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Are Coffee Pods Reducing Our Environmental Footprint?

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A couple of years ago, Joe Satran wrote a very insightful article on the Huffington Post about the impact of the coffee industry on the environment. Satran brazenly stated that the industry was worse for the environment than ever before.

The good news is that there are lots of new things that are helping out. Coffee pods are among the most important changes that are preventing our environmental footprint from getting worse. The important thing is to understand the implications of certain industry practices and the changes that need to be made to protect the environment.

The Environmental Hazards of the Coffee Industry

There are a number of reasons that the coffee industry is having a detrimental impact on the environment. Here are some of the biggest concerns:

  • A number of coffee plants are being grow in direct sunlight, as opposed to the canopy of surrounding trees. One of the problems with this is that trees are cut down, which reduces their ability to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
  • Lots of coffee farmers are dumping their waste in rivers.
  • Traditional brewing strategies require a lot of energy.
  • Many brewing tools leave a large amount of waste.

Coffee pods can’t do much about the industrial problems that create waste, especially in areas where there are few regulations. However, they can significantly reduce problems at the consumer level at least. This is one of the biggest sources of pollution, so using these pods can make a large difference.

Coffee pods have been gaining popularity around the world. More than 30 percent of people in the U.K. own a coffee pod machine. This is a massive penetration into the overall coffee marketplace. And there’s a reason why so many people are gravitating toward this method: Coffee pods are convenient and require little cleanup. But there has been a pushback against many coffee pod companies.

There are three things that tend to be an issue for most coffee pods: clunky machines, inferior taste, and waste caused by the cups. Big players like Keurig and Nespresso are guilty of all these infractions. However, the concept isn’t necessarily flawed, which is why people are rethinking coffee pods. Here are some ways coffee pods are changing to better reflect the needs of consumers and the planet.

Less Machinery

At their essence, coffee pods enjoy wide appeal because they’re convenient. All you need to do is pop a pod into a machine, and just wait a few minutes (or seconds) for it to brew your cup. Sounds great, right? In theory, it should be. But here’s something that you probably didn’t know about coffee machines: They’re actually a breeding ground for germs. Unless you’re consistently cleaning out your machine, it’s likely housing a large amount of bacteria. This sort of runs counter to the underlying image of convenience that draws people to brands like Keurig and Nespresso.

Is there anyone producing coffee pods that require no machinery? Yes, companies such as Caffè di Artisan have developed coffee pods that don’t need anything beyond a cup and hot water. This lowers the cost for consumers, while also keeping them safe from bacteria such as E. coli. Coffee pods need to fulfill their promise of ultimate convenience. Only pods that don’t take a machine for brewing truly deliver on this.

Better Taste

Some people drink coffee purely to get a caffeine fix. For this group, taste comes as a secondary concern. But why sacrifice on this front when you don’t have to? Almost no one will try to argue that a cup of Keurig coffee tastes better than one from a drip apparatus.

There are a few reasons why many coffee pods don’t pull through on taste. It often comes down to the freshness and quality of the grounds. Ground coffee beans only maintain their full freshness for a short time. Even air-tight pods can’t stop the grounds from losing their flavor.

The solution? Don’t use grounds in coffee pods. Liquid concentrate, created with premium-grade beans, is a much better alternative to grounds. This ensures that the taste and smells of the products will survive until used by the consumer.

Waste Isn’t Necessary

Tens of billions of coffee pods have been sold since they were first introduced in the mid-1980s. Many of these pods aren’t easily recyclable. This has caused a lot of concern around the world as people have started paying more attention to the environmental impact of waste.

Luckily, there’s nothing that says coffee pods need to be wasteful. Some companies are now making strides to ensure their products are sustainable for the planet. The first step in this is to make all pods easily recyclable or compostable. But sustainability should be considered at all levels. Laminated boxes usually can’t be recycled. A shift toward more responsible packaging by certain coffee pod producers is greatly lowering the environmental impact of the products.

Fair Trade Is Only Fair

Coffee drinkers are now considering the social and economic impacts of their choices. Many coffee companies don’t engage in fair trade practices with their producers. This is especially true when profit margins are the top priority. Fortunately, some coffee pod makers are responding to this—especially those that offer premium blends. Producers should be fairly compensated for their labor.

People are rethinking coffee pods; and thus, coffee pod companies are rethinking their products. This will ultimately be beneficial to consumers, as they will get higher quality coffee pods that are better for the planet.

Coffee Pods Will Help the Environment

Coffee has had a bad impact on the environment in recent years. The good news is that there are ways to change that. Using coffee pods can make a huge difference.

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