Coffee break

Over the years I’ve written a lot about tea – mainly about the hidden plastic in tea bags and my quest for plastic-free tea. I don’t often, however, write about coffee. This is, perhaps, because we’ve been buying coffee beans and making coffee in a cone with a washable cotton filter for many years now (long before we gave up tea bags… in fact since before I started blogging I think). However, I’m always looking for good coffee and any changes that can make it a little bit more eco-friendly. Recently we have been buying our coffee in the 1kg wholesale bags the roasted beans arrive in at the shop. This prevents the use of any extra packing, but still there’s a paper/plastic pack involved.

I was interested, therefore, to read about an experiment examining the best way to pack roast coffee. Once roasted, coffee beans release gases and ‘mature’ for a few days, allowing the flavour to develop. If roasted beans are put straight into a bag and sealed, the gasses are trapped and the coffee develops a stale flavour. To address this, many good quality coffee brands are packed in bags with a plastic valve, but these valves are generally not recyclable.

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sustainable production, compostable/recyclable packaging

Interestingly, it turns out, after roasting, placing the beans in paper bags allows them to develop a good flavour. From an environmental perspective, this is good, as paper can be readily recycled or composted. So, this week I ordered coffee from Roasting House, who roast the beans to order and then pack them in paper bags. Of course, they do use a plastic pack to send them through the post, but they use biodegradable and recyclable plastic and I will reuse this anyway (I never buy new postal packaging and always keep a stash for re-use). It’s single material, which is far better than the plastic-bonded-to-paper packaging of the wholesale bags we were getting previously.

The company take their environmental impact seriously, aiming for zero waste to landfill, buying 100% renewable electricity and making local deliveries by bicycle. In addition, they source their coffee from farms that operate under sustainable practices. It’s possible that I am much closer to waste-free coffee now.

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7 Comments

  1. And the used coffee can go in the compost heap! I just want to say I think you are terrific and put the rest of us to shame in your endeavors to be plastic free.

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  2. Reading the label, that coffee sounds delicious! I must see if I can find some coffee from the DRC here. For some reason, ours is overwhelmingly South American. And bravo on the reduced impact. Years ago I used to buy direct from a small independent roaster near where we’re staying. Her coffee was imported in hessian sacks, and I’d bring a paper bag for my 1kg of beans. Sadly, she’s no longer in easy reach, but we’ll be visiting her while we’re down here.

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  3. I came across a cafe that put its old coffee grounds out for people to take and compost, as Nancathy says. I must ask my local cafe to keep some for me. Thanks for the reminder.

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  4. Oooh, l’ll have to remember this company when Elusive Boyfriend’s birthday rolls around​ again! And I saw you mentioning growing mushrooms on coffee grounds just above – we’re giving that a go right now! I picked up a handy kit from a company called Urban Oyster at the last market I did just before Christmas. The tub is now full to the brim with EB’s morning coffee grounds, so we’re hoping to see some mushrooms sprouting in there soon!

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