Coffee is a bright spot in most people’s days. However, there’s no denying that coffee can have a negative impact on the environment, starting with how the coffee cherries are grown all the way to how it's brewed and then consumed.
But what if we could drink our coffee and have less of an impact on the environment? Believe it or not, there are several steps you can incorporate in your coffee routine to substantially reduce your impact to the environment with minimal inconvenience. Here are 3 ways you can enjoy coffee more sustainably:
Reusable K-cup coffee pods
K-cups/pods are great with a lot of good things going for them. Because they are single servings, you don't waste any coffee. In addition, they are downright convenient and easy to use. With that being said, we hate to be the bearer of bad news…K-cups/pods are extremely bad for the environment; out of the 39,000 pods produced every minute, 29,000 of them end up in the landfill.
Doing some back of the envelope calculations, every 6 months or so, there are approximately 7.2 billion pods dumped in a landfill. Since this has been going on for a while, it means that currently there is a pod for every man, woman and child on earth!
In recent years, companies have made an effort to increase the amount of recyclable/compostable material in pods, but there is still a waste factor. Many cities don't have composting programs integrated into their waste removal system, and so these pods go straight to the landfill.
At Bean & Bean, we recognize the unsustainability of the pod, yet understand the reason behind its popularity. So we’ve given coffee lovers the option of our reusable pods. These reusable pods are a great alternative to premade store bought ones.
All you need to do is fill a pod with the amount of coffee you need, brew your coffee normally, dump the grounds out, and pop the reusable pods in the dishwasher to use again!
Compostable Coffee filters
Coffee filters are another part of the coffee routine that most people don't think about. While they are not as bad as single use K-cups, coffee filters are problematic from an environmental waste perspective. Most coffee filters are made from paper, which is often discarded in landfills. In addition, many paper filters are bleached with chlorine or oxygen which uses chemical processes that create waste.
A good way to reduce the environmental impact of coffee filters is with reusable or unbleached filters. Bean & Bean has you covered here with our IYC Coffee filters. They’re made of FSC certified unbleached chlorine free paper. If you want to help reduce the waste volume of coffee filters, these are a great choice as they are compostable.
We’re sure you’d be surprised to hear that even your brew method has a sizable impact on the environment! While we have already covered how single use coffee pods are bad for the environment, that doesn’t show the whole picture.
Most brewing methods end up using quite a bit of electricity. Consider the energy required to boil water, heat and grind the coffee. Most places run on fossil fuel power plants. Your daily coffee ends up adding a significant amount of carbon to the atmosphere every morning simply by using electricity.
The best kind of brewing methods are the ones that require the least amount of energy to brew while producing minimal waste. For example, an espresso machine would use significantly more energy than a French press or an Aeropress. Our suggestion is to choose your brew method wisely.
Coffee lovers have surveyed the impact of different brewing methods. Please note that to boil a cup of water in an electric kettle it only takes 1200 Watts of electricity. As it runs for a maximum of 4-5 minutes, that’s not as much energy as a coffee machine might use (these machines involve heating, grinding beans, extracting, frothing, etc.). Here are some of the most efficient methods from an energy usage perspective:
- French Press - The french press is one of the most energy efficient, fan favorite brewing methods out there. It gets high marks for almost no waste and great longevity. French presses require no electricity to operate. They lose some marks as there's not much one can do with them at the end of their usable life.
- Stovetop Coffee Makers - A close second to the french press with high marks for lack of waste and longevity, these require more energy than a french press and are just as inconvenient to recycle at the end of their usable lifespan.
- Steeped Coffee Bags - Steeped coffee bags are simply bags of coffee that you dip in boiling water, similar to tea. They are a surprise addition to this list, but hear us out. They require the same amount of energy as a french press and a stove top maker. If your coffee bags are made of a compostable material, they leave behind very little waste, plus at the end of their life you simply add them to your home compost. The only downside is the lack of longevity.
Well, folks, those were some suggestions to help you make coffee in an energy-efficient way. Every little bit matters, even if it is a small step towards a brighter tomorrow!