Being aware of the impact your routines have on the surrounding environment is the first step of a green journey. If you love coffee, like most of us, then you should know that there are many ways in which you can develop more sustainable coffee habits.
The coffee industry is one of the key players in the environmental problem. That is true due to the fact that the demand for coffee in the world, as one of the most popular beverages to drink, is only increasing. The lately significant link to healthful properties is helping to raise its popularity even more. The International Coffee Organization states that Brazil and Vietnam are the biggest exporters of coffee in recent years. In contrast, the European Union and the United States are importing most of it.
The Coffee Industry’s Approach
The environmental impact of the industry is immense, from water contamination caused by coffee plantations to single-use cups, from the final consumers. Under these circumstances, a share of the byproducts of the coffee plants is now beginning to come in handy for various industries. The farmers use the coffee pulp as part of the cattle food, without any difference in nutrients. They can also be dried and fermented for growing exotic mushrooms as part of the same farm’s business.
Moreover, the hospitality coffee industry is benefiting from technology breakthroughs. The local businesses can opt for better appliances, that consume less energy for making your coffee or even better, they can switch to renewable sources of energy. Some companies are buying coffee ground waste from cafes in order to produce biofuel and biomass pellets.
From here on, it only depends on us as individuals to reduce our own waste and the level of resource consumption. As a coffee lover myself, I want to be able to enjoy my morning coffee without any guilt for hurting the environment. Since I cannot control how the industry is managing the situation, I choose to promote better sustainable coffee habits for individual consumption.
Buy Organic, Shade Grown, Fair Trade Coffee
- Organic coffee means that the farmers did not use synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, antibiotics, genetic engineering or sewage sludge on the plantation.
- Shade grown means that the coffee plants evolve without cutting down portions of the jungle. Instead, farmers plant their coffee trees through/under the jungle, in order to preserve it as much as possible for birds and other animals.
- Fair trade stands for a focus on human working conditions and respect for the environment, in the processes of producing, trading, and shipping the coffee. In this way, the farmers get an adequate price for their coffee beans, so they can further maintain sustainable practices. The communities of these farmers are benefiting from the fair trade label as well. Part of the earnings is being invested in community services.
Buy Coffee Beans in Bulk
Buying a larger quantity of roasted coffee beans at once will minimize the need for packaging and transportation. As long as you store it in an airtight and dark space, at room temperature, it should stay fresh for a longer period of time. You can divide your coffee supply into several smaller containers, in order to avoid a lot of exposure to air, moisture, heat, and light. These are the factors that will affect the coffee freshness in the first place.
Here are some viable options I put together for you:
Use a Manual Grinder
Use a manual grinder at home just before you prepare your drink, so you can capture most of the coffee’s aroma. A manual grinder is both cheaper and a more sustainable option than an electric one, as it does not use electricity.
Long Lasting Coffee Maker – Moka pot
It has been shown in an article at Tentree that the most eco-friendly coffee brewer method would be a french press, as it does not use electricity. It does use hot water though, and I would argue that a Moka Pot is an even sustainable option. Going by different names, a Perculator, or a Stovetop Expresso Maker, a long-lasting manual Moka Pot should be made of stainless steel and not aluminum. Stainless steel is non-porous, it is easier to clean and it won’t rust or get scratches in time. If you have never used one, here a guide on How To Use A Stovetop Espresso Maker To Make Strong Freaking Coffee from Homegrounds.co.
If you don’t mind your coffee cold, then there is the option of cold brew. This one does not require any electricity in the process. Choose to go with a reusable filter and your coffee routine will get as eco friendly as it can be.
Switch to Reusables
First of all, you might want to avoid serve pods, because despite being convenient, they generate many negative consequences on the environment. We’re talking about large quantities of packaging and higher prices compared to any other home coffee option. Similarly, add single-serve cups to your to avoid list.
Whatever type of coffee brewer you love, choose to rely on reusable pieces and accessories for your coffee routine. Whether it is about your coffee to go or your cold brewing routine, or you just need a fancy straw, there are environmentally friendly options out there for your needs.
Don’t Throw Away Your Coffee Grounds
There are multiple applications for spent coffee grounds. That being said, consider one of the following recommendations, before you threw them in the bin.
- Add the grounds to your compost pile.
- Use them to fertilize your plants, as they are rich in nitrogen that helps plants grow. Mix them with soil or just spread them on top of the soil, near plants.
- You can use the spent coffee grounds as an odor repellent. Just place them in a nice cup in the home area where you have a smells issue.
- Make yourself a natural coffee body scrub. Mix the coffee grounds with some organic coconut or olive oil and then massage it on in the shower. You’ll get smooth skin while doing a naturally flavored shower.
- Grow mushrooms, as Inhabitat says. Basically, all you have to do is to layer some soaked corrugated cardboard and spent coffee grounds in a container, like you would do lasagna, and wait for the mushrooms to grow.
All in all, there are many options available already to make it easier to develop sustainable habits in our routines. Whether it’s about your body care, dental care, or your home cleaning routine, each decision contributes to the health state of the environment. Buying eco-friendly and sustainable products will only make other producers want to join the trend.