What did you drink this morning when you woke up? Maybe some tea, a hot chocolate, or even some juice? If you are like many people around the world that first cup was a cup of coffee. Coffee is the most popular beverage in the world. 400 billion cups of coffee are consumed each year and 450 million cups of coffee are consumed in the United States every day. This huge industry means there are potentially many negative consequences for the environment. But before you decide if you should give up the coffee you love, realize the good news, as more of us work from home and shelter in place we have the opportunity to decrease the environmental impact of all these morning cups of joe.
First look at the impact of your coffee beans. There are many amazing small batch, locally sourced coffee blends which pay their workers a living wage. Small batch coffee also tastes amazing and has interesting flavor profiles. If you are running low on your coffee of choice you might consider trying a coffee subscription where all your favorites are regularly sent right to your door. With a little research you morning cup can help rebuild the coffee industry in countries that have been impacted by war such as Rwanda and South Sudan, or national disasters such as Puerto Rico, or help minority individuals who otherwise would struggle to find work such as women and ethnic minorities. It is a good feeling to know that you are helping the environment while helping communities all over the globe.
Second look at the impact of the packaging of your coffee beans. There is a calculation between conveyance and environmental impact that needs to be made. For example tens of billions of coffee pods have been sold since they were first introduced in the mid-1980s. The environmental impact of coffee pods is much higher and produces a lower quality cup of coffee than whole bean coffee. Many of these pods aren’t easily recyclable. This has caused a lot of concern as people have started paying more attention to the environmental impact of waste. A shift toward more responsible packaging by certain coffee pod producers is greatly lowering the environmental impact of the products.
Third look at the impact of your cup. Each year 16 billion disposable coffee cups are being used. While some companies are focused on improving the environmental impact of these cups even if all single use cups were recyclable the single use mentality has a negative impact on the environment. Making something only to be used once puts us in a more wasteful mindset. The good news is as you work from home you can have your morning cup of coffee in a environmentally sound reusable cup. This might be a reusable cup from your cupboard or your normal reusable to go cup. Reusable cups feel better in your hand and help make your morning cup more of a moment of pause.
In a time of shelter of place our morning cups of coffee can be nice mini retreats and moments of calm where we can center ourselves so we can face our days with energy. The coffee industry can have a negative impact on the environment but with a little effort we consumers can change this impact. Take the time to look at the impact of your coffee beans, coffee packaging, and coffee cup and you can rest knowing you are minimizing the impact of your coffee. You can both be concerned for the environment and be able to make your perfect cup of coffee each morning and enjoy it.