If you’re like me coffee is much more than just a drink, it’s a daily ritual. However, just getting my caffeine fix at home can have adverse environmental and social consequences. So I thought I’d explore some great ways in which our daily coffee habits can be more sustainable without compromising its rich flavour.
Coffee’s popularity is truly global, with around two billion cups being enjoyed everyday. This means there is an awful large demand for the hot stuff, and making a sustainable decisions might not be as clear cut as it may first seem.
Firstly, where you get, and what type of coffee you get can make a huge impact. When shopping for manufactures make it easy to make sustainable choices; many packs of the brown stuff have an eco or ethical certification on the side of the pack. Essentially, this gives the consumer the ability to choose what sort of sustainable coffee they want to buy. A great starting point for purchasing eco/ethical labelled coffee is Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance.
As well as buying coffee with an eco/ethical label, there is a choice of how much coffee you might want to buy. My method is to buy in bulk! Why? The bigger the bag the less need there’ll be to drive back to the store to fill the cupboard, and an added bonus of going large is bigger packs reduce the amount of packaging being produced.
Buying your favourite blend is the easy part, now you got to brew it. Most methods of making coffee are inevitably going to need energy to heat the water. If you’ve opted for instant, pour over or french press, these methods will generally use less energy than electric coffee makers and machines.
A problem facing many of us when making hot drinks is over estimating the amount of resources necessary to make our favourite beverage. Therefore, measuring accurately the amount of coffee and water will not only save water, energy, money, but make a better tasting cup of Joe.
Having enjoyed your morning brew, that isn’t the end of the road for your favourite roast. Composting your coffee grounds its ace for the earth in your garden. Coffee grounds make a particularly good compost, as they are pretty much pH neutral and give the soil an amazing structure. But, if you’re like me and living in a tiny little apartment surrounded in concrete, get social and donate your grounds to a neighbour, gardening group or nursery – gardeners will thank you for it, plus its a huge waste to see them end up in a landfill.
The global popularity of coffee and the subsequent demand for the fantastic little bean has had a huge impact on the production, transforming the industry from traditional, small production methods to more intense monoculture models that require massive amounts of fertiliser and pesticides. In some cases these production methods have decreased biodiversity, fragmented habitat, generated industrial levels of waste, depleted soil and created social inequality within coffee producing areas.
The good news? Without much effort, the way we buy, brew and compost our favourite picker upper can help transform not only the way the coffee industry operates, but reduce the impact that coffee has within our homes using less energy, water, packaging and products. The result… a better tasting cup of homemade coffee, that benefits your back pocket and the planet.
Resources for No average cup of Joe