Best Choices For Sustainable Coffee Mugs

sustainable, reusable coffee mugs

When you’re trying to be more environmentally conscious it helps to buy products that you know you can use more than one time. Keeping in mind what products you can and cannot recycle is important. If you’re the kind of person who likes to frequently drink coffee on the go, you may think that your paper travel mug is recyclable. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Paper travel mugs, the type offered by most coffee chains, are not recyclable because they have a thin plastic coating that prevents the cup from absorbing the coffee and getting soggy. That is not a good thing for the environment. If you want to truly help the environment while feeding your coffee addiction then the thing you need to have is a reusable travel mug.

Benefits of a Sustainable Coffee Mug

A sustainable coffee mug is a great thing to have because it is a small, but effective, way to minimize your waste footprint on the world.

Another benefit, depending on where you like to get your coffee, is that you can get a discount when you bring your own coffee cup. This may not work in all major chains, but it is certainly worth asking about, especially at your local coffee shop.

KeepCup Toughened Glass & Natural Cork Reusable Coffee Cup

A travel mug does not have to be aesthetically pleasing in order to be worthwhile, but it is certainly a bonus. The KeepCup reusable coffee cup is so pretty that it has actually inspired some inferior knock-offs. However, the knock-offs are not of the same quality.

This mug features a natural cork grip to prevent burns. It has a tempered glass body with a white non-spill lid. It is a fantastic eco-friendly travel companion.

Joco Glass Eco-Friendly Travel Mug

This tempered glass travel mug from Joco also has Instagram-worthy aesthetics. While there is nothing to confirm this, allegedly the design of the body of the mug makes for easier mixing of creamer and sweeteners. Like the option from KeepCup, it features a completely transparent glass body, with a silicone grip and a top with matching colors.

HereandNowPottery Large Reusable Mug

If you want a truly unique travel mug then it does not get more unique than these incredible handmade mugs from HereandNowPottery. Each mug is completely handmade and fired with a lead-free white glaze to keep your coffee-drinking experience a safe one.

These mugs are eco-friendly thanks to the fact that they leave zero waste behind. The company even uses an energy-efficient kiln that heats the ceramic material up to a stone quality. This prevents the mug from being able to absorb moisture from the coffee. Not only does it keep your coffee warm for long periods of time, but it looks beautiful too.

Yeti Rambler

If you are looking for a mug that can hold up to 20 ounces and get you through your morning routine, this option from Yeti is what you are looking for. It features a rather plain, no-nonsense design. But don’t let that put you off. This is a workhorse coffee mug made of stainless steel. While the lid does not prevent spills or leaks, it is magnetic, meaning it will lock tightly to the body of the mug. This mug will keep your drinks hot or cold for hours thanks to its double-walled insulation. Best of all, if it should become damaged, there’s a five-year warranty!

bioGo Cup

Sustainable replacements for common products often come with compromises. Fortunately, the bioGo Cup does not come with such compromises. This cup uses rice husk fiber, ditching the typical glass and stainless steel designs. One thing that it has that many travel coffee cups don’t have is a flip function on the lid. It is not spill or leak-proof, but it does offer a further degree of protection than many of the lids used on other travel mugs.

BruMate Toddy

One of the biggest drawbacks to most travel mugs is that they usually do not have leak or spillproof lids. That feature alone would make the BruMate Toddy easy to recommend, but there is thankfully much more going on with this mug. It features a handle, which is always a plus. The handle is placed higher up on the body so that it is easy to place in most cupholders.

Its body is specially insulated to keep your drinks hot or cold for up to seven hours. It is also dishwasher safe, which is not found in a tremendous number of reusable mugs.

Contigo Autoseal Travel Mug

This travel mug features a modern design that will keep your drinks hot or cold for up to 5 hours. It has a durable, stainless steel body and comes in a few different colors. It fits most cupholders, and best of all features an autoseal lid, which makes it spill-proof.

MiiR TruEnamel Camp Cup

If you truly want a sustainable travel mug then it does not get much better than a mug from a company that has been certified as Climate Neutral. This stylish and ergonomic mug may not be dishwasher safe, but it makes up for that with its lifetime warranty. On top of that, it features an ergonomic design that works with many cup holders. Its glass enamel design carries no odors from prior drinks.

Circular & Co. Travel Mug

If you want evidence that a travel mug is reusable, then perhaps the best evidence for this offering from Circular & Co. is its own existence. Not only is this travel mug recyclable, but it’s also made up of recycled coffee cups. It, admittedly, only keeps your drinks hot or cold for roughly 90 minutes. However, it is guaranteed to last up to ten years and features a fully leakproof lid.

Stojo Collapsible Coffee Cup

One of the most frustrating things about carrying around a travel cup is the amount of space the cup takes up when you are done drinking from it. This unique, collapsible travel cup from Stojo solves that problem beautifully. With an integrated straw, you can sip to your heart’s content while you are on the go. When you are finished you can simply collapse the cup to a size that fits perfectly in a purse or even in your pocket.

 

How to Find Sustainable Coffee Shops

sustainable coffee shop

People are looking for all the ways they can reduce their carbon footprint: driving electric cars; buying alternative home fuel. One small way to lower one’s carbon footprint gaining popularity is seeking out sustainable coffee shops.

A sustainable coffee shop goes beyond being a coffee shop that recycles its garbage. They are committed to keeping their waste and carbon footprint very low. If you’re trying to find a coffee shop committed to sustainability then here is everything you need to know from what to look for in such a shop to how to find one.

What a Sustainable Coffee Shop Does

A sustainable coffee shop will engage in practices that set it apart from regular coffee shops. Here are some of the practices that you can immediately notice about a coffee shop to tell you whether or not it is running on a sustainable model.

An Emphasis on Recyclable Materials

One of the most obvious signs of a sustainable coffee shop will be a reliance on recyclable materials. So many coffee shops utilize coffee cups that are made of paper, save for a thin veneer of plastic that coats the cup’s interior. A sustainable coffee shop would be using totally recyclable coffee cups.

Instead of plastic trays and cutlery, they may place an emphasis on cardboard trays or wooden cutlery. They would also be using absolutely no Styrofoam as it is a non-recyclable material. You will likely not find any plastic drink stirrers either. For stirring you’ll find they use good old-fashioned metal or wood spoons.

Contributing to Recycling Efforts

One of the easiest things to notice about a coffee shop to determine whether or not it is sustainable is if there is an active emphasis on recycling. It does not simply mean that there are recycling bins, but that they are giving clear instructions on what items you have in your order that can be placed in those bins.

Bring Your Own Cup Incentives

One mark of a coffee shop that is dedicated to the ideals of sustainability is the BYOC (bring your own cup) incentive. There are coffee shops that offer a discount to customers willing to bring in their own coffee cups rather than use the disposable options from the shop. This practice not only saves you a little bit of money, but also water.

Do They Use Sustainable Coffee Brands?

There are numerous brands of coffee on the market that have made a commitment to being sustainable and environmentally friendly. You may have to ask around at different shops to purchase their supply from sustainable brands.

What makes coffee sustainable?

A coffee brand is sustainable if it makes the living conditions for the environment and people who cultivate it better. The sad truth of the coffee industry is that many of the farmers who grow and cultivate coffee face poverty. Buying from brands that pay farms fairly is an important marker of sustainability.

Coffee brands that are made from coffee farmed on land that promotes biodiversity are also important. Most coffee farms tend to rely on pesticides and other chemicals that can harm local wildlife. A sustainable farm finds concessions to promote biodiversity so that the growing of coffee beans is a process that does no harm.

Another mark of a sustainable coffee shop is whether or not they place emphasis on using paperless receipts. If they participate in compost programs in your area is also a fantastic sustainable move they will likely make. They will also use either reduced lighting or LED-based lighting to cut back on energy use and promote energy efficiency. There are even coffee makers and espresso machines that are designed to use minimal amounts of energy.

How do I find a sustainable coffee shop?

As with most things these days, if you want to find something you usually want to start with the internet. Coffee shops with sustainability as a point of conduct will typically advertise themselves as such. You can also call around to various coffee shops in your area and ask them directly if they are sustainable. However, this is a benefit that is typically only available to those who live in big cities.

The sad truth is that if you live in a small town, then your local coffee shop is still your best source of coffee. Driving a considerable distance to find a coffee shop that is sustainable burns more gas, which goes against the entire point of sustainability. However, if you are going on vacation or traveling for some other reason you can always have sustainable shops marked for your destinations.

There are also online resources that can help you find sustainable coffee shops. These lists are always updated as shops open and close, so you can stay up to date on the locations you may want to visit. Social media is also a great, real-time solution to finding sustainable coffee shop options.

What You Can Do

If you do not have any sustainable coffee shop options in your area, you may feel somewhat defeated on the subject. That does not mean that you should give up. If you don’t mind stirring the (coffee) pot a little bit, then you can start asking your local coffee shop what they do to be sustainable. Use it as a conversation starter. Make suggestions. If your local shop does not have a “bring your own cup” incentive, then suggest one.

The most important thing you can do is get the word about sustainability and what it can do for the planet, and how even your morning cup of coffee plays a part. The more that people learn about sustainable coffee, the more likely they will be to ask for it in their local coffee shop.

6 Tips for Buying and Enjoying Sustainable Coffee

A reusable cup and straw used for sustainable coffee

Coffee is a wonderful drink that is highly valued all across the globe, and that has been enjoyed for centuries. The history of coffee is rich and full of interesting developments. More recently, folks have become more concerned than ever about purchasing and enjoying coffee in the most sustainable ways possible.

Keep on reading for some ideas on how to buy and enjoy coffee sustainably.

Do Some Research

Coffee is considered to be sustainable if the growing, harvesting, roasting, and selling of the coffee product are invested in:

  • Conserving nature
  • Improving the livelihoods of its growers
  • Sustaining the supply of coffee
  • Strengthening the demand for coffee

Doing a deep dive into your favorite coffee brands, and investigating things like where they source their coffee, how they reciprocate the community for it, and how they package and sell their coffee is an important part of buying sustainable coffee. It is a healthy habit to know more.

Connect with Local Roasters

Local roasters are the best place to start your coffee journey. Like with fruits and vegetables, coffee is often of higher quality and more sustainable when you buy it closer to home.

Plus, you can get a much better idea of where the coffee is coming from by speaking directly to the experts at your local roastery. They can tell you about how they source the beans, and the relationships they have with their suppliers.

Check the Label

Labels can tell you a lot. Especially the labels on coffee. Labels on the side of your coffee can tell you if it’s organic, fair trade, or if the bag itself is made from recycled materials.

If you are concerned about the sustainability practices of the coffee brand you like to drink, or lack thereof, then perusing the labels, and the significance of the labels can tell you a lot.

Avoid Big Brands

As with agriculture, the bigger the brand, the more likely that the coffee comes from less sustainable practices.

Smaller brands and independent coffee roasters have smaller footprints. They take up less space, spend less money and energy, and create fewer outputs. They tend to pay their people more, source their coffee more equitably, and be more concerned for the natural environment.

Use a Plastic-Free Coffee Maker

Keurig coffee machines, and other single-serve brewers, are far from sustainable. They rely on single-use plastic pods to brew small batches of coffee. Millions of these pods end up in landfills every year.

Yes, it may be true that single-serve brewers use less water and consume less electricity. But they are notorious for producing a lot of plastic waste.

If you must rely on a single-use brewer, it’s worth looking into recyclable pods, compostable pods, and reusable pods. Cleaning your coffee maker right is also important. However, even the solutions to the original K-cup problem have their setbacks.

Compost Your Grounds

Coffee grounds make excellent compost. Even most coffee filters can be composted. By adding your used grounds to the compost pile, or fertilizing your plants directly, you can sustain the usefulness of coffee.

Coffee grounds in the soil are good for:

  • Adding aeration
  • Increasing organic matter content
  • Retaining more water
  • Enhancing drainage

From your cup to the compost, it is possible to purchase and enjoy coffee in sustainable ways. By following some tips from above, and investing in reputable coffee brands, you can be a part of the solution that helps keep quality coffee around forever.

How to Clean a Coffee Maker

how to clean a coffee maker

Every coffee lover knows how frustrating it can be to clean out all the build-up that accumulates in your coffee maker over days or weeks of regular use. Even with careful scrubbing, warm water, and dish soap, those stubborn stains and residue just won’t get out. The worst part? They can make your coffee taste bitter and remove a lot of the aroma and flavor from the roast.

Since you’ll be drinking the stuff it makes, you should never use strong cleaners to get rid of coffee build-up. Yes, they’re totally effective at getting the gunk out of your coffee maker, but you’re risking poisoning your next cup of joe! Not to mention the effect those harsh chemicals have on the environment when you throw them out. That’s why we’re here to show you how to clean a coffee maker the eco-friendly way.

Here’s the full list of everything you’ll need to clean a coffee maker:

  • Vinegar
  • A clean rag or tissues
  • Clean coffee filters
  • Water (preferably running water from a sink)

That’s it! No need to resort to expensive cleaning solutions; everything you need can be bought at your local drugstore for less than $10. This is one of the ways you’re wasting your money on unnecessary purchases.

Now that you’ve got everything ready, it’s time to get to cleaning!

Fill your pitcher to the brim with a mixture of half vinegar and half water. Now, let it sit for a few minutes while the solution works its magic. The acetic acid in white vinegar will slowly kill bacteria and munch away at the calcium buildup in your coffee maker.

Now, stick a clean filter on your maker and pour about half of your water-vinegar solution into the reservoir. Power on your coffee maker and let it brew for a few minutes.

Next, turn off the coffee maker and let it just sit. Again, leaving it to rest will allow the acid in the vinegar to get to work tearing down mineral buildup. The heat from the brew will accelerate the process.

It’s time to pour all of your vinegar-water out of your pitcher and reservoir and down the drain.

You don’t want your coffee to taste like vinegar, so we’ve got to get all of that stuff out of there! Fill your coffee maker with regular water and let it brew. Do it twice to make sure all the vinegar’s gone.

Now, grab a rag or tissue and dry it out.

See? That wasn’t so hard! Do this at least once a week to keep your coffee maker clean and brewing consistently delicious coffee.

Related Reading: 6 Ways to Make Your Coffee Habit More Sustainable

6 Ways to Make Your Coffee Habit More Sustainable

Make Your Coffee Habit More Sustainable

Coffee is the second most sought after commodity in the world. There is no denying that coffee has a large impact on the environment. Unfortunately, that impact is mostly negative. Many factors involved in coffee consumption and production are harmful to our planet. However, this does not mean that we have to give up our daily coffee. Instead, we can become more mindful and make small adjustments to make our coffee habit more sustainable.

1. Coffee beans

Buying coffee beans is the first step you can change to make your coffee habit more sustainable. The choice you make when selecting coffee beans can make the most significant contribution to your sustainability efforts. This will not only influence what type of coffee production you support, but also the social and economic effect on the coffee producers. Therefore, you should pay attention to labels that are Fairtrade or organic. By opting for Fairtrade coffee, you can support coffee farmers around the world and help protect the environment. You should also buy your coffee beans locally to reduce negative environmental effects of transportation.

2. Use more sustainable preparation methods

There are a lot of different methods and appliances to prepare your coffee. However, some of these appliances create an incredible amount of waste. Pod-machines, such as Nespresso, consume a lot of energy and produce waste that often cannot be recycled. More sustainable alternatives include drip coffee makers, the French press or aero press. If you prefer filter coffee, you should use reusable filters that are made out of metal or cloth. This will prevent additional waste from paper filters.

3. Buy a reusable coffee cup

Many coffee shops sell coffee in single-use plastic cups. These cups are not very environmentally friendly as they are often not recycled properly. If you are prone to buying takeaway coffees, you should bring your own refillable cup or flask. Coffee shops usually offer incentives for customers who do this and you may even get a discount on your coffee. However, if a disposable cup is unavoidable, you can use a 100% compostable coffee cup.

4. Reuse coffee grounds

Reusing coffee grounds does not necessarily mean putting them back into your coffee machine. To get as much use as possible out of your purchase, you can use the grounds for other benefits. Coffee grounds can act as a skin exfoliator, plant fertilizer and deodorizers for your fridge.

5. Milk and sugar dispensers

In order to avoid additional waste, you can use glass dispensers for your sugar. Single packaged coffee creamer and sugar creates a lot of harmful waste in the environment. By switching to glass containers, you not only reduce waste but you can also recycle them once you are finished with them.

6. Dispose of coffee grounds in compost bins

Approximately 6 million tonnes of coffee grounds get sent to landfills every year. To prevent coffee ground build up, you should use a compost bin to dispose of your grounds. These must be composted for around 100 days before you can use them as fertilizer. 

Related Reading: Coffee Brewing Method and Health – What You Need to Know