Coffee: the world’s best day-starter since, who knows when. From bean to brew, Coffee has long been a sticking point in ethical buying.
As a staple for many households, efforts to source and serve more sustainable coffee can have a huge impact on global conditions. Not only that, but coffee connoisseurs know that how someone takes their coffee says a lot about who they are as a person. So, for anyone who wants to live a more eco-conscious life, it’s important to choose the right way to enjoy a fresh cup of joe.
When considering ethical issues surrounding coffee, many automatically think of exploitive labor practices and deforestation in coffee producing nations, far fewer consider the environmental impact of their own brewing practices. For instance, disposable coffee filters can add a significant amount of waste to a coffee drinker’s household. Single-use paper and plastic items, like disposable coffee filters, contribute to a worldwide crisis of waste buildup and recycling can only get us so far. What is an environmentally conscious coffee drinker to do? Luckily, today’s coffee industry has started creating alternatives to single-use paper filters that can help take your morning cup from black to green. And we don’t mean matcha.
Choosing the Right Filter
Reusable coffee filters come in several varieties that each contribute to drastically different cups of coffee, so choosing the best one takes a bit of know-how. That’s because traditional paper filters absorb oils that can change the body and flavor of the finished product in addition to filtering out even the smallest coffee ground sediment (also called fines). Reusable filters on the other hand interact differently – with your coffee, and the planet.
Robust Flavor with Metal FiltersFor instance, metallic filters are a great option as far as sustainability goes as they generally last for the life of your coffee maker. However, they produce a very different cup of coffee than one brewed with a paper filter because the metal doesn’t catch as many fines or absorb any oils during the brewing process. This leads to a rich, full-bodied brew with strong, flavor and more sediment. For coffee drinkers who appreciate the strong flavor of coffee itself, metallic filters work perfectly. Others might find this an acquired taste, however, and for those folks, a cloth filter could be the answer.
Brighter, and Cleaner Cups from Cloth Filter
Cloth coffee filters are going to contribute a brighter flavor and lighter body than the metallic option. These filters absorb much of the coffee oil from grounds, and all of the fines, making for a clean, aromatic cup with medium mouthfeel. They do, however, require a bit more upkeep, which can easily be embedded into your joyful daily coffee routine. Cloth filters require washing between brews and do have a limit to the number of uses. After about 100 brews, these filters will have trapped oils and micro-grounds that begin to change the flavor of your coffee. Still, being reused for around 100 brews makes cloth coffee filters much more environmentally friendly than the one or two uses you might get out of your paper coffee filter. On top of that, they look great and offer a minimal aesthetic to your kitchen’s coffee set up.
So ditch your ugly single-use filters, and get your hands on an organic cotton fibre reusable filter.
Improving on Paper
If reusable filters aren’t available near you, or you object to the differences in taste and texture that they bring, there are still ways to lessen the environmental impact of paper coffee filters. Choose an all-natural, unbleached option (like bamboo) and compost used filters with the grounds. Coffee grounds can add much needed nutrients to soil, and composting your filters prevents them from ending up in oceans and landfills. Another option for making paper filters more earth-friendly is to reuse them more frequently. Any paper filter can usually make more than one pot of coffee, even if they’re intended to be disposable. But even better, some environmentally conscious vendors now provide heavy-duty paper filters that can last for several brews.
Choose to Reuse
Composting and recycling can play a vital role in limiting household contributions to garbage build-up, but that’s not enough on its own. By reducing and reusing formerly disposable items, we can make a difference in protecting our planet, one cup of coffee at a time, making that first morning sip that much more enjoyable.