Coffee has been a favourite drink the world over for centuries, and it’s not showing any sign of losing popularity. However, one of the best things about capitalism, supply meets demand, is also going to create an issue when it comes to plenty of things, including coffee. We’re steadily using up all of our natural resources, and coffee production is no different. The amount of refuse we produce as a species is only going to keep growing, and we need to look at ways to cut back on that, and the fact is change starts at home.
Whether it’s the way coffee is grown, the cups we drink it in, or the way we brew it, every step along the way has potential environmental pitfalls. However, don’t fret, with ethically produced coffee being increasingly important to everyone, it’s becoming increasing well catered for.
The Greenest Coffee Cup?
Thankfully, the polystyrene cup is an increasingly rare sight in the UK, especially from major coffee shops. However, paper and card cups have their own impact, especially when you consider the hundreds of thousands of them used and binned every day. Get yourself a decent reusable cup for while you’re out and about, and the majority of the major coffee shop franchises offer a discount on coffees bought with their reusable cups, so there’s that too!
Coffee Machines Have Issues Too!
With a lot of the most popular coffee machine options using pods or capsules to provide the actual coffee part of the drink, there’s some real environmental issues to consider. Each one of those pods is made of plastic, and with a one pod per cup of coffee, it’s not exactly waste conservative. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably drinking at least four cups of coffee per day, minimum. If the machines used by two or three people, that’s eight plus used bits of plastic every day, at a minimum.
Essentially, when it comes to drinking coffee at home, you should avoid the majority of capsule based machines, but ones that use pure beans are amazing. Especially if you can find quality, organic and Fairtrade coffee beans that you love the taste of.
Environmental Hazards of Coffee Farming
Lastly, there a lot of issues when it comes to farming coffee. The environmental impact of coffee farming is pretty upsetting, especially for non-organic coffee beans. In order to grow beans, you need to remove the trees from the area. This deforestation isn’t too devastating when done within reason. However, the exploding demand for coffee over the last few years has led to massive demand for the coffee beans, meaning far too much deforestation is going on. On top of that, for non-organic coffee beans farmers use pesticides and other damaging chemicals, which is always going to have an environmental impact. This is why you should always go for organically grown coffee.
Fairtrade standards help to assure coffee farmers worldwide that they get a fair wage for their beans, and massive corporations can’t dictate the price. It also allows for better worker’s rights, which is in everyone’s interest, morally.
Thankfully, an ethical cup of coffee has never easier or cheaper to buy. With a huge percentage of the modern coffee demand met by Fairtrade farmers nowadays, the worry about buying from corporate exploited cash croppers has dropped significantly. While that ethical cup of coffee isn’t too hard to acquire, it is always going to be at least slightly more expensive than the cheapest, least-ethical alternative. But you’re paying for peace of mind, so don’t skimp too much.