How sustainable is my coffee machine at work?

Alex | July 13, 2022

The coffee industry as a whole is making great strides in becoming more sustainable. The British Coffee Association specifically are working towards a more circular economy, driving responsible sourcing practices and improving the long-term resilience of coffee farming. As a nation, individuals and businesses are increasingly becoming more aware of their carbon footprint. Sustainability is now a hot topic and purchasing decisions are no longer solely based on traditional values such as price, quality, and functionality. Now people are considering where products are made, how energy efficient they are and generally buying products that are considered to be ‘green’.

As a business, sustainability is probably something that’s important to you. Your team may also be concerned with this issue so we’re taking a look at whether your coffee machine is sustainable. We’ll also help you decide what type of coffee machine is right for you.

Choosing the right coffee machine for your office

With so many different types of coffee machines on the market, it’s hard to know which is right for you and your team. You’ve firstly got your filter coffee machine. These are convenient and allow you to keep coffee warm for a few hours. They’re not a bad option for meeting rooms but because the coffee is kept warm, it won’t taste as fresh as say, a bean-to-cup machine coffee.

A bean-to-cup machine is the most popular choice for offices. As you’d expect, a bean-to-cup simply describes the coffee-making process from how the coffee is ground, pressed and brewed fresh – all at the touch of a button. Bean-to-cup machines have internal grinders, so they grind the beans and then hot water is forced through the ground coffee at high pressure resulting in a fresh-tasting cup of coffee.

And finally, you have coffee pod machines. These tend to be a more popular choice for home settings but there are some good commercial machines available on the market. There is a lot of information online, so we recommend to do your research and consult with your team on what they want from their coffee machine at work.

Sustainable coffee beans

Once you’ve selected your coffee machine, you’ll want to think about your beans. Naturally, taste and flavour will be high on your agenda, but let’s also look at sustainability. You’ll want to opt for coffee that’s been sourced from environmentally conscious growers, but how can you tell?

Thankfully the coffee industry has made it pretty easy with labelling the packaging. Coffee that is certified as Organic, Fairtrade, UTZ or Rainforest Alliance will need to meet strict standards for environmental and social practices, so these are the best ones to choose. There are differences between the standards of course, but this is a good place to start.

Ditch the paper and plastic cups

Single use plastic and paper cups are an environmental nightmare. 2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away each year in the UK alone, while only 1 in 400 gets recycled. In order to make your office coffee more sustainable, encourage your team to use cups and mugs in the office.

For your water dispenser, again encourage people to use reusable bottles or cups. Some offices will even put a ban on plastic and paper cups and ditch them completely.

Energy saving

Remember to ask your coffee machine provider about energy efficiency. Most modern models now operate sustainably and most have an automatic power-down function that helps to save energy.

Disposing of your coffee grounds

And finally, for your coffee machine to be more sustainable, ensure you’re recycling your coffee grounds responsibly. You can partner with BioBeans who will take coffee grounds from businesses and recycle them into useful products. Coffee grounds are a great fertiliser so you can also use them in your garden or donate them to local farmers to use. Remember not to throw away your coffee grounds as they’ll end up in landfills. As they break down they emit methane gas which is worse than carbon dioxide and very bad for the environment. If you do use a coffee pod machine, be sure to recycle your coffee pods. But remember, even recycling a single-use item still has a higher carbon footprint compared to the compostable or zero-waste alternatives.

Get in touch

With so much to consider, we’re here to help. There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to choosing your office coffee so if you need any advice, simply get in touch with our team.