Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness. You can find him on the blog (most) Sundays. Enjoy 🙂
How to Enjoy Coffee without Killing the Environment
I love coffee, I drink loads of it, some people might say too much but those people would be people with an established track record of being wrong about things. I also like the world we live in, particularly the green spaces and very specifically the thought of those spaces being available for my children and others to enjoy into the future. Those might seem like two unrelated points however, more and more, enjoying a coffee can bring you in to conflict with keeping the planet a nice, clean place for people to live in. In this article I’m going to explore my ideas and thoughts on how one can enjoy a coffee without any associated guilt.
First off, let’s talk about the coffee you drink. Fresh or instant there’s an important choice to be made here and it’s a simple one. Buy the fair trade stuff. Fair trade coffee ensures that the people at the sharp end of the process get to make a decent living, which matters to me. The coffee itself is also directly environmentally sustainable and indirectly so as the workers growing it have better food security. There’s no dip in quality whatsoever and no good reason not to buy it.
Second, if you don’t drink instant coffee, get a proper machine, not a capsule machine. Yes, there are recycling projects for the various types of machine but my experience of them (and I have owned several) was that it is very hard to recycle the used capsules. Plastic is also notoriously hard to recycle and so the capsules, when recycled via the special initiatives are often only made into things like plant pots. This, of course, is better than landfill, but it’s better still not to use them at all or to buy reusable capsules. I do appreciate the convenience, I love convenience as it happens but having swapped to a small home espresso machine I can honestly say I notice no real impact on my day. What I do have is much, much better coffee to drink, which is awesome. If espresso seems a faff have a look at something like an Aeropress or even a French press. You’ll get great coffee and you’ll get coffee grounds which make the best compost ever. I’d also recommend the traditional Moka pot but having burnt myself more times than I care to remember, I can’t do that in all good conscience.
Last one, controversial here but who cares, avoid coffee places that use paper cups. There’s a polymerised coating on them and they are super hard to recycle. If you’re going out for a coffee then go somewhere that serves in nice ceramic mugs, or you’re on your way somewhere take a travel mug. Travel mugs are cheap, come in a variety of designs and will keep your coffee hotter than the heart of the sun for months, if not years. Some shops even offer you a discount if you bring your own cup. Best of all, ignore the chains, the coffee is terrible and they don’t pay tax and instead make yourself a lovely cuppa at home in your travel mug. If you’re meeting a friend go to a local cafe, they are still out there though they make very little money (because they *do* pay tax).
So there you go, drink coffee, enjoy your coffee, just do it in the sustainable ways that people have been using to drink coffee for thousands of years, not the silly ways that marketing people have been encouraging us to use for the last 20. Recap, coffee – yes, travel mug – yes, fair trade – yes, local cafe – yes, chain coffee shop – no, paper cup – definitely not. Simple.