How to get your coffee fix at a lower cost to the environment

  • Living
  • Monday, 03 Oct 2022

While coffee's popularity isn't diminishing, we are becomng more aware of its environmental cost. – Photo: gerenme/Getty Images, via ETX DailyUp

Ristretto, cold brew, shaken, filtered or Turkish style... Coffee is consumed in various forms throughout the world, according to cultural customs. Although its popularity shows no signs of diminishing, an increasing number of people are becoming aware of the drink's not inconsiderable ecological cost.

But caffeine addicts can at least reduce their environmental impact to some extent by embracing one or more of these solutions .

Look for bulk and ethical labels

Deforestation, pesticides, exploitation of workers: the extensive coffee production chain comes with many issues in a variety of respects.

And if you don't live in South America, Africa or Asia, it probably also has to travel a long way to get to you. For instance, the carbon footprint of coffee consumed in Europe represents 4.98 kg of CO2 per kg of coffee before roasting; 1.93 kg of CO2 for production and transport, and 3.05 kilos of CO2 within Europe, according to a study published in 2013 that evaluated the carbon footprint of the coffee production chain, based on the example of Costa Rica.

To reduce the environmental and social impact of your coffee drinking habit, you can turn to organic products certified by fair trade labels such as the Guarantee World Fair Trade Organization, Fairtrade Max Havelaar or Ecocert Fair Trade.

As for the type of coffee consumed, the best option is still coffee beans, which you can buy in bulk in some stores.

Avoid extra waste with plant-based or textile filters.

Apart from the greenhouse gas emissions generated by the production of coffee, the other important aspect of the ecological impact to be managed is the waste. The best solution is to opt for an Italian-style or piston coffee maker, which does not generate any waste apart from the used coffee grounds – which can be kept for various uses (fertilizer, compost and even as a face mask in your beauty routine!)

If you have a coffee maker that uses a filter, you can reduce your waste by choosing reusable filters, usually made of linen, which is durable and easy to wash.

To use them, simply place them in the machine like any other filter, run them under water and then air dry.

Capsules without the capsule!

A very popular format, 20 billion individual coffee capsules are used and thrown away worldwide every year.

If you're a fan of capsule machines or if they are the only option you have at the office, you should know that you can find more environmentally friendly pods.

At the beginning of September, Swiss brand Café Royal launched the "CoffeeB." pod with the Migros retail group. This entirely packaging-free pod comes in the form of compressed coffee balls covered with a thin layer of algae.

A zero-waste and fully compostable alternative, which is rolling out in Europe

For a few years now, the market for zero waste pods has also been growing.

Several companies retail eco-friendly reusable metal pods that function in a similar fashion to those of the famous Nespresso brand... The difference is that the consumer must fill their coffee pods themselves through a variety of methods, depending on the brand. – AFP Relaxnews

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climate change , coffee


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