Everyone loves coffee. Around the world, coffee drinkers consume somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 billion cups of coffee per year, making coffee one of the planet’s all-time favorite beverages. That’s why it’s important for coffee shops to do what they can to build a more sustainable business model that minimizes its effect on climate change.
There are a lot of ways coffee shops can reduce their carbon footprint, from small tweaks like using less water to grand gestures like investing in a retail espresso machine that is energy efficient. Here are five eco-friendly hacks you can use in your coffee shop.
Use Less Energy
Without your coffee machine, there would be no coffee shop and no coffee. If you’re using an inefficient machine that uses more power than necessary, it can not only wreak havoc on the environment but on your profits as well. You can cut your establishment’s carbon footprint and take a chunk out of your energy bill by switching to an espresso machine with low-energy consumption. Energy-efficient espresso machines come with boiler insulation, energy-saving modes and other modifications that help them use as little electricity as possible.
If you haven’t already, you can also switch to more efficient LED light bulbs. LED bulbs last longer, use less electricity and can give your coffee shop a modern, hip look. Investing in a high-efficiency or solar-powered water heater can also do wonders for your energy bill. If you don’t have a lot of extra money to spend, you can use less energy by cleaning the coils on your refrigerator and making sure the seals are tight so they don’t leak cold.
Avoid Single-Use Plastics
There’s almost nothing worse for the planet than plastic products designed to be thrown away after one use. Every year, millions of plastic cups are used once and then tossed. They clutter the land and oceans, choke marine life and pile up on landfills, where they’ll remain for hundreds of years. Using recyclable cups in your coffee shop is one cheap, sustainable way you can help solve the plastic problem.
Even compostable cups, however, are not the most optimal solution. The best way to cut down drastically on your shop’s waste is to offer a real mug to everyone who plans to drink their coffee in the shop. If you have customers who don’t trust reusable mugs, you can explain why you made the switch and give them the option to bring their own travel mug. You may still need to have some disposable cups on hand for difficult cases, but offering mugs as an option will help eliminate a lot of plastic waste.
Reuse Your Coffee Grounds
Sitting in landfills, coffee grounds release harmful methane into the atmosphere. Luckily, they’re easy to recycle. If you or your customers have gardens, you can use old coffee grounds as fertilizer. They’re chock full of nitrogen that plants love.
Save Water and Milk
You can cut down on your water use by cleaning more efficiently. Ideas like waiting to start the dishwasher until it’s completely full or buying aerators for your pumps are great steps in the right direction.
If you’re not sure whether or not you’re wasting milk, try saving all the extra milk from one shift instead of tossing it out. You may find that you throw away a lot more milk than you realized. If you use the same pitcher for a large latte and a small cappuccino, for instance, you’ll end up steaming and throwing out a lot of milk when you make the smaller drink. You can save milk by using different steaming pitchers for different drinks.
Ask your baristas to practice stretching just the right quantity of milk for each drink size. If that seems too difficult, invest in a milk dispensing system. A milk dispenser can calculate exactly the right amount of milk for every drink you offer to help make sure you never waste another drop.
Other Ways To Reduce Waste
The less you waste, the less harm you’ll do to the environment. Sometimes we don’t even notice the things we’re doing that generate waste, so here are a few common examples and ideas to help us do better:
- Instead of using disposable stirring rods, offer small stainless-steel spoons.
- If you have a yard available, make a compost heap for your shop’s leftover food. If not, offer the leftovers to someone who does.
- Stop buying paper towels. Use cloth towels that you can wash when they get dirty, rather than adding to landfills.
- If you offer takeout service, make sure your customers can recycle your takeout containers.
- Once you find a way to compost your leftovers, you can even switch to compostable cutlery. If you have a good compost thing going, it’s easy to toss in and recycle biodegradable spoons, stirrers and straws.
- You’re probably throwing out a lot of old coffee bags. You don’t control what your coffee beans or grounds come in, but you can control where those bags end up. There are a lot of fun craft ideas on Pinterest for old coffee bags, and you may even be able to use them to make creative coffee-based merchandise that you can sell to your customers. If you’re not the crafty type, see if some of the creative types who frequent your shop can find a use for them.
Don’t try to change the whole world at once. Start with a few small steps, and work up to bigger ones.
Making your coffee shop as eco-friendly as possible can take time and money, but sustainability is the future. The small steps you take today are an investment, not only into your own future but into the future of the planet.