The Sustainable Guide to Your Morning Coffee

The Sustainable Guide to Your Morning Coffee

Let’s face it: trying to protect the planet can feel like a grind. From taking shorter showers to bringing your own grocery bags to the store to switching to new light bulbs, realizing all the little things we need to change in our daily lives can be overwhelming. Thankfully, some actions are easily attainable while still having a meaningful impact. Case in point: Did you know you can make a difference just by the morning coffee you brew? No wonder eco-friendly coffee is gaining traction.

Brewing sustainable coffee at home supports ethical production, lowers carbon emissions, and offers a flavorful brew for anyone who partakes. If you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint without sacrificing your morning caffeine fix, here’s how to brew up an eco-friendly cup of coffee while embracing a sustainable lifestyle.

What is eco-friendly coffee?

Eco-friendly coffee refers to coffee produced and sourced in a way that minimizes its environmental impact and promotes sustainability throughout the entire supply chain and production. This includes practices such as:

Sustainable farming: Eco-friendly coffee is typically cultivated using sustainable farming practices, like avoiding synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. There is also what’s known as shade-grown coffee, which preserves biodiversity by maintaining natural forest canopy cover, providing habitat for birds and other wildlife.

Fair trade and ethical sourcing: You’ve probably heard of fair-trade coffee before.  A Fair-Trade certification ensures that coffee farmers receive fair prices for their crops and work under safe and humane conditions. Eco-conscious coffee brands ethically source their beans by prioritizing the well-being of coffee farmers and their communities while promoting social equity and economic empowerment.

Biodiversity conservation: Some eco-friendly coffee certifications, such as Rainforest Alliance and Bird-Friendly Coffee, adhere to strict standards for biodiversity conservation. These certifications promote sustainable land management practices that protect natural habitats, wildlife, and water resources.

Guide to Brewing Eco-Friendly Coffee at Home

Here’s how to get started on a more sustainable morning coffee routine at home.

Choose the right coffee

First things first — find an eco-friendly coffee brand you love. To do so, you’ll want to look for certifications including Fair Trade, Organic, or Rainforest Alliance. Grocery stores like Aldi, Trade Joes, and Whole Feeds tend to carry a generous selection of sustainable coffee. However, you might have locals at your go-to grocery store as well.

Brew your coffee sustainably

Some brewing methods are inherently more eco-friendly than others. For example, consider using a moka pot or French press, which require no disposable filters and use less energy compared to electric drip coffee makers.

With the moka pot, all you need to do is add water to the bottle, fill your coffee in the middle compartment, and then heat it over the stove or even an open fire for a few minutes until freshly brewed coffee fills the top compartment.

As for the French press, you fill the bottom of the glass container with coffee and then pour freshly boiled water over top. From there, you just wait a few minutes for it to brew and then use the coffee plunger to push the grounds to the bottom before serving. Both are waste-free options that offer a more sustainable approach to brewing coffee at home. Plus, these manual brewing methods also allow for more control over the brewing process, resulting in a richer, more flavorful cup of coffee than your drip coffee machine — all without the need for single-use pods, capsules, or filters.

Clean your coffee maker

Ensure a quality cup of coffee by regularly cleaning your coffee maker. You’ll want to empty the coffee grounds after each use (bonus points if you compost your coffee) and run the equipment over hot water, if you are using a French press, moka pot, or other non-electric appliance. For a deeper clean, you can also use a few drops of liquid dish soap and let the pieces soak. Just ensure your dish soap is free of unsustainable, harsh chemicals, similar to SaltyLama’s Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent Sheets.

To clean your drip coffee maker in an eco-friendly way, start by regularly descaling it using a solution of equal parts water and vinegar. Run this solution through the machine's brewing cycle to remove mineral deposits and buildup. For a deeper clean, disassemble removable parts and soak them in a mixture of warm water and baking soda. Scrub gently with a soft brush or cloth to remove any residue, then rinse thoroughly with water.

Reduce coffee waste

If you want to brew eco-friendly coffee at home, think big picture. Being sustainable means more than just choosing the right coffee brand and machine. You should also be vigilant about minimizing waste. To do this, buy in bulk or in compostable packaging. Avoid using machines that require single-use coffee pods or capsules, which greatly contribute to plastic pollution. Fun fact! Capsule coffee machines have reusable pods, so you can fill them with your favorite eco-friendly coffee and brew more sustainably without sacrificing your morning routine.

Then, be conscious of how you dispose of your coffee grounds. Coffee grounds are excellent for composting, helping to create nutrient rich soil for your garden or house plants. From DIY face scrubs to a way to grow mushrooms, used coffee grounds have so many unique uses.

With just a few tweaks to your morning cup of coffee, you can help you start your day guilt-free, knowing you’re doing your best to support a more sustainable future. So, brew up a delicious cup of eco-friendly coffee and savor the richer flavor while making a positive impact on the planet. Cheers to sustainability!

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