Zero Waste Coffee Brands & 7 Brewing Methods
Updated: Mar 10
Ok, I have to admit, I am not so much a coffee drinker but my man is. Like many other coffee addicts, he looks (and feels) like a zombie until he had his first dose of caffeine. He is not alone, about one-third of the people in the United States drink coffee every day. Starbucks is the most famous one for its daily caffeine intake. Did you know that 6 billion disposable Starbucks cups were thrown away each year? This was a shocker to me… Even the paper cups are not really paper. These cups are often lined with plastic making it impossible to recycle. So what can you do to reduce your waste but still have your daily dose of caffeine?
How to make zero waste coffee at home.
A drip machine is one of the most often used by people making coffee at home. This is mostly because it is very easy to use. You only have to add a cup of water and a scoop or two of your favorite coffee and the machine does everything for you. Drip machines are widely available everywhere and have different price points to suit everyone's budget. Sometimes they are even available second-hand to make it even more environmentally friendly. This easy two-step system does not require a lot of cleaning which is a big benefit compared to many other methods.
Sustainable coffee filter
A drip system requires a filter to make coffee. There are several options for filters for a drip machine
Stainless steel filter
This is an awesome zero waste option is stainless steel doesn’t absorb any flavor of your coffee so your cup of coffee is more robust and darker compared to coffee made with a paper filter. When you use a stainless steel filter your coffee will have more natural oils giving your coffee a more intense flavor.
Reusable hemp filter
Just like a stainless steel filter, a reusable hemp filter needs rinsing after every use. You could use a little soap to clean the filter but in this case, you need to rinse thoroughly to make sure there is no soap residue left. This is a little more work compared to a compostable paper filter.
Filters made from (unbleached) compostable paper a great for the ones among us who prefer a brighter coffee and a little on the sweeter side. Another benefit of compostable paper filters is that there is no need to rinse the filter after you made your dose of caffeine as you can put everything (filter and coffee) easily into your compost bin.
Another great option is the French press. It is a very popular zero-waste option and is also very easy to use. Put ground coffee into your French press, add boiling water and press the plunger after a few minutes. The longer you wait the more intense the flavor of your coffee so you can make your cup of coffee exactly as you like. Maybe you like something stronger in the morning and something milder in the afternoon. It is completely up to you.
A French press is not only great for coffee, but it is also great to make zero waste tea. Using loose tea leaves you can make an awesome sustainable cup of tea. Just make sure you have a separate French press for tea and coffee. As coffee-flavored tea is not something most people enjoy.
Have you ever tried a Moka Pot? It is one of the oldest methods for making coffee. This is a bit of a different method of making coffee but it is also a zero-waste method. Moka pots use high pressure to push water vapor through finely-ground coffee to make a cup of coffee. This makes a very strong and intense cup of coffee that is almost espresso-like. A big downside of a moka pot is the small batch size and the amount of cleaning that is involved after one cup. However, if you want espresso at home but you don’t want to pay for an expensive espresso machine, a moka pot is just for you.
A percolator looks very similar to a moka pot. Where a moka put uses high pressure, a percolator allows the water vapor to slowly trickle through medium-ground coffee. So not only the method of making coffee is different also the coffee is ground differently allowing for a different flavor of your coffee. Where a moka pot produces espresso-like flavor, a percolator makes a cup of coffee that is rather similar to the coffee from a drip machine. Before drip machines were invented percolators were often used by restaurants to make coffee.
A pour-over coffee maker is another zero waste option. Officially also a gooseneck kettle is involved in the making of pour-over coffee and a special technique is required for pouring boiling (or near boiling) water over the coffee grounds. If you want absolute control over the coffee you are making, a pour-over coffee maker is for you. You select the water temperature, the grind size of the coffee, and the rate at which the hot water enters the cone full of coffee grounds. Just like the drip machine, a filter is required. Just like for the drip machine, also for pour-over coffee makers, reusable filters are available.
Single-serve pod machine
A single-serve pod machine like a K-cup brewing system is great for the ones among us like convenience and ease of use. Just put a coffee capsule into your machine and press start. You don’t need to buy or grind coffee beans, but you also don’t have much control over the coffee you make. Another downside of a single-serve pod system is that it needs cleaning regularly.
Another big downside of these single-serving systems is the amount of waste they produce. With each cup, you make you also have a small amount of plastic waste. If you drink a lot of coffee, this is quite a lot of waste. Luckily there are reusable cups available nowadays. This has another benefit that you can also purchase the coffee you want and by choosing organic fair-trade coffee you make your daily dose of caffeine even more sustainable.
If you are a true coffee addict and you simply can not go without a daily dose of espresso then you got to have an espresso machine. They can be expensive and rather complicated to operate, but they are essential if you’re looking for a perfect shot of espresso. However with this awesome cup of espresso comes a big downside, you will need to descale and clean them frequently to keep everything working properly.
Like a moka pot, an espresso machine works by pushing highly pressurized hot water through fine coffee grounds that have been tightly packed into a portafilter. Different espresso machines have different levels of automation but generally speaking, you need to know or learn something about the process to pull a great shot of espresso.
Coffee on the go
Make at home
For your wallet, it is best to make coffee at home and bring it with you. This way you have coffee that is just the way you like it and it is very affordable. You make your coffee, pour it into one of your reusable mugs and you can go out the door. It is as easy as that.
But you have been on the road a while and you ran out of the coffee you took from home and want another cup. Before you decide to pay a visit to the large coffee stores in your area (like Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts) see if there is a local coffee shop you could visit. By purchasing from smaller local companies you help the local economy and you make sure that your money doesn’t end up in the pockets of top-tier managers who don’t care about the waitresses working their butts off.
Reusable coffee mug
There are so many different reusable coffee mugs available but I want to give you 2 options that I love.
Maybe I am a bit weird but I prefer a mug with a handle. Maybe it is because I have rather small hands and I just have a better grip with a handle but it is what I prefer. This stainless steel one has double-wall insulation to keep your drink hot for up to 3 hours. The BPA-free lid has silica gasket seals to make your cup spill-proof and the wide mouth drinking hole on the top is straw friendly. You can close the sliding cover to prevent heat/ cold from escaping while you are not drinking. By the way, the handle is large enough for male hands, even if they are wearing gloves.
This gorgeous reusable travel mug is made with durable tempered glass. It is a little smaller which means it can fit nicely under a coffee machine group head. The lid design makes it splash proof and this travel mug is easy to drink from whether you are using the lid or drinking from it without the lid. Even though it is made from glass, it is lightweight and will fit in every bag and cup holder. The manufacturers are officially B-corp certified to ensure social and environmental protection.
When you are out and about but you have some time to spare, sit down in the cafe you are visiting. This way, you can order your coffee in a real mug and really take some time to enjoy the beverage you are drinking.
What coffee to buy
Locally produced coffee would be ideal for your cup of coffee but for most of us, this is simple, not possible. Coffee is mostly produced in countries around the equator like Brazil, Vietnam, and Ethiopia. So whether we like it or not, our coffee has to come from far away. This gives us lots of choices for our daily dose of coffee. As we also want to be good for our planet I want to give you some options that are both good for the environment as well as good for the people making the coffee.
Organic fair-trade brands
This Guatemala coffee is grown in the Huehuetenango region. The coffee plants are shade-grown under guava, plantain, and banana trees which give the coffee its fruity undertones along with the caramel and chocolate subtleties. We roast the coffee only to medium to maintain those flavors. In addition to being certified organic, this Guatemalan coffee is also certified Bird Friendly and Fair Trade. These ensure fair pricing, workers' rights, protect wildlife and the environment. If this isn’t nice to wake up to, I don’t know what is.
This 100% Organic coffee comes from a Cooperative called Asobagri in Guatemala. This Cooperative is created by a group of small family farmers. So you know you support hard-working families when you enjoy a cup of this coffee. What is even better is that 100% of profits go towards Orphan Care and Orphan Prevention. So you know you are making a difference in the lives of orphaned kids when you purchase Gobena Coffee.
Tiny footprint coffee
This medium roast coffee comes from Peru. It is an easy-going coffee that can be drunk all day. It has a pleasing, soft caramel-like mouth feel balanced by elegant citrus acidity and a sweet, clean finish. Tiny Footprint Coffee is the world’s first carbon-negative coffee. This means that it produces less than zero carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses.
Death Wish Coffee
Do you need some strong coffee to wake you up in the morning? Death wish coffee is just for you. It is a bold and intense beverage and will truly revolutionize your morning. The coffee is carefully selected premium Arabica and Robusta whole coffee beans from all over the globe to deliver you a dark roast coffee with a bold taste you’ll instantly fall in love with.
Local coffee shop
Local coffee shops often sell the coffee they make their cups with so, take a look at what they have to offer to support your local economy.
What to do with coffee ground leftovers
Do just throw away your used coffee grounds. They can be used in many awesome ways. You could use it to fertilize your garden as they contain lots of beneficial nutrients. It can repel insects from your plants and even your pets. You can also use it on your own body as a body scrub. If neither is an option to you, you can obviously also compost your used coffee grounds.