Australian native Russell Hayward’s love for coffee began when he was just 15 years old. As an adult, Hayward worked in advertising and in the music industry, which took him to the United States in 1991; he produced and promoted concerts, curating one of the biggest gatherings of guitarists in history for Guitar Player Magazine. He moved to Dallas in 2001 and, after noticing the nonexistent coffee scene, opened his own shop.
Ascension, Hayward’s shop, is the type of place you might visit for great conversation. There are no televisions and no tech distractions. “People want this community—this coffee shop occasion, as I call it,” Hayward explained, “but they want it to deliver something else.” To fill the gap in what coffee customers want and coffee shops deliver, he introduced a valid breakfast, a valid lunch, and a light dinner to his shop’s menu. After acquiring a liquor license, Ascension reached the status of “coffee shop occasion”—a place for customers to visit all day, every day, from 7am to 10pm.
This shop has a humanitarian purpose. Always interested in philanthropy, Hayward spent 1993 digging water wells in South Sudan. His primary charity work is through Water is Basic, a nonprofit that fights for clean water around the world. Shortly after making his own shop, he founded a project called the Ascension Foundation, which seeks to help farmers at every level, worldwide, achieve their goals.
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California maintains a list of chemicals considered to be possible causes of cancer. Unfortunately, new data shows that acrylamide, a chemical created during the coffee bean roasting process, is on that list. In 2010, the nonprofit Council for Education and Research on Toxics filed a lawsuit in the Los Angeles County Superior Court to address the potential risk. The suit targets several nationwide and international companies that make or sell coffee—this includes Starbucks, 7-Eleven, and BP. The organization alleges that the defendants: “failed to provide clear and reasonable warning” that drinking coffee may expose individuals to acrylamide.
Under the California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (known colloquially as Proposition 65), businesses must provide customers with a “clear and reasonable warning” if potentially harmful agents are included in a specific product. The lawsuit claims these particular stores have failed to provide adequate warning, and the organization is demanding that informative signs be posted for convenient reading within the coffee shops.
This lawsuit, however, is only one step toward a larger goal. The attorney representing the nonprofit, Raphael Metzger, explained that the organization wants to reduce the amount of this particular chemical to the point where it poses no significant cancer risk. At the time of this posting, at least 13 of the defendants have settled and agreed to provide a warning.
Read the full, original article at CNN.