I must confess, if coffee qualified as a food group, it would be my favorite one! If I miss my morning cup o’ jo , my day just feels off-kilter. Consuming coffee at shops on-the-go or using conventional brew stations, however, can be very counter-productive to my sustainable living goals. Sometimes I’m forced to skip the guilt factor and go with the coffee flow, but more often, I can can make eco-friendly choices that help keep my coffee drinking habits green.
For the at-home brew master, growing and processing your own organic coffee beans may be the most organic way to go, but depending upon your climate, soil and time constraints, it may not be the most productive method. There are plenty of other ways to eco-up your java fix, though. Before you fill your next cup, try one of these earth-friendly options:
Seek out fair trade and organic.
Fair trade is the coined term for the effort to support small farmers by guaranteeing a minimum price for their crops and promoting long-term sustainable solutions. Not all fair trade farmers use organic methods, so you may also want to identify those dedicated to using organic farming practices.
Ditch your filters.
Did you know you can brew coffee the same way you brew tea? In fact, in many countries, steeping coffee is the preferred method for enjoying a great cup o’ jo. Using a French coffee press delivers an incredible brew with minimal effort.
If you are looking for a single cup option, try a pour-over coffee brewer with a built-in filter.
Use reusable filters.
Can’t bear to ditch your filters or still wish to use your traditional coffee maker? Replace your paper filters with reusable ones.
Most of the electronic cup brewers also offer reusable mesh filters in place of standard plastic pod cups. There is a little clean-up involved, but this option will easily allow you recycle your coffee grounds.
Compost your coffee grounds.
There’s absolutely no reason to toss your coffee grounds in the trash. Coffee grounds make excellent compost material.
If your coffee habits are heavy and your compost bin is full, consider working with a local park or environmental agency to find a good spot to spread your grounds. Coffee grounds can be spread directly on soil and will quickly be absorbed.
The further a food product has to travel, the more resources it consumes. If you want to purchase a truly eco-friendly brew, seek out local coffee growers or whenever possible, stock up on local coffee during your travels.
Use a travel mug.
If you regularly crave a cup of java on-the-go, be sure to carry a travel mug or purchase a refillable mug from your favorite coffee hangout. This way you will avoid having to use and dispose of cardboard cups, plus you’ll likely get a discount from the vendor for having a reusable mug.
Another more eco-friendly alternative for travel is to bring along your own instant coffee packets. The packaging is minimal and you can find brewers that offer organic or ethically sourced instant coffee products.