This post is sponsored by Ethical Bean, makers of fair-trade certified, organic coffee that comes in compostable and recyclable packaging.
I've written before that I'm not the most frequent coffee drinker out there; my late nights in the library in college were aided instead by green tea and dried cranberries filched from the dining center. Luckily, I have an in-home coffee consultant (er, my boyfriend), so when I wanted to figure out what to recommend to readers who ask me what lower-waste options for brewing coffee are out there, he was only too happy to conduct some tests (er, drink coffee), with the help of a few zero waste-friendly coffees by Ethical Bean.
There are a couple of different ways to brew coffee without disposable products. You can insert a reusable coffee filter into a standard coffee maker, buy a reusable cloth filter for a pour-over cone or a Chemex, or use a French press, which comes with its own built-in filter for catching grounds. My boyfriend typically uses a pour-over cone and composts the paper filter each time, but I already own a French press (typically put to use for brewing larger quantities of loose-leaf tea), so that's what we do at my house.
As with all things, brewing coffee in a French press can be as precise or as loose as you'd like it to be. The basic method: add a tablespoon of ground coffee per cup of water to your French press. Pour in just-boiled water, top the glass chamber off with the cap, then about four minutes later depress the plunger to keep the grounds out of the way. For those looking to delve more into the details of French-pressing (just how hot should that water be?), I trust the pros at Food 52: here's what they have to say on the subject.
Pour and enjoy! Then, when you're cleaning out the press don't forget to compost those coffee grounds. Or, better yet, you could choose to reuse them first by making a quick DIY body scrub, made mixing equal parts coffee grounds and coconut oil, and a few drops of the essential oil you like best).
Now that we've taken care of brewing zero waste coffee, how to buy zero waste coffee in the first place? This is another realm where the options are many, of course. If you're a rare coffee drinker, you can forego the home brew entirely and simply bring your own reusable travel mug to a coffee shop whenever you'd like a cup. Coffee shops typically buy their beans in huge packages - effectively giving you the option to buy coffee purchased in bulk, without having to search for it in local grocery stores. For the more frequent drinker, you can of course also look for package-free beans in a grocery store near you (this guide might give you a place to start the search).
If neither of those work - or even if they do - another option is to purchase coffee in recyclable or compostable packaging. That's where Ethical Bean comes in. They sell fair-trade certified organic coffee out of their roastery in Vancouver, where they compost the organic by-products of production, like coffee chaff, at their factory, before packaging up the beans and ground coffee in bags that can either be composted - like those brown kraft paper bags below (just remove the tape and the metal closure) - or mailed back to Ethical Bean for recycling through their bag return program - like the bright green bag shown below.
The verdict, according to said personal coffee consultant? He liked the bright, fruity flavors of the Exotic blend, which were balanced by the full-bodied quality of the roast. We'll take his word for it: my coffee palate isn't well-developed enough to be able to corroborate that yet. But I can concur with his thoughts about the packaging: he appreciated the paper packaging (those brown bags pictured above), because he could choose to keep it around to reuse when buying bulk coffee in the future, send it back to the folks at Ethical Bean for recycling, or compost it.
Kudos to Ethical Bean for helping us take control of us take control of our waste, and for offering a lower-waste option for folks where buying bulk package-free beans isn't an option - or where bulk beans are an option, but not organic, or fair-trade, or high enough quality to satisfy the palate of the coffee devotee.
After you hop on over to the Ethical Bean site to check out their selection, come back here to enter their giveaway! They're offering a French press and three bags of coffee to one lucky winner in the United States or Canada. You can enter below; good luck!
The contest is now over and the winner has been notified; thank you to all who entered!
Coffee lovers: what other tips do you have for brewing zero waste coffee? Any other methods to share?
This post is sponsored by Ethical Bean; all thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the companies with better business practices who work to make zero waste-friendly resources.