9 Ways to Become an Ethical Coffee Drinker


Looking to make your coffee consumption a little kinder to the planet? Follow our top tips and make a few of these simple swaps in your daily coffee drinking habits.


Invest in a Reusable Cup

Environmentally conscious people have taken to ditching the single-use cups and trading them in for a reusable alternative. In the UK, 7 million disposable coffee cups are used every day, and only 1 percent of these will ever be recycled. One of the best ways to make your coffee consumption more ethical is to invest in a travel coffee cup so you can get your fix on the go without contributing to more unnecessary waste. Curbing the throwaway culture of coffee cups is a great step towards a more eco-friendly way of living, and some coffee shops are even banning single-use cups completely to help in their efforts. There are now a wide range of reusable cups to choose from, and if you want to ditch plastic altogether, you can select one made from bamboo, ceramic or metal. Take a look at our top tips for switching to a reusable coffee mug for more advice.


Get Beans From Local Roasters

The UK climate is not conducive to growing coffee beans, so, unfortunately, we cannot suggest buying locally grown beans. However, you can cut down on the CO2 emissions from delivering your beans by purchasing from a local roastery. Many independent coffee shops have turned to roasting beans in-house or locally, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find somewhere nearby.


Choose a Fairtrade Brew

Coffee farming can be a fairly volatile trade, with income depending on the crops gathered each year. While many coffee companies will claim that they pay the farmers that produce their coffee above market price, the only way you can be sure is if it is Fairtrade. Fairtrade is a globally-recognised certification, which ensures that the farmer will be paid a minimum price, even when the crops are having a bad year. With 90 percent of coffee beans coming from developing countries, it is especially important to ensure your coffee consumption contributes to an ethical way of working.

Fairtrade farmers are also required to work within certain environmental regulations, ensuring that the beans are produced with as little environmental impact as possible. Certain chemicals will be restricted, and many Fairtrade farmers will also be producing organic coffee beans. 


Make Use of Old Grounds

Your coffee bean’s life needn’t end once you’ve finished your brew. There are so many things that you can use coffee grounds for, from helping your garden grow to getting a glowing complexion! Many coffee shops now sell or pass on their used grounds to keen gardener’s, as plants just can’t get enough of the nutrient-rich grounds. You can check out our blog to discover 6 things to do with your coffee grounds for more inspiration.  


Local Dairy

We all know that a great way to help the environment is to cut down on plastic and shop locally. So, when it comes to milk, the return of the milkman is helping with both of these issues. The milkman is seeing something of a comeback, with an increasing number of local dairy delivery services on offer. With milk left in glass bottles, you’ll be cutting down on plastic waste, while supporting your local farmers.


Switch to a Non-Dairy Alternative

Looking to step up how ethical your coffee is? Ditch the dairy altogether and switch to a vegan alternative! There are so many choices nowadays, including soy milk, oat milk and nut milk. Check out our guide to alternative milk and coffee to discover the best choice for your coffee.


Check How Your Coffee Was Grown

While coffee would traditionally be shade-grown, some farmers have taken to clearing land to allow the sun to boost their coffee production. This has led to deforestation and the destruction of some biodiversity, with the loss of birds. There are many certifications which will reveal whether or not the coffee beans were grown in an environmentally friendly manner. These include Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and Soil Association, among many others.


Ditch Plastic Straws

If you’re a fan of iced coffee, cold brew or Frappuccino, then it’s time to invest in a reusable straw. Yes, many coffee shops now offer recyclable alternatives, such as paper straws, but having your own reusable straw is the best way to go. Made from metal, bamboo, glass or recycled plastic, you’ll have plenty of choice when it comes to material and style.


Change the Way Your Brew Coffee

While you may think making your own coffee at home will help make your consumption more sustainable, this greatly depends on the method you use. For example, if you use an electronic coffee machine, this will use up far more power than brewing with an AeroPress, which is pressed by hand. Like with plastic cups, home brewing using plastic and aluminium coffee pods is also bad for the environment. These are not widely recyclable and end up being sent to landfill. Brewing the coffee yourself using filters and a press is not only cheaper, but much better for the planet.


AeroPress filters take this to the next level, as they can be reused multiple times – some people even reuse one filter dozens of times! All you need to do is peel it away from the puck of coffee, give it a rinse and place it back in the filter cap to dry for your next use! 


If you have any tips for making your coffee consumption more ethical, then leave a comment below with your advice!

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