August 22, 2023 5 min read

Reducing Our Environmental Impact with Coffee

How to Reduce Your Coffee Waste

Coffee is a delicious and popular beverage, but it can also be a major source of waste. Here are some tips on how to reduce your coffee waste:

  • Use a reusable coffee mug.¬†This is the single best way to reduce your coffee waste. When you bring your own mug to a coffee shop, you'll avoid using a disposable cup.
  • Brew your coffee at home.¬†This will give you more control over the amount of waste you produce. You can choose to use a reusable filter or a pour-over method that doesn't require a filter at all.
  • Compost your coffee grounds.¬†Coffee grounds are a great addition to your compost bin. They're full of nutrients that will help your plants thrive.
  • Buy fair trade coffee.¬†Fair trade coffee is certified to be produced in a way that benefits farmers and their communities. This helps to ensure that coffee production is sustainable and ethical.
  • Avoid single-use coffee pods.¬†Coffee pods are a major source of waste. They're often made from plastic and can't be recycled. Instead, choose coffee that comes in a reusable container.

By following these tips, you can help to reduce your coffee waste and make a difference for the environment.

Here are some additional tips for reducing your coffee waste:

  • Buy coffee in bulk.¬†This will reduce the amount of packaging waste.
  • Use a scale to measure your coffee beans.¬†This will help you to avoid using too much coffee, which can lead to waste.
  • Store your coffee beans in an airtight container.¬†This will help to keep them fresh and prevent them from going stale.
  • Clean your coffee maker regularly.¬†This will help to prevent build-up of coffee oils and grounds, which can make your coffee taste bitter.

By following these tips, you can enjoy your coffee guilt-free knowing that you're doing your part to reduce waste.

In addition to the tips above, you can also reuse coffee grounds in a variety of ways. Here are a few ideas:

  • Fertilize your plants.¬†Coffee grounds are a good source of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which are all essential nutrients for plant growth. Simply sprinkle the grounds around your plants and water them in.
  • Attract earthworms.¬†Earthworms are beneficial to the soil because they help to aerate and fertilize it. Coffee grounds are a good way to attract earthworms to your garden.
  • Make a face scrub.¬†Coffee grounds can be used to make a natural face scrub that exfoliates and removes dead skin cells. Simply combine coffee grounds with coconut oil and cinnamon, and apply the mixture to your face.
  • Dye your clothes.¬†Coffee can be used to dye clothes naturally. To do this, brew a strong pot of coffee and let the clothes steep in the mixture for a few hours. Then, wash the clothes as usual.

By reusing coffee grounds, you can reduce your waste and benefit the environment.

I always encouraged people to get their espresso drinks in ceramic as opposed to paper cups because it reduces the waste created in a café. When people ask us how they can support us, I help them find a few pounds of coffee that they can brew at home and ask them to tell all of their friends to go to our website and purchase our coffees online. Our e-commerce business has tripled and we continue to ship tons of packaged coffee in one pound bags and five pound bags, nationally and across Canada.

Brewing Coffee at Home

While there is no wrong way to brew coffee at home, there are certain methods that will create less waste than others.

Most automatic coffee pots need to be plugged into an outlet.  Machines take energy as the water needs to be heated and pushed through the machine to brew the coffee.  Automatic espresso machines take even more energy as the water is usually hotter than a standard coffee. Besides the energy usage, most automatic coffee brewers use paper filters.  Paper coffee filters are single-use, and usually bleached white with chlorine.

There are a few small changes we can make in the way that we brew our coffee that can be impactful.

  1. Natural paper coffee filters.  If you are going to use a coffee machine or a pour over station that uses paper-filters, buy filters that have not been bleached or buying a metal or cloth re-usable filter.

  2. Switch the method that you brew your coffee!  French press, stovetop percolators, AeroPress, and certain pour over systems are all systems that do not require paper filters and do not need to be plugged in.  After brewing, they simply need to be cleaned and then they are ready for use again, only leaving coffee grinds as a byproduct.

  3. If using a Keurig Coffee Maker is the way to brew, buy a reusable K-cup that can be washed and filled.  This way you will you get a fresher cup of coffee and create less waste.

  4. Buy better coffee. Buy Fair Trade Certified Coffee. This coffee is a healthier alternative to coffee that is chemically treated, it gives back to farmers globally so they are able to live better lives by supporting education and health in the community.  Coffees like our Hacker's Delight Coffee and Astral Blend Coffee and Pride Blend Coffee are Fair Trade Certified and also give to local charities.

Reusing Coffee Grinds

Coffee grinds are a natural byproduct of the brewing process. There are other ways that we can use coffee grinds instead of simply dumping them into our compost bins.

  1. In the garden. Coffee grinds are full of phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen. Sprinkle them onto the top of soil the next time you water your plants as a way to naturally fertilize them. Coffee grinds are a good fertilizer for acidic loving plants such as tomatoes, hydrangeas, and blueberries.

  2. Stop bugs. Spread coffee grinds around if you are having problems with ants or slugs. The coffee grinds act as a natural deterrent for these unwanted pests.

  3. In the kitchen. Experiment by combining coffee grinds with olive oil and spices like paprika and chili powder to make interesting rubs that you can add to meat or tofu before cooking it. The coffee grinds make an interesting marinade that is smoky and rich.

  4. For your skin. Combine 1 tablespoon of coffee grinds with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and a pinch of cinnamon to make a natural face scrub. (Test on a small area of skin beforehand to make sure your skin type does not have a negative reaction.)

  5. Dye your clothes. If you are tired of bleaching your clothes white, or the stains simply will not come out any longer, use a strong pot of brewed coffee as well as the coffee grinds as a way to naturally dye clothes. Let clothes steep in the mixture on a constant, low heat for a desire amount of time (no longer than 1 hour). Wash the clothes with a gentle soap before washing in a machine. Fold your clothes before dying them to create interesting patterns.