I was always a tea person until I met my husband, who taught me to love coffee. Now my morning routine is not complete without a large mug of steamy coffee. Recently, I started to wonder, what kind of coffee is the most environmentally sustainable and healthy. This question should be very easy to answer, but it isn’t. We all have our favorite brands and ways to drink our coffee. In the last years we have seen an explosion of choices mostly focused on “convenience”.
Personally, my favorite cup of coffee is the one I make at home, using organic, fair trade, dark coffee beans, filtered water, and brewed in a French Press. That way I can totally control the temperature of the water, the time it is in contact with the beans and I know for sure my coffee hasn’t been in contact with plastic. This is also a zero-waste process.
There are also other coffee makers that don’t contain plastic and they are mostly waste free: The Chemex, the Stovetop Espresso Maker, the Percolator, the Turkish coffee pot, among others. Personally, I have only have tried the Turkish pot, that makes a delicious strong coffee but I haven’t tried any of the other methods because they all look harder than my French Press Coffee Maker.
The worst way to make your coffee for your health and the environment is to use a K-Cup pod. The pods contain an undisclosed blend of plastics and an aluminum cover. Not only they create unnecessary trash, but you are heating plastic and aluminum which leaks into your coffee and probably messes up your health. K-Cups are not recyclable, and even if they say so, most municipalities don’t accept them.
What about compostable K-Cups? Unfortunately, these are not better. Each K-Cup comes individually wrapped in foil, creating more unnecessary trash, and they need to go to an industrial composting facility in order to break down.
What about traditional electric coffee makers? Environmentally speaking, these are better than K-Cups. After making your coffee, simply add the coffee grounds with the filter to your compost pile. Because they are wet, they will decompose fairly quickly.