Being a conscious consumer is tough these days. From the second you walk into a market, café, or big chain grocery store you’re bombarded with buzzwords and catchphrases. Organic, responsibly grown, locally sourced, ethically produced, the list goes on.
After 15 minutes of head scratching, you opt for the product that’s easiest on the wallet but with some feel good phrases and you carry on. First and foremost, you are not alone - most of us experience this dilemma at least once a week. Almost every major food category has had an environmental awakening followed by a healthy dose of catchphrase green-washing campaigns (if you’re not sure what we’re talking about, you can read a bit more here.
The coffee industry has fallen victim to these catchphrase campaigns, but buying and drinking coffee that is easy on the planet and on your pocketbook shouldn’t be (and actually isn’t) that hard. Settling on a bag of beans just because a great marketing campaign overloaded you with a vocabulary list on sustainability is just wrong, so we want to help you be right.
We’ve come up with seven easy and effective ways that you can make your coffee routine (and your wallet) a little bit greener without having to decipher jargon that is nothing more than words on paper.
- Embrace the re-usable and ‘this-spot-only’ mug
It’s a bit of a no brainer these days and many cafés offer personal cup discounts, and leaving one of your favorite porcelain mugs at the office will help you cut back on using the paper ones in the break room. An awesome life-cycle analysis on paper cups by Huhtamaki, a sustainable coffee cup maker, found that it takes about 180 uses with your own mug to balance out the water that's used to wash it.
- Brew what you plan to drink
Most of us are used to just setting the coffee pot, walking away, filling a cup when it’s ready, and out with the rest. Take a bit of time to figure out the right brewing amount to help you save water, coffee, filters, and energy when it comes to heating up water or leaving the electric powered coffee pot on for hours.
- Consider an energy-efficient coffee maker
The French Press, Chemex (pour over), Moka Pot, and Aeropress are all great energy efficient makers that don’t require electricity to keep your coffee warm...and these are all fantastic brewers that can brew single portions to help tackle tip #2.
- Learn the buzzwords (and what they do, and do not mean)
Responsibly sourced, ethically grown, naturally cultivated...we’ve seen many feel good phrases like these that in reality have no concrete meaning or reference to quality assurance. How is it responsibly sourced? What makes it ethically grown? Marketers are crafty and will say what they need to in order to make a sale, but if you can’t tell from the bag how the coffee meets certain sustainability standards, that's usually your first sign to find another bag of beans.
- Buy from local roasters and those who use a direct-buyer model
Supporting local roasters who buy directly from growers (and effectively cut out the middle men) does two things - first, it reduces CO2 emissions in your coffee supply chain by reducing the number of times the coffee is transported and changes hands. Second, you’re not only supporting local businesses but you’re supporting a farmer-buyer relationship that values quality, care, and dignified treatment of all the coffee workers in the process.
- Start to think about your condiments and additives
We’ll be the first to admit cream and coffee are a match made in heaven. But what about all the sugar packets? Stir sticks? Straws? We’re not saying you need to cut out the additives, but there is always a way to replace single use items to make your morning coffee ritual a little greener.
- Learn some cold coffee techniques that don’t force you to leave the pot on all day
Iced coffee or cold brew can be a nice change of pace in the afternoon, and often all you have to do is refrigerate the leftovers from the morning - meaning no need to spend an extra $5 on the afternoon pick-me-up. Making cold brew will cut out entirely the need to brew hot coffee, keeps well for almost a week at a time, and has a sweet concentrated taste too.
So there you have it - going green with your coffee routine is a lot easier than most people would think. It doesn’t need to be a headache and we hope that some of these small changes can go a long way for the planet and your pocketbook! And there's not better coffee to change up your routine with, than with our very own Himalayan Coffee from the majestic Himalayas of Nepal.