Zero waste coffee

I do like a good cup of coffee – the real stuff made from beans. And it was whilst preparing my coffee this morning that I realised that (at least as far as what happens in my house) it’s zero landfill waste… so on day 5 of Zero Waste Week, I thought I’d tell you how I manage it:

We buy our organic coffee beans from a small shop in Aberystwyth called The Mecca; they sell loose teas and coffees and we always take our own containers so we generate no packaging

coffee beans

coffee beans

We grind the beans ourselves (solar electricity on a sunny day) and store any not used immediately in a glass jar

all ready to go

all ready to go

The water is filtered with charcoal, which comes wrapped in tissue paper in a cardboard box:

charcoal in the water jug

charcoal in the water jug

and is boiled in a Kelly Kettle:

on the boil

on the boil

using, for fuel, twigs from pruning the willow hedge

willow waste

willow twigs

and newspaper, both scrunched up and made into ‘sticks’ as my nan taught me

newspaper sticks

newspaper sticks

The ground coffee goes into a cone lined with a heavy cotton fabric, which is washed between uses and used over and over

coffee in the cone

coffee in the cone

We pour the water on and store any excess hot water in thermos flasks for use later

steamy coffee

steamy coffee

And very quickly, there’s a mug of coffee

my coffee

my coffee

Being lactose intolerant, I drink my coffee black and I don’t take sugar.

Eventually the charcoal needs replacing, but we just put it in the soil, and the filters need replacing, as they do finally start to break down with the action of the acidic coffee and the repeated rinsing, but they get put on the compost heap, as do the coffee grounds. The cone and jug are more than 15 years old and still going strong; the Kelly Kettle was bought in 2009 and has been repaired once. So, all-in-all, about as low waste as we can manage – a great drink for Zero Waste Week.

 

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17 Comments

  1. jackiebridgen

     /  September 5, 2014

    when we ran out of filters for the milking bucket it struck me, necessity being the mother of invention, to use muslin and reuse it over and over. It works way better than the annoying filters anyway!

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  2. This winter, I will be filling up an old biscuit tin with willow prunings, punching a few holes in the lid and putting it in the woodstove when we go to bed. In the morning I hope to have charcoal. The gasses coming off the heated willow will burn helping to heat our domestic hot water.

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  3. And I thought we did well, by microwaving the proper coffee we don’t drink immediately. Granules dried and used as slug deterrent. Well impressed.

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  4. I’ll drink to that! We use a ceramic water filter, which has a clay ‘candle’ in the centre which the water drips through. No consumables, no waste. You just have to scrub it every so often to get rid of particulate and improve the filtering performance. And in the new house 90% of our power will be free, thanks to the 20 solar panels on the roof, so I won’t worry about boiling the kettle!

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    • I’ve looked at ceramic water filters in the past, but never got one… I do like the idea though!

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      • I can’t live without mine – it gets rid of not just pollutants and heavy metals, but also the nasty chlorine smell you get when the water’s been heavily treated. And they keep the water cool in summer, saving space in the fridge.

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  5. This is super. I’ve always drunk coffee for its taste (rather than the caffeine) so I really appreciate the lengths you go to for a proper coffee. I wish people paid more attention to the process as well as the end product! I’m intrigued by the Kelly kettle!

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  6. I love kelly kettles but think that I am going to have to build myself a rocket stove as they are very expensive over here in the antipodes and kudos on your sustainable coffee. The only way I could top that is to grow my own Camellia sinensis and ferment my own straight from the shrub 😉 Working on it…

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