likely benefit from the freedom of having more room to improvise physically on set when they aren’t limited to an ultra-narrow DOF that they need to work within. Stop down a touch on your lenses and your actors and crew will thank you.Your focus puller will actually have a shot at nailing the take.We’ve already gone over why it’s important for your actors to have a reasonable amount of leeway with regards to DOF, but the same logic applies to your focus puller. If you’re shooting a scene with any time of focus pull (whether it’s on sticks, handheld, or otherwise), your 1st AC is going to have a much harder time maintaining focus if your lens is opened up too much. No matter how accurate their focus marks may be, there will always be some inconsistencies with the actor’s movements, camera placement and other variables that make it very difficult for your 1st AC to do their job effectively.The fact of the matter is that 90% of the time, if you’re shooting in a wide open space in broad daylight, you’ll be best served by stopping your lenses down. Not only will this vastly improve your image quality, but your actors and 1st AC will have a much easier time doing their jobs.If you do end up going for the shallow depth of field look, here are a few tips on how to achieve the technique from Fenchel & Janisch:Here’s one more from lynda.com:What are your thoughts on the shallow depth of field trend? Overused? Underappreciated? Let us know in the comments below!last_img read more

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