Greening Your Morning Coffee

Coffee in cup with heart

This morning I stopped at Starbucks for a treat – a soy gingerbread latte.Β  As I walked through the door berating myself for not bringing my travel mug, I noticed again all of the disposable cups and associated waste we now accept as part of our morning coffee ritual.Β 

Over 50% of adult Americans, more than 150 million people, consume coffee daily.Β  That’s a lot of joe, and a huge opportunity to caffeinate more sustainably.Β  Here are a few tips to green your morning coffee.

1. Brew Your Coffee at Home

Or, in the words of Bon Appetit, become your own barista.Β  In addition to reducing landfill waste, you’ll save money and have more control over the beans you brew, not to mention any sweetener or milk you add.Β  I’m currently in love with coffee made with a French press, and ask for a medium grind when I buy beans at my local specialty roaster.

2. Support Sustainable Coffee Farms

Whether you’re brewing at home or buying a cup, pay attention to where your coffee comes from.Β  Rainforest Alliance-certified coffee, for example, is grown sustainably on farms that meet high social and environmental standards.Β  Meanwhile, the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC) offers the only certification for 100% organic shade-grown coffee.Β  Avoid supermarket brands with poor environmental records.

3. Check Your Coffee Shop’s Street Cred

Coffee shops are increasingly under pressure to green their operations.Β  Choose one that is upfront about its buying practices and sustainability.Β  Starbucks shares its corporate responsibility, as do several of the larger chains.Β  Smaller specialty stores and roasters often develop lasting relationships with small coffee farmers, and should be more than happy to discuss their practices with you.

Bring awareness to your morning coffee, and start your day with a more sustainable sip!

Image credit: javaturtle at Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

  1. Patrick

    That’s it? If you’re using a drip coffee maker, get a thermal coffee maker that doesn’t require a warming plate. Or use an insulated mug that keeps the heat in so you don’t have to warm the coffee back up in the microwave. What are some other things you can do, everybody?

  2. Stanley

    I’ve been trained to look for the Fair Trade logo for coffee (and chocolate!)… Anyone familiar with how it compares to Rainforest Alliance in terms of what part of the process is being certified?

    My guess is that Fair Trade is more labor practices and the froggy is more environmental, but I know that Fair Trade also includes environmental criteria as well as community support. I’d love to see a side-by-side comparison.

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