zero waste coffee {addiction}

Coffee is the one thing I have every single day, without fail. I always start my day with a cup or three. So it was one of the obvious things to apply zero waste to quickly. I absolutely love how simple and elegant zero waste can look, and my coffee habit is no exception. No more plastic containers with words printed on them to assault you every time you open the cupboard. No more disposable paper cups. Ahhh.

ZW coffeeI make my coffee at home in an unfancy Mr. Coffee coffee maker. If I were looking into buying a coffee pot now (as in, now that I am trying to do zero waste) I would probably look for a used appliance or invest in a good French press. But I am using what I have.

I buy my coffee beans in bulk and grind them at home. At my grocery store, organic beans cost the exact same as regular, so it’s a no-brainer. But even if it costs a bit more, it’s worth it to buy organic when you can. I simply use one of my bulk bags, writing the code on the outside with a washable crayon. Then I bring them home and store the beans in a mason jar. (If your store allows you to weigh and tare your jars you could skip the cloth bag step and buy them directly in your mason jar.) I grind enough for a week or so at a time, keeping the grounds in another canister near my coffee pot.

I make my own coffee creamer with almond milk (which I make with my Vitamix), sugar, and homemade vanilla extract (and sometimes a pinch of cinnamon). Sometimes I just use milk and sugar. As our milk is delivered in returnable bottles, both are zero waste options (except for the milk cap). (PS, I don’t have that cream and sugar set in the collage above, but it’s so beautiful isn’t it?) There are actually bulk powdered creamers at my grocery store, but I’ve given up creamers – the ingredients just seem TOO sketchy. It wasn’t as hard a habit to kick as I thought it would be!

I have replaced paper filters with this gold tone mesh filter. I paid $5 for it and it should last indefinitely. Each night when I set up the pot for morning, I scoop out the coffee grounds from that morning into my compost pail and just rinse the filter out with hot water. I hand wash the filter a couple times a week when I am doing other dishes. I run white vinegar through my coffee pot to descale it, about once a month (then follow up with clean water to get all the vinegar out). It works like a charm. (I then use the hot vinegar to clean my sink and inside of the microwave.)

IMG_3153My owl mug makes me happy every day. It was a spontaneous no-reason gift from my sister-in-law and brother, and I use it nearly every morning. Also, I’ve gone through a lot of travel mugs in my day. But I love this basic Thermos mug. It actually keeps coffee hot for most of a day and is leak-proof. I donated all our other travel mugs, so we now have one hot beverage mug and three stainless water bottles now – one is a small one for Hannah – as opposed to a cabinet full of plastic crap.

On the rare occasion I go out for coffee, I take my Thermos mug with me and I’ve never had a barista tell me no; in fact some places will give you a slight BYO discount. If you’re a coffee drinker, it’s truly one of the easiest places to go zero waste. Good thing, since it’s my addiction..

One more tip – if I have leftover coffee I save it in a jar in the fridge and use it to make afternoon pick-me-up smoothies sometimes. I blend about 1 cup of cold coffee, one cup of almond milk, some ice, a tsp of cocoa powder, and a frozen banana. It’s DELICIOUS.


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