Once I am awake in the morning, my favorite thing to do is make my coffee, it always has been. I don’t even drink coffee for a burst of energy anymore. To me, it’s therapeutic to do this ritual. I love to boil the water, measure out my coffee, and smell the delicious aroma as it steeps. Then, I take a sip of the warm golden liquid and it glides down my throat, as I walk into my living room, baby on hip, to open the curtains revealing the bright sunny day awaiting me. Favorite part of my morning.
It was something I was not going to give up, no matter what. The coffee I used to get came in either a little plastic bag or a large plastic tub. Think red Folgers tub. I remember grocery stores used to have those serve yourself canisters where the beans would pour down and you would take them to grind freshly. Does anyone else remember taking the spilled coffee beans and sniffing them as they carried them around the store?
Bringing Home the Coffee
At Lucky’s market, they have an entire selection of coffee beans you can bring your own jar for. Whole Foods has a coffee bean selection that is similar, but they won’t let you use your own containers for sanitary reasons.
The first time I went to Lucky’s to get my coffee, I pranced in and got my tare written on my jar lid, then went to pour the beans into my mason jar. This was more difficult than I realized. The beans poured out of a rectangular mouth and my jar was circular. So here there were beans missing the jar falling on the floor, making a mess. I slowed the pour and still missed several beans. Then, I took my jar of beans to the grinder, poured them in and pressed on. The ground coffee beans poured out of that machine nicely. I, however, thought there needed to be a better container for getting my coffee. So I ended up finding an air tight stainless steel coffee canister like this one. The mouth is much wider than my mason jars and it ends up being quite attractive to look at on my counter.
Bleached Vs. Unbleached Filters
The average person has a typical coffee machine. You pour your water in the back, place a disposable filter in the top, add your coffee grounds, and press brew. Those coffee filters are bleached and they come in a plastic pack. Not only are they wasteful, but chlorine bleaching is the second largest polluter in the paper industry. (1)
There are unbleached coffee filters which do not contain the chemicals and toxins of the others. I’ve read some comments about coffee brewed with the brown, unbleached filters tastes different than coffee brewed with the white, bleached filters. I have never noticed a difference and I don’t think there really is.
I have found a great brand called “if you care” and this company carries compostable coffee filters that come in a paper box. You can find them on Amazon.com
Fix What You Can
There are a lot of times that people just throw away things that are ‘broken’ rather than fix them. For example, my grandmother (who is not on the zero-waste train) bought a brand new coffee machine because her old one was dirty. Why on earth didn’t she just clean it?! So I took it home, soaked and scrubbed the thing until it was shiny. My little sister needed one and Bam!. It was fixed and she had a perfect coffee pot for free.
I think that if you have something and it breaks, you should do your best to fix it and avoid throwing it out. If the pot breaks or cracks, see if you can find one at the thrift store to replace it. If the entire coffee pot breaks, try taking it to someone that can fix it. If you cannot fix it, go to the thrift and see if you can find a used one there. If all else fails, buy a new one.
One of the worst inventions for coffee making is the k-pods. They only make one cup of coffee at a time. That’s their benefit. But you can make just one cup of coffee with a regular pot. Also, each pod is a ton of plastic. And I never liked the coffee that came out of the k-pods. There are reusable k-pods where you fill it with your own coffee, but they usually come out watery and not very strong. I’m not a fan.
How Do I Brew Coffee?
There is a way that I have found to create zero-waste while making my coffee in the morning. By using a French Press machine. I eliminate any need for a filter, and it is the best, smoothest brew I have ever made. I purchased a Bodum at a thrift store for about $10.00. It is a 2 cup press but I can get 3 cups out of it if I needed.
With a french press, you add your coffee into the main body of the french press (I use one tablespoon for each cup of coffee), pour in boiling water, place the strainer/lid on top. I do this so that the steam stays in which keeps it hotter longer and makes for a darker brew. After about 5 minutes, SLOWLY push down the strainer part and pour into your mug.
Now, I have heard a lot of people say that they get grounds at the bottom of their mugs when using a french press. My Bodum does not do this. If you get a higher quality brand, the strainer should fit very well against the bottom leaving little room for grounds to get through.
Also, get a more coarse grind. If the grounds are larger, they are less likely to slip through the sides of the strainer.
How Will You Take Your Coffee?
Whether you brew your coffee with a typical coffee maker, a french press, or another way, you can do it in a zero-waste way. Avoid the K-Cups fad at all costs, it’s not good quality coffee anyway. Fix what you can, and bring home the coffee!
I’m curious to know if there is a coffee brewing way you love that I missed. Let me know in the comments! Also, what’s your favorite kind of coffee you have purchased zero-waste?