• How to Brew a Zero Waste Coffee

    August 9, 2018 • GUIDES, LIFE, PLASTIC FREE / WASTE FREE

    We love a cup of coffee or two throughout the day, but we don’t love the potential impact our coffee habit has on the environment. What if we told you it is easy to have a zero waste coffee, or more realistically, a low waste coffee that tastes incredible and produces minimal waste? Read on as we show you the steps to make a zero waste coffee. We promise the environment and your taste buds will love you for it!

    How to brew a zero waste coffee | Biome Eco Stores

    1. Source low waste, local and environmentally friendly coffee beans

    A good, low waste or zero waste coffee starts with the bean, specifically how it is packaged and where it originates.

    When purchasing coffee beans, choose those that don’t contribute to deforestation and follow eco friendly production methods. Look for official certifications like Rainforest Alliance Certification or Australian Certified Organic.  Rainforest Alliance Certification requires a certain level of native vegetation to be maintained within each coffee farm, while Australian Certified Organic is focused on protecting natural habitats and biodiversity, efficient water use, and minimising the use of chemicals in fertilisers and pest and disease management (1).

    The best low waste option would be to visit a local coffee farm who roast on site and purchase roasted coffee beans in bulk using your own container. Australia is home to some excellent coffee producers, and most farms can be found between Cairns and Coffs Harbour.

    You can also buy your coffee beans at many coffee shops that roast their own such as Merlo, just bring your own container for them to fill. Or try a bulk food store.

    If you aren’t able to find coffee beans package free, opt for Australian grown coffee in a bigger pack.  Not only will you be supporting Australian farmers and local businesses, you will save packaging waste and food miles overall. You might even save money considering the cost per kilogram is often lower the larger the quantity.

    Whole beans will stay fresher longer than pre-ground beans, especially if kept in a airtight container in a cool, dry, dark spot, like the pantry. Grind the required amount of whole coffee beans with a coffee grinder prior to brewing.  We have this great people-powered coffee grinder that saves electricity too!

    manual coffee grinder

    After much research we are yet to find a company that sells coffee beans in compostable packaging, but we know it is just a matter of time.

    Do you know of a place where you can buy coffee beans in bulk using your own container or in compostable packaging? We would love to hear! Let us know in the comments section below. 

    2. Use a low tech, low waste coffee brewing method

    Single use coffee pods, disposable coffee filters and electronic coffee makers are resource intensive, wasteful and costly, but we have some great low tech, low waste alternatives that produce outstanding results again and again!

    Classic glass and stainless steel plastic free drip coffee maker

    How to brew a zero waste coffee | Biome Eco Stores

    Biome’s classic glass and stainless steel drip coffee maker features a wood collar, a twine tie (vegan), stainless steel filter and a stylish glass body. It’s timeless, beautiful, zero waste and coffee enthusiasts rave about it.

    To use the classic glass and stainless steel hand drip coffee maker simply follow these steps:

    1. Boil the appropriate amount of water in a kettle.
    2. Select your whole coffee beans and grind them to a medium coarse ground.
    3. Put one rounded tablespoon of ground coffee per cup into the stainless steel filter cone. Feel free to use more if you prefer it stronger.
    4. Pour a small amount of boiling water over the coffee grounds to wet them and wait 30 seconds for them to ‘bloom’. This will enhance the coffee’s flavour.
    5. Slowly pour more boiling water over the grounds using a circular or back-and-forth motion as you pour to soak the grounds evenly. Keep the water well below the top of the coffee maker.
    6. Remove the filter and compost the coffee grounds.
    7. Pour your coffee into a mug and enjoy.

    Find the classic glass and stainless steel hand drip coffee maker here > 

    Kilner cold brew coffee set

    How to brew a zero waste coffee | Biome Eco Stores

    Our Kilner cold brew coffee set allows you to make cold brew coffee at home. Cold brew extracts the full flavour of your favourite bean in a low acid, sweeter tasting coffee. The coffee it produces tastes beautiful, and is great straight or used to make an iced latte. The set features a 2L clip top jar, two drinking jars with handles and filtration equipment.

    Follow these steps to make cold brew coffee:

    1. Select your whole coffee beans and grind them to a medium coarse ground.
    2. Fill the 2L clip top jar with cold, filtered water. Leave a 3cm gap from the top of the jar.
    3. Add the stainless steel filter to the jar and fill with your ground coffee.
    4. Top up the jar with water and stir.
    5. Place the lid on the jar and shake gently to infuse.
    6. Place the jar in the fridge to brew for 12-24 hours.
    7. Remove from fridge, open jar and remove the stainless steel filter.
    8.  Take your drinking jar and fill with ice. Tie muslin around the top to create a filter, and pour your coffee into the jar. Remove the muslin cloth and top up with milk if desired.
    9. Refrigerate any leftover coffee for up to one week.

    Find the Kilner cold brew coffee set here >

    Other options

    How to brew a zero waste coffee | Biome Eco Stores

    Other popular low tech, zero waste coffee brewing methods include using a reusable filter (like our reusable hemp filter, here), a French press, stovetop percolator, aeropress, moka pot, Turkish pot, or a single cup pour over.

    3. Use milk and sugar in recyclable packaging

    If you take your coffee with milk and sugar, look at the packaging these products come in.

    You can find sugar package free in bulk food stores. Alternatively, choose Australian sugar in paper packaging, which can be recycled. By choosing Australian grown sugar you are also supporting Australian farmers and lower food miles.

    When it comes to milk, opt for milk in recyclable glass or plastic bottles, and avoid long life Tetra Pak packaged milks. Tetra Pak cartons are made up of several layers of polyethylene, aluminium and paperboard, and while they are recyclable, not all recycling facilities have the capacity to recycle them (2).

    If you love nut milk, you could make your own using one of our nut milk bases, or from scratch using our reusable nut milk bag. It’s really easy!

    4. Compost the coffee grounds

    Finally, for the ultimate zero waste coffee, don’t let those spent coffee grounds end up in landfill! Compost them and let your veggie garden reap the benefits!

    Research recommends you add your spent coffee grounds to your compost heap, Bokashi bin or worm farm in small proportions (up to 20%), instead of applying them directly to your garden. Composting the grounds will allow the toxins to decompose safely, and will enable the water holding capacity benefits to emerge (3).

    If you don’t have a compost system, could you give your spent coffee grounds to a friend or community garden instead?

    5. Enjoy!

    Take five with your delicious, freshly brewed cup of zero waste coffee knowing that your actions will have a significant, positive impact on our environment!

    If you need to run, pop your coffee into a reusable coffee cup.


    Further Reading

    (1) http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-05/how-to-find-coffee-that-doesn%E2%80%99t-cost-the-earth/8501494

    (2) https://treadingmyownpath.com/2014/09/11/why-tetra-paks-arent-green-even-though-theyre-recyclable/

    (3) https://www.sgaonline.org.au/using-coffee-grounds-in-the-garden/

    7 Responses to How to Brew a Zero Waste Coffee
    1. Larissa Tayles
      August 9, 2018 at 9:22 pm

      My Other Brother in Camberwell (Melbourne) first sells you the coffee beans in a tin, then you take the tin back and fill it up. They also give a discount for bringing your own cup.

      • Biome team
        August 10, 2018 at 9:11 am

        That’s fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing.

    2. Carol Jones
      August 10, 2018 at 12:19 pm

      Das Kaffeehaus in Castlemaine, Vic roast their own coffee and are more than happy for customers to bring their own container – bag, jar, tin – to buy beans in any quantity. In fact, they encourage it!

      • Biome team
        August 10, 2018 at 2:15 pm

        Thank you, Carol. This is great!

    3. Fiona
      August 10, 2018 at 8:12 pm

      McIvers coffee in the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne has been encouraging customers to bring back bags for reuse for over 10 years! They have lots of reusable options too.

      • Biome team
        August 13, 2018 at 10:01 am

        Thanks so much for letting others know!

    4. Mary
      September 4, 2018 at 9:31 am

      Wouldn’t classic plunger coffee in a glass or stainless steel urn have less waste than using a hemp filter?

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