I once asked a man which he would rather give up, coffee or alcohol. It was cocktail hour and he generally had two very large, very stiff drinks each night without fail. But, when confronted with that seemingly impossible decision, he was quick to say, “I can never give up coffee.” A few weeks later, he gave up alcohol for good. Yep, coffee is that powerful.
We love our coffee, but our coffee addiction does not always love the planet. Coffee is generally a pesticide-ridden crop with a disproportionately large carbon footprint. It’s a major source of waste in our society. But it doesn’t have to be. The secret to a cleaner cup of coffee is a greener cup of coffee. Here are 6 ways to green up your favorite beverage of the day
Use reusable pods
If you’re a fan of Nespresso or Keurig, you are probably aware that your convenience comes at a high price for the environment. Think of how many of those plastic pods get tossed into the landfills each year. It is one of the most wasteful ways of brewing coffee. Plus, the pods themselves are expensive. Do yourself and the environment a favor, buy a reusable pod and fill it with coffee yourself each morning. It’s cheaper and way less wasteful. Disposable pods are a hugely unnecessary and harmful modern convenience.
(On that note, you can also replace paper filters with affordable and reusable metal ones it you brew drip-style. Reduce waste in any way you can!)
Opt for the Rainforest Alliance certification
The coffee industry is responsible for a significant amount of rainforest destruction each year. Farmers find wild crops in the rainforest and take down surrounding trees to allow the cherries more sunlight, which hopefully produces a greater yield. It seems logical from a farmer’s standpoint, but it’s incredibly destructive to our already weakened forest systems. The Rainforest Alliance certification ensures that your beans didn’t come at the cost of precious ecosystem loss. Look for it whenever possible.
Opt for organic, certified or not
We all know organic crops tend to be cleaner than conventional. That being said, many coffee farmers are unable to afford the expensive organic certification, but have very stringent, clean practices. Learn more about the coffee you buy and see if you can find out what sorts of practices the farmers use (ask your local roaster). I know my local roaster only carries beans that are grown using organic practices, whether they are certified or not, so I am less concerned about the organic seal. If you don’t have access to in depth info about where your coffee comes from, then naturally your safest bet is to opt for the organic seal.
Measure your coffee before brewing
Be sure to brew only what you’ll actually drink. Dumping coffee down the drain day after day is such a waste, especially because coffee requires such intensive effort to make its way to your cup. Measure your beans and water, weigh them if you have to, to be sure that not an ounce gets wasted.
Get to know your local roaster
Buy coffee from a local roaster and get to know what they look for in their beans and the farmers/co-ops they source from. Not only will you be supporting your local economy, but you can learn a lot more about where your beans came from than you would at the supermarket. Maybe they’ll even give you a private tour of the roastery for expressing interest.
Ditch the to-go coffee
If you follow my writing, you know I am not a fan of the single-use coffee cup. It’s an environmental disaster, but it also deprives the drinker of a mindful coffee experience. To-go cups encourage a stressful go-go atmosphere. But coffee is such a wonderful social experience, why not take the time to truly indulge rather than grab and go? Take the Swedish concept of fika to heart and sit down, grab a pastry and mindfully enjoy your daily coffee.
Coffee is a special gift. It is painstakingly laborious to grow and harvest, must be shipped great lengths across the globe, must be delicately roasted and expertly brewed, all before it reaches your humble cup. Sure, using a Hario v60 and a filter will give you a cleaner cup in terms of taste, but with a little bit of mindful effort you can make your cup cleaner for the entire planet.